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3 nights in Berner Oberland, so much to do, so little time

We will be three nights in the Berner Oberland area in July. We are booked at the Oberland in Lauterbrunnen, but many posts indicate that other smaller locations such as Grindelwald or Murren or even Wenden may be preferred. We are excited to have a view of the falls from our room and wonder if we can manage with this as our anchor? We would love advice regarding the advantages and disadvantages of these various (albiet close) locations.

Posted by
27759 posts

You probably would be happy where you are. Scroll around this Switzerland forum and see what other people ask - it is not an infrequent question - and what answers they get.

Spelling counts, and when places have very similar names you may not get what you expect if you are not careful.

other smaller locations such as Grindelwald or Murren or even Wenden

I don't know of a "Wenden" but you might mean Wengen. If so, it is the lowest of the higher towns and villages, linked to Lauterbrunnen by a train, and on the train line to the Jungfraujoch. A lot of people like it but I find it a little old fashioned (even though it has a lot of modern) and if I stay in the mountains it is too low for me.

I really like the atmosphere and location of Mürren (note the umlaut, it is required, and can be replaced by a letter e, as in Muerren). It is much higher, looks down on Wengen across the valley, looks over - it feels like you can touch them - at the 3 big mountains, Monch, Eiger, Jungfrau, is linked to Lauterbrunnen by a cable car and then a small one car train along the edge of the cliff, and is on the cable car line to Gimmelwald and up to the Schilthorn. There are lots of beautiful hikes from Mürren. I return there over and over.

I don't know if you mean Grindelwald, as you wrote it, or the very similar named Gimmelwald. They are completely different from each other, like chalk and cheese.

Grindelwald is a very large town, full of cars and tour buses, restaurants and varied accommodation. It isn't linked to Lauterbrunnen, except by train part way to Interlaken and then back up into the Lauterbrunnen Valley, or over the mountains via Mannlichen and Wengen.

Gimmelwald, regularly strongly encouraged by Rick Steves in his shows and in his guidebook, is a very very small village hanging on the edge of a cliff down a foot path from Mürren and there is a stop on the Stechelberg cable car from the end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley via Mürren to the Schilthorn. It is seriously small.

Of those listed, only Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald has cars and buses. All the others are vehicle free (except farmer vehicles and small tractor like vehicles used by hotels).

Which did you mean?

Posted by
2526 posts

What a magnificent area you are visiting. Gimmelwald, Wengen and Lauterbrunnen are places we have stayed. Gimmelwald is VERY tiny, peaceful and with limited services. Wengen (note spelling) is on the other side of the valley and is not on my short list as to future trips...it's a bit isolated. Mürren (beautiful/services) and Lauterbrunnen (great location for transport in various directions) would be my first choices. Grindelwald (note spelling) is some distance away from Lauterbrunnen and, based on my brief visit, would not be a consideration. Do the research and make up your mind.

Posted by
7205 posts

Lauterbrunnen is indeed a central location being in the valley between beautiful Murren and Wengen. We always stay in Murren as it's more a village with local residents as well as a few hotels and restaurants and a gift shop. Wengen is a built for tourism with more hotels restaurants and souvineer shops. Choose the one that best suits you. The whole area is stunning, and you won't be disappointed in any of the villages of Wengen, Murren, Lauterbrunnen.

Grindelwald is tour bus central for the alps and Interlaken is best used as a transportation hub to get to Lauterbrunnen. Don't waste your time staying in Interlaken.

Posted by
55 posts

An advantage to staying in Lauterbrunnen is its location on the valley floor, which makes going up to either side of the valley easier and quicker. If you stay in one of the upper towns and want to go over to the opposite side, you must take a train and/or a lift down a mountain to Lauterbrunnen, then go up the other side. It eats up more of your time just getting there, although this certainly is not a deal-breaker. Lauterbrunnen has more shops and eateries than the upper towns also. (I had the best brownie of my life there). Regardless of where you stay though, you will not suffer for great views.

Posted by
31471 posts

vmj,

Lauterbrunnen is a good choice as it's central to both sides of the valley and also the transportation hub for that area. Staying there will be more efficient if you're planning to tour both sides of the valley. It's only a few minutes walk to either the station for trips up towards Wengen or Grindelwald, or to the cable car that goes up to Grütschalp and Mürren. While Lauterbrunnen is in the valley and may not get as much light as the higher mountain villages, it's still a great place to stay and it will provide a view of the falls (this was taken in Lauterbrunnen).

The Hotel Oberland is also a good choice - reasonably close to the station, wonderful owners and staff and a great restaurant. The hotel has a nice "Swiss Chalet" ambiance.

One caveat to mention though - be sure to bring lots of money as Switzerland is very expensive!

Posted by
537 posts

You will be very happy at the Oberland in Lauterbrunnen and in Lauterbrunnen. It is a lovely village, and excellent as a base to see everything in that area. I just got back from there - we ate at the Oberland and stayed at Hoetl Jungfrau. Both execllent. Take a look at my trip report for details - Perfect Two weeks is the title
Diane

Posted by
22 posts

We have stayed at Hotel Staubbach in Lauterbrunnen twice and we loved it. We were able to get to everywhere we wanted to go and get there efficiently by train and the lifts. Murren and Wengen are certainly quieter if that is what you're looking for, But we loved Lauterbrunnen. If you are going to be in Switzerland for any length of time I would consider a Swiss Pass. We spent 10 days in Switzerland this past summer (Geneva, Lausanne, Lauterbrunnen, and Luzern) and it gave us the freedom to do what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. It includes trains, most lifts, boats, and over 400 museums in Switzerland, although it only gives you reduced rates on trains going higher than Murren on the Shilthorn side and Wengen on the Eiger side of the valley. We had a couple of days of drenching rain and took our passes to explore museums in Bern one day and to take a boat ride in Interlaken another day. For us a Swiss pass equals freedom.

Posted by
2590 posts

The area is so relatively compact that you can easily get to any of the nearby towns in a few minutes by foot, bus or cable car. So no worries if you have a room you really like.

Posted by
7205 posts

I actually do agree with Chris...you travel ALL that distance to get to the Majestic Swiss Alps - and then choose to stay in the valley? I love Murren and would ALWAYS choose Murren over any of the other alpine villages.

Posted by
286 posts

We stayed at Hotel Oberland this past July, extremely comfortable and centrally located on the valley floor. If you decide to keep your reservation there after considering community feedback, request to be housed in one of their (two) apartment rooms across the street [above a ski shop]. From the balcony of these rooms, you're staring straight at Staubbach Falls (whereas the hotel/facility room views are partially blocked, being on the same side of the street as waterfall and down a-ways). Hotel Oberland was a great home-base for access to different parts of the region, but I think if I had it all over to do again I would opt for Murren and be 'on the mountain'. Just depends what activities your family enjoys. If it's hiking, and waking up to breathtaking vistas, Murren is tough to beat.

Posted by
10060 posts

Muerren is indeed beautiful, but where you stay depends on what you plan to do while there. If all of your activities will be on that side of the valley, it's a great location. But if you plan to go to First, Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidigg/Jungfraujoch, or the Schynige Platte as well as around Muerren (Allmendhubel, Gimmelwald, Schilthorn) then staying in Lauterbrunnen makes it easier.

We have stayed in both -- a total of 15 nights in the area over 3 trips -- and prefer Lauterbrunnen because of the ease of going anywhere in the Berner-Oberland.

Posted by
5200 posts

I noticed a big change in Murren after those staying down in the valley left each afternoon. It was quite peaceful and I was so glad that I stayed there and not down in the valley. I'm pretty sure that this area is so lovely that you won't have a bad experience wherever you chose to stay. I think that up on the mountain is a unique experience and worth the effort.

Posted by
4 posts

"Don't waste your time staying in Interlaken."

I believe Tim said this in one of his replies above. Any reason for this? I'm planning a three-week trip to Europe and the last 8 days or so of my trip will be spent in Reuitgen, Gurzelen and Lauterbrunnen. I was planning on making Interlaken my home base. Would there be another recommendation?

Posted by
11289 posts

Interlaken is near but not in the Swiss Alps. Here's what I said in another post about Interlaken:

"If you need or want large supermarkets, a sex shop, fancy large hotels, fancy jewelry stores, or a "Paksitani" restaurant (that's what the sign said, like Punxsutawney Phil), or if you have an aversion to being right at the Swiss Alps, stay in Interlaken. Otherwise, stay right in the Berner Oberland, either in the valley (Lauterbrunnen), or in the mountain villages (Mürren and Gimmelwald on one side, Wengen on the other). I stayed in Mürren and would happily do so again (and unlike Chris, I don't live there and so have no bias)."

Posted by
7205 posts

Chris - you make me laugh! I thought I was the only one annoyed by people staying in Interlaken and thinking they're in the alps. Good grief people, get on that train and ride 20 minutes to get to Lauterbrunnen.

Posted by
4 posts

"Why would you stay in Interlaken...its a town and not a high alpine village like Mürren at 1650m. YOU guys travel so far to experience the alpine vibe and then stop in a town...OMG.....this annoys me so much..."

I'm looking for advice as to where to stay. This is my first EVER trip overseas. I didn't realize you were so high and mighty. Good grief.