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Holidays to Switzerland Travel Podcast Episode 100 Transcript

June 12, 2024

You can see the full show notes and listen to this episode > here.

Intro

Are you dreaming of visiting Switzerland? Planning a trip to Switzerland is very exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. How do you choose which of the many scenic cities, towns and villages to visit? Which mountain top excursions should you take, and what’s the best way to get around Switzerland? And of course, how much of the country can you realistically see within your timeframe? If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions, this is the podcast for you. This is the Holidays to Switzerland travel podcast, and in each episode, your host Carolyn Schönafinger chats with Swiss travel experts to answer your most commonly asked questions. Provide practical tips and take you on a virtual visit to the most popular destinations, and of course, some hidden gems to help you plan your dream trip to Switzerland. And you’ll hear plenty of conversations about Swiss cheese and chocolate too. Are you ready to plan your trip to Switzerland? Well, let’s get started.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Hello, and welcome to a very special episode of the Holidays to Switzerland podcast. Not only is this our 100th episode, but I’m also welcoming some very special guests who are here today to chat about the many reasons to visit Switzerland during autumn, or fall for our North American listeners. I was fortunate to catch up with today’s guests at a Switzerland tourism function in Melbourne, Australia a couple of weeks ago. You may recognize some of the guests from previous podcasts episodes. So it was wonderful to this time chat to them in person rather than through a computer screen.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Before we hear from our guests, I’d just like to take a moment to say how thrilled I am to be bringing you episode number 100. I started the podcast in June 2020, a few months into the pandemic when it became clear that the world would be shut down for the foreseeable future. Despite the fact that travel was off the table at the time, I figured a podcast was a great way to provide travel tips and inspiration about Switzerland for those who had a future trip in mind. And to be honest, I could talk about Switzerland for hours on end. So it was a good way for me to share my passion about the country, and to learn from the expert guests that agreed to come on the podcast.

Carolyn Schönafinger

So since June 2020, every second Wednesday without fail a new episode has been released, something I’m incredibly proud of. Throughout the past 4 years, I’ve had amazing support from Switzerland tourism, and the many fantastic guests. Some of whom have appeared multiple times on the podcast and many of these folks I now call friends. So a huge thank you to each and every guest and supporter of the podcast. But I’d never have made it to 100 episodes without the support from you, my amazing listeners. Thank you so much for tuning in, whether you’ve been with me from the start, have just found the podcast or somewhere in between that.

Carolyn Schönafinger

My mission is to help make your Switzerland trip planning easier and to provide inspiration for your upcoming travels. If your vacation to Switzerland has been influenced or helped in even the smallest way by something you heard on the podcast, then my mission has been accomplished. Now let’s delve into the real purpose of today’s episode. And that is to discover the many great things about visiting Switzerland during autumn. If you’re a regular listener, you will know that I’m a big fan of traveling around Switzerland by train. After all, the country does have the densest public transport network in the world. So I asked Andy from Travel Switzerland, what he considers to be the most scenic train journey during autumn?

Andy

Well, Carolyn, you try it again and again, and I have to say, well, there is no favorite route from my side. But the good news is that all the panoramic trains are running in autumn. And of course all of them are very beautiful because autumn is one of the most beautiful travelling times for Switzerland. So at least from till mid October, all the panoramic trains are running. Some of them are going into hibernation after that. Just try it, I can really recommend traveling by panoramic train in Switzerland, of course.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Andy was very Swiss there, staying neutral of course! But Se A from Zentralbahn does have a favorite route. The Lucerne Interlaken Express, which connects the two popular Swiss destinations every hour. She told me why she likes it so much.

Se A

Well, the Zentralbahn is a panoramic train also and from Lucerne into Interlaken, this is my very very nice nice journey. And then when the Brunig Pass, it’s the highest point, this is my favorite part, that people can enjoy the whole scenery of the changing the leaves in autumn it’s so nice, so beautiful. And also I think the orange and blue, orange and the brown and some yellow you know, the autumn color is very well matched with the blue lakes. So to the intellect can their journey in brilliant lake it’s a very well mixed the color people can enjoy it, so yeah.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Sounds wonderful.

Se A

Thank you.

Carolyn Schönafinger

When it comes to the Jungfraujoch region, the train journey to Jungfraujoch is one that many folks are familiar with. But there’s another scenic route that Daniel from Jungfrau Railways enjoys very much during the autumn.

Daniel

Yes, so while the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is an all year favorite, in autumn, I especially like the Schynige Platte railway. From there, you go through the colored forests up to the top of Scynige Platte and then you have the perfect view of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau in the autumn clear air. So that’s a perfect place to go in autumn.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Switzerland is truly a year round destination, but a lot of travelers only consider visiting during summer or winter. So I asked Alan in from Schilthorn Piz Gloria, a mountain in the Jungfrau region, what his favorite thing to do in autumn is?

Allan

Autumn, the colors are unbelievably beautiful. So hiking all year round but hiking in the autumn is really special. I go up to the village of Mürren, almost every lunchtime while I’m in the office. I almost always walk from Mürren down to Gimmelwald, and it’s just stunning walking down there, especially in the autumn. And it’s not too long. I’ve done it in 17 minutes, but you’re looking at about a half hour 40 minute hike normally. But if I’m gonna miss the cable car, I put on the speed and get there to make sure to catch it and get back to the office. So that walk’s great, but it’s also great to be eating the game seasons there. If you like your meat, you’ll get different kinds of game in the restaurant. So that’s a great thing to do.

Carolyn Schönafinger

For Peter, from Engelberg Titlis, in central Switzerland, autumn is all about the views. I’m not surprised as, at almost three thousand two hundred fifty meters or ten thousand six hundred feet above sea level, you can see for miles from the summit of Mount Titlis, and you can admire the 360 degree views from the Titlis Rotair, the world’s only rotating cable car, that takes you on the final section of the ride to the summit as well.

Peter

Well, Engelberg and Mount Titlis in autumn, I really like that you have a amazing long distance view. People don’t know but usually you do have the best views in autumn because of the weather, really clear weather sinks down, you don’t have the thermals from summertime. So if you go up the mountains whether you go hiking or you go just for mountain excursion, I think that’s really something you should not miss out in autumn traveling to Switzerland. You can see all across the Alps.

Carolyn Schönafinger

The autumn colors are just as spectacular in Zermatt, as they are in other parts of Switzerland too. Being active whilst enjoying the colors of autumn is what Claudia from Zermatt cableways loves best about this time of year.

Claudia

So Zermatt in the autumn is fun. What you could do for example, in a day you could go skiing in the morning because actually like late autumn our ski season really kicks off up. We open up the first chairlift and the snow can be really good and it’s still quite quiet. So you would skiing in the morning, go back home for lunch. And then in the afternoon, have a hike or a bike and all the trees start to get like orange and red, you get all these beautiful colors.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Traveling during autumn doesn’t mean you’ll miss the opportunity to enjoy some fabulous events and festivals either. Wine festivals and alpine descents, when the cattle which have been grazing on the alpine pastures during summer are brought back down the mountains, are a couple of popular autumn festivals. But there are many many more. I asked Kelly from Jungfrau Region Tourism, what her favorite autumn event is?

Kelly

So one big and important event in the Jungfrau Region in the autumn is the Jungfrau Marathon. So it’s a very special marathon because the runners have to conquer an altitude difference of 2000 meters. So it’s really just for the hard runners. But it’s not only for the athletes, especially when it’s also for the visitors very special because nowhere else you have these beautiful panorama because the run is going from Interlaken up to Eiger Glacier. So it’s also for the visitors very spectacular to see these runners in front of these mountain backdrops from Eiger, Mönch and Jungfraujoch.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Wow, that would be amazing to see. How many runners generally enter?

Kelly

There are 4000 runners, which enter every year and it’s sold out every year. So it’s quite crazy for me to think about that there are so many runners that really want to do this run. But it’s yeah, it’s very popular and sold out every year and there are even runners from all over the world joining the strong.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Fantastic. As the biggest city in Switzerland Zurich hosts many festivals throughout the year. So I was keen to ask Evelyne from Zurich Tourism, what her favorite autumn event in the city is?

Evelyne

Quite a hard pick. Zurich is kind of the city of festivals and events and mainly in autumn, quite a lot. So maybe just to mention a few of them. We have in September Welt Classic, beginning of September, that’s where the best athlete is meet in Zurich. Then with the Zurich Design Weeks with exhibitions, talks, workshops with by newcomers and established designers. Then with the UCI road and parasailing World Championship in Zurich in September. We can have a lot of broadcasts in the city. In October, you get the Zurich Film Festival, great festival for a really great films as well. The digital art festival is also in October. In November, you can come to the Wine Fair, which is on a boat, quite a nice experience. And 21st of November, we start with the Christmas markets.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Something for every one for sure. Taking an excursion to a Swiss mountain summit is always a good idea. But for Manuela from Mount Pilatus, an Autumn visit is extra special.

Manuela

So we also call it the golden autumn and what would be better in the golden autumn than the Golden Round Trip? Because it’s one of the brilliant ways to experience the autumn colors from different perspectives – first on the boat from Luzern to Alpnachstad, then you go up first through the forest with colorful autumn leaves, and then you go up to the top of the mountain before going down by cable car. Offering you again a different perspective of the autumn forest basically. And then I also highly recommend to do some hiking on top of the mountain because autumn is actually a great time for the view.

Manuela

So in autumn, the view is the clearest that you can get usually. It has something to do with the weather and the temperature and the humidity in the air, so that you can actually see the furthest in autumn. So it’s really great to go up to a mountain peak like Pilatus, still enjoy the view of the Alps. And last but not least, also the animals are usually a bit more active in autumn because they’re getting ready for winter time, collecting like some more food. So it’s actually a great time to observe the animals. For example on one of our Ibex safaris, which combines an overnight stay at one of our hotels, three or four star on the mountain top at over 2000 meters above sea level. With a guided hike and Ibex safari with one of our expert guides.

Carolyn

Autumn is the favorite season of Renato for Interlaken Tourism, too. He shared his top reasons to visit during autumn with me.

Renato

So the top reasons to visit to discover Interlaken in autumn there is from my point of view, no better season than autumn. We call it also Indian summer in Switzerland. So everything is full of colors, the leaves are falling down, the mountains are covered with snow, we can already smell winter. But the temperatures are still nice. This is definitely the best reason to visit Switzerland is maybe autumn season. The weather is also very nice. You have still a lot of activities which are doable in autumn. So it’s also harvest season, also regarding the culinary part, there are a lot of things to discover. Also regarding adrenaline, as you may know Interlaken is the European Capital of Adventure.

Renato

There are a lot of activities, which are still doable, like paragliding, like kayaking on Lake Brienz. It’s just ver,y an amazing, unique experience. You could still visit for example, Giessbach, the biggest or largest nature park in Switzerland, which is amazing, stunning waterfalls. And of course, the funiculars to cableways are still running. So you can easily go up in only 8 minutes by taking the funicular to Harder Kulm on top of Interlaken and enjoying a view over Interlaken seeing both lakes, like Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, as well as also I can mention Jungfrau, the famous mountain trio. Or, of course, you can start in Interlaken and discover the beautiful Jungfrau region because Interlaken is still the gateway to many other areas and you can go up to Jungfraujoch, of course, Top of Europe. Also in autumn there are less people, it’s definitely less crowded, you will get more for your money.

Carolyn Schönafinger

As you’ve just heard from the Swiss themselves, autumn really is a fantastic time to visit Switzerland. Not only are there fewer tourists than in summer, but you benefit from lower accommodation rates, mild temperatures, and the stunning Swiss scenery is made even more beautiful by the changing colors of the leaves. For foodies or wine connoisseurs, autumn is the perfect time to visit to enjoy the local specialities, too. Daylight saving time extends until the end of October. So you can really make the most of your days and get out and about exploring via the fantastic Swiss public transport network, and the many mountain railways and cableways.

Carolyn Schönafinger

One thing to be aware of is that some mountain railways and cableways close for a short period during the latter part of autumn for their annual maintenance. So some mountain summits may not be reachable during this time. The Swiss public transport system however, operates every day of the year, so you’ll never have a problem getting around.

Have my guests tempted you to visit Switzerland in autumn? I hope so. If you’d like to learn more about any of the destinations, or experiences you’ve heard about today, I’ll include links in the show notes so you can discover more. I also recommend you listen to episode 79, if you haven’t already, where we chat in more detail about the benefits of visiting Switzerland in autumn.

Carolyn Schönafinger

Thanks very much for tuning in to episode number 100. Next time we’ll be back to our regular format, and we’ll be discovering the many amazing things to do in Grindelwald. Until then, tschüss.

You can see the full show notes and listen to this episode > here.