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Hiking Trip end of October 2021

Hi all,

I’m helping my 21-year old daughter plan 4-5 days in Switzerland hiking with her college friends. They will be coming from Florence and could go by train or fly into Geneva, Bern, Zürich.

They are thinking two nights in two locations and are interested in the Bernese Oberland (is that Lauterbrunnen?)

My other daughter went hiking in Chamonix and Murren and is recommending these towns (but her school planned her trip for her; they flew into Geneva then bus to Chamonix and train (?) to Murren.

After Switzerland they are flying to Barcelona so need to end up in a city with a decent airport.

I would appreciate any guidance for them on an itinerary and transportation. They just got back from Bolzano / Ortisei and LOVED it!

(It looks like they can train to Lauterbrunnen from Florence in 6 hours for $125.)

Thank you!

Posted by
16165 posts

Late October is not a good time to go hiking in the high Alps. Some one just was in Chamonix and said all the lifts are closed for maintenance. It can be snowing and/or ice on the trails.

Posted by
9834 posts

Lauterbrunnen and Mürren are in the same valley in the Berner Oberland. Mürren Is actually above Lauterbrunnen. The area is pretty well shut down from mid-October until ski season. Lifts necessary for those who live there remain open but not all that are helpful to hikers. If the weather is good she can still access some hiking but to spend two nights and have the ONE DAY there be raining would be a waste. Ditto Chamonix. We spent three nights there once in late May and never did see the darn mountains! They could get lucky on weather, or not, but the lifts won’t open anyway so they’d have to do hikes supported by the mountain trains and lifts open for residents. It is a bit of a crap shoot.

Late October says “Rome” and points south to me. Maybe they should just go to Spain and enjoy the time there?

Posted by
583 posts

Shoot! So is AdS just that much further south? And lower altitude? It was absolutely beautiful there over the weekend!

Would Switzerland offer gondola rides? Is there another area like the South Tyrol? I saw someone just post about being in Luzerne and going to Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus last week.

Yes, maybe they should find a place for hiking in Spain. Hmmm….

Posted by
2433 posts

Alpe di Siusi is indeed farther south and drier than Switzerland / Austria. Also, early October and late October are totally different in the Alps!
Since your daughter is budget-conscious (if I am to believe the thread about Bolzano hotels), I would therefore spare her the time and expense of going to Switzerland or France at that time of the year.

There is plenty of excellent hiking in mountains closer to Florence; for instance there are many trails around Lake Garda or, further afield, Lake Como, where the weather should still be more clement at that time of the year.
Or it could be the time to explore the Appenine mountains, which are dotted with national parks - but I have never been and have little advice to offer.

EDIT: or if they are going to Barcelona, they can hike around there too! Montserrat is within easy reach and should still be good, weather permitting. The mountain railways are running through October at least.

Posted by
583 posts

Thanks Balso! Not quite as budget conscious for this trip because 4 of them will be sharing a hotel room. 😊

Boy she would love Lauterbrunnen! She is struck with the Alpine culture and scenery. Hmmm….

Posted by
9834 posts

Would Switzerland offer gondola rides? Is there another area like the South Tyrol?

I have been looking for a place to compare to Lauterbrunnen area or the Val Gardena and Alpe di Siusi in Südtirol for years. They are my two favorites. Alas, they are both quite seasonal.

Dreams of cows in pastures? Maybe down on the valley floor in the Lauterbrunnen area. They came down from the high pastures in the past few weeks in Switzerland and they were thinning out in the the Südtirol, too. Can’t leave the cows up high when snow is coming.

Gondola rides? These are the lifts I have mentioned to you that are mostly shut down now. Sunday the 10th was the last day for many lifts on the AdS and in the Val Gardena as well. Some had shut down already Sept 26. In the Lauterbrunnen area, hotels and restaurants are closing for their vacations/breaks before the onslaught of ski season. LIfts are closed for annual maintenance. There is always at least one way “up” for the locals but it would not be what she experienced in the Alpe di Siusi.

The AdS being “south” of Switzerland doesn’t matter much with an elevation over 6000 feet. The best times to go to these regions is mid-June to early October.

Posted by
260 posts

Echo everyone else. Things in the higher Swiss Alps are closed now. October and November are their months off before ski season starts. If she and friends are determined to go to Switzerland a lower area might be Montreux area. Not dramatic hiking but plenty to do along the lake with some walks through vineyards, walk to the castle, and so on. Otherwise might do hikes in either Italy or Spain.

Posted by
583 posts

Looking into France and Spain, but meanwhile, someone PMd me with the link to Switzerland Tourism. It really seems like the Bern region is open.

On the https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/experiences/events/events-search/-/lauterbrunnen/ website, they have a bike ride through the region later this week. They talk about 100 km of winter hiking trails. I know mid-October and late-October are a couple weeks apart but perhaps there are hikes in valleys to do. I've emailed the Tourism Offices of Murren and Lauterbrunnen and will report back. :) These kids aren't BIG hikers. They are novices.

Posted by
1 posts

I was headed to Lauterbrunnen to hike next week for three days, but the weather is snow all three days. I'm following the comments on this thread, adding ugly weather to everything shut down is not appealing. Thinking I may redirect to Bern as well? I will be coming from Geneva and intend to spend time in Lausanne - had wanted to hike a bit, but not in rain and snow (I am a FLMom visiting my son at the University). Please continue to share your finds as they are informing my trip also - THANKS!

Posted by
9834 posts

The tourism offices are there to provide info…and hope! They will never say “do not come.”

Sure, they can hike in the valley (we love walking from Stechelberg to Lauterbrunnen even in the rain), take the train to the Jungfraujoch (if they have the budget), hang out in Interlaken, maybe have access to some other hikes like simple ones out of Wengen (the ones to Möncksblick and Staubbachbänkli are super easy but scenic), and certainly the hike between Grütschalp and Mürren will be open although they may have to walk both ways if one of the lifts is shut down for maintenance. (I haven’t looked for the schedule.) The winter hiking trails might not be groomed before ski season but perhaps the tourist office will inform you on that.

If they are expecting the same experience as in the Alpe di Siusi they might be disappointed. But if they set their expectations to “flexible” and allow plenty of time for capricious weather, all may be fine.

BTW, you know that Switzerland is eye-wateringly expensive?

Posted by
583 posts

Thank you!

They are bound and determined to visit Switzerland for some scenic waking / hiking.

From there, they are now going to Paris to meet up with other UCLA students then onto Spain. Planning a 10 trip.

Posted by
7719 posts

If it's fogged in, there's no scenery. Our first three days in Murren in July one year were sunny, followed by two days of fog, cold and wet. Not one mountain was visible. Nor were the buildings down the street. So, even in high summer, the Bernese Oberland is a crap shoot. I felt so sorry for the people traveling from around the world, wasting their time going up to the top of the Schilthorn because all they saw was fog or the tops of clouds. In fact the BO was a waste for them, not just the Schilthorn.
On the other hand, our early June week in the Alpes de Siusi was sunny and delightful.

Posted by
224 posts

Since they are committed to scenic hikes in Switzerland, this might help.

There are nice trails from Lauterbrunnen along the river going up the valley toward Stechelberg and down toward Interlaken. If it’s too snowy or cold in the upper trails, these would be an option. From Lauterbrunnen, they can get to Wengen or Murren to do hikes at higher levels although the funicular, cable cars, etc. may be closed for maintenance in late October.

They may consider the Niederhorn region, which is reachable from Thun or Interlaken. From either, you can take a bus to Beatenbucht; then a funicular to Beatenberg, and a cable car to Niederhorn. There are nice hikes from there that are lower than the high Alps hikes and that offer great views of the Alps and Lake Thun. I hiked from Niederhorn to Gemmenalphorn and back (a great half day hike) and saw an ibix.

https://www.niederhorn.ch/?lang=en

https://www.niederhorn.ch/summer-experience/hiking/?lang=en

Currently, the trails are still open there.

Here are links to other discussions and trail descriptions.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/switzerland/resources-for-planning-a-hiking-trip-to-lauterbrunnen

https://www.earthtrekkers.com/destination-switzerland/

For the Gimmelwald side, this site has a few maps and a number of hikes, plus other information for visitors.

https://gimmelwald.ch

This describes hikes on both sides of the valley:

https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/summer-sport/hiking/

Here are some older posts with lots of suggestions about hikes and hiking guides.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/switzerland/hiking-guide-books

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/hiking-in-the-berner-oberland-september-9-24-2019

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/switzerland/outstanding-hikes-near-lauterbrunnen

https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/kleine-scheidegg/

Jungfrau Eiger Walk

The two and a half kilometres long, well-developed trail from the Eiger glacier station to Kleine Scheidegg (or vice versa) is also well-suited for inexperienced hikers (Currently Open).

https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/kleine-scheidegg/jungfrau-eiger-walk/

https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/kleine-scheidegg/eiger-trail/

https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/summer-sport/hiking/hiking-trail/eiger-trail-eigergletscher-alpiglen/

https://lauterbrunnenhiking.wordpress.com/

https://lauterbrunnenhiking.wordpress.com/lauterbrunnen-hiking/murren-hikes/

http://www.hikingwalking.com/index.php/destinations/sw/sw_bernese/grindelwald/mannlichen_wengen

All the best,

Raymond

Posted by
583 posts

WOW! This is amazing Raymond. Thank you so much!

I just adore this community. :) Really appreciate you.

Posted by
224 posts

CaliMom,

You’re welcome. This site has helped me a lot with several trips, so I’m happy to offer information that will help others.

I hope your daughter and her friends enjoy their trip.

All the best,

Raymond

Posted by
583 posts

Just a quick update!

The kids arrived to beautiful weather in the Lauterbrunnen Valley today. They walked toward Stechelberg and sent some gorgeous pictures. They had dinner at Hotel Schutzen and said it was delicious. :)

They are planning on nice days tomorrow and Sunday!

Posted by
26064 posts

great!!

Is Barcelona still a problem?

Posted by
583 posts

Yes, they still have not been able to use their Eurail pass to book Paris - Barcelona for Friday. They are headed to Colmar on Monday and will try at the train station. 🤷‍♀️

Hiked out of Wengen today. Beautiful weather and views.

Posted by
12377 posts

Hopefully they can get it resolved at the Colmar train station.

Perhaps this information from Man in Seat 61 will help:

https://www.seat61.com/interrail-and-eurail-reservations.htm#How_to_make_reservations_at_the_French_Railways_website

Scroll down to “France” and then “using a pass on trains to Spain”. Under Paris to Barcelona, you will see that pass holder reservations are limited and may sell out, but below that he suggests some work-around options. However, if you keep scrolling down past Turkey to the “How to make reservations at the French railways website”, it says (in bold): Covid-19 update: online pass holder reservations have been temporarily disabled”.

This may explain the difficulty they are having getting the reservations. If so, they should be able to get them at the train station.

If, on the other hand, they find that pass holder reservations for the direct train to Barcelona are sold out, they could ask for one of the “workaround” routes instead (TGV to Peripignan and regional trains (no reservation needed) from there.

Posted by
26064 posts

Lola (as always) makes great points.

I wanted to help her be crystal clear that for the workaround it is only the regional trains not requiring reservations - the TGV to Perpignan will still need them....

(sorry for the nit picky, Lola, - I know exactly what you mean, just to eliminate any confusion)

Posted by
583 posts

Thanks Lola and Nigel,

Unfortunately, the people at the Colmar train station could not help the girls this morning. It is now 250 euro for a train from Paris to Barcelona this Friday. The station said it will be the same when you get to Paris (although the girls plan to ask for help again in Paris.)

Lola, I don't see the section: Scroll down to “France” and then “using a pass on trains to Spain”. Under Paris to Barcelona..." I'd love to give them a few workarounds like the Peripignan.

Posted by
3541 posts

Calimom, with all due respect, maybe have them do a little bit more of the problem solving/research?

I love travel planning and I can see that you do as well. It is really hard not to want to “jump in and help” and nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with anything you are doing. However, I think that when young adults are given the opportunity to do some of this themselves, they really benefit from it. Perhaps let them make mistakes and learn from them as long as their safety is not compromised?

I am glad your daughter has this opportunity and such a supportive mom.

Posted by
583 posts

Thanks Carol! Yes, I know... :) They are working on it as well. They looked into flight costs and changing plans altogether. It's just difficult for me to see them spend their hard-earned money on a 250 euro train ticket that we thought was going to be the price of a seat reservation.