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Berner Oberland hikes/euros/lifts questions!

Hi!

I'm traveling to Switzerland for my first time next week! I'll be staying in Lauterbrunnen for 2.5 days.

I'd love some advice on the following, please:

  1. Euros or Swiss francs?

  2. I want to do 2.5 days of hiking:

    • Lauterbrunnen valley floor on the afternoon I arrive.
    • Schilthorn side
    • Jungfrau side
    • What hikes do you recommend? I have the RS book and I'm a little confused and can't decide! I'm an experienced solo female hiker. And if you recommend a hike, could you kindly share how to execute it (which lifts, etc.?)
  3. Should I get a rail pass? I'm there for 2.5 days in only the Berner Oberland.

Thank you so much!

Posted by
437 posts
  1. Swiss francs
  2. I'd google Schilthorn or Jungfrau hiking maps. When I did a search there are a number of sites that come up. They'll show you where to start and what lifts to take. I don't think it would matter what hike you took, unless difficulty is a limiting factor. The area is drop dead gorgeous so you can't go wrong for any trail.
  3. If you're hiking for 3 days in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, you don't need a rail pass. Check to see if there is an area pass for discounts to various activities/locations. You may find it useful. We were in Meiringen for 10 days (on the east end of Brienzerzee) and there was an area pass there.

I'm sure the local tourist office or your hotel could give you some good advice as well. Have fun!! (I'm jealous)

Posted by
16894 posts
  1. Get Swiss francs from the first available ATM.

3.+ How are you getting to and from Lauterbrunnen? By car or with another rail pass? If you have another (Eurail brand) pass, it will give you 25% discounts from Interlaken and around Lauterbrunnen, without using a flexi pass travel day, so I'd be happy with just that much benefit. If you're coming in and out of the country by train and don't have another pass, then those days count into the equation of choosing a Swiss Travel Pass or Half-Fare Card.

Posted by
65 posts

Thank you! I'll be taking a train from Paris to Interlaken West (that's what it says on the ticket). Do I just stay on for one more stop to Interlaken Ost? Then take a (bus/train?) from there to
Lauterbrunnen? I'll be leaving early on a Tuesday morning from the Lauterbrunnen (bus/train?) station to the Interlaken Ost station to go to Venice.
Knowing that, do you think I should get the half fare pass or pay for all incividual lifts?
Thank you!

Posted by
679 posts

We took the gondola to Grutschalp and took the higher route to Allmendhubel where we ate a fabulous lunch with a view of the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. Food was as good as the view! We then walked down to Murren and Gimmelwald where we took the gondola back down to the valley. It was a nice workout without being overly difficult or taxing. We then walked back down the valley, along the river, to Lauterbrunnen.

Posted by
65 posts

I should add that my tickets from Paris to Interlaken West and from Interlaken Ost to Venice are already paid for. I'll just be paying for getting from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen, 2.5 days in that area, then back to Interlaken Ost.

Posted by
8889 posts

You DO NOT want to get off the train at Interlaken West, you need to continue on the train to Interlaken Ost, about 2 minutes later, where the train terminates. You then get another train to Lauterbrunnen. The train will be waiting, but you will have to buy a ticket, so you may have to get the next train 30 minutes later.
The train divides on route, make sure you are on the half of the train that goes to Lauterbrunnen, not the half that goes to Grindelwald.

If you are doing a lot of mountain cable cars, you could get a "Berner Oberland pass" at CHF 250 for 4 days. Details here: http://www.regionalpass-berneroberland.ch/en/
You can buy this at Interlaken station, and it includes the train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen,
Coverage map here: http://www.regionalpass-berneroberland.ch/assets/karte-und-partner/BLS-RAIL-Regio-BE-XL-17-web.pdf

Online hiking maps: See this website: https://map.schweizmobil.ch/?lang=en&bgLayer=pk&resolution=5&E=2635900&N=1160490&layers=Wanderland
The green lines are hiking routes, the dashed ones are classified as "mountain paths" - more difficult.
You can pan and zoom. If you click "print" you can download maps as PDF files at 1:50,000 and 1:25,000

Posted by
7209 posts

You know - I've been wondering why so many people have "Interlaken" on their destination list even though Interlaken holds nothing great. It's not in the alps, it's not even in the valley - it's a town with lots of great rail connections. So just curiously I went to the Eurail Website and there I see it. Copied directly from the Eurail website:

"Interlaken is a mountain paradise – pay a visit to the underground waterfalls or try one of the many outdoor activities like hiking, white-water rafting or skiing"

No - Interlaken is NOT a mountain paradise, and there are no underground waterfalls in Interlaken. Neither is there white water rafting or skiing. All of that is in Lauterbrunnen and the surrounding alpine villages. But I do see how newcomers are being funneled into Interlaken now...complete with a travel pass (Eurail Pass) that covers little and offers only miniscule bits of discounts. I continue to be amazed that Eurail is still in existence.

Posted by
65 posts

Hi all, thank you for the assistance. To Chris who inquired why I made some travel mistakes: I'm a brand new traveler; I made some unfortunate rookie mistakes. Thanks for your patience, understanding, and any assistance you can provide to a newbie traveler.

Posted by
16894 posts

If you bought the train tickets through Rail Europe, then they don't offer you a choice of stations in Interlaken but your ticket is valid to either station. The computer named Interlaken West assuming that you'd want the shortest ride but you can definitely stay on the train until Interlaken Ost.

To see train schedules in Europe (but not to buy most tickets), the Deutsche Bahn link at Looking Up Train Schedules and Routes Online is very comprehensive. Of course, they get all the Swiss coordinated transport info from SBB and the rest from other national railways.

Train and lift prices around the Lauterbrunnen Valley are on the schematic on p. 129 of Rick Steves' Switzerland and at https://www.jungfrau.ch/shop/en/tickets/bergbahn. The one-month Swiss Half-Fare Card for visitors costs a relatively small investment of 120 Swiss Francs to buy there and saves money if your transport tickets would otherwise add up to at least 240 CHF. You may not rack up that much expense if only heading to mid-elevation trailheads and covering more ground with your feet.

But if you use lifts all the way from Lauterbrunnen to the top of Schilthorn and return, then it typically costs 105-113 CHF roundtrip. From Lauterbrunnen all the way to Jungfraujoch roundtrip costs 190 CHF. There may be discounts for the first couple of early-morning departures. Or tickets are cheaper if you plan to hike part of the way back downhill. I highly recommend Mt. Schilthorn for the 360-degree panoramic view, but have not gone to the Jungfraujoch, which takes longer, as well as being more expensive.

Despite Tim's frustration with Eurail, I don't think we can blame them for the relative prominence of larger towns versus small villages on maps, the general enthusiasm of the Swiss Tourist Office, or the fame that Interlaken gained as a tourist destination in the 19th century.

Posted by
1841 posts

An easy hike on the Schilthorn side is Murren to Grutschalp. It can be done either direction and you can take the train back.

http://www.myswissalps.com/hiking/gruetschalp-muerren/route

Also from Murren is the North Face trail. If you take the funicular up it's very easy to find as it's visible from much of town. Actually there are lots of signs that mark the direction of trails and the estimated time needed. Example of signs.

http://www.slowtrav.com/switzerland/hiking/signs.htm

Great views from either of these.

Posted by
65 posts

Thank you all very much for your kind assistance in helping this newbie discover the Berner Oberland. I appreciate your advice and resources very much! Many thanks.

Posted by
219 posts
  1. Choose your hikes by the weather and visibility: --Save the Lauterbrunnen Valley floor for a time with low visibility of mountains, because your view is mostly of the close-up cliffs and waterfalls when you're down low. Also, Trummelbach Falls is a spectacular site to visit on that valley floor, and it's "indoors" -- inside a mountain! So no distant views involved. It's about half-way between Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg. --Jungfrau side: (If the Jungfrau mountain is viewable and not completely covered in dense fog/cloud): A short hike, but gorgeous and easy, is the Männlichen-to-Kleine Scheidegg hike. Take the little cog-rail train from Lauterbrunnen up to Wengen. Walk to the cable-car station in Wengen and take the cable car up to Männlichen. Walk from there first to the view overlook that's up to your left, then second, retrace your steps back to where the path started from the Männlichen station and follow the well-marked main trail to Kleine Scheidegg. It's only 2 1/2 miles, and very gentle. If you want to do more hiking, there are several paths from Kleine Scheidegg that are longer and also gorgeous: Since you are hiking solo, I'm only recommending hikes that have plenty of other hikers using it, so you won't be alone for long in case of any injury. Kleine Scheidegg-to-Wengernalp -- is across the other side of the Kleine Scheidegg-to-Lauterbrunnen train-track, and follows along and below the track. When you reach Wengernalp, you can catch the cog-rail train from Wengernalp back to Lauterbrunnen. --Schilthorn side: (If the mountains are viewable and not completely covered in dense fog/cloud): I agree with Padams' and Rocket's recommendations for what's called the Northface Trail. From Lauterbrunnen take the cable car up to Grütchalp and the train from there over to Mürren. In Mürren follow signs to the funicular that goes up to Allmendhubel. Walk the Northface Trail from Allmendhubel, around spectacular terrain through meadows with amazing views of a long range of snowcapped mountains, and follow the blue "Northface Trail" signs until they end, and then choose to follow path signs to Mürren or hike further following signs to Gimmelwald. Take a cable car down to Stechelberg from either Mürren or from Gimmelwald. You can take a bus back to Lauterbrunnen from the Stechelberg station. I've enjoyed the hikes that I've described above, and they are all in the Rick Steves Switzerland guide book. The Northface Trail is not as easy as the others, but it's my favorite -- the most gorgeous!
Posted by
11294 posts

"I have the RS book and I'm a little confused"

Yes, before you have been there, just reading the book is indeed confusing. But once you're actually there, you'll see that it becomes much clearer. It too was worried before I went; once I was there, Rick's book had all the info I needed.

As for which hikes to do and when, be sure to ask at your hotel, and check the webcams. You do want to be flexible depending on weather and how you feel, as well as your ability and interests. I agree that unless it's cloudy, save the valley floor walk for a later time; if it's sunny, do something that will utilize this to best advantage. If you're looking for something less strenuous and expensive, I highly recommend going up the Allmendhubel (above Mürren); the walk up there is lovely, and you get a great view of the three peaks, which you can't see from Mürren itself.

I was there in September 2014 for four nights, and had such a great time I'm headed back in two weeks for another four nights! Don't worry about which hikes you do or don't do - they're all good!

Posted by
1321 posts

Christa - thanks for this question. We are considering a trip to the Berner Oberland next September (we have two Bernese Mountain Dogs which are the inspiration for this trip) so I'm getting good information from your questions. Donna