As I had a birthday coming up and it was also New Year we decided to have a scout around on skyscanner.net and look for decent priced flights for that period to somewhere which could be fun. We came up with Easyjet flights to Switzerland; we had never been there and thought how lovely it would be around the Christmas and New Year period. The flights we booked allowed for 6 nights there which should be plenty of time to explore; however we didn’t want to spend 6 nights in Geneva so decided to book 2 nights in Geneva and have a think about where to go after that.
New Year in Geneva is supposed to be a lively affair with 3 stages, copious food and drink vendors and fireworks at midnight supplied by the rather grand Hotel Kempinski all hosted for free (besides the food and drink) from Quai du Mont Blanc, which is overlooking Lake Geneva with Mont Blanc visible. We read about it on this page and decided to spend New Years Eve there:
Using Booking.Com we also managed to reserve 2 nights over New Year at the Ibis Centre Gare which is conveniently near the main train station and only 4 miles from the Airport.
From then we had to decide where to go; from our research the transport systems including the train were very efficient although costly and therefore we needed to decide which options would be the best value for our stay. Tourists are able to purchase a Swiss Pass which allows unlimited travel on trains, busses, trams and water taxis and reductions on some of the other options such as cable cars. The pass can be printed or shown electronically and unless otherwise stated you can just show the pass on the train along with a form of ID. There are various day options including 1 day, 3 days, 4 days, 8 days or 15 days – none of which come cheap. We had to decide which pass we would want in order to make the most of our time. Ideally a 5 day pass would have been ideal given the fact we had a late flight back but unfortunately this was not an option so we settled for 4 days and decided to spend our last night in Geneva. This cost us £205 each and more information about the travel pass can be found here:
In order to decide where to go I had to consider what I wanted to do on my Birthday and after much deliberation I decided I would like to travel on the Glacier Express. The Glacier Express runs from Zermatt to St Moritz/St Moritz to Zermatt daily and has various stopping points on the way. The train runs through the 3 cantons of Valais, Uri and Graubunden and the website states it offers “breathtaking and varied panoramic views“. The train itself has glass sections for the ceiling for optimum viewing and food is offered from snacks to a 3 course lunch. Whilst the Swiss Travel Pass covered the Glacier Express there were compulsory seat reservation fees of 23 swiss francs each which had to be booked in advance. We decided to also book the 3 course lunch on board which came to 132 swiss francs in total for us both; it was a special occasion after all! The downside of this is that you don’t know what the dish of the day is going to be so if you’re fussy this may not be the choice for you. We looked at the route and where was accessible and doable from Geneva and decided Brig would be a good starting point for us in order to catch the train on my Birthday. Information about the Glacier Express can be found here:
To head to Brig from Geneva which would take 2 hours 20 minutes with no changes. With regard to Brig we had never heard of it however we were aware it was near Zermatt which we had heard of and were keen to visit to see the Matterhorn. Zermatt is only 1hr 15mins away from Brig on the train and therefore it was definitely doable to have a day trip there. We again used Booking.Com to book into Hotel Europe in Brig for 2 nights which was directly outside of the train station; convenient for both arrival from Geneva and departure on the Glacier Express at 10:18am.
Due to the fact you cannot do a day return on the Glacier Express we decided to depart at a place called Chur; again somewhere we hadn’t heard of but was very near Liechtenstein; somewhere we both wanted to visit. We booked another Ibis hotel, the Ibis Chur, through Booking.com for one night.
From Chur to Liechtenstein takes an hour and involves catching a train to Sargans and then catching the number 11 bus to Vaduz. From there we left a little flexibility about getting back to Geneva; there was no set time to get back however our Swiss Pass would run out on that day so we needed to be back in Geneva before midnight. We booked into a different hotel opposite the train station called Hotel Bernina which accepted arrivals up to midnight for our final night before our departure back to London the next day. The main things we had heard about Switzerland were how beautiful it is and how expensive it is – we were excited about the former but not so excited about the latter! It couldn’t be that bad surely……let the snowy adventures begin 🙂
Carol & Nigel x