Please sign in to post.

3.5 days, first visit to Switzerland before hiking TMB.

We're flying to Geneva in early August. We'll have 3.5 days in Switzerland before heading by bus to Chamonix to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. We had initially planned to stay in Geneva and do day trips from there (Gruyere in one day, then Interlaken & Schilthorn on a second day), but after further research, we think we'd rather stay somewhere better than Geneva (since Rick doesn't even mention it in his guidebook!). The Lauterbrunnen valley sounds great. We prefer less crowded, more wild surroundings (and we do want to experience the scenery, castles, chocolate and cheese!). Can we go to the Lauterbrunnen valley from Geneva, and can anyone suggest a good location/lodging from which to explore the sights with such a limited time frame?

Posted by
11302 posts

Of course you can go there from Geneva! It is about 3.5 hours by train to Lauterbrunnen. Stay in Lauterbrunnen, Mürren or Wengen, wherever you can find lodging you like. August is high season so you won’t be alone and lodging may be getting scarce by now, but once out hiking you will leave many of the crowd behind. Most people don’t do a lot of trails as there are tour groups interested primarily in getting to the Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn. So trains and lifts are buys, trails less so.

Posted by
16190 posts

Just be aware that the train travel to Lauterbrunnen will cost you around 80-100 CHF each way per person, unless you get a Swiss Pass of some sort (maybe a 4-day BernerOberland Pass) or a Saver Day Pass for each travel day.

Another way to enjoy cheese, chocolate, and castles without staying in Geneva would be to stay in one of the smaller towns along Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), such as Morges or Vevey. Just a thought.

Posted by
409 posts

Less crowded and Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland in August isn't really a realistic expectation. However, as stated above, the lifts/trains/boats will be busy. Very busy. But the trails will be less so. The Lauterbrunnen Valley area is gorgeous and well worth it, but if you're envisioning a quiet non-touristy place, it won't be that. And staying down in Lauterbrunnen will not feel quiet and off the beaten path. Lauterbrunnen itself is a madhouse in August. It's absolutely nuts. Social media travel influencers have taken the area by storm and it's mobbed with people. Same with trains/lifts boats up into the mountains or on the lakes to see the castles (such as Thun). However, if you stay in a place like Murren and spend your time hiking, it will feel very different. The cable car/train to get there will be absolutely packed, but it's a bunch of day trippers going up to the Schilthorn. The trails are quiet and idyllic, as you imagine.

We live in Murren in the summer every year and have noticed a massive uptick in tourists in the area compared to a pre-covid, especially July-mid August. So of course I love this area, but if you truly want somewhere quieter and less touristy, you may want to look at places less on the tourism radar. Places like Bettermeralp, Saas Fee, Engadin, Meiringen, etc. will have much less mass tourism and still have beautiful scenery.

You could also simplify your trip since you'll be doing so much hiking on the TMB and instead of staying in Geneva, pick one of the more quaint towns on Lake Geneva. We stayed in St. Prex for a couple weeks last summer and really enjoyed it. The walk to Chateau de Chillon (castle) along the lake from Montreux with a boat ride back was lovely. A day trip on the boat to Yvoire was nice. Hiking on the 1000 year old vineyard terraces above the lake from Chexbres to St. Saphorin was beautiful. The mountains there are not nearly as dramatic as the Berner Oberland, but you will be getting dramatic alpine experience on the TMB, so maybe switching it up for a lake experience could be fun for you. And much less travel to do it.

Posted by
732 posts

Just for the record, Rick Steves doesn’t mention a whole lot of places in his guidebooks. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great places to visit. There are beautiful small villages along Lake Geneva that might not be quite as crowded as the Lauterbrunnen Valley during August especially if you want castles, chocolate and cheese. And Annecy is a short train ride, too.

Posted by
20032 posts

I'd say you should stay in Montreux, or nearby Vevey The MOB rail line to the north will take you to the home of chocolate and cheese. Plenty of hiking opportunities there. To the east of Montreux are the vineyards overlooking Lake Leman (Geneva) for hikes in the vineyards. It is also a fairly straight forward train to Chamonix, via Martigny and Vallorcine.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks everyone! We finally decided to change our lodging to Lausanne, where we can catch a train for day trips to Gruyeres and Jungfraujoch. Less crowded, nicer than Geneva but easy to get transportation to several areas to explore.

I'm still having a bit of difficulty figuring out the Jungfraujoch trip: I'm guessing we should buy tickets ahead of time (through Rome2Rio or other site)? I believe you can take the train from Lausanne to Brig, and from Brig straight to Jungfraujoch? Maybe someone can help figure out where & when it's best to get tickets?

When being in Switzerland I would always recommend the Bernese Oberland. The region is not far from Geneva and you can easily travel there with public transport. There I took a ride with the
jungfraujoch train which was an amazing experience.

Posted by
20032 posts

Do not book through Rome2Rio, a secondary source. Actual operator is Jungfrau.ch/en.

Posted by
409 posts

No, it is not a direct train from Brig to Jungfraujoch. See sbb.ch for connection options & times.

It takes 4 hours and 4 train changes to get from Lausanne to Jungfraujoch. So you’re talking about 8+ hours of travel plus time and the top. Are you sure that’s what you want to do for a day trip?

Posted by
16190 posts

Not Rome2Rio. Use the Swiss rail site SBB.ch. And take a look at the rail map of Switzerland:

https://www.mystsnet.com/en/news/swiss-travel-system-map-2023/

You do not go through Brig to reach the Jungfrau train. From Lausanne, you head to Spiez, via either Montreux or Bern. Then from Spiez to Interlaken Ost, where you change to a train going to either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald—-either way you can catch the train up to Kleine Scheidegg and from there to the Jungfraujoch.

When you see how long it takes, and what it costs, you might change your mind. But look into getting a Half Fare Card before you give up; it will reduce the cost of all your travel in Switzerland by 50%. Or maybe a Saver Day Pass just for that day.

Posted by
5 posts

I'm getting our itinerary more firmed up, thanks to the input people have given me so far - but I still have some questions: got a hotel in Lausanne, but we're hoping to try Jungfraujoch on a long day - if we could take the train to Montreux, then the Golden Pass Express to Interlaken, then up to Jungfraujoch from there, it would be great. I'm trying to figure out how long it would take to get to Jungfraujoch total from Lausanne? 3 hours? More than that? From Rick Steves' book, it appears it's 2.5 hours, but from Interlaken the rest of the way by train, it looks like it would be another 2.5 hours?! Can someone tell me how long such a route would take?

I originally wanted to go to Schilthorn, but with the construction underway that may not work..

Thanks for your suggestions/advice!

Posted by
16190 posts

The Schilthorn cablecar will be running this summer, using the existing route until the new one is completed. So you can still ride up there if you wish, although some of the viewpoints and part of the terrace at the top may be closed.

https://schilthorn.swiss/en/pizgloria/Information

https://schilthorn.ch/en/Infos/News#:~:text=Opening%20direct%20connection%20Stechelberg%20–%20Mürren,of%20the%20entire%20project%3A%202026

You can figure out the time for the journey using SBB.ch, putting in Lausanne as the start and Jungfroujoch as the end. It will show the journey via Bern or Visp, not the Golden Pass route between Montreux and Interlaken, unless you force it by entering some stop on that route in the “via” section. But the faster way takes between 3 hours 52 minutes and 4 hours 50 minutes one way, depending on the time of your departure.

https://www.sbb.ch/en

Posted by
5 posts

Well, thanks to everyone's input, we're going to try Schilthorn instead of Jungfraujoch (leaving from Lausanne) - However, I am still not sure how long it will take via train to get to the cable car lifts (I think the cable cars start at Stechelberg). I looked on SBB.ch and it looks like it might be up to 4 hours via train, but other sites show it can take a couple hours if you go through Bern. Can anyone give me the quickest train route from Lausanne to the lifts?

Posted by
20032 posts

The quickest way is indeed via Bern. You can get there in 3 hours. It is at least 4 1/2 and most often 5 hours the scenic way through Zweisimmen.

You could leave at 8:19, get to Stechelberg at 11:17, then get the 11:25 departure on the Schilthornbahn and arrive on top at 11;59. Have some lunch and depart about 2:00 pm and take the scenic way back via Zweisimmen and get back to Lausanne by 7:39 pm. You could wait 30 minutes in Interlaken Ost and take the Golden Pass Express direct to Montreux, getting you back to Lausanne 8 pm. In summer, the Golden Pass Express recommends seat reservations.