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Bern or Basel

Savannah, Georgia
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103 posts
28 reviews
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Bern or Basel
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I am trying to be hopeful and planning a trip for September, as long as COVID gets under control. We live in the US, but are getting our vaccine this week, so again hopeful this trip will happen.

My question is which city would be best to visit for a day trip from Zurich. I have one day saved out for one of these places, just don’t know which one. We are not museum people. We enjoy discovering old towns, maybe do local tours.

My plans keep evolving. Currently, planning on staying about twelve days between Zurich, Lucerne and Montreux.

14 replies to this topic
Bern, Switzerland
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1. Re: Bern or Basel
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Bern is a great place to visit and walk around. With a farmer's market on tuesday and saturday mornings (making these the best days to visit). Unesco listed Old Town with arcades and fountains, views of the alps, great walk along the river. Check out the walking tour of Bern posted on TA !

United Kingdom
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2. Re: Bern or Basel
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I would make both of them day trips from Luzern and not bother with Zurich!

Wengen, Switzerland
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for Switzerland
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I wouldn't bother with staying in Zurich either, unless there is something there you must absolutely see. Switzerland is a small country, and getting from ZRH to Luzern is easier as getting from JFK to Manhattan...

Edited: 21 January 2021, 20:18
Savannah, Georgia
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Yes, I have a reason to be in Zurich. I will also be staying in Lucerne, Lugano and Montreux over a period of 12/14 days. I will have hit most of the major sites along the way traveling by trains. We visit mountains, lakes and valleys. We just cannot do extremely high elevations due to my husband problem with altitude sickness.

I realize Zurich is not the most desired city to visit, but I can spend five nights there free, and with the great train system in Switzerland, be able to do a lot from there. I have four days planned, but have one day left to decide between Basel or Bern.

Canton of Valais...
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for Switzerland
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Free accommodation is not to be passed up. Now it seems the question is between Basel and Bern? You do not like museums (not sure whether you means just art museums or all museums? There are some amazing ones here) and one of Basel's great strengths is its museums...some 40 in number. The old town in Basel is huge and very elegant. However the old town - really the centre - of Bern is extraordinary. There are 6km of arcaded streets set on a peninsula formed by the Aare river. The town sits a bit above the river so there are great views to be had too. It has a very medieval feeling. There are lots of fountains and in summer these are filled with flowers. The shopping in Bern is excellent - loads of little boutiques in the "gassen" - alleyways - off the main streets. Go to the main Bern forum page and on the right hand tool bar you will see links under "Top Questions about Bern". There is a description of a walking tour there. My strong suggestion is to stop at the Tourist office (in the main station) and buy the audioguide. Follow that. (BTW always make a habit of stopping in at the local tourist offices, get a town map, ask what are the highlights to see and if there are any special events happening that day).

The market on the Bundesplatz on Saturdays and Tuesdays is fun but when it is on the fountains are stopped. It might be better to be there another day and then you can watch the fountains "dance". There are 26 of them, one jet for each canton. Go to the terrace on the opposite side of the Federal Parliament (Bundeshaus) for superb views of the mountains of the Berner Oberland on a clear day and lovely views down to to the river.

If you are in Bern on a Saturday there are free English language tours of the Parliament. And it is a beautiful building.

Bern is a remarkable city - and only 55mns from Zürich HB.

Edited: 22 January 2021, 19:56
Savannah, Georgia
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Thank you Hambagahale for the detailed information on Bern. I have copied and pasted it in my notes. Thought it might be a good idea to make it a stop from our train route from Montreux to Zurich. The train would get us into Bern before noon and we could store our luggage at the station then tour the Old Town for the afternoon, then head onto Zurich.

I do plan on visiting the Swiss National Museum in Zurich and Zermatt Matterhorn Museum. Not much interest in Art museums.

Canton of Valais...
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Fine. However there is another "museum" you might well enjoy - the Open Air museum at Ballenberg. www.ballenberg.ch. They have brought buildings from all over the country to this site...chalets, farm buildings etc. They have craftsmen/women at work - potters, weavers, blacksmiths, charcoal burners. It is fascinating. I suppose it is a bit like your Williamsburg but since this country is SO diverse you really do get a taste of the various linguistic and cultural regions there. It is located near Brienz. And makes for a good day trip from Luzern.

Savannah, Georgia
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That does sound interesting. I believe there is something like that in Sweden as well. We had a trip planned for Sweden and that was on my list. Thanks again for your suggestions.

Canton of Valais...
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I don't know about Sweden - but there is one in Oslo. Which is great. However Ballenberg is (dare I say) even better because our country is SO diverse, with different cultural regions. So the architecture is too. I am sure you would enjoy time there. It is very big. Allow at least 4 hours. 6 is better!

Knoxville, Tennessee
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for Interlaken
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You can stay free in Zurich? Where is your free hotel?

Free hotels are nice, but I wouldn’t make it the cornerstone of my European adventure.

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