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Murren or Lauterbrunnen in May end?

Hello!

My husband and I will be in Switzerland from May 28th till June 3rd for our honeymoon. Below is our itinerary.

  • Land at Zurich on 28th night, drive to Lucerne.
  • 28th & 29th night stay at Lucerne and visit Mt Rigi.
  • On the 30th, drive to Lauterbrunnen. Visit Thun or Chateau De Chillon Castle if possible. Return the car at Lauterbrunnen and reach Murren by evening.
  • 30th and 31st night stay at Murren. Visit Schilthorn and/or Top of Europe if weather permits.
  • On the 1st leave Murren, pick up a car at Lauterbrunnen and head to Milan. We will be flying back from Zurich on the 3rd of June.

We are coming from the USA and we are just done with the winter here. We are really not keen about winter activities. We just want to stroll around and do a couple of easy hikes. Want to try paragliding if possible.

1) Is it good to stay at Murren or Lauterbrunnen during the end of May? I saw that the weather is cloudy and temperatures are low. We don't mind low temperatures but hope that it is not cloudy.
2) Would snow still be there on the streets of Murren and what kind of shoes do we need? I have hiking shoes, planning to use them with crampons.
3) Which pass would work better for us? We have car for most of our communte except for the Murren and the surrounding area. I see that Jungfrau region pass does not cover Schilthorn trip and half the way to the Top of Europe.

I am almost at the verge of cancelling the hotel at Murren and getting one at Lauterbrunnen due to weather. Please advice.

Thanks,
Ashwini

Posted by
281 posts

To each their own, but I think you get a better experience being on the mountain (Murren) versus the valley floor [Lauterbrunnen]. We've stayed at the latter, and while it's more convenient for arriving and its proximity to Trummelbach Falls, there's something magical about Murren.

Posted by
12040 posts

1) Is it good to stay at Murren or Lauterbrunnen during the end of May? I would base the decision on which has more restaurant openings. I visited Murren once in early May and only a single restaurant with a limited menu remained open for the shoulder season (I wasn't staying in Murren, so I had other dining options). Keep in mind that most of the reviews you will read about Murren are from the summer, not the end of the shoulder season, which is during your visit.

2) Would snow still be there on the streets of Murren and what kind of shoes do we need? All the snow from the winter should have melted by this time. Don't rule out a fresh dusting of spring snow, but it likely won't accumulate much before melting. On the slopes above Murren, however, I would expect some significant accumulations of snow to remain. Some of the trails will probably remain impassable through early to mid June. Hiking boots will be fine, I wouldn't bother with the crampons.

Posted by
1407 posts

Snow will be long gone in Murren and other towns of similar altitude by the end of May - no worries there. All lower level hiking trails should be available, although a few of the higher elevation trails will still be closed.

Late May is a fine time to visit because the crowds are smaller compared to July and August.

Stay in Murren rather than Lauterbrunnen because a traffic-free village is a real treat. And because your body will adjust more quickly to higher altitudes by sleeping in Murren.

Posted by
31437 posts

Ashwini,

To begin with, congratulations!

A few thoughts on your travel plans....

  • Is there a reason you're using a car instead of the excellent rail network? Parking in Lucerne could be expensive, unless of course the hotel provides parking.
  • On the drive from Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen, I'm not sure a visit to Chateau de Chillon is a realistic possibility, as that's closer to Montreux and some distance from the Berner Oberland.
  • I don't recall seeing any car rental agencies in Lauterbrunnen. Have you checked on whether you can rent or return cars there?
  • At that time of year, you may find more hotels open in Lauterbrunnen than in Mürren, so that's definitely something to check.
  • Travel from Mürren to Milan (and back to Zürich) will be much faster by train. Note that for driving in Italy, drivers must have the compulsory International Driver's Permit which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. You'll also have to contend with the dreaded ZTL (limited traffic) areas in Italy, as each pass through one will result in hefty fines.
  • the only Swiss Pass that includes a "free" trip to the Jungfraujoch ("Top of Europe") is the Jungfrau VIP Pass (AFAIK). Be sure to check the weather before you make that trip, as you won't see much at the top if it's shrouded in fog.
  • I doubt that you'll need Crampons.
  • Paragliding should certainly be possible. You can check online or ask your hotel for information. For shorter flights, many seem to launch from a hill above Mürren. As I recall, it's also possible to launch from the Schilthorn, which is a much longer flight (about an hour) and considerably more expensive.
Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for all your responses. Looks like all the hotels are open at Murren. I made a reservation 2 weeks back and noticed that they were fast filling. Since it is the last 2 days of May all seem to be open.

Thank you Ken for all the details. We thought using car would give us more flexibility with time as well as moving around to places like Thun, Interlaken before going to Murren. As you mentioned there is no car rental at Lauterbrunnen, we need to leave it at the car parking lot which costs 30CHF for 3 days if I book it in advance. Now that you told about the train option being faster, we will look into it. It might cost us less as well I suppose. Lucerne hotel has free parking but at Lauterbrunnen we need to pay park, plus car rent is an extra cost.

Posted by
7205 posts

O dear goodness...DEFINITELY use the trains and gondolas and funiculars in Switzerland. They're super efficient, squeeky clean and 99.99% on time. Also travel to Milan via train. Just forget about the car period. No, it's NOT more convenient to have a car...not even 1 iota :-)

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for the insight on using train :) We will take the train and plan accordingly.

Posted by
1830 posts

Absolutely Murren!

Both times we stayed in Gimmelwald we had a car with us. We rented our car in arrival in Munich and kept it the whole month returning in back in Germany after we visited a few countries. Obviously, you don't want or need a car since it will be parked the whole time you are in Murren. But, it was easy, not that expensive and seemed safe. For us it made sense to pay for parking since we needed the car before and after the BO.

Posted by
27504 posts

Parking in Interlaken is not easy, and the street parking and garage parking prices have gone way high - at least that was the case when I was there with my personal car last September.

If you take the train down the hill to Interlaken Ost from Lauterbrunnen (the train follows a river through the woods, very scenic, and uses a rack system (called a cog by some in the US) and is loads of fun) the dock for the Lake Brienz steamships is right outside, just past the last platform. Couldn't be easier.

If you want Lake Thun, and Spiez or Thun, take the train one very quick stop west to Interlaken West and the dock for the Lake Thun steamships is in a similar location.

Much easier than driving.

If you are in a hurry, stay on the train through Interlaken West, Spiez and it drops you right in the centre of Thun, and a few minutes later in the heart of Bern.

And everybody can look at the views, instead of the driver driving and the navigator navigating, and those two people at least seeing nothing. Besides, the train has huge windows.

Posted by
10004 posts

Another thought on car rental: Renting in Switzerland and dropping off in Italy will increase the cost significantly. Inter-country rentals are ridiculous.

I am firmly in the take-the-train crowd. IF by any chance you really feel you need a car to see something, you can hire a driver for a day or do a one-day rental. But once you get there I think you will see that trains and buses and lifts serve Switzerland incredibly well. They are on-time and fast.

Look into a Swiss Half-Fare card which gives you half off on all of your regular train fares, and in the Berner Oberland a BO Regional Pass. The latter covers most lifts and trains in the BO at no additional charge and gives a significant discount on travel to the Jungfraujoch. With the Half-Fare card you get an additional discount on the BO Regional Pass as well. We have found it to be a winning combination.

Posted by
4 posts

We gave up the idea of using car :) Will Swiss Travel Pass work the best for us? It gives us free trips in Lucerne, Interlaken, Murren and surroundings. 50% off to Schilthorn and 25% off to Top of Europe from Wengen if we happen to go. It seems to give discount on ticket to Milan as well. Planning to get a 4 day Swiss Travel Pass and get individual ticket to go from Milan to Zurich.

Posted by
7205 posts

"Will Swiss Travel Pass work the best for us? "

STP is a great way to travel in Switzerland. Just hop on, hop off, wherever you want. Is it the best for you? That's something only you can answer. It's expensive, but it gives you great flexibility.

The Half Fare Card is also very attractive and much less expensive - everything is discounted 50%.

STP only works within the Swiss Borders so the price you pay for your Milan ticket is only the cost from Milan to the Swiss Border. Swiss Border -> Zurich is covered 100%.