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Berner Oberland Region travel up mountains - confused!

We are planning a trip for July, 2023 - will stay 3 nights in Lauterbrunnen ( or perhaps 1 in Lauterbrunnen and two in Murren or Gimmelwald)
Two of us want to para-glide, we all want to hike/walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

I am so confused about how the cable cars to get to various locations on the mountains work. How much per trip? Timetables?

Any advice would be very appreciated!

Thank You,
Debbie

Posted by
14175 posts

The cable cars run frequently so I'm not sure you actually need much of a schedule although you will want to know first and last. There are 2 ways - either cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grutshalp then a cog train to Muerren OR a post bus to Stechelberg and cable car up to Muerren.

I would not divide up your stay, I'd stay all 3 nights in Muerren (more choice of places to eat there than Gimmelwald). This way your 2 full days would be from Muerren which is where I suspect your companions will want to paraglide? I'd definitely do this on Day 1 if the weather is good, if not you've got a 2nd crack at it. If you stay one day in Lauterbrunnen then you'll have to move your luggage on your 1st full day if your other nights are at Muerren which might disrupt your activities.

From Muerren it will be easy for the person who is not paragliding to do some walks on their own.

This is a wonderful area!

Posted by
369 posts

Yep the clog wheel train is long gone, there are gondolas from both ends of the valley up to the alp. There is a train along the top/side of the alp to Murren or you can bus from the BOB station the valley to the far end of the valley and gondola up from there. You will not be confused once you get there. I would not move locations for only 3 nights. The Para-glides leave from the Murren side of the alp, and land down by that gondola. However July is the big rain month in the Alps, just FYI so you pack accordingly. The lifts run every 15 minutes until night when they stop or if there is a wind storm they stop. Look into lift passes as the per trip fee can add up fast. If you take the gondola up to Brig or further ask on the way down to get off at Tower 5, a local stop, and a nice hike down to Murren past a cheese/beer hut. So much fun, if you can add more nights to your stay in that area I would. J

Posted by
5053 posts

I agree that staying the entire time in Murren is the better option. Many of us here like the Hotel Bellevue- email direct for the best rates, and ask for the RS discount.
I have a terrible time with directions, and couldn't figure out beforehand how all the lifts run. But once you're there, it's a really small area, and you don't have many other options other than up ( or later, down.) It would help us if you tell us where you're coming from. The mighty Swiss have a well- organized transportation system, and you should experience minimal waits.
Figuring out the various transportation passes is a bit if a challenge, so if we know where else in Switzerland you'll be, and how much other train travel is involved, we can give some input regarding passes.
Have a great trip in this beautiful country!

Posted by
16738 posts

Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp is a cablecar (Seilbahn or Luftseilbahn in German) that runs every 30 minutes, connecting with the train from Interlaken Ost. to Lauterbrunnen. The schedule Sam linked says at :05 and :35 after each our. SBB shows it at :08 and :38 on tomorrow’s schedule.

The cablecar, which holds up to 100people, replaced the old funicular ( Standseilbahn) on that route in 2006.

https://www.funimag.com/photoblog/index.php/20061219/luftseilbahn-lauterbrunnen-grutschalp-murrenbahn/

The cablecar is rather unusual in that there is one single cabin, rather than two at opposite ends if the cable, acting as counterbalances like most large cablecars. Also unusual in that there is a separate “basket” below for transporting luggage ( you can see it in the photo linked above); nthis is moved from the cablecar to the little train that continues on to Mürren where passengers collect their luggage. At least that is how it has worked til now. They are replacing that little train and reconstructing the Mürren station so I don’t know how it will work next year.

Posted by
11454 posts

It is hard to envision but once you arrive it will all make sense. Have Rick Steves’ Switzerland guide with you (at least on your phone) for reference.

Posted by
2355 posts

The cable cars are covered, to some extent, by the various rail passes. You will need to research those to see if they are “worth it”. A lot depends on where you plan to go in the BO, where you are going after BO, and how you are getting there. The cable cars/trains that go to the highest points (Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch) require additional payment. Others are covered 50%.

You can see prices for the cable cars on this website. Please note that these prices assume you purchase the Half-Fare card. If you do NOT plan to purchase that card, you need to double the fare. https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/individual-tickets/outward-return.html

Here is a map that I found helpful to orient yourself in the valley, and identify the various transportation options.

https://lauterbrunnenhiking.wordpress.com/

Posted by
325 posts

We stayed in Gimmelwald and loved it. I think it was Esthers? Easy to get to Murren for paragliding, which was fabulous. It was our first time and a highlight of the trip! Can't remember the name of the company though; it was in 2015. ps, we enjoyed the hiking more on the other side of the valley along Kleine Scheidegg . The glaciers felt like they were hanging over you there! (but even our view out the hotel window from Gimmelwald were incredible.)

Posted by
41 posts

Thank you so very much! This is all so helpful!

I am so excited about this trip!
One more question; due to the fact that I cannot be certain
what time we will arrive Lauterbrunnen (I want to account for potential flight delays, etc)
I wonder if we should stay one night in Lauterbrunnen and then the next two in Murren as I worry that we wouldn't get there in time to catch the cable car to Murren. I imagine they stop running fairly early - ?

Posted by
20338 posts

The last connection from Lauterbrunnen to Muerren is 11:26 pm. I doubt if you are arriving at Zurich airport from North America, you will have any trouble getting to Muerren that day.

Posted by
16738 posts

Right now the last cablecar up from Lauterbrunnen departs at 17:38, but summer it should run later. And you can still reach Mürren via the bus to Stechelberg and cablecar up from there—-it is running until 23:26 even now.

These are not recreational lifts. People live in these villages and may need to come and go late in the evening.

Posted by
41 posts

We are flying into Geneva - should arrive about 7:40 am - plan to rent a car. Then travel to Chateau de Chillon then on to Lauterbrunnen. I hope to pick up some snacks at a grocery store along the way. I know from experience that we will be tired but in order to adjust and combat jet lag, it is best if we stay awake all day and then try to get to bed early and sleep in the next morning.

Posted by
5053 posts

Most folks here will discourage driving with jet lag. The Swiss train system is so efficient and user-friendly, and with so many areas being car-free zones, a rental car could be sitting in expensive parking lots. The Swiss Travel Pass [depending on which one you might purchase] can cover trains, boats, museums, castles, and offer discounts on modes of transportation above Murren and Wengen. There is also a Half-Fare Pass which is an option.
Lots of options to consider. Enjoy planning and researching your trip to this magnificent country!

Posted by
2355 posts

I will encourage you to reconsider renting the car straightaway. We are a family of 4 and we usually rent a car. But I would NOT rent a a car immediately after a flight from the US. We’ve done it before: once on our first Europe trip, arriving in Munich and driving to Salzburg in POURING rain on mountain roads. My fingers probably left permanent indentations in the wheel - it was terrifying. The second time we arrived in Frankfurt and drove 1 hr to Boppard. Never again, when trains are so efficient.

Consider taking the train to Murren instead. You won’t need a car in the BO and you will just spend more $ parking it in Lauterbrunnen. If you want the car for the continuation of the trip, pick it up elsewhere (maybe Interlaken). Car rental rates are horrendous right now, not to mention gas!

Posted by
530 posts

I wonder if we should stay one night in Lauterbrunnen and then the next two in Murren as I worry that we wouldn't get there in time to catch the cable car to Murren.

No, that would be a real waste of time during your short three night stay. Hopefully the information you have been given will help to ease your mind. If it still continues to stress you, why not spend all three nights in Lauterbrunnen? Many people really enjoy staying there.

Posted by
8597 posts

schillpaw, this area is well-connected public transportation-wise, so a car is a handicap. But it might help to know that these towns are pretty much all visible from one another, so it's not like you will be going onto remote wilderness areas. Gimmelwald is just a short stroll down a well worn path from Mürren, for example, and a short gondola ride up from Stechelberg. It will all be apparent when you're on the scene and see how close things are.

Posted by
33142 posts

cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grutshalp then a cog train to Muerren

Pedantic Nigel here - while the BLM train between Mürren and Grütschalp is indeed narrow gauge (electric) it is not a cog or cogwheel train, the train works entirely by rail adhesion despite the ruling 5 percent grade.

Posted by
16738 posts

Nothing wrong with a bit of pedantry, Nigel. I practiced that myself in pointing out that the Seilbahn (or Luftseilbahn) up to Grütschalp from Lauterbrunnen is a cablecar, not a gondola ( Gondelbahn) which uses smaller cabins that run continuously.

You will find several gondolas around Grindelwald (the First lift and the lift up to Männlichen from Grindelwald Grund are both gondolas). But the lifts that carry passengers from the Lauterbrunnen valley floor up to Mürren/Gimmelwald, and on up to the top of the Schilthorn, are all the large cablecars that can hold up to 80-100 people. It is not fun to be riding in one of these when it is filled to capacity, but it is often unavoidable.

Another name for these in English is “aerial tramway”, which more closely approximates the German Luftseilbahn, and reflects the fact that they are often high in the air. They are common at ski resorts in the Alps and Dolomites, but there are only 13 of this type of lift at North American ski resorts. Gondolas and chairlifts (both of which are spaced at intervals along a cable and move continuously) are the norm here.

That number does not include aerial trams that are used for transport outside of ski resorts, such as the one in Portland, OR that carries people up to the hilltop OHSU medical center complex.

https://www.portland.gov/transportation/portland-aerial-tram

Posted by
530 posts

Nothing wrong with a bit of pedantry

People make small mistakes all the time. Perhaps they don't quite remember something correctly or maybe they are not as concerned about that specific detail. Most of the time it does not matter at all to the OP one way or the other.

For example, Ost does not have an umlaut. ;-)