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Colmar to Alps

Hi everyone,
I am in Colmar for a week in the first week on December. I have a vehicle rental and want to take a day trip to somewhere in the Alps. I will be leaving very early in the morning (5am). I will choose to go on a day with good weather (fingers crossed). Long drives do not bother me.

I've looked into Wengen, Grindelwald or perhaps somewhere near Lucerne.

What is a good recommendation at this time of the year? My hope is to arrive around 8am.

Thanks in advance

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
11854 posts

Wengen. Park your car in the underground garage at Lauterbrunnen station and buy a ticket up to Wengen or higher up to Kleine Scheidegg and gaze at the Eiger right above you. It will be ski season, take a few runs if you feel so inclined.

Posted by JS
Bay Area
3032 posts

If u did on Lucerne then Mt Rigi or Mt Pilatus are close by ferry or train. However it is not the alps per se. Stick with Wengen bymprevious poster and hope for clear weather. If not Lucerne is a wonderful visit or Laussane on lake geneva.

Posted by Spencer OP
18 posts

Thank you both for the replies.
I've looked into both now, and both look stunning. Hoping for good weather. I was wondering how far we could we could drive? Would we have to park in Interlaken then take a bus/gondola or are there other 'deeper' or 'higher' parking?

I also looked into car rental, and I think it makes more sense to train to Basel and rent a vehicle directly in Basel. Does anyone have any thoughts or experiences on the matter?

Posted by Spencer OP
18 posts

sorry, Sam just re-read your post. "Park your car in the underground garage at Lauterbrunnen station and buy a ticket up to Wengen".

Posted by Spencer OP
18 posts

Would Wengen on Grindlewald be a better spot to park our car? For the first week in December, I'm assuming some of the cog/trains/and gondolas be closed?

What village would give us more options during this time of year?

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
11854 posts

Hardly, you're looking at the beginning of ski season. How would they get they holiday makers up the mountain if the trains weren't running? In fact, the train IS a ski lift. The Swiss have been doing this for a long time, and believe you me, they've got it down.

Posted by Chris F
Basel, Switzerland
5820 posts

Would Wengen on Grindlewald be a better spot to park our car?

Yes, you can drive to Grindelwald, and stay there if you like.
For Wengen you would have to leave your car in Lauterbrunnen.

It is a Y-shaped dead-end valley. Interlaken is at the base of the Y, Grindelwald on the left fork, Lauterbrunnen on the right fork, both are the end of the road. From Lauterbrunnen you can take cable cars or trains up the left side of the valley to Wengen or up the right side to Mürren.
From all of these you can go further up, to the top of the mountains by train and cable car. The trains and most of the cable cars operate 12 months a year.

See map here: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-cwZHtq9iRMY/Vr4zZU7iEEI/AAAAAAAAHpk/ex3gVNAqPi4/s1600/jungfrau_mapspot.jpg

Posted by Spencer OP
18 posts

I'll probably train it to Basel then pick up the rental car there. No need to pay for vignette then?

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
11854 posts

If you are going to the trouble of stopping and renting a car, you might as well just use the train all the way. After all, it will sit in a paid parking garage in Lauterbrunnen, then turned in on the way home. The new one-day Swiss travel pass would work great for this trip. Buy it two weeks ahead of time and you should be able to get it for 52 CHF.

It does take nearly 4 hours by train, or about 3 hours by car, so getting there by 8 am is not practical. The first train from Colmar is at 5:50 am, getting to Basel at 6:39. The rental agencies at the station open at 7, give 1/2 hour time to rent the vehicle, then 2 hour drive from Basel to Lauterbrunnen and you are there at the same time as you would if you had just continued by train. The rental location at Basel station closes at 6 pm, so you would have to leave Wengen by 3:30 pm at the latest. By train, you could leave at 5 pm and be back in Colmar by 9. or, as late as 7 pm and be in Colmar by midnight.

Or just bite the bullet and pay the 40 CHF for a vignette, assuming you already have a rental car.

Posted by Spencer OP
18 posts

Sam,

Would the 1-day swiss pass cover gondolas or trains in the Lautenbrunnen valley?

Thanks for the advice

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
11854 posts

It only covers trips to populated villages, not high mountain lifts. So for Wengen it would not cover the train up to Kleine Scheidegg or the Jungfraujoch from Wengen. Even with a Swiss Travel Pass, you only get a 25% discount for these. It would cover transport from Lauterbrunnen to the village of Muerren, but not up to Piz Gloria on the Schilthornbahn. With a Swiss Travel Pass, you get a 50% discount for that trip.
Here is the map of validity. See the notes in the Berner Oberland area.
https://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/sbb/de/pdf/freizeit-ferien/ferien-kurztrips-schweiz/internationale-gaeste/sts-geltungsbereich.pdf

Edit- One thing you could do is buy a half day sport lift pass for 49 CHF to ride the lifts in the Wengen-Grindelwald-First ski sector. It starts at noon and will get you up to Kleine Scheidegg and down to Grindelwald and also on the Maennlichen lifts. It gives no discount for the Jungfraujochbahn above Kleine Scheidegg. The full day is 64 CHF, and there is a 10% Sr discount if you are 62 or older. And a regional pass that includes Muerren for 73 CHF.
https://www.jungfrau.ch/fileadmin/Prospekte_und_Broschueren/Price_list_Jungfrau_Ski_Region.pdf

Posted by Spencer OP
18 posts

Hmmm...tough decisions. I was hoping the car because it would be cheaper. Now I'm not so sure. I'm not too concerned about time, three hours or so is a reasonable day trip. We are Canadian and do it all the time driving....and that is across flat boring land in southwestern Ontario :)

Would the Swiss daypass require a previous half off pass? Thats what the Swiss railwebaite looks like it is explaining. As convenient as the train is...it still looks like more money. ( I would be travelling with my partner as well)

Also if I did choose to rent a vehicle in Basel...I would need it to be automatic.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
11854 posts

The new Saver Day Pass: Does not need a Half Fare Card.
https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/1-day-travelpass/saver-day-pass.html

If you already have a rental car in Colmar, driving and getting a vignette at the border may be your lowest cost option, especially if you want to maintain flexibility. The Saver Day Pass has to be bought in advance for a specific day, and at least 10 days in advance to get the 52 CHF price. If you buy the 73 CHF Sport Pass, you could park the car at Interlaken Ost station and the Sport Pass will let ride up to Wengen and beyond. Only the Jungfraujoch would be extra, and it looks like you will have to pay something to get all the way to Piz Gloria as well.

Posted by Spencer OP
18 posts

Is the Basel/Mulhouse airport in Switzerland or France?

If I took the train from Colmar to the airport and picked up a rental there would it be within Switzerland (thus avoiding the 50 vingette fee)? Or is it on the French side? I say this because the car rentals are cheaper at the airport than the train station in Basel. They are also open later.

Thank you so much with these specific answers.

Posted by Chris F
Basel, Switzerland
5820 posts

Is the Basel/Mulhouse airport in Switzerland or France?

Yes, both. One half of the terminal is in France, one half in Switzerland. You can cross between the two countries inside the terminal at departures level, but not by road. The Swiss half of the terminal (technically leased from France) is connected to Basel city via a road that is separated from other roads until you enter Basel City limits and are in Switzerland proper.

If coming from Colmar by train you would get off at St Louis station, and take a bus to the French side of the airport.
If you rent a car from the Swiss sector (cross from France inside the terminal), you get a Swiss registered car at Swiss prices with a Vignette, and exit you on the road to Basel.
If you rent a car from the French sector, you get a French registered car, pay French prices and it may or may not have a Vignette, and you exit to the French Autoroute, two junctions before the border.

I think it is just easier to hire your car in Colmar, and buy the Vignette at the border.

Yes, Basel has a crazy relationship with borders ☺

P.S. The Vignette costs CHF 40 (NOT 50).