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Lucerne extension after Rhine cruise

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We are taking a Rhine cruise Amsterdam to Basel early July 2019, and are considering doing a 2 night extension to Lucerne.  I need help to figure how to do this on our own without booking through the cruise line.  Is it easy to figure out the transportation with the trains to Lucerne if we only speak English?  I would like to see Pilatus while in Lucerne.  How easy is it if I don't have a car?  What are some hotels that I should look into that are mid-priced and in a good location?  Should I return to Basel to fly back to the Washington DC area, or go to Zurich and fly home from there?

 

Thanks in advance for your help! 

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We ended a previous cruise in Basel and Uniworld provided transport to the train station, where it was very straightforward to purchase tickets to Lucerne. After your stay in Lucerne, just take the train to the Zurich airport for your flight home. (We stayed at the airport hotel the last night since our flight home was quite early.) It's much more economical to do the arrangements on your own. Sorry I can't help re: Pilatus.

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Mt. Pilatus is actually much easier to visit if you don't have a car, since there is no parking lot that would help!  The main train station in Lucerne sells package tickets for Pilatus including various combinations of a short cruise, the cog railway, the funicular, and a city bus.  If you won't be doing a lake cruise any other way, I would recommend the top package which includes all four (in that order).

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We, too, took the train from Basel, had reservations at a Marriott property in Lucerne, ventured to Mt. Pilatus and took the train to Zurich with no issues on our own.  It seemed everyone spoke English and the people were super helpful if you needed anything.  One of the highlights of our trip was walking to the Lion of the Lucerne and then eating at the Swiss House afterwards.  You will need reservations at the Swiss House but their tableside-prepared schnitzel is so good.

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We spent five days in Lucerne a couple of years ago, not connected with a river cruise, just an independent train holiday.

 

It was incredibly easy to manage.  We did not to Pilatus, but chose to do day trips to Mt. Titlis, which was stunning, and also Mt. Rigi which included a lake cruise.

 

The trains are very simple to prebook online or at the station.  It is often cheaper to prebook, especially for long trips.  We travelled from Salzburg to Lucerne for our five nights, then continued by train to Zurich for a day or two before flying home.

 

We stayed at Hotel Des Alpes, where we had a room with a balcony overlooking the famous Chapel Bridge and the river.  The rooms was a little dated back then but I believe they have now renovated.  All hotels are very expensive, as is everything in Switzerland, but our views were stunning and I would certainly stay again.

 

And I totally agree with pcbeck, do not miss the Lion Monument and Swiss House.  We travelled Europe with two early 20s boys who ate schnitzel pretty well every lunch and dinner and they both voted the Swiss House the best that they had eaten, and we certainly agreed.  The chocolate mouse for dessert isn't too bad either!

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Thanks everybody! That is very reassuring! I will be looking into hotels now for Lucerne, and see that they are in walking distance to the train station. For our flight back to the US, how early do I need to arrive at the Zurich Airport? Does the train from Lucerne go directly to the airport? 

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We stayed at the Hotel des Balances. Mid priced, but excellent location. The first picture is the view from our balcony. In the second, you can see the hotel sign in the distance. It was a 10 minute walk to the train/bus station. As others have mentioned, Pilatus is very easy on your own. We ate at the hotel's restaurant the first night, and the Rathaus the second night. Both along the river.

 

Robin

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We have taken the train to Zurich airport (from Geneva, not Lucerne) and we arrived at 11:40 for a 13:20 flight. We were flying business class so we had ample time to check in and clear security before boarding. It might be less stressful with more time, but we didn't feel pressed for time. It is Switzerland, after all, and they are fairly organized and orderly. 🙂

 

One tip - find out ahead of time which terminal your airline/flight is departing from. We had to search a little bit upon arrival to find the right terminal for the Delta check-in desks. Didn't add more than five minutes to our routine, but would have been easier to know where to go from the beginning. It's not a huge airport, but we had a harder time than usual finding the monitors listing exactly where the check-in gates were for each flight. They seemed less prominent than at other airports.

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Did the Viking provided post excursion in Lucerne. Took the hassle out of trying to decide what to do. Plenty of excursions and free time. Included Pilatus, visit to private dairy farm, made cheese at a factory, transportation to Zurich airport and driver walked u to your check in counter. 

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The trains are very easy to figure out, the instructions are in English, and it's no problem.  The train goes straight to the Zurich airport. It's really easy and convenient.

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These boards are so helpful! Thanks everyone! We will be taking the train at the end of our cruise from Basel to Lucerne, and staying at the Hotel des Alpes for 2 nights. Is there a need to get this train ticket in advance, or just purchase it when we get off of the cruise at the train station?  We’ll plan to go to the Lion Monument and eat at the Old Swiss House as suggested!

The next day we will plan to go to Mt Titlis, Mt Rigi or Pilatus and a lake cruise. Any suggestions on which one? We will have the full day.

The last day will be taking the train to Zürich for a noon flight home. I understand that the train can be taken directly to the Zürich airport from Lucerne...yay! Is it best to purchase this ticket in advance since it’s crucial timewise thst we arrive in plenty of time? How do I do this? 

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We stayed at the Hotel des Alpes a few years ago.  Make sure you get a balcony room, the views are stunning.

 

We did two trips, one to Titlis, whick we loved due to being able to be in the snow.  The other was Mt Riji which also included a cruise as part of the trip.

 

I don't think we purchased our ticket to the airport in advance as it was no cheaper.  Super easy, we rarely use public transport to airports, but this one was simple.  The station is walkable to the hotel and then you get off in the terminal in Zurich.

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All of these can easily be done on your own....Train from Basel to Lucern, Train to Zurich...Mt Pilatus on your own as well.

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This is a little late, but I wanted to second what Bubbulz has said.  We did exactly the same thing two years ago after our Uniworld Castles Along the Rhine cruise.  It was extremely simple.  We stayed at the Cascada Boutique Hotel - which was directly across the street from the train station.  Very convenient, wonderful staff, great restaurant/buffet breakfast.  But it does not have the beautiful views that some people may be looking for.  

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