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Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Saint Louis...
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Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Hello all! First time poster to these forums, so please go easy on me. ;)

My wife and I are planning a trip to Austria and Switzerland in the coming months, likely late April-early May. At the moment, our general plan looks like this:

4 days in Vienna and the surrounding area

**travel day to Zurich via train**

4 days in Zurich

2 days in Lucerne

Clearly, there is a lot to see and do in all of these locations, as the many lists and trip planner guides here demonstrate. But, our big question right now is, are we planning the right amount of time in each location? Too much, or too little? For example, I have a feeling that 4 days is great for Vienna, but too many for Zurich.

If it helps any, our general travel tactic is to hit the big ticket "must see/do" places first, then try to find a couple of intriguing things that are easily accessible, but are generally missed by most tourists. (oh, and we're both foodies, so noshing like the locals is always on our list, lol)

Any thoughts or advice is greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

Zuerich
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1. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Hello TravelingBrony, welcome to the TA Forums.

For advice about how much time to spend in Vienna, the Vienna Forum would be the place to ask. I have been a number of times and I would think that for a first time visit 3-4 days would be plenty.

The train trip from Vienna to Zurich is about 8 hrs. The first 3 hrs are boring and flat, and then you get to Salzburg - which is a very interesting city, complete with castles, cathedral, and a relatively compact centre. 1.5hrs later you get to Innsbruck in the heart of the mountains, and also a very lovely + compact centertown with lots of history. Either place would be good for a stop (overnight?) to break up the long journey and see something of Austria that isn't Vienna. The trip from Innsbruck to Zurich is very lovely - all through the mountains, and it ends along the lakeside of Lake Zurich. Have done the train trip many times, and it is much nicer to do it in the day than the dark

Zurich itself is good for a solid day, but not much more... It is the main business city in Switzerland, (and although it is very lovely and has lots going for it in terms of quality of life), but as such it is not the best touristic destination. For that... Luzern, the mountains, and the shores of Lake Geneva are my preferred spots.

With such limited time I would encourage you to stop only for a few (4-5) hours in Zurich (perhaps for the afternoon?), and then move on to Luzern. I would also look at either the Jungfrau area or Zermat (for your "big ticket "must see/do" places") and then at someplace like Vevey for the "generally missed" foodie experience. (Vevey is home to the Alimentarium - the Swiss food museum - and being in the French side of CH it has slightly different menu's).

Final question for you... where do you fly-out from?

I am sure my colleagues will also chime in here...

good luck.

Saint Louis...
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2. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Canswiss,

Thank you for the warm welcome! I've used TA for a lot of travel-related research in the past, but now that I've taken the plunge and really dug into the forums and other features here, there is truly a wealth of data in here! :)

To follow-up on your comments...

1. I will be heading to the Vienna forum shortly for some specific advice for that end of the trip. Given their respective histories and landmark items, I assumed that Vienna would have more "big ticket" items than Zurich, so I thought I'd start on the Swiss end of the trip, where the "must see" list is much less well-defined for us. :)

2. We're definitely excited for that train ride. We watched a video of it on the Seat61 website, and the views look amazing! We have considered an overnight stop, and from your post, it looks like at least some of the trains call in Innsbruck and Salzburg. Out of curiosity, do any of the trains call in Lichtenstein? Probably not much to see there, but it does sound intriguing for a "random place I actually went to" stop, lol.

Now, if I did schedule an overnight in Salzburg (for example), would I purchase a through ticket with the stop built in, or seperate tickets for each leg of the journey?

3. Finally, we'll be flying in from the US. Our home airport is in St. Louis, but since it is no longer a hub city, we'll likely end up catching the international flight in Chicago or New York-JFK.

Thanks again for the advice!

Zuerich
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for Zurich
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3. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Hi again TravelingBrony

Glad you find TA useful, there are some great volunteers here who really like to help out and pass on their knowledge... I agree... we are going to the Canary Islands for the first time next month and I already feel like I know the place intimately, through all the Q+A's I've read with TA experts.

1. Yes Vienna is very nice, with lots to see... but tone needs to make choices on a shorter trip. We had a post earlier in the week where someone said that two weeks wasn't enough for Switzerand, that three would be the minimum... its all a question of expectations, priorities, and then making decisions. :-///

2. Make sure that you take the train through Salzburg-Innsbruck-Feldkirch (and NOT via Munich), as this is the much more scenic route that goes through the Austrian Alps (the German route is flat-ish and fast). There is no train station in Lichtenstien... it is served by busses from either Buchs (CH) or Sargans (CH). It is a quirky place, but I would not put it very high on a priority list. The train tracks actually cut across the north end of it (look for black licence plates on the automobiles), so you can see the castle on the slope in the distance... but it is VERY small and quiet.

Your train ticket from Vienna to Zurich is good for travel with as many stops as you like - it should indicate its period of validity... just make sure that you complete the trip in the valid time (for longer distances it is usually a week or a month - but double check this in AT). There is also a "Eurail Austria-Switzerland Pass" that you might consider... you will have to do the math to compare it with ticket prices - to make sure it is good value - but you can start reading about it here: eurail.com/eurail-passes/…austria-switzerland

3. Sorry, perhaps I was unclear in my question - are you flying out of Zurich, Geneva, Vienna, or elsewhere when you depart Europe to go back to the US? I ask this question as it would be useful to know your last place in Switzerland, so as to help advise on the destinations or routes within Switzerland.

Good luck with your planning.

Saint Louis...
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4. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Thanks again for the trove of information! This is awesome stuff!

As for our departure, our current plan has us departing Zurich on our return to the States. We have all of our miles/points concentrated in the OneWorld alliance (AA, BA, AirBerlin, etc), so we'll need to keep it to OneWorld airlines to/from the States.

That said, international routings from the states (esp. when starting from non-hub cities like STL) have become a train-wreck of epic proportions, thanks to the "wisdom" of our domestic carriers. So, based on availability, we may need to reverse the trip and start in Switzerland, instead of Vienna.

This does lead me to an extra question though: Is Zurich the best Swiss airport to use for arrivals or departures from overseas? Or, should I focus on Geneva instead?

Thanks!

Zuerich
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5. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Both ZRH and GVA are good airports. ZRH is about 3x the size of GVA - but both are efficient and easy to get through... I would say if arriving it make absolutely no difference, for departing I would choose ZRH simply because it has better lounges for more airlines (if you travel biz-class I guess) and is newer and renovated, so its nicer.

Otherwise I would choose your airport based on the route you want to take on the ground.

If you wanted to start in Vienna and move west to end your time in the western half of Switzerland (Lake Geneva area) then it would make sense to fly out of GVA. If you reverse, travel east, and fly out of Vienna then it is equally valid to fly into GVA. If you are not going to make it to the west part of CH then ZRH is your obvious choice.

Given your time constraints I would try to do an "open-jaw" (into one airport and out of a different one) and avoid having to go all the way back to Vienna to fly home.

Good luck.

Edited: 17 January 2014, 08:59
Quainton, United...
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6. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

The place for your train tickets is of course www.oebb.at - Vienna to Zurich from €29 in 2nd class with print at home tickets.

If booking 1st class, pay the €15 extra for business class, I've got very partial to those cradling leather seats!

But do stop at Salzburg if you have the time, it's a lovely city.

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Man in Seat 61, we just travelled Salzburg to Zurich on the Railjet and paid the 15 Euro for the business class upgrade. I agree re the seat comfort, they were wonderful, but one problem we struck was that there was no luggage storage. As the business class section was totally full, with no convenient spots for large cases, we actually had to store our luggage in what we assumed were magazine racks, as they steeply sloped down. This of course meant that at each stop, we had to check as the cases would randomly slide out lol.

We thought that this was an anomaly of the Railjet until we noticed large normal luggage racks in first class. Due to this I really couldn't recommend business class unless you only had hand luggage. As there were four adults travelling in our compartment, with four cases and four pieces of hand luggage, there was nowhere in the compartment to leave our cases.

I also totally agree that Salzburg is a fabulous spot to spend a day or two as we did last week.

Thanks for all the train advice we have got from you. It has made travelling from Prague to Berlin, Munich, Salzburg, Lucerne and Zurich a total joy. We are training for a month through Italy in October so will be back for more info.

Saint Louis...
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8. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

Man-in-Seat61:

Thank you very much for the reply, and the information! I did not realize you were a member here, so seeing a reply from you is a bit like talking to a web celebrity, lol! :)

Sorry to be a bit of a fanboy for a second, but: My wife and I really love your website/blog, and we've used it extensively for our two previous trips to Europe. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with the world! :)

Cheers!

Clarenville NF
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9. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

I am also doing this in June,2014. I am interested in all ideas!

10. Re: Planning a Zurich-Vienna trip; need itinerary advice

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