Summary of our trip including places we visited and restaurants
Geneva - 1 night
Croatia – Split 5 night Split - 1 hour flight from Geneva to Split, Blue Cave and Havar Island tour with Mayer Charter, Island hop to Komiza, Stiniva Bay, Smokova Bay, Joe's Beach, Perivoj, Brokeria, Chops Grill Steak and Seafood Split Trogir - 1 hour boat ride there, 1 hour bus ride back, Fortress Kamerlengo, Mirkec Pizzeria Split Split walk to Prva Vidilica Na Marjanu for view Split Split Kkra National Park with splitwalkingtour.com Split Split Joe's Beach Bar and Lounge $6.00 uber ride from the city
Croatia - Dubrovnik 3 nights- 4 1/2 ferry ride from Split Dubrovnik walked city walls, Gradska Kavana, Arsenal, Panaorama Restaurant, Restaurant Dubrovnik Dubrovnik Fort Lovrijenac Dubrovnik Buza Bar Bosnia Kravice Falls Mostar war photo exhibition
Geneva 6 nights Gruyeres Maison Cailler, La Maison Du Gruyere, Village of Gruyeres, Castle of Gruyeres, Le Moelson Summit, Panorama Restaurant, Taqueria Los Cuandos Annecy, France 1 hour bus ride via Flixbus $20 RT Used Swiss Pass for remainder of trip Lausanne, 40 min train ride from Geneva, Lausanne Cathedral, Lake Geneva, Olympic Museum, Nyon, train from Lausanne, Chateau de Nyon, Roman Columns Montreaux 30 min train from Geneva, Lakeside Promenade Fleuri, Montreux Casino for Queen Exhibit, Chillon Castle, Vevey- train from Montreaux Yvoire - train to Nyon and then 20 min ferry to Yvoire, return by ferry Lavaux Café la Gare
Bern – 2 nights Bern explored city, Rose Garden Zermatt - 2 hour train from Bern with 1 transfer, cogway to Gornegrat (45 min ride), matterhorn museum, Say Cheese
Interlaken – 5 nights Interlaken ATV tour, Taverne Restaurant Brienz- 20 min train ride or 1 hour ferry ride from Interlaken Lauterbrunnen - 20 min train from Interlaken, walked 7 miles, trummelach falls Murren - take cable car from Lauterbrunnen walked around Gelmersee - train to Gelmerbahn Funicular, ride Gelmerbahn Funicular, hike 2 hours around lake, Mt. Schilthorn (1 train, 1 bus, 4 cable cars to reach summit Piz Gloria, James Bond Exhibit, Thun - 30 min train ride there, 2 hour boat ride back, Thun Castle
Lucerne – 2 nights Lucerne - 2 hr train ride from Interlaken, Swiss Musuem of Transport, city walking tour, Lion Monument, Wall of Lucerne, climbed towers, La Cucina Mt. Pilatus - 1 hour boat ride and 30 minute cogwell from Lucerne to top of Mt. Pilatus, Frakmuntegg Experience
Zurich 3 nights Bellinzona - 2 hour train ride from Zurich, Castlegrande Lugano - train from Bellinzona, boat ride to village Gandrai, boat to Monte Bre and 2 funiculars to top of mountain, Ristorante Antico (Gandria) Zurich Rhine Falls and Stein am Rhein Ricclette
When my daughter got a summer internship in Geneva, I was excited to have an excuse to travel and explore Switzerland at the end of her work experience. We decided to add Croatia to our trip, as well. I booked my tickets using miles through United Airlines (30,000 miles). At the Tom Bradley International Terminal I was able to go through the TSA checkpoint and once inside the terminal I used my priority pass membership (free membership with your Chase Reserve Credit card) to get $28 credit at PF Chang’s. I also stopped at the KAL Lounge with the priority pass membership. I flew on Lufthansa from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, with a connecting flight to Geneva. I was able to pay $115 to upgrade to a seat with greater legroom. This was a bargain. Even when the person in front of me reclined all the way back I was not able to touch his seat with my legs completely outstretched. I use the website www.seatguru.com to help me decide which seats to choose for my flights. Be aware that if you are connecting in Frankfurt you will have to go through security again to get to your new gate if it is in a different terminal (at least I had to). The line for security was very long and moved slowly. I had a 1½-hour layover and I got to the gate 5 minutes before boarding (and that was with me running through 2 terminals).
When I arrived in Geneva I went through customs, got my luggage, and then proceeded out to where the Uber drivers pick up (exit door 5 and walk across the way to the first parking lot). My Uber arrived within a few minutes, so it worked out perfectly. We spent the first couple of days walking around Geneva. We purchased an all-day bus pass for $8.00, which also included a boat ride on Lake Geneva. Once you purchase your bus ticket you just hold onto it. You do not need to show it to anyone unless they come up and ask you for it. We walked around Old Town and had a lovely dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. We sat outside and it was lovely but be aware that smoking cigarettes outside is normal here, so if that is going to bother you, you may want to dine inside.
The next day we took a flight to Split, Croatia on Easy Jet. It was a very easy process. Be sure to check in online, or you will have to pay additional fees. You can check in as early as 30 days before your flight. Once inside the terminal my priority pass gave me free entrance to 3 different lounges. We went to the Horizon Lounge, which was a great choice, so we stayed there until our flight. This lounge offer meats and cheeses, wine, champagne, beer, and other treats, all complimentary.
We were staying at an 1 bedroom Airbnb right near the city for $120/night (here is the link to the property) , and our host arranged a ride for us from the airport for a fee of $40 US. We spent the first day walking around the city and exploring. The beaches were very crowded. At Bacvice Beach, you could rent a beach chair and umbrella for $15. For dinner we went to Perivoj, which was absolutely wonderful. They have a lovely setting in a garden with a water fountain. The service was exceptional, and the food was incredibly delicious.
The next day we did the Blue Cave and Havar Island tour with Mayer Charter. We met at the Matejuska Pier located in town. They broke us up into groups of 12 people and loaded us on their incredibly comfortable and fun speedboats. I had never been on a boat like this before, and it was such a thrill. It went really fast and at times we were flying up and down along the water, but it was a fun ride and not scary at all. It was actually quite thrilling. They also played great music throughout the day, and I was surprised to find out that the skipper and guide on our tour (Petra and Mario) actually created this playlist for their tour. If you are taking this tour I highly recommend you request Petra and Mario, as they truly made the day spectacular. We started out on a 1½-hour ride to the Blue Cave on Bisevo Island. You have to get off of the speedboat and are then taken on a smaller boat into the Blue Cave. The way the sun hits inside the cave radiates this incredibly blue color in the cave. After the cave we visited several islands including Vis, Stiniva Bay--voted the best beach in Europe in 2016 –for a quick swim, and then Smokova Bay where we spent some time swimming and snorkeling in the water. We then went to Hvar Island where we spent a few hours walking through the town, having lunch, and going on a steep climb to visit the Town Fortress where you see incredible views. It costs approximately $7.50 to enter the fortress, and they only take cash. We met at 7:30 AM and returned at 6:00 PM. It was a fun-filled day and I would highly recommend this fun and exciting tour.
The next day we woke up very late so we had to come up with a new plan. We decided to visit Trogir. We did some research and found a boat (Bura Lines) that would take us there. The boat only cost around $5.00 one-way per person. It took one hour and was a beautiful boat ride. Get there early as a line forms to get a seat. You pay in cash when you board the boat. It stops at one place before going to Trogir, so be sure you don’t get off on the first stop.
Once we arrived in Trogir, we walked around the city, which was so quaint and beautiful. It was especially nice to walk behind the buildings down small alleyways. We had lunch at a restaurant called Mirkec Pizzeria and enjoyed our margherita pizza and caprese salad. We then visited the Fortress Kamerlengo. We climbed a lot of steps and finally reached the top with beautiful views of the city. It cost $3.50 per person to enter.
The timing of the boat did not work for us for the return, as it would get us back too late for dinner, so we took the bus back to Split. There is the number 37 bus, which takes about an hour and makes stops along the way, and another bus that goes direct and takes about 30 minutes. We happened to be there when the 37 bus was departing in a couple of minutes so we took that bus. It cost around $3.50 person. It was very hot and crowded, so if you can take the boat back I would certainly do that instead of the bus.
For dinner we ate at Brokeria. Several people recommended it, and we really enjoyed it. We enjoyed the marinated Adriatic Sea scampi with orange and lemon oil, the sea bass filet, and the filet mignon. The truffle mashed potatoes that accompanied the steak were to die for. We finished it off with a lovely dessert. After dinner we took a walk to Prva Vidilica Na Marjanu to see the most incredible view of Split. Walk up Sperun Ulica to Senjska Ulica and take the stairs to the viewpoint. It is truly worth the climb.
The next morning we got up early to meet with Split Walking Tour to visit Krka National Park, one of Croatia’s most famous national parks. We met them outside the Golden Gate of the Diocletian’s Palace at 8:30 and we were on our way by 9:00 AM. They provide the transportation to and from the Krka Park in a double decker air-conditioned bus. The bus takes you to a little town called Skradin where you take a short boat ride down the river to Skaradinski Buk waterfalls. Once you enter the park it is a short walk to the waterfalls. You can swim in the lower part of the falls, and I suggest you bring water shoes as there are large rocks in the water and it is not so easy getting in and out of the water. When you have finished swimming the falls there is a trail you can walk along to explore the entire park. It is a loop, so you can’t get lost. There are a number of stairs to climb, and each set of stairs gives you another incredible view of the waterfalls. There is a wooden walkway that takes you around the falls. You can bring in your own food and have a picnic, or you can purchase food there. There are a variety of stands set up to get food and two restaurants where you can sit down to eat. These two outdoor restaurants serve burgers and hot dogs, as well as other items, but if you pass both of these places you will see another restaurant on the left that says “buffet” (not sure what the name of the restaurant is). Here you can enjoy a variety of options while enjoying the view of the waterfalls. We discovered this restaurant after eating at the previous outdoor restaurant, so we missed out on this. If you need to use the restroom there is one when you first enter the park that cost money, but further up there is another restroom that is free. They also have lockers you can rent if you want to store your valuables while you are in the water. After we walked the loop and swam in the water we just relaxed in the shade under a tree until it was time to depart. After spending 5 hours at the park, we met everyone at the bus and headed back to Split. This was an incredibly beautiful, relaxing, and easy day thanks to the www.splitwalkingtour.com company.
That evening we had dinner at Chops Grill Steak and Seafood. We were seated outside in the non-smoking section, which was perfect for us. The ambience was lovely. We thoroughly enjoyed everything. We started with a Caesar salad, and then we shared a monkfish and a filet with a blue cheese butter. The side order of truffle mashed potatoes was amazing. We finished off our dinner with the chocolate soufflé (our version of the lava cake). It was a perfect evening.
My last day in Split I spent at Joe’s Beach Bar and Lounge. This is a popular beach with the locals. I did not arrive until 11:30, but I was lucky as there was one lounge chair and umbrella remaining. It cost me $22 and was well worth it, as the chair was comfortable and they provide bar service for food and drinks. The ground is full of small rocks, so you should bring water shoes. The water was lovely. I took an Uber to and from my apartment in the city center and it only cost $6.00.
The next morning we took the Krilo Ferry from Split to Dubrovnik. We had the 7:40 AM ferry and were supposed to arrive at 12:05, but instead we arrived around 12:25. I loved the boat ride, but it was pretty rough at times for some people and some got sick. If you are sensitive to seasickness be aware. Upon our arrival at the Dubrovnik port, it was a $15.00 ride to our Airbnb located in the Old City. They can only drive you up to a certain point and then you need to walk the rest of the way, as there are no cars in the old city. It was the perfect location, as we were able to walk everywhere. It had a bed and a sofa bed in the living room. I paid $150/night.
Our first night we had dinner at Gradska Kavana Arsenal http://www.nautikarestaurants.com/gradska-kavana-arsenal/. This restaurant has the most beautiful setting overlooking the water, wonderful service, and delicious food. It was a very enjoyable evening. After dinner we walked around the city and visited Caffe Bar d’Poets. This bar looked to be in a cave, and they had a singer playing guitar. It was a wonderful way to finish off a great dinner.
The next morning we decided to walk the city walls of Dubrovnik. The walls run 6365 feet long and go as high at 83 feet. There are many steps to explore, so I would suggest going in the morning or later in the day. It cost 200 Kuna ($30/person) and took around 2 hours to explore. There are incredible views of the entire city. It was such a beautiful day. We were lucky in that it was a bit overcast, so it was not hot or sunny, and it was very comfortable. If you are able, purchase your tickets in advance. When we arrived the line was somewhat short but when we returned there was a very long line to purchase tickets. The tickets are good for one entry so once you depart the walls you cannot reenter unless you purchase another ticket. The ticket also gives you access to Fort Lovrijenac, which was fun to explore as well. After completing the walls we walked to the Dubrovnik Cable Car to have lunch at Panorama Restaurant at the top of Srđ Hill. The cable car cost 170 kuna ($25) per adult for a round trip ticket. The line was pretty short when we arrived, but when we left the line was very long. There is a way to buy tickets in advance for the cable car, but I am not sure how. The views from the restaurant are incredible. We started sitting outside but then it started raining, so we moved to the indoor part of the restaurant. It still had beautiful views from the glass walls. After lunch we rode the cable car back down and walked to Fort Lovrijenac. After exploring the Fort we stopped for a drink at Buza Bar, which is a bar built into the cliffs. We got a table along the railing and enjoyed the view of the Adriatic Sea.
We had dinner that night at Restaurant Dubrovnik. This was such a wonderful experience. It is a Michelin star restaurant and it is easy to see why. The ambience was beautiful, the service was superb (J was amazing), and the food was incredible with the combination of flavors and textures. It was truly a wonderful dining experience.
The next morning we got up early to meet Laus Travel for an all day trip to Kravice Falls in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Mostar. The company picked us up right outside of the old city and transferred in a comfortable van to the Falls and Mostar. Once we got to the park we were able to explore on our own for 1½ hours. There were people swimming in the falls, but the water was very cold, so I did not attempt it. After the Falls we went to Mostar. It is a beautiful city but seeing the homes with bullet holes was very sad. We visited the War Photo Exhibition, which showcased very touching and sad photos from the Bosnian war. It was a long day but very enjoyable.
We flew back to Geneva to spend a week and do a bunch of day trips. On our first day in Geneva, a friend that I met through Girls Love Travel, a Facebook group for women travelers, picked up my daughter and me to spend the day in Gruyères. It was a beautiful 2-hour drive from Geneva. We started out by visiting Maison Cailler, a Swiss Chocolate factory. You walk through a multi-sensory experience, and in the last room you get to sample a variety of chocolates. They were delectable. After this we stopped at La Maison du Gruyere to get some cheese and see the massive amount of cheeses they produce and store. We then visited the Village of Gruyères and walked around the Castle of Gruyeres. It was so beautiful. We had lunch in the village and I had my first Rösti, a Swiss potato dish. It was very tasty. We then went to visit Le Moelson Summit. We took the funicular to Plan-Francey and then the cable car to the summit of Le Moelson at 2002 meters. We walked around and the scenery was stunning. We even saw a couple of people attempting to walk a tightrope across the mountains…they were hooked in but it was still pretty amazing to watch as they attempted and many times would fall but get right back up to try again. We had dinner at Le Sommet restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful cheese fondue.
The next morning we took the Flixbus to Annecy, France. The bus ride was only about an hour and cost around $20 round trip. This was such a beautiful city. We strolled along the canals and the lake. We shopped at their farmers market and took a relaxing hour boat ride on the lake. It was such a beautiful and easy way to spend the day.
The remainder of our trip we would be visiting a number of different cities, so we purchased the 15-day Swiss Travel Pass. It was expensive ($960 for 2 tickets) but this allowed us to ride on trains, buses, and boats as much as we wanted and not have to purchase timed tickets for each train. This allowed us much more flexibility and I felt it was worth the money. When we were first trying to decide to buy our train tickets or purchase a Swiss Travel Pass, we compared the numbers. Our planned trips would have cost us $200 more for each of us if we purchased the Swiss Travel Pass, but after thinking about it we decided to purchase it and here is why: flexibility! If we woke up late or the weather changed we could easily change our plans. If one train was too crowded (the app tells you how crowded it is) we could take the next train that was empty. The Swiss Pass includes trains, buses, and boats so whenever we visited a new city we didn’t have to deal with purchasing bus tickets; we just used our Swiss Travel Pass. There were times when we decided to hop off at another stop to visit another city and didn’t have to worry about how much it would cost for another ticket. The pass also gives free access to over 300 museums. I purchased 2nd class tickets, but you can upgrade to first class on different trips. Not sure how it works on trains but on ferries I was able to pay $10-$15 extra per person to upgrade to first class on the ferry so on a long ride it was worth it. It also gives you complimentary admission to a variety of museums and castles.
Our first morning using the pass we took a 40-minute train ride from Geneva to Lausanne. Once we arrived we took the metro to the old city and visited the Lausanne Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Switzerland, which was stunning. We then walked to Lake Geneva (although there was a metro to take us to the lake we wanted to explore). We walked along the lake to Olympic Museum. We walked around the outside of the museum, which had beautiful statues and landscaping. After hanging out admiring the lake and eating ice cream at Glaces Veneta, we hopped back on the train to Nyon where we walked by the Chateau de Nyon and then visited the Roman Columns over looking Lake Geneva. It was all so incredible.
The following morning we took the morning train to Montreux. It was a 1-hour train ride from Geneva. We walked to the Lakeside Promenade Fleuri. This was just pure beauty. There were beautiful flowers and landscaping all along the walkway/lake. There were even beautiful sculptures. There were also booths set up selling items and food and a stage set up with these incredible singers. After hanging out there a bit we walked to the Montreux Casino to see the free Queen exhibit. There was Queen memorabilia and even the sound studio that they recorded their last songs in. It was pretty amazing. We then continued our walk to the Chillon Castle. We discovered once we got there that entry was included with our Swiss Pass. We did purchase the audio guide for $6.00. This really made the experience that much more enjoyable. The audio guide leads you through all of the different rooms of the castle and explains what went on in each room. It was very interesting. This was such an amazing experience. We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed it. After the castle we took a train back to Montreux and then took a ferry to Vevey where they were celebrating the Fete des Vignerons, which takes place once every 20 years. We happened to get there just in time for the parade. It was a celebratory event. We then took the train back to Geneva.
Our next morning we had planned on taking the ferry to Yvoire, France but we got a late start and missed our ferry. Luckily there was a train that took us to Nyon and from there we took a 20-minute ferry to Yvoire. This is another reason why the Swiss Travel Pass works so great when you are on a flexible schedule. The town of Yvoire is very small and is a quaint medieval village. We walked around admiring the architecture and the flowers, had a bite to eat, and then headed back to Geneva. This time we took the ferry all the way back directly. It took around 1½ hours. We did not spend much time in Yvoire, but it was just enough.
Our last day trip from Geneva was to Lavaux. We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant called Café La Gare. It was a few steps from the train station. After lunch we planned to walk along the trails in the vineyards, but we had a massive rainstorm with lightning and thunder, so instead we got on the Lavaux Express, which is a little train ride that takes you through the vineyards. We did the Cully loop and it was beautiful, and we were protected from the rainstorm. We had dinner that night back in Geneva at Taqueria Los Cuandos. It was very good but be sure to make a reservation. They were packed by 7:30 on a Tuesday night.
We finally departed Geneva and spent the rest of our vacation staying in various hotels and Airbnbs. Our first stop was Bern. It was a 2-hour train ride from Geneva. We had 2 big suitcases and we couldn’t find a place to easily store them on the first level without taking extra seats (there is space to store luggage under the seats, but our suitcases were too big) so we took them upstairs where there was a storage rack for the luggage. It was very comfortable up there, and we enjoyed the 2-hour train ride with the most incredible views. Once we arrived at the Bern train station we walked 15 minutes to the train stop where we took the train that stopped directly across the street from our hotel. We stayed at IBIS Bern Expo. The rooms were reasonably priced ($140/night), small but comfortable, and they have air conditioning. They provide you with a card for free local transportation on the buses, but since we had the Swiss Pass we didn’t use it. We spent the first day walking around the city, admiring the Aare River, the beautiful streets and architecture, and the beautiful church. There is a funicular, which takes you down to the river, or you can walk down the steps. There are also 3 bears that were fun to watch. What was really cool about the old city was they have stores, bars, and, restaurants that are below street level. It looks like you are going into a basement and instead there is an entire business there. We also visited the Rose Garden, which had great views of the city.
Our first morning in Bern we took the train to Zermatt (a 2-hour train ride with one transfer) and then purchased tickets to take Europe’s highest open-air cogway railway to Gornergrat, a mountain with beautiful views, including that of the Matterhorn. It was a 45-minute ride. The cost was around $100/person round trip, but with the Swiss Pass it was 50 percent off. We also paid an additional $10 per ticket for a priority ticket. We got there 15 minutes before the next train was going up and the line was huge to board the train. We wanted to make sure to sit on the right side as it has incredible views of the Matterhorn on the way up. It turns out we were the only ones that paid the $10 extra so we were the first ones on the train and got the best seats. The train was crowded and others had to stand so I felt it was worth the extra $10. Once you get to the top you can walk around and hike. We went to the very top for the panoramic view, but I have to say, it was exhausting at that altitude to climb higher. We had lunch at the restaurant at the top, which was enjoyable. After spending time enjoying the views, we took the railway back down to Zermatt and spent the day wandering there. It is truly beautiful there with the cute houses and all the greenery and the views of the Matterhorn from there as well. We visited the Matterhorn Museum, which was free with our Swiss Pass. We had a very enjoyable dinner at Say Cheese, an upscale fondue restaurant. It was delicious and fun. We returned to Bern to discover a music festival going on. There were different bands playing up and down the street in Old town and food booths set up…it was quite the party scene.
The next morning we departed Bern to stay in Interlaken for 5 nights. Interlaken is a great base from which to take local day trips. The train ride there was around an hour, and it was beautiful. We stayed in an Airbnb called Swissness apartement1 ($167/night) that was very close to the train station and walking distance to town. This Airbnb has a living room with a comfortable sleeper/sofa, an upstairs with a comfy bed, and there is also a loft that you have to climb a ladder if you need another bed, but we did not use it. There is a great Thai restaurant next door and a crepe restaurant across the street. It is a 20-minute walk to the bus/train station or a 7-minute bus ride. There is a laundromat downstairs in the building that you can use, which really helped.
On a beautiful sunny day we decided to visit Brienz. It was a 20-minute train ride or a 1 hour and 20 minute ferry ride. Timing did not work out for the ferry so we hopped on the train (you have to love the Swiss Pass) and got off at the first Brienz stop. We then walked along the water, which was stunning. Along the way people were hanging along the water and swimming or paddle boarding in the water. The city even has chairs left out for visitors to use so we pulled out a couple of chairs and hung out along the water for a while under a shady tree. It was perfect. We then walked the remainder of the way to catch the ferry back. Our Swiss Pass covered the ferry. We had second-class tickets, but I discovered you could pay to upgrade to first class on the boat so we paid $10 extra for each of us and sat on the upper deck, which was lovely. They serve food and wine as well, so we enjoyed a Prosecco as we made our way back to Interlaken. When we returned we walked around the main area for a bit and then had dinner at Taverne Restaurant. We had a lovely table outside that is next to a Japanese Garden and waterfall. They offer a 3- or 4-course chef’s surprise dinner, and each course was beautifully presented, and the food tasted wonderful.
Our first morning in Interlaken was rainy so we switched our plans (having the Swiss Pass really helps with that) and decided to visit Lauterbrunnen, located in the Jungfrau region. It was a 20-minute train ride from Interlaken. Lauterbrunen has 72 waterfalls and is incredibly beautiful. We walked along a path to the Trummelbach Falls and along the way saw waterfalls, green pastures, goats, cows, and just pure beauty. Once we reached Trummelbach Falls, we paid the entrance fee to get in ($11/adult, $4 for kids). Once inside, you walk through the mountain to view the waterfall from all different levels and angles. It was so powerful. You can walk to the top or take a tunnel lift up to the top and then work your way down. Once we departed Trummelbach Falls, we continued our walk to the Stechelberg, where we took the cable car (free with Swiss Pass) to Murren, a cute little town. We walked through Murren for a little bit and then caught the train back down, and then the cableway to the train station. You can choose to walk the entire path we did, or take a bus to different locations. We walked over 7 miles so while it was exhausting, it was absolutely incredible.
Our next morning in Interlaken we departed early so that we could ride the Gelmer Funicular. This funicular is the steepest open air funicular in Europe with an inclination of up to 106 percent and takes you to the Gelmer Valley 1860 meters above sea level. You must make a reservation in advance with a set date and time and be sure to bring food and water, as they don’t sell food at the top of the mountain. Riding the funicular was incredible. The views are outstanding. It moves pretty slowly so it is not a scary experience at all, just an exhilarating one. Once you arrive at the top there are different hikes to explore. We did the one loop around the lake which took us around 2 hours. We had to climb rocks, cross waterfalls, walk along narrow ledges, and squeeze through rock tunnels. It truly was one of the most beautiful days: the water is so blue, and the scenery is amazing. If you arrive early, you can walk across the Handeck Suspension Bridge, which connects the Hotel Handeck to the bottom station of the Gelmer Funicular for a great view of the Handeck Waterfall. This was one of my favorite days in Switzerland.
The following morning we headed to Mt. Schilthorn. We had to take 1 train, 1 bus, and 4 cable cars to reach the top at 2,970 meters. On a clear day the view can be amazing; however, the morning we were there it was cloudy and rainy. There were a couple of moments when the clouds opened up and you could see the mountains, but I definitely did not see the views it is known for. They have a revolving restaurant at the top called 360 – Restaurant Piz Gloria, and we had brunch there. The food was just okay, but it was nice to sit inside and admire the view (even on a cloudy day). There is also a James Bond exhibit you can walk through, as well as other activities you can participate in. The cable ride to the top of the mountain and activities were free with our Swiss Pass. Otherwise it would have cost $105 per adult.
It turns out our Airbnb host owns an ATV company across the street from the apartment, so we went on a 3½ hour ATV ride through Interlaken. It was such a blast. We rode through the streets, highways, and mountains of Interlaken while admiring the picturesque views of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. We saw beautiful scenery, cows and goats, and beautiful Swiss homes while driving as fast as 75 km per hour. We stopped for brunch at a delightful small-town restaurant in the mountains where we ate fresh cheese and rösti, drank delicious Swiss hot chocolate, and even got to play with a herd of very friendly goats. It was the perfect day. The company is www.FunRental.ch, and they provide rain clothes, helmet, water, and breakfast. They teach you how to ride the ATV and then you are off and running for a fun-filled day. Roland, our guide, was very knowledgeable and made sure we were safe throughout the day. This adventure was a highlight of our trip for my daughter so I highly recommend it. Once we returned to the center of Interlaken, we took a 30-minute train ride to visit Thun. The old city is so cute. We also visited the castle, which was included with the Swiss Pass. We love boat rides so we took the ferry back, where we got to see the beautiful coastal towns of Spiez and Oberhofen. It was a 2-hour boat ride, and we really enjoyed it.
We departed Interlaken to stay in Lucerne for a couple of days. It was a 2-hour train ride from Interlaken to Lucerne. We spent our first night on Mt. Pilatus, so once we arrived in Lucerne we took a 1-hour boat ride from Lucerne to Alpnachchstad, and then a 30-minute cogwell ride to the top of Mt. Pilatus at 7000 feet. We stayed at the Hotel Pilatus-Kulm. The rooms are very beautifully decorated with an incredible view overlooking the mountains and lake. The windows open up as well so you get the fresh air.
When we first arrived it was early afternoon, so we took a walk along the perimeter of the mountain. There is a trail, and it had beautiful views. We were fortunate to see a herd of Alpine Ibex climbing the mountains. They give rock climbing a new meaning. It was amazing to be so close to these animals and watch them in their habitat. After dinner we walked around the mountain to view the snow-capped mountains and the sunset. It was such a beautiful evening.
When you stay the night at this hotel, you get a welcome drink, dinner, and breakfast included in the package. The welcome reception was lovely. They set up light snacks and provided wine and water. We hung out there for a bit enjoying the view and then went to dinner. The restaurant is located in an elegant room with lighted candles and chandeliers. They have a pre-set 4-course menu. They offer vegetarian options as well as meat and fish. They brought out the most delicious bread with cheese baked into it. We both enjoyed the salad, soup, steak, and fish. The dessert was one of the best my daughter has had. I ordered the cheese plate for dessert and they brought out a beautiful cart with a variety of cheeses and accompaniments. It was such a lovely presentation, a class act. They also offer all guests a breakfast buffet included with your room. They had a nice assortment of meats, pastries, breakfast items, yogurt, and other items. It was very nice and satisfying.
After we finished breakfast we departed the hotel and took the cable down the mountain to Frakmuntegg to enjoy the Frakmuntegg Experience. We started out by riding the longest summer toboggan run in Switzerland. You go 4400 feet down the mountain though tunnels, past cows, and with the most beautiful view. Once you reach the bottom, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery again as you are pulled back up the mountain on the toboggan. It was such a blast.
The next ride we did was the Dragon Glider. You are strapped into a harness that you sit in and then you are whisked away through the forest. There are turns, twists, and just fun as you glide through the forest. Next, we visited the ropes course. I have done many ropes courses over the years, but this one was by far the most fun and adventurous. You start out by getting geared up and then are given instructions on how to do everything safely. There are a variety of different courses with different levels of difficulty. They watch you on the first course to make sure you understand how to work the gear and then you’re free to explore each course on your own. We had a great time exploring the different courses. Whether we were walking across wood logs or a thin wire, or zip lining across the course, it was extremely challenging and quite satisfying when we made it to the end. What was really funny was watching younger kids go on these same courses showing no fear and easily making it across.
For younger kids (ages 4-8) there is a pilu rope park where young kids can safely meet their own challenges on a smaller course. There are a number of other activities you can participate in at Frakmuntegg, including a free-floating tree tent night. Check out their site for a full list of activities available. https://www.pilatus.ch/en/discover/all-experiences/
When we were completely exhausted from the challenges we faced on the ropes course, we took the cable car down to Kriens and then took the number 1 bus to the city of Lucerne. After checking into our hotel, we visited the Swiss Museum of Transport. I have to tell you I was blown away by this museum. It is one of the largest museums with the most hands-on activities I have ever been in. I saw kids and adults all having fun participating in the different exhibits. Every type of transportation was represented. The outdoor area was just as fun as the indoor area. This is definitely a great place to take your kids for a day of fun and learning. After this long and exhausting day, we were ready for a great dinner. We had a really nice dinner at La Cucina. The ambience was lovely, the service spot-on, and the food incredibly delicious.
The next day we took a 2-hour Guided City Tour of Lucerne. It was great to walk around and learn about the city. After the tour we took a walk to see the Lion Monument and also walked the Musegg Wall and climbed the towers. The steps for the towers were very steep, and we both felt a weird sensation in our knee area--so be aware if you feel something strange, it is normal (the woman in front of me commented about her knee and when I mentioned it to my daughter she felt the same sensation that I did when we were climbing down).
We then departed Lucerne to visit Zurich for a few days. We stayed in a wonderful Airbnb in Zurich called Elegant Apartment with Pocket Wifi. It had one large living room with a queen bed and then a separate twin bed. It was very comfortable and located near the tram and bus station so very convenient. It was $142/night.
The next morning we decided to visit the Italian region of Switzerland. We took a 2-hour train ride to Bellinzona, where they had a great farmers market going on. We walked around cute streets and then visited the Castlegrande. It was amazing to be in this castle and look across the way and see two additional castles. We only had time to visit this one, and it was certainly fun exploring it. We climbed towers, walked the wall, and enjoyed the beautiful views. Once we were finished exploring the castle we took a train to Lugano. From Lugano we took a boat ride to a village called Gandria and had a wonderful lunch at Ristorante Antico, which has a lovely setting overlooking the water. After lunch we took the boat to Monte Bre, where we took two funiculars to reach the top of the mountain with beautiful views of Lake Lugano. It was a long but very fun day.
Our last day in Zurich we did a tour with Best of Switzerland Tours. We visited the Rhine Falls and Stein am Rhein. The tour company was very well organized, and our guide did a great job keeping everyone on schedule. She was very knowledgeable. When we arrived at Rhine Falls, she took us down to a boat that they charter so you do not have to wait in the long line to get on a boat. The boat takes you close to the falls and circles around so you get a few different views of the falls up close. After the boat ride we walked to the different levels to view the falls. We had about an hour at the falls. There is food in the courtyard before you enter the falls so you can stop and get a bite to eat before or after your visit. After the falls we went to Stein am Rhein, a medieval village. It was small and very cute. The buildings were beautiful. We walked around a little bit and stopped for ice cream, which was very refreshing. After an hour-long visit, we were back on the road and headed back to the bus depot. It was a fun day. We had our last dinner at Raclette Factory for raclette, which was a delicious last Swiss meal. It is a small restaurant, so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
It was hard to believe that our 4-week vacation had finally come to an end. My daughter planned this entire trip, and I was quite proud of the job she did. I loved all of the different places we visited every day. Each day seemed to be more beautiful than the last. Switzerland is an easy place to get around with public transportation, and every day is a new adventure. Visiting Croatia was a nice addition to the trip and a quick plane ride. I wonder where my next adventure will take me…..stay tuned.
I would like to than the following companies for hosting me or offering me discounted rates: