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Berner Oberland Region

Transportation and Accommodations

Getting Around

Train

There are a variety of passes you should look into if you are going to this area of Switzerland. The primary way you get around between towns and to different places on the mountains is by train and cable cars. Thus you either can purchase tickets each time you use the train, or you can buy a multi day pass that covers most of your transportation.

What we did:

We stayed 3 nights in the Berner Oberland region, specifically in Murren. We traveled from Geneva to Murren one morning, had two full days there, and then left on the 4th day for the airport. Thus, we decided to buy the 4-day Swiss Pass. It cost just over $200 dollars for one “youth” (youth is up until 26). This is quite expensive, but it would’ve been even more expensive if we had not purchased this and it avoids a lot of hassle.

Swiss Pass:

Note: it does not include all the high lifts in the Berner Oberland region. Thus, you have to look at a map to see what is actually included. Any of the lifts that aren’t included then get a 25% or 50% discount with the Swiss pass, still making it worth it. You can get to most of the towns (Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Grindelwald, Gimmelwald, Wengen, etc.)

Lifts you have to pay more for:

    • Jungfrau (top of Europe)
      • Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfrau you pay for
      • With Swiss Pass: $142 per person (save 25%)
    • Schilthorn
      • Murren to Birg and Birg to top (two short cable car rides). The cable car starts in the valley in Stechelberg but this first one is included with Swiss Pass.
      • With Swiss Pass: around $40 a person (save 50%)
    • First – Grindelwald
    • Mannlichen (around $24 a person)
Car

Could rent a car, but we did not do this and some towns do not allow cars or not very car friendly (hard to get to)

Accommodations

MANY CHOICES so depends on preference

Interlaken

This will be the first town you hit when taking the train. It is between two lakes (Lake Brienz and Lake Thun). It’s the largest town of the ones noted here. However, if you are traveling to this region, you are likely going here to see the mountains and have some active days

Getting there:

Trains stop here at Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West. These are a few minutes away by train and about 20 minutes by foot. We only used Interlaken Ost because that is the larger station and it is where the transfers happen to go further into the valleys and up the mountains.

The station has luggage storage if you need it. I would recommend only staying here if you don’t like smaller towns. However, the next two are not that small and have much nicer views. I instead would recommend stopping in Interlaken for a brief stop. My brother and I stored our luggage and then went to Harder Kulm, the viewpoint over Interlaken. It’s beautiful because on a clear day you can see both lakes and then you get a glimpse at the peaks of the Bernese Alps, the area you are likely continuing further to. We could’ve rented bikes and biked the town or rented kayaks and went out on the lakes or just walked around. Thus, there are things you can do to keep you busy, BUT the views only get better as you move more into the mountains so I would recommend not wasting too much time here though.

Harder Kulm – view point over Interlaken

You can take the funicular to the top. It runs every 20 minutes and you buy tickets right at the station. Not cheap, but I liked this view point. You also can hike it but it takes about 1.5 hours I believe and the views aren’t that great along the way. There are many better hikes that will be more worth your time

Lauterbrunnen

Village at the bottom of the mountains (veer right on train when coming from Interlaken)

Highest point on this side that allows cars (good if you have a car, but also means tour buses come here so its busier)

Many restaurants, stores, grocery stores, hotels, etc.

If you like it a little busier, stay here.

Getting there: Train from Interlaken Ost (takes about 20 minutes)

Grindelwald

Village at the bottom of the mountains (veer left on train when coming from Interlaken)

Highest point on this side that allows cars (good if you have a car, but also means tour buses come here so its busier)

Many restaurants, stores, grocery stores, hotels, etc.

If you like it a little buiser, stay here

Getting there: Train from Interlaken Ost (takes about 20 minutes)

Murren

No cars allowed

Up the valley from Lauterbrunnen and a very small town. Only about 400 permanent inhabitants but 1000-2000 beds for guests. Thus, it’s a very small town, but still very nice. The views are exceptional!! We stayed here at Hotel Edelweiss with a view over the valley and of the mountains. It was unbelievable.

The town only takes about 10 minutes to walk from one side to the other. There are a series of hotels and guesthouses, a grocery store (Coop), restaurants, and some stores.

I LOVED this little town for staying in at night. I would definitely stay here again.

Getting there:

At first it seemed very difficult to get here (and it wasn’t easy because it took about 4 hours, but well worth it). We traveled from Geneva. First we took a train from Geneva to Bern (about 2 hours) then a train from Bern to Interlaken Ost (about 1.5 hours). From Interlaken Ost, take a train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen. At Lauterbrunnen you have two options (I would recommend the first but it depends on how much luggage you have and where you are staying in Interlaken):

Take the cable car from Lauterbrunnen up to Grutschalp (takes about 3 minutes and runs relatively frequently; every 20-30 minutes). Then, once you get to the top of the cable car, there is a train about 20 meters from the cable car exit. You take this train to Murren (takes about 20 minutes but it’s along the edge of the mountain so it has some nice views). At this point, you’ve arrived in Murren. Like I mentioned earlier, you can walk the entire town in 10 minutes so even if your hotel isn’t right next to the train station, I would recommend doing this option. The cable car is attached to the train station, both in Grutschalp and in Lauterbrunnen so it’s an easy route

Take a bus to Stechelberg from Lauterbrunnen (takes about 10 minutes) cable car. Then take the cable car up to Murren. Here you arrive on the opposite side of town as the train station. I prefer the other way because you do not have to take a bus to get to the cable car. However, both work!

Wengen

No cars allowed

Up the valley from Lauterbrunnen (opposite side from Murren; larger than Murren)

Bigger than Murren, but also has the quaintness of being a small mountain town with no cars. I would stay here. However, Murren has the nicer view. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad view at all, Murren’s is just better.

Getting there:

If you start in Geneva you, the likely route will start by going from Geneva to Bern (about 2 hours) then a train from Bern to Interlaken Ost (about 1.5 hours). From Interlaken Ost, take a train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen, take one final train up to Wengen (about 15-20 minutes).

Gimmelwald

This is a VERY small town, the smallest of the ones listed here. If you like that, this is a good place for you. However, it was too small for me.

Getting there:

If you start in Geneva, the likely route will start by going from Geneva to Bern (about 2 hours) then a train from Bern to Interlaken Ost (about 1.5 hours). From Interlaken Ost, take a train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen. Then take the bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg followed by the cable car to Murren and another cable car from Murren to Gimmelwald. Both cable car rides are short (just a few minutes and the bus is about 10 minutes).

Things to do and see

Towns

Interlaken

Large town, between two lakes

Harder Kulm – view point in Interlaken

Take funicular up (not worth the hike because the hike does not have many “viewpoints” and there are many better hikes)

Lauterbrunnen

At the bottom of the mountains so a larger town

We signed up for paragliding here with Airtime Paragliding. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. We had a beautiful morning for our 15-20 minute flight in the air.

Grindelwald

At the bottom of the mountains so a larger town

Access to Grindelwald First.

Murren

Up the mountain on the side

Wengen

Up the mountain on the side

Gimmelwald

Very very small town

Lifts

Jungfraujoch (top of Europe)

This is spectacular IF it is clear at the top. If it is not, it’s not worth the expensive price per person otherwise. There is snow here all year (we were there in the middle of July and there was plenty of snow).

We spent 3 hours up there (largely because we had to due to the train availability). However, this was perfect. We took our time going through the “tour” that is set up up there. The highlights of this tour include:

The Sphinx observation deck (elevator out of mountain to observation deck)

Alpine Sensation – A giant snow globe and then some history about the train and train station creation

Ice Palace – ice cave with many ice sculptures

Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven – small Lindt store but discounted prices

Outside area on the snow – one of the stops allows you to go outside and walk around on the snow with more nice views.

Snow Fun – an opportunity to go sledding, tubing, snowboarding/skiing, or ziplining up high. This is pretty expensive for what it is so we opted out, but I can see how it’s a great entertainment especially for kids. DEFINITELY still worth going out there and checking it out. I really liked walking on the start of the Monchsjochhute path.

Monchsjochhute – highest altitude hut in Switzerland. This is about a 45-minute walk from the main area. Note that you are walking through the snow so if not dressed in proper boots (or even if you are), then it is a slow walk. We did not do this. HOWEVER, we did walk about ¼ mile up from the “Snow Fun” area. This was probably my favorite part because we had beautiful views without the crowds and without the barriers. You DO need to stay on the path as there are many places near the path that may be very deep cracks simply covered by snow.

Note: there are limited spots on the final train (the train from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch). Thus, this requires a seat reservation (not assigned seat, but just assigns you a specific train time). Some would recommend buying this in advance. However, I went with my brother and we purchased tickets the day of with no problem. We had to wait a bit as the earlier to midday trains were already filled up, but we decided to walk around Wengen. Thus, I would recommend getting up early and purchasing tickets IF the day looks nice. There are LIVE cameras up at the viewpoints. LOOK THIS UP before you go. For us, it was very cloudy in the valley, but was great up top. However, the next day was the opposite.

Food did not look good to me up here (granted I am picky, but preferred the snacks I brought with me)

Getting there:

This depends largely where you are staying! (If you have the Swiss Pass, you will pay for everything after Wengen) Thus, get yourself to Wengen (whether you are staying there or in a nearby town. Then, take the train (or continue on the train past Wengen if you get on it at Lauterbrunnen) up to Kleine Scheidegg. Then at Kleine Scheidegg you will have to get off and transfer to the train that takes you to Jungfraujoch. This is the train you need a seat reservation for. It is a long red train that runs every 30 minutes and takes about 30 minutes to get to the top (the highest train station in Europe). There are two stops along the way. The first stop is still outside the mountain so some people choose to hike to this point and then take the train. Then the train enters the mountain where aboug 60% of the train ride takes place. Here there is also one stop at Eismeer. It stops here for 5 minutes on the way up for individuals to get off the train and look out at the beautiful mountains through the window. Then you get back in the train and finish the journey to the top. The trip takes about 1.5 hours from Wengen plus any additional time it takes you to get to Wengen. (Some may think that this would provide a good reason to stay in Wengen: true! BUT there’s a few other high altitude lifts that are high up on my recommendations – especially Schilthorn – that are easily accessible from other side. Thus, wherever you stay –aside from Interlaken—will likely help you save time and add time at some point).

Eismeer (Sea of Ice)

Note: Allow at least ¾ of the day for this trip

Schilthorn

Birg

2nd stop on the Cable car (if coming from the ground). Cable car rides are short (only a few minutes and running every 20ish minutes)

Skyline walk – view over the mountains, on a platform that allows you to see what’s below

Thrill walk

Cliff side walk

You can always see below you due to the criss-cross floor. A piece is transparent so you can completely see below you. There is also a tight rope (over a safety net of course so very safe), a tunnel, and a few other unique pathways.

I thought this was pretty cool so don’t skip this!

Peak – Piz Gloria

Cable car here from Birg only takes a few minutes and runs about every 20-30 minutes

360 panoramic view – gorgeous!

James Bond “museum” (Bond World 007) – This is where some scenes for the 3rd (I believe) movie were shot

Restaurant up here if you’d like to eat

NOTE: I would’ve LOVED to hike from Murren to Birg, Murren to the top, or Birg to the top! I think that would’ve been an incredibly rewarding hike. If you are interested, I would recommend doing that especially if it’s a clear day. It was definitely steap and difficult but worth it. You could even take the cable car down after then!

Allow a 2-3 hours for this trip (of course this also depends on where you are staying). MORE if you are hiking, less if you are just taking the lift up and down. We did this the afternoon we arrived in Murren as one of the lifts was right in Murren

First – Grindelwald

Out of Grindelwald

We did not do this one, but this is probably (if I had to guess) the second or third most common one. It has a variety of activities at the top like mountain car riding, a thrill walk, and zip lining. (We felt that Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch provided similar/better views so opted not to go up this one)

Mannlichen

Out of Wengen

We did not do this one, but I’m sure the views are very nice

Trummelbach Falls

Found in Lauterbrunnen

You can walk there from the town pretty easily (45 minute walk) or take a bus. We first went to the Staubbach falls and then walked to Trummelbach falls. These falls collect the water from Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau alone. Thus, they are very powerful. There are 10 viewpoints here (but you must pay a few dollars to get in). There is an elevator that allows you to skip about 4-5 of the viewpoints. I would only recommend the elevator if you are immobile OR if you do not want to walk up and CAN walk down. However, it’s worth seeing all 10 viewpoints. The sheer power the falls is very impressive and cool

We spent about 1 hour here

We then took the bus back to Lauterbrunnen to continue our day. The walk is easy and nice to do one way, but not necessary to do both directions. The bus is included in the Swiss Pass if you have that and only takes 5-10 minutes to get back to the center of Lauterbrunnen.

Staubbach Falls

Falls visible from Lauterbrunnen (note: I would do these before Trummelbach as Trummelbach is far more impressive)

These are nice falls that you can walk up “behind” after about a 10 minute walk up some stairs and ramps. This is nice but you do not need much time here

The base is about a 10 minute walk from the center of town

Paragliding

Airtime Paragliding – highly recommend!

We had a wonderful time paragliding with Airtime Paragliding. We were in the air for about 15 minutes and had incredible views. We were very lucky with the weather. It was a ton of fun! The takeoff point was from Murren, but they also offer pickups in Lauterbrunnen and meet you to take the cable car up if you wish. We were staying in Murren so we just met the pilots at the top of the lift to walk up to the take off point.

Food and Drink Recommendations

We were very tired after the long days so often would want to just take it easy at night. We would’ve cooked had we had a kitchen. This is a large reason why we did not venture out far for food

We only ate in Murren, but there were restaurants in most towns. The bigger towns of course had more restaurants and open more often, but we had no problem finding food. We also used the Coop grocery store for snacks/small meals during the day. As we had a gorgeous balcony view, one of our favorite things was to buy some snacks and wine/beer and sitting outside looking out over the valley at the mountains.

Hotel Edelweiss

We ate here two nights as we were staying at the hotel. The food was very good. The steak came out on a hot stone and you cooked it to your liking. Great view as well!

Stagerstubli

Small restaurant in Murren that was nice

Other Notes

Download the SBB application! It helps A LOT so you know which connections to take when.

Weather: don’t trust the weather apps! The weather was wrong almost every day we were there and it changed quickly. Thus, have some ideas of plans and be willing to adjust.

Switzerland is expensive so be aware!! ESPECIALLY all the transportation you’ll have to pay for in this area.

We spent 3 nights here. We covered what we wanted to, but I would’ve loved to have had a few more days and gotten the opportunity to do more hiking! There are endless amounts of hikes at different levels depending on what you are looking for. My brother was hurt while we traveled there so I did a few things on my own and we did a few things slowly, but nothing too intense. I hiked from Gimmelwad to Murren (short hike, about 1.5 miles, uphill). I ran from Grutschalp (top of cable car) to Murren (this is the route the train goes). It is about a 3-mile route and has some very nice views!

All the transportation and little town might sound complicated, but once you arrive there, you get an idea about how it all works pretty quickly.