Switzerland: Europe's Crown Jewel - Sept. 6th anyone?

Is anyone booked on the Sept. 6th Small Group Tour? Interested in suggestions for side trips and restaurants. I understand that Tauck is suggesting we make reservations prior to departure as space in venues could be limited and not available when we are on tour. Comments?



  • We're going about a week ahead of your tour and I haven't made any reservations nor plan to. Meals have always been so generous on Tauck tours that any we had to find on our own were generally lighter and not something we'd need reservations for. Lunch definitely not. Day 2 in Zermatt and Day 5 in Lugano are the only days (other than possible pre or post tour days) where dinner isn't included. I'm hoping we can get the TD to move the dinner in Zermatt to Day 3 when they are only including Breakfast. In Lugano, there is both Breakfast and Lunch at a Grotto so I doubt we'll be looking for anything big. I note that the hotel there does have a casual patio pizza option.

    If you really feel you need sit down dinner reservations, you can always talk to the concierge. I'm sure they can help you find a suitable restaurant and make any needed reservations.

    On side trips, we haven't really planned much. We arrive late the day prior to our start (28 Aug). The next morning we plan to use the free public transport cards (the hotel should provide) to take the metro down to O'uchy (lake waterfront) to go to the Olympic museum. Then either have a lunch there in the museum cafe or take the metro back up the hill to the downtown area to wander around and maybe find something quick to eat. I'm sure the welcome dinner will be filling. For us it will be a Sunday so many places will be closed.

    Not much else planned since the itinerary is pretty full. It will be nice to do some walking around on our own in places like Zermatt and Interlake. In Lucerne we might try to go up Mt Pilatus or see the transport museum. Depends on weather and what's available.

  • edited August 2021

    Great post. Have a wonderful time. I look forward to your trip review and experiences.

    I forgot to add a comment about the Lion Monument outside of Lucerne. Try to be close to the guide so you can hear the discussion of the history and significance of the monument. It brought me to tears.

  • Claudia - It’s a fun ride up and down Mt. Pilatus, with spectacular views from the top, depending on the weather.

  • edited August 2021

    I do plan to post comments/review - for sure upon return but maybe while on tour.

    The weather and whether my group is mountained out by the time we get there may determine what we do. Got some gear heads in the group that might prefer the museum.

  • Thanks so much Claudia, kfnknfzk and Smiling Sam for your quick replies. We fly overnight on a Sunday and begin on Monday (Labor Day here) but don't arrive until afternoon. That Olympic Museum sounds interesting as does Mt. Pilatus. We weren't concerned about the dinners - the email just put up our guard in case there were restaurants that were highly regarded amongst previous travelers on this trip. I look forward to seeing more comments, especially from the group that should be returning shortly.

  • Robin for quick inexpensive meals we generally look for bakeries/boulangeries where sandwiches, quiches, salads, etc are available. Switzerland's Coop and Migros grocery chains often have smaller convenience stores with take out and bigger ones have restaurants. Manor department stores are noted for having good restaurants. And train stations have take out options. The bigger the station the more they have. If the weather is decent and we can find a place to sit and people watch, that's what we prefer.

  • Just a side note...I know I tend to veer off-topic. When this tour started in Montreux, it was an easy ride to the unusual food museum, the Alimentarium, in nearby Vevey...should itinerary change in future or anyone is touring this region. Enormous artichoke plants + water-borne sculptures. Here's the famous fork:

  • Ooh, I hope that doesn't presage what will happen to the tour, i.e. "Stick a fork in it." B)

  • No no no Alan. Not funny.

  • Claudia Sails. In Lugano you will find a wonderful market area where you can hobble together a light picnic dinner, with wine, bread, cheese meats and dessert. You will pass through it on the walking tour. It was a welcome change from heavy dinners and we enjoy having some free evenings with Tauck to rest our stomachs!

  • Thanx bucketlist. That's exactly what we like.

  • While browsing online, found this alternative view of Tauck from 2019 on travelstride.com. Thought worth risking a big red Flag. I usually take public transport from airport, etc. when on my own, though taxi drivers are a great source of local color. Btw we saw & heard the cowbells during daily drives and Italian food was of course fabulous. As travelers we are free to immerse ourselves in local culture; there is ample opportunity on tour.
    ****Great if you like 5-star hotels and lots of food
    The tour covered most of Switzerland, with one day in Italy, which could have been eliminated. If you want to see the country from a bus or train, and you desire luxury hotels and gourmet food, then this is the tour for you. If you want to have a closer connection to the local people, and walk a bit in the mountains, or even hear the cowbells up close, then don't take this trip. While the trip was nice, I felt a disconnect from the local people and the country itself. We were always separated in a private train car, or on a private tour. I came home not really knowing what it's like to live there, other than it's very expensive.

  • It’s very hard to get an authentic experience in most countries unless you live there for a while or stay in someone’s home. If you go with a small group and go to a few people’s homes, it can be done. We did this on one of our Tauck Africa tours. When we visited Japan independently years ago, we spent seven days in a friend of my husband’s Home and it was a true wonderful Japanese experiences with the family.

  • edited August 2021

    Claudia - 100% agree with you w/r to the Rick Steves comments and someone who only gets to an area once in a lifetime. I don’t think any 1-2 week trip that covers an entire country or more can produce an in-depth understanding of the locals. I doubt you’d get that if you spent the entire two weeks in one city. By definition, Tauck and almost all other tours are highlights tours. Why, because that is where the market is.

  • For me, I try to do some reading ahead of time. Almost finished with Diccon Bewes book "Swiss Watching". Interesting, humorous, good snap shot of Switzerland from an expat brit's perspective. I also watch YouTube videos of Americans who live in Switzerland and for food a site called Helvetic Kitchen. Lots of sources out there if you take the time.

  • I read Diccon Bewes' "Swiss Watching" also, and am just starting his "Slow Train to Switzerland," which I am enjoying. It doesn't provide much in the way of "actionable" tourist information, but that's not its purpose. It's getting me in the Switzerland mood. :)

  • Thanks to all for your ideas and thoughts on more casual food stops and other places to see. I’m hopeful there will be some feedback from the travelers who have just returned from this trip.

  • We are leaving on August 29 for a trip on the Rhine and Moselle beginning in Basel on September 1. We will change planes at Heathrow airport. We will now need to have a COVID test before our first flight which is Tucson as well as the vaccination card. This new requirement was issued on August 19. We will also be taking the Switzerland: Europe’s Crown Jewel on September 16. One needs to check daily your flights as well as entry rules for each country as they can change.

  • Not sure where you got the 19 August date but a negative covid test has been Heathrow's requirement for while. I've been watching this for awhile because family members joining us on the Swiss Crown jewels tour are transiting Heathrow.

    Also it does not have to be a PCR test. Per the UK government it has to be 97% specificity and 80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000. That includes a PCR test, LAMP test or antigen test LFD? ( lateral flow device). The test to return to the U.S. also doesn't have to be PCR.

  • Claudia - Thank you! My head is just spinning with all the tours and airlines cancellations. We returned to Tucson two weeks ago to find out our British Airways flight from London to Basel was cancelled. We are now going into Zurich. We will take the PCR test and if the results are not back in time we will have the Rapid Antigen test that only takes twenty minutes. The PCR test is free. I not sure about the other two tests but if they work this is great. I appreciate your response.

  • A few questions for recent travelers on Crown Jewel trip:
    -how long do you spend at high elevation sites (Gornergrat and Jungfraujoch)?
    -on day travelling on Glacier Express do you have lunch on train, after, or not at all? Similarly ?food at Jungfraujoch
    -do you plan to tip in CHF for tourguide/driver?

  • Malcolm, we were up on the Jungfraujoch a total of 3 hours. As for the Gornergrat, that train returns to Zermatt frequently, so you can start back down within 20-30 minutes or so. You do not have to stay with the group. There is lunch on the Glacier Express. There is food on the Jungfraujoch. Our driver was Swiss, so we tipped in Swiss francs. Our guide was from the EU (and was fantastic). We tipped him in Euros .

  • Considering that Italy just implemented a requirement for covid testing 72 hours prior to entry (this is in addition to being vaccinated) any info on whether anything will change (with the itinerary portion at Isola Bella, reached from Stresa or on day 6 where you travel from Lugano to St. Moritz "in and out of Italy")?

  • Shaw has it all 100%. We perhaps spent a bit more time at the Jungfrau, and on the ground Gornegrat you’ll have a choice to do some hiking or to take the train. We took the train part way and then onto the Mark Twain trail for just a bit. There is always food, and plenty of it!, we were through the Italy portion before official word of changes so not sure about that.

  • We are in Zermott now - Everything’s been going very smoothly so far -fabulous tour guide Carrie - just 15 total on our small group tour - Big note to all - No Cloth Masks allowed!! They gave us an info sheet upon arrival but a lot of us had brought almost all cloth masks so bring N-95s or lots of disposables and you’ll be wearing them everywhere -indoors you can take them off once you’re seated at a table at a restaurant and you even have to wear them outside at the castle at Chillon. Also note - when you’re eating on your own -some restaurants offer different size portions -we got schnitzel tonight and the portion was massive -two people could easily have shared one dinner and the waiter at the end said oh you should’ve ordered the smaller portion. Also beware and check before you go into restaurants as the one we went into tonight takes no credit cards only cash …also beware if you go after 6 o’clock a lot of restaurants (not talking fancy restaurants just talking regular ones) that we found in Zermatt did not have tables available. Also we were given a choice to eat dinner in the hotel restaurant tonight or tomorrow night -the other was on your own. Thank you to whoever had mentioned that would’ve been a good idea who was already on the tour a week or two ago.

  • Tip remember shops are closed on Sunday. Zermatt has some cute places. We were in Lucerne on Sunday so we walked the rowers and wall, sauntered on the lakefront, and had a great time people watching.

  • edited September 2021

    Beware of prices too. Several years ago, a group of us on the Ultimate Alps tour went to a restaurant in Davos, Switzerland, site of G-8 summits. It was a bit early so they weren't serving from the dinner menu. It was a regular, modest place, but we were ready to eat so everyone ordered sandwiches and other light stuff. My wife and I each had a burger, fries and a Coke (w/a refill). The food was good, but nothing special. Our bill came to just under $80!

  • Haha Alan. Just had a $39 burger and fries - without a drink. But that’s Zurich.

  • Norway is also very expensive. We had lunch in Oslo downtown, Chicken Sandwich fries and coffee at a lunch place, also $80. Simple dinner at a TGI Friday in Bergen was $50 each. But the Bergen fish market is awesome.

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