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Lauterbrunnen 3 days & transportation

We will be in the Lauterbrunnen Valley for 3 days and 4 nights in early June. We plan to hike different areas each day (Grindlewald, Murren, etc.). Using the excel sheet linked from a different post to compare train costs, I find that we'll spend about $170 each for transportation without a pass card -- if we don't go to Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn. If we do one or the other of these, the Half Fare Card is a better value. Here are my questions:
1) Is it crazy to spend 3 days there and not do the summits? They look a little more tourist-y than what we're looking for, and the Switzerland part of our trip is kind of the 'down-time' between Germany and Paris. On the other hand, it's hard to be so close and skip it . . .
2) It looks like we need to buy some type of pass to get the "Swiss Family Card" which we could use for our 15 year old son, so that he is free on all the trains, cable cars, etc. Would it make sense for just my husband to get a Half Fare card, so that we could add on the Swiss Family Card with it? [Assuming we don't go to Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn, and just stick with point-to-point tickets for myself and our older son.]
3) I've purchase tickets from Germany to Lauterbrunnen (on Deutsche Bahn) and from Basel to Paris (on a TGV train), so our only transportation left to plan is within the Lauterbrunnen area and from Lauterbrunnen to Basel. I understand that the SBB trains don't need to be booked in advance, and that we can buy any passes we decide on when we get there. Is that right?
4) Will we have any trouble getting a train from Lauterbrunnen to Basel on a Monday morning in June if we don't book in advance?
Thank you all in advance for your help!!

Posted by
8889 posts

I'm not going to comment on your cost calculations, too much hard work and too late at night ☺

"1) Is it crazy to spend 3 days there and not do the summits?" - Depends on the weather. If you get 3 cloudy days, you would be wasting your time to be in clouds at the summit. If you get a clear day, definitely hit a summit. Schilthorn is cheaper. It is "atemberaubend" (takes your breath away). And, if you don't, you will be kicking yourselves when you get home that you could have but didn't.

"so our only transportation left to plan is within the Lauterbrunnen area and from Lauterbrunnen to Basel. I understand that the SBB trains don't need to be booked in advance, and that we can buy any passes we decide on when we get there. Is that right?" - correct on both counts.

"4) Will we have any trouble getting a train from Lauterbrunnen to Basel on a Monday morning in June if we don't book in advance?" - you can't book in advance. Swiss trains are a "turn up and go" service. There is a train every 30 minutes, and it takes 2h27.
The IC trains (Interlaken - Basel) look like this (click for photo) (or similar model). 10 coaches, 980 seats, every 30 minutes. That is enough capacity to swallow everybody who might turn up.

Lauterbrunnen to Basel costs CHF 68.60 (full price). That ticket will be valid on any train that day.

You can look up times on the SBB website: https://www.sbb.ch/en

Finally, I hope you will be spending at least a few hours in Basel, it is a nice city to walk around.

Posted by
13 posts

Chris F: Thank you for your reply! Your answers are exactly what I was hoping for.

I think we will get the Half Fare card; it’s not much more than our point-to-point tickets would be, and it will help me feel free to travel on any routes we select at the last minute without worrying over every expense!

We will also check the weather to make our decisions about the summits. I don’t want any regrets. :)

That is enough capacity to swallow everybody who might turn up. – Thank you for this! We are hoping to have lay-over time in Basel (planning to walk to the riverfront and possibly visit the Paper Mill museum), and that’s why I was concerned about train availability.

Thank you again!

Posted by
768 posts

1) Crazy? Absolutely not! Quick test: Google image "Schilthorn" and then "Mannlichen". I'd take the latter any day, and Mannlichen (above Wengen) has a 360 degree view that is wonderful in all directions; Schilthorn not so much.

Better yet, click on my name and you'll find a link to our dozen favorite hikes in the area. I'd so most have better views than the Schilthorn--and a lot cheaper. (Note that in June, the higher trails such as Bachalpsee and Schynige Platte may be blocked due to snow. Check with Tourist Info when you get there.)

Posted by
33314 posts

I expect you already know this but just in case - and I think you have already said but hey ho -

If your husband has a Half Price Card he can get half price tickets and you would be full price along with your other son. For each of you to pay half price you all need individual Half Price Cards.

In other words only the person whose name is linked with the Card benefits.

I think you have that down but it worth reiterating so a mistake isn't made.

Posted by
13 posts

Shoe: Thank you for your advice and your website. In fact, I found it (maybe through another thread here) about a month ago and immediately bookmarked it! Your site is what I’ve used to select our hikes because your maps and explanation made everything easier to understand than any other source I’ve found.
We’re staying at the Jungfrau Campground, so I was planning one of the valley hikes on the late afternoon we arrive. M1 plus either M2 or M3 then down to Stechelberg will be one day; the Mannlchen hikes and activities in that area another; and G2 and/or G3 a third day (but we may turn back at the 45 degree slope as my husband is not a fan of heights). Thanks for the heads-up on possible closures early in the season.
We’ll probably add on the Rodelbahn, the First Mountain Cart, or the “Summer Gemel” too. Do you have recommendations for/against any of these?
As for going to a summit, I’m glad we don’t have to buy tickets in advance. It seems like people have different, equally legitimate, views, and we’ll just have to decide for ourselves when we get there.

Nigel: Thank you for your info., too. The train cards have been so confusing, I welcome any input and reminders! I think we will go with the Half Price Cards for the adults and our 17 year old, plus the Swiss Family Card for our 15 year old. These can be purchased at the Lauterbrunnen station the first full day we’re there, right?

Posted by
33314 posts

Where in Germany will you be starting the journey? I'm interested in your route to Lauterbrunnen.

Here's another big vote for Basel - one of my favourite cities, both sides of the river.

Yes, the Lauterbrunnen station is full service. If you have to change trains on the way in Basel SBB or Interlaken Ost (if you miss the first train up the hill, or if you just want to pop into the huge Coop supermarket directly behind the station for campground provisions) both the Interlaken Ost and Basel SBB stations can also help.

Posted by
768 posts

Angela: CampingJungfrau has a nice camp store where we would grab some bread, cheese, and chocolate before heading out on a hike. I've stayed there many times with my teens and we like it. They also have a good tourist info desk next to their store. The hike to behind the falls is only a few hundred yards away, and could be done anytime you have 45 min free.

Of the Rodelbahn, 1st mt cart, and Gemel, I favor the Rodelbahn. It's only about $3 a ride and the others are more. Still, they are all fun. While you are over in Grindelwald you may also want to check out Gletscherschluct, not far from Pfingstegg cable car station. https://www.grindelwaldsports.ch/en/glacier-canyon.html

You should get the half-price card as soon as you enter Switzerland, since the card is good for a month. That way, if you flew into Zurich, for example, the card would apply to the train trip from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen for the person who owns the card. Other than that, I'd buy tickets you need that day. That way, if it rains you don't waste a ticket.

Posted by
13 posts

Nigel: We're flying into Munich, with 4 nights there, and the possibility of a day trip to Salzburg. On the fourth morning, we're renting a car to visit Linderhoff, Neuschwanstein, and that area. Heading up to Nurnberg next, with that evening and the next morning in Rothenberg; then it's on to Stuttgart and a quick stop in Baden-Baden. We'll visit Europa-Park the next day. After a night in Freiburg, we'll drop off the car and take the train to Lauterbrunnen. Our reservations and plans for each day are pretty well set, but advice is always welcome!
Shoe: Thanks for the recommendations! The Glacier Canyon looks like something my boys will love, and I'm glad to hear you liked the Campground, too.

In general, it's sounding like Basel is a place we'll need to budget more time for on our next visit; we'll only have a couple of hours this time.

Posted by
1101 posts

Hopping in to say we didn't do the summits when we were in Murren and we didn't feel like we were missing out. The area is so lovely, plenty to do, and if you only have a couple of days, it didn't make sense to us to spend a whole day going up the Jungfraujoch. Also Murren is already pretty high up as it is.

Posted by
33314 posts

agree with fredandkell

It sounds like a fun - busy- trip. So much to do!! And what whets your appetite will be there for your next visit. I have years of visiting Germany, Austria and Switzerland and I've not come close to seeing a small percentage of what's on offer.

You will have a great time.