Planning a peaceful trip to Switzerland and beyond?
July 11, 2014 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Kinda two-fold. (1) What's do-able with 10 days in/from Lausaunne, Switzerland? (2) How do I manage this trip with my boyfriend and a few other friends?

I'm attending a conference in Lausanne middle of October for perhaps three days. I'd like to also make trips over to Austria and Croatia (perhaps Slovenia?) for a total of 10ish days. My friend wants to visit Monaco.

Any recommendations on if this is possible? And if so, what's a good to add to the itinerary (anything: food, accommodations, travel modes, etc). We'll fly from DC to Zurich or Geneva, haven't decided yet.

I will also be going with my boyfriend, a high school friend, a college friend, and a post-college friend. They've all hung out together a few times, quite happily, but have not traveled together. I've traveled with each of them separately and it's been fine. Any tips for handling 10 days abroad as a group?
posted by inevitability to Travel & Transportation around Switzerland (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's ALL do-able. I'd get a Eurail Pass. I got a France Rail pass and it was WELL worth it! Very flexible and much less expensive than buying rail tickets in Europe.

I will say that for the longest stretches, take an overnight train and sleep on the way. You'll travel at night and you'll save on a hotel.

You should get together with your friends and discuss an itinerary, you want everyone to be on the same page. Also discuss money. Some people will want Fodors and other will want Lonely Planet. Make sure you can all live with what's decided. Set some ground rules, if people want to split up and do different things during the day, say you'll all meet for dinner or drinks at 7:00 in the lobby.

I will suggest that if you go to Monaco, head over to Nice for accomodation, and for the fabulous museums. Don't actually STAY in Monaco, that shit is ridiculously expensive. I spent 16 hours in Monaco and spent more money than the previous 9 days in France. Also the casino is NO BIG DEAL. Take a tour in the day time. I went at night, expecting a James Bond moment and it was me and 7 German tourists. Yawn.

Pack light. Plan to do laundry every couple of days rather than pack the earth. I only wish I had done that the first time I went to Europe.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:55 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not on your list, but a great activity close to Lausanne: Chamonix is an easy daytrip from Lausanne and is the tallest point in Europe. (I did rent a car for that one). (The images don't do it justice and that' saying something).

Geneva - Lausanne is a great, easy 40 minute (I think? It never felt that long) train ride that I have done many times. The train departs directly from the airport and requires no layovers.
(I never landed via Zurich).

Note that the train station in Lausanne has a steep hill going up, and a steep hill going down, on either side of it, so you'll almost certainly want to taxi if you have heavy luggage.

In Lausanne, 2 places stood out:
- XIIIème Siècle, rue Cité-Devant (In the old city, behind the Cathedral) bar is eclectic and excellent, targetting students but with a ton of atmosphere.
- Café de Grancy in Lausanne had a really nice brunch/breakfast.
posted by olya at 12:16 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't miss the Olympic museum and the museum of outsider art.

If you eat dairy, be sure to have merengue with cream.
posted by brujita at 12:22 PM on July 11, 2014

Best answer: Pack light. No one ever finished a trip wishing they had brought more stuff.
Lausanne is beautiful, and there are things to see around the lake (Château de Chillon, wine country, ferry to Evian, France) to keep the others occupied while you are busy.
If you stay one other place in Switzerland, I recommend you go to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. It is beyond stunning. If you PM me I can recommend the apartment where we stayed in the village of Mürren. Are you reasonably fit? Take the Villa Ferrata!
Switzerland is expensive though, so you may want to take that nice break into Slovenia pretty quick.
posted by Tunierikson at 12:25 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lauterbrunnen and surrounds are stunning but Switzerland is pricey. There are some places in the Austrian Alps which are also gorgeous but cheaper. We thought Evian was very dull.

We have just got back from Austria, we were initially going to stay in Slovenia but after a day trip from Austria were glad we went for a bad in Austria.
posted by biffa at 12:43 PM on July 11, 2014

Chamonix = Mont Blanc. I did a day trip there when visiting Geneva and would highly recommend it, very memorable.

You should definitely do a day in Geneva since you're so close - it's a very walkable, pretty city.
posted by maryr at 12:45 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ruthless Bunny's advice is great. I'd add that when planning for that kind of disparate group you should prepare the itinerary yourself, and be the central control for sending it around to your friends for review and comments. In other words, you are in control of the master version and the others just respond to it.

Prepare a first draft with nothing but train times and a few partial-day suggested activities filled in. If they all like your suggestions, great. And, if Friend A also wants to visit the X Museum, you decide whether you agree, and if so, you slide that into the blank spot on Tuesday afternoon, say, and you send that revised version around for comments.

You shouldn't have the burden of (1) asking everyone whether they'd like to see the X Museum (i.e., explaining or defending Friend A's suggestion); and (b) if so, on what day. That many people can't decide anything. They should be limited to accepting or proposing modifications of your draft itinerary.

Hope this is useful. It sounds wonderful. Have fun.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:49 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lausanne is lovely! It's a nice train ride to Montreux (seconding Château de Chillon.) If you have access to a car and are feeling adventurous, check out the Lötschental valley in the alps - it looks to be an hour and 45 minute drive from Lausanne. Apart from being fantastically beautiful, the valley is also home to an isolated carnival tradition called Tschäggättä where people don grotesque wooden masks adorned with animal hair and teeth, and parade in the streets. I wasn't there during carnival, but I remember the masks being around as decorations everywhere. There was at least one year-round shop selling them in Wiler. You can do some heartbreakingly beautiful day hiking around there too. I'm not sure what the alps are like in October, though; I was there in July. (I'm sorry not to be able to provide more specifics - I was there a long time ago in high school, staying with a friend and his Swiss family who knew all of these places already and did all the driving.)
posted by usonian at 12:57 PM on July 11, 2014

Coco Chanel is buried in Lausanne and has 5 lions on her grave.
posted by brujita at 3:29 PM on July 11, 2014

Best answer: Lausanne is a beautiful city! I lived there as a kid, so I don’t have a whole lot of advice, but I can recommend having a wander around for at least a day. You can get a daypass (carte journaliere) that is valid for both bus and metro.

I can second the ferry ride from the Quai d'Ouchy (the lakeside of Lausanne) to Evian. Also, Ouchy is a great place to walk around. Great views everywhere...the architecture, the lake, and the mountains across the lake. Check it out on google streetview. The Musee Olympique is right there, and the Parc Olympique.

From there you can walk (lots of hills, have good shoes) to the Parc de Milan and the Botanic Garden, which is small but nice and gives a very good view since it's at the top of a little hill.

There’s also interesting walking downtown, near Notre Dame cathedral. Lots of little fancy shopping streets. The history museum is cool, since the city goes back to Roman times. If you’re in town on a Wed or Sat morning there’s a market at Place de la Riponne… lots of local cheese, meat and bread!

Two other things I highly recommend…. go hiking, there are so many great places, and eat at a little alpine lodge. Some of them serve only fondue, crut de fromage and merengues. Those are the best ones!
posted by switcheroo at 6:12 PM on July 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all! We've decided on driving from Lausanne to Vienna for the 10 days. Leisurely. :-)
posted by inevitability at 5:37 AM on August 12, 2014

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