wife and I will be taking a trip, arriving in Munich on June 3 and leaving from Zurich on June 15. Neither of us have been to this part of Europe before. Any suggestions? I'm more interested in historic/storybook side of the alps/bavaria, while she is more interested in pretty mountain scenery that you might see on a calendar. Neither of us are interested in "city life" and we are both non-drinkers.
A few things that I am considering:
Visiting Fussen and the nearby castles
We would like to do a mix of site seeing and hiking. But we are casual hikers so nothing to extreme, just leisurely and pretty.
If you want pretty things with easy day hikes Switzerland delivers for you anon
The area around Lauterbrunnen (from a triangle from there to Interlaken and Grindelwald) is unspeakably pretty. Views of mountains, alpine trails, everything like that. There’s a village Mürren in the area which doesn’t allow cars and brings you the north face of the Eiger without having to climb it.
Zermatt is another place that doesn’t allow cars. Dominated by the Matterhorn but lots of nice hikes (eg 5 Seenweg) and the vibe is great.
I visited here recently. Highly recommended.
Lots of great walks and hikes in the area. The waterfall nearby is definitely worth checking out. The sound is deafening as you walk through the caverns around it and it’s extremely satisfying.
Also Grindelwald and Gimmelwald. Take a train/cable car up to the jungfraujoch
Hardergrat trail too
Zermatt is also "nearby", site of the famous Matterhorn and one of the places where you can go above 4000m by cable car and experience some snow in summer.
The town itself is very touristy but quite comfy to stay two or three nights, especially if you want to do daytime hikes.
If you're more into glaciers, then you should see the Aletsch glacier, best experienced from the resort villages of Riederalp or Bettmeralp, both less known to the international public.
For something completely different, I'd check out the Engadin with its beautiful lakes, pic related.
Stay away from St. Moritz and spend your time in the nearby towns and villages.
If you go downstream through the valley, you'll end up in the Lower Engadin, less touristy but with a hot spring catering towards domestic tourists.
You can actually take the train from Zermatt to St. Moritz, takes a full day but you'll get to see a lot of mountain scenery.
As for historic stuff outside cities, try to see if there are any open forts you could visit on route.
After all, Switzerland is famous for the bunkers created during the World Wars and the Cold War.
This is a very good route you got there anon. The Alps are full of easy to hike trails as well as hikes for more experienced hikers. A general tip is, a lot of accomodations offer a visitor pass that offer cheap cable car rides. At the top start many different trails ranging from easy to hard difficulty, they almost always have a flyer or a sign that tells you which trail it is. The trail has signs on every corner just follow the one you want to do. You can also use komoot to find trails other people already hiked that show all the information you need like altimeter, distance etc.
The Alps are generally gorgeous so you can basically plan your activity when you arrive at your hotel, the have flayers everywhere for many different activities in that region. I hope you have a pleasant stay!
Anyone ever done the glacier express or bernina express? Are either worth a round trip?
They're worth a round trip in different seasons.
Glacier Express is longer but goes between two well-known mountain resorts.
Bernina Express end up in a rather unattractive Italian border city, so you either need to head further or go back to the Engadin valley.
Both routes are equally good, if not better, done by regular trains because you can get off at any stop, walk around for an hour and take the next train, plus you can still open the windows in the old trains.
seconding other anons recommending lauterbrunnen. super cool place, nearby interlanken was full of brown muslims, stay in lauterbrunnen. zermatt was way overpriced to me, but seeing the matterhorn was kind of neat I guess. If you're going from munich to zurich, the abbey library at saint gallen was really neat and is worth a stop. the mountain coaster/lake hike at kandersteg was also pretty cool and worth a visit if you've got the time, but the lift ticket up was a bit pricey if i remember right
Also, should I rent a car in Munich and keep it for the two weeks (dropping it off in Germany somewhere close to Zurich)? Or should I take public transportation everywhere? Or maybe split between the two somewhere?
Switzerland isn't fun to drive and many of the suggested resorts are car-free, so you'd be paying for the privilege of keeping your rental car in a parking lot somewhere.
Besides, even rather remote trailheads are accessible by public transport, most passes either have a railway or bus line across them.
if your budget is tight i recommend northwestern slovenia. it has all the same scenery but a third of the prices for food and lodging, and there are plenty of established multi-day hiking routes where you can sleep in mountain lodges during the night