One of our favorite three-day quick trips to Europe is to Zurich and Bern, Switzerland, and it includes a beautiful cruise on Lake Thun from the City of Thun to Interlaken.
We flew to Zurich from JFK on Delta Airlines. Upon landing, we went to the train station at the airport and purchased a First-Class Swiss Rail Pass for four days at the cost of $315 per person (less expensive than the three-day pass). The second-class pass was $199 per person. The Swiss Franc is equal to the U.S. Dollar right now.
This pass entitles a non-citizen of Switzerland to unlimited travel on trains, trams, buses, boats, and gondolas throughout Switzerland. The train from Zurich to Bern is approximately an hour non-stop. The trains are so efficient that one can set your clocks to them. Once at the Bern train station, we took another short train ride to the Bern Westside Station, where our hotel was located. It is a new area of Bern. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Westside, connected to a great mall. The highlight for us here is a unique nine-pool water park complex called, Bernaqua. It consists of river pools, tubing pools, a regular indoor pool, and an all-weather outdoor pool heated to 95 degrees.
The outdoor pool rotates Jacuzzis of different strengths and waterfalls throughout the day. This is the first time we have seen something like this in our travels. This pool complex is free while staying at the Holiday Inn Westside.
During the summer months, the Aare River provides an urban swimming experience. The river carries swimmers effortlessly down a 5-mile river course. There are waterproof dry bags to put valuables in. The entry and exit points are marked with a red pole or with steps that are helpful for climbing in and out of the river.
After checking into our hotel, we proceeded to the Old Town for a scenic walk. We crossed a bridge on the Aare River and stopped at the Altes Tramdepot Brewery and Restaurant, which overlooks the city and has excellent views. Nearby is the famous bear park, and we did get to see one big bear. In addition, there is a floral park named Rosengarten (Rose Garden) that also has beautiful views of the city.
Our second day consisted of a short train ride to the beautiful city of Thun. We took a 2-hour boat ride on Lake Thun that ends in Interlaken. On a clear day, you can see the top of Jungfrau Mountain, the highest train station in Europe. Interlaken is the gateway to the Jungfrau region. On the boat are an elegant dining room and a full bar. We opted to have lunch at a quaint Swiss restaurant in Interlaken. After lunch, we took another short train ride to the village of Grindelwald. There are magnificent views of the Bernese Alps, and cowbells are heard everywhere. It is a ski village with cute shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Our last day was spent in Zurich. The walk in Old Town here is very worthwhile. We took an hour-and-a-half boat ride on Lake Zurich, which we do every time we go to Zurich. After the boat ride, we walked to the elegant Storchen Hotel, which is famous, and just across from the Old Town. Here we had drinks outside on the canal.
We stayed at the Kameha Grand Hotel Zurich, which is an Autograph Collection from the Marriott Bonvoy Brand. The decor is very different, and the rooms are beautiful. We have stayed there many times and highly recommend staying at this hotel. It takes approximately 15 minutes by tram to get to the airport from the hotel and about 45 minutes to get to downtown Zurich by tram.
In what is usually the most efficient airport in Europe, the Zurich Airport turned out differently this time. We left three hours in advance and needed all of it this time to make our flight. There were long lines at immigration that we had never experienced before. It is obvious that more people are traveling now to make up for lost time during the pandemic.