You have probably planned your Switzerland vacation and completed flight and hotel bookings. You would have also thought of a good itinerary covering the best attractions in your Switzerland vacation. But what good is an itinerary if you forget to make necessary reservations to visit key spots only to find out after you arrive that tickets to the spot are sold out. It is one of the worst feelings for any tourist to miss out on a spot after having spent a few hundred dollars (or may be a few thousand dollars) on flights and hotels. Do not fret! Here is a complete list of reservations you need to make to ensure that you have an amazing Switzerland vacation.
1. Swiss rail pass
For anyone traveling to Switzerland, Swiss travel pass is a no-brainer for so many reasons. First of all, if you plan to drive around in a car, finding parking spots in downtown Zurich and Geneva could be challenging, not to mention time consuming. Switzerland has one of the best public transportation systems in the world so much so that you can plan your trip to the minute as the buses and trains are almost never late. If you do plan to utilize public transportation, Swiss travel pass covers trains, buses and in some places, boats (seriously!) as well. Most importantly, you will save a few hundred dollars by buying the Swiss travel pass. How? If you buy individual train tickets and bus transfers in each location, it could cost you more than $800 for an 8-day trip. A swiss travel pass costs around $400 for 8-days. Additionally, with a Swiss travel pass, you do not need reservations for almost 99% of the trains. Swiss travel pass also provides you discounts in key spots like Mount Pilatus and offers free entry to a lot of museums. So, go ahead and make your first reservation for the trip. It would be money well spent to save a lot of money on the trip.
2. Train tickets to Jungfrau
Your Swiss rail pass will cover the ride from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost. However, you need to book the tickets from Interlaken to Jungfrau. The transfer time at Interlaken station is around 10 to 15 minutes. A lot of passengers seem to realize that they need a separate ticket from Interlaken and rush to get the tickets at the counter. To avoid this unpleasant experience and wait in a long line to get your tickets, book them ahead of time.
3. Special experiences at Jungfrau
Jungfraujoch offers stunning views from the Sphinx observatory deck. However, for sports enthusiasts, skiing in Jungfrau skiing region is a unique experience. You can make reservations ahead of time for discounted ski pass in Jungfrau. In addition to skiing, one of the most memorable experiences would be hiking in Aletsch glacier. You do not have to be a sports enthusiast to do this hike. This two day hike also covers sleeping in a dorm. Just ensure that you are physically fit and can hike in slightly tough environmental conditions. This one gets sold out so fast that it is highly recommended to book this pass at least 3 months before your vacation.
4. Arrangements to visit CERN and the Hadron Collider
With the exception of holidays and Sundays, you can visit CERN on all other days. Reservations for CERN is a bit tricky in that the visit is allowed only for groups of 20 people per slot. Reservation for half of the tour slots are allowed only 15 days in advance and the remaining half of the slots only 3 days in advance. The seats do get filled up within an hour after the reservations are opened up. So, mark your calendars and ensure that you are seated in a front of a computer with a good internet connection to get this one done. You will have to request for reservation of the guided tour through the CERN website. Please do note that CERN tour covers only the key areas of CERN office. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) (also known as the supercollider) is located underground in the French-Swiss border in Geneva. Tours of LHC are not allowed for most part of the year. Tours are allowed only during the Extended Year-End Technical Stop (EYETS) of LHC, which happens to be around Christmas. So, if you are traveling in summer, tough luck. However, if you plan to be in Switzerland around Christmas, you can reach out to the admin team by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org and requesting them for exact scheduled dates of events in that year. You would then be requested to fill out the reservation form to complete the reservation process.
5. Arrangements to visit the United Nations
There are few places in the world that could fundamentally shake up your outlook of life and United Nations is definitely one of them. Guided tours are offered in batches starting at 10:30 am, 12 noon, 2:30 pm and 4 pm. You are requested to arrive at least an hour before your scheduled start time to go through the security screening and verification of identification documents. Reservations can be made for guided tours for groups of 15 people or more. However, reservations for individuals or groups less than 15 people are not accepted online. The visit primarily focuses on introducing you to the various buildings, facilities and major event rooms in which significant announcements and decisions affecting world politics were made. However, if you want to go through a life changing experience inside United Nations, you should sign up to be an observer of one of the United Nations meetings that is open to public. The approval process to be an observer takes anywhere between 1 to 2 weeks. So, plan to send out an email well before your trip to email@example.com to get approved to attend the meeting. A few meetings that you can attend could be like that of the human resources council meeting focused on issues like women and children affected by terrorism in small towns and villages in a country in Asia, or the fact that about 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water (as of the date of this post). Yep! Truly life changing discussions at UN indeed!
Other spots in the itinerary covering the best of Switzerland do not provide online reservations. The key spots that do not accept online reservation are -
- Jungfrau sphinx observatory
- Mount Pilatus
- Mount Titlis
- Chillon castle
- Rhine falls park
- Munot castle
Despite the volume of visitors in these sites during peak season, the maximum wait time to get tickets is not likely to be more than 30 minutes. When you visit these places, do not forget to show your Swiss travel pass. A lot of places like Mount Titlis offer incredibly attractive discounts on the cable car rides and entry passes if you hold a Swiss travel pass. However, if you still want to make reservations, you might want to consider guided tours available online. These guided tours are particularly useful in places like Chillon castle and Munot castle where there are very interesting stories associated with many rooms in the castle.
I hope this reservations list helps you speed up the planning process for your dream vacation to Switzerland and ensures that you do not miss out on any key spots due to lack of reservation. If you find this list useful, please do share it on social media so that others can benefit from it.