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4 days - advice about Bernese Oberland and Golden Pass train

We've got only 4 days in Switzerland after our Italy trip in early June, and we're flying in and out of Zurich. based on Rick's books and reading various postings here, I'm thinking I don't want to try to go to too many places, and so I'm planning to go to the Bernese Oberland for at least 2 if not 3 nights; probably spend the last night in Zurich. What I don't know is if we should try to cram in a ride on the Golden Pass train or just forgo that and enjoy what the Bernese Oberland have to offer. So I'm looking for advice. I feel like staying in Murren (or Wengen, etc.) for 3 nights means we have only 2 full days there and there's a lot to see. On the other hand, the Golden Pass train trip sounds like a don't-miss event. And if we did that, would we want to just do it in both directions in one day, or go out, stay there for one night (in Montreux?) and then go back to the Bernese oberland? Should we try to go directly from Zurich to Montreux (taking the golden pass) stay there one night, then go back to the Bernese Oberland, stay there 2 nights, and then back to Zurich?

Thanks for your advice!

Posted by
8889 posts

Simple solution. Go direct from Italy to Mürren: but when you go from Mürren to Zürich DO NOT take the quick route (Mürren - Interlaken - Bern - Zürich), instead take the Brünig Pass route (Mürren - Interlaken - Brünig Pass - Luzern - Zürich). that is one half of the Golden Pass route.
If you go to www.sbb.ch and enter Mürren to Zürich, it will offer you the quickest route, that is via Bern. But, if you enter "via Luzern" it will offer you the slower scenic route.
Another option is staying your last night in Luzern instead of Zürich. Luzern to Zürich airport is easy, one train per hour direct to airport, journey time ~1 hour. That gives you the Brünig pass route, and some time in Luzern, which is in my opinion preferably over big-city Zürich. If you get to Luzern early enough you can go on a boat trip on the lake.

Posted by
2828 posts

In my humble opinion, the sector between Interlaken and Luzern is way more interesting than the other. Moreover, since your trip is already on a tight schedule, I'd not bother going out of the way to put the Golden Pass train on your route. You will already have a lot of interesting rides out of Mürren.

I'd skip Montreux altogether, spend 3 nights in Lauterbrunnen (essential to maximize your chances of good weather, 2 nights means just one full day, that day ends up being gloomy and you won't be able to enjoy) and take a late afternoon train to Zürich via Luzern, so you can have a sunset ride there (the rest of the trip is done on intercity trains without much interest).

Posted by
16883 posts

You will get a full dose of mountain spectacle in the Berner Oberland, so you should not feel at all that you missed out. Rick has always prioritized "quality time" to get up-close-and-personal with mountain lifts, hiking routes, cow pastures, and people, versus the "scenic drive" option. And then taking the scenic train options via Luzern is easy to do, adding only one hour on your travel day to Zurich.

Posted by
328 posts

I agree that the portion of the route between Interlaken and Lucerne is the more scenic. I also agree that with such a short amount of time you should spend as much of it as possible in the Berner Oberland.

Posted by
2432 posts

are you guys sure about Interlaken to Lucerne being the best part of the Golden Pass? I thought most travel guides say it's from Interlaken to Montreux via Gstaad.

Posted by
650 posts

When we went to buy our train tickets in Montreaux to the Bernese Oberland, the Swiss clerk at the ticket counter told us that you need to take the Golden Pass train once in your lifetime. We took her advice and loved it! A very memorable experience!

Posted by
8976 posts

@phred
are you guys sure about Interlaken to Lucerne being the best part of the Golden Pass? I thought most travel guides say it's from Interlaken to via Gstaad.

Interlaken-Luzern is definitely more scenic. You're traveling through a mountain range through out the entire journey. The highlight of the Interlaken-Montreux segment is the commanding views you get of Lake Geneva from the top of the mountain before you zig--zag you way down to Montreux station. But that only comprises just a few minutes of the journey, the rest of it isn't very memorable. Having said that it's still worth doing both segments if you have time.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks to everyone for your advice! I decided to book three nights in Murren and the last night in Zurich, and we'll forgo the golden pass trip to Montreux. This gives us two full days in Murren and we can go for hikes/walks, and perhaps take a trip to either Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch.

I have a question about the train pass but will post that as a separate question.

Posted by
145 posts

Could you please post your detailed itinerary? We are planning something similar - in and out of Zurich/Milan/Geneva - spending a week in all, split between Switzerland and Italy. So, I am interested in seeing what others are planning so I can piggyback on your knowledge and planning. In the end, we might just decide to stay only in Switzerland or only in Italy ... so am wanting to sift through plans ...

Porcupyn

Posted by
2432 posts

Make sure you use all the newfangled resources available on the internet to check weather to make sure your Schilthorn/Jungfrau trips are worth it. Give yourself several days to choose from; use an overall site like Accuweather and also the specific websites for the two mountains.

Posted by
27502 posts

The ride down the cliff into Montreux is quite impressive, but the rest of that run is not dramatic, but it is interesting to see the language of the locals on the train changing from German to French - one reason I always take the local trains not the named, hermetically sealed, full of only tourists special trains.

The local trains are just as fast, on the same tracks going to the same stations, but with the local residents who use it to get around.

The portion of the route from Interlaken Ost to Luzern goes along the beautiful Brienzersee, much nicer IMHO than the Thunersee, through Meiringen where the real Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame are (you can go right up the falls by funicular or walk or take a Post bus half way up), then right up a cliff into the woods on the Brunig Pass, then by all sorts of lakes on the way to Luzern passing by the Pilatus. As you see, I like that side of the Golden Pass - on local trains - much more than the other side.