Switzerland in the winter without winter gear
December 15, 2011 7:14 AM   Subscribe

What should I see and do in/around Zurich and Bern?

I am currently working in west Africa and will be travelling home to Canada through Zurich at the end of December. I have one week to spend in Switzerland (Dec 28 through Jan 4) and was planning to visit Bern as well as Zurich. The issue is that I do not have very good winter clothes with me as this was a last minute travel decision so hiking through the snow is not an option. I enjoy museums, architecture, historic sites and good food but am up for pretty much anything as long as I won't be too cold in my jacket, toque and mitts thrown over summer clothes. Also, I am pretty tired so a laid back itinerary will be more my style.
posted by madokachan to Travel & Transportation around Switzerland (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I was in Bern my hosts led me through the Old Town and the many shops below street level, accessed via steep ladders down intrigued me -- more info at the bottom of this visitor's guide. There wasn't any time for exploration but if I ever get back there, I want to check them out. That guide also talks about the bears, I'm glad they have a new park, looks much nicer than the open pit where they lived when I was there.
posted by Rash at 9:27 AM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: Walking through bern is interesting as it is a huge step back in time. I also really enjoyed the Paul Klee museum (but, I'm a fan). In Zurich, I took a little guided tour that I found through our hotel of some chocolate and cheese factories. I highly revommend this!! There is also a pretty nice tropical garden near the university that would be great on a cold day. A few tips. Try to time your meals at regular meal times as many places are closed from 1 to 5 pm. And if you can get a first class train ticket, go for it. The train ride itself was very enjoyable! Oh and message me if you are interested and I will get the tour company (small van with 4 to 6 people) information.
posted by saradarlin at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: you can go to hiltl, in zurich, europe's oldest vegetarian restaurant!
posted by sabh at 11:34 AM on December 15, 2011

In Zurich, I liked seeing Cabaret Voltaire, the birthplace of the Dada art movement.
posted by xo at 11:53 AM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: I like Zurich.... On Lake Zurich there are dinner/sightseeing boats that will take you to the castle in Rapperswil and places in between. If you have a Eurail pass your ticket for the boat is free. To get to the boat from Zurich HBF (“Hauptbahnhof” ie main train station) just walk down Bahnhof Strasse (there’s an info desk on the main concourse of the HBF that will point you in the right direction) to where it ends at Lake Zurich. It’s not far. You can’t miss it. From Rapperswil you can walk to the train station there and take the train back to Zurich HBF.

Across the street from Zurich HBF is the Swiss National Museum. From the museum you can walk the bridge over the Limmat river and, aiming towards the right, wander around the Old City, heading towards the lake. You will be walking past the Grossmunster church where Zwingli (from Protestant Reform fame) was pastor. You can stop in and wander around inside to warm up a bit.

When you arrive at Lake Zurich, looking at the lake from the street/boat dock, if you look way up to your right you will see the Uetliberg, the highest point in Zurich. There is a special train from HBF that will take you 90% of the way up. You’ll have to walk the rest but if the weather is nice and clear, it’ll be worth it. There is a restaurant up there to warm up in with good food and drink (honestly, I’ve never had a lousy meal or lousy cup of coffee in Switzerland), wonderful views of the city, the lake and, if you are lucky, mountains not too far off in the distance.

For a truly laid-back and comfortable adventure, take a train to Zermatt for a stunning view of the Matterhorn (take the tram up to the Gornergrat for an even better view), spend the night there and take the Glacier Express (link) for a day trip train ride to St. Moritz. If the weather is good, the views will blow your mind. Spend the night in St. Moritz and head back to Zurich or Bern or wherever else you like.

Check out Tripadvisor to find hotels to fit your budget. From my experiences with Switzerland I never made many reservations beyond a day or so in advance (YMMV – I would definitely call a day or more ahead for the Glacier Express – check weather first), you just basically aim for the regions with decent weather. You can do a lot in one week.
posted by jamesalbert at 4:16 PM on December 15, 2011

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