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Swiss Travel Cards: Travel into/out of Switzerland and 4 days in Lauterbrunnen Valley

Well as of today it looks like we’re heading to Gimmelwald in August (so excited!) We haven’t been there since 1999, when we stayed with Walter. We are now returning with our 2 kids (19/15).

We lucked into 3 nights at Esther’s Guesthouse! The planning for this trip has been kooky, a stressful year of teaching has left us doing things last minute. We leave in a few weeks and as of this moment we still need to book the final 5 nights! That will probably be split between Florence and Rome after we leave Gimmelwald, we fly home from Rome. 5 days is nuts to see the 2 cities, but we aren’t really into lining up to see tourist sights, so just visiting and exploring the city on foot is cool with us (and eating)!

I digress, my questions are concerning Switzerland. Because this is last minute and we took what we could get, we have an extra day between when we leave Venice and when we have our reservation in Gimmelwald. So my first thought was to take the train as far as Brig and spend the night (only because it’s cheaper than staying in Interlaken and it’s close to Gimmelwald). Next day we can be in Gimmelwald early and start enjoying our time. Does this make sense?

My last question is about Swiss travel cards. We’re assuming they’re well worth it, but what do you recommend? We’ll have a train into Switzerland as previously mentioned, a train probably to Florence and then our time in the Lauterbrunnen Valley which we will probably go up to the Schilthorn, Klein Scheidegg, maybe Jungfraujoch, and then just generally getting around (lift to and from Gimmelwald/Murren) etc.

As mentioned we are a family of 4: 2 adults 2 kids (15 and 19). Our 19 year old has autism, I know in some countries places accommodate for someone with special needs, not sure about Switzerland’s travel system?

Your expertise and experience is very much appreciated!

Posted by
5697 posts

Swiss travel cards "we're assuming they're well worth it" -- never assume! Run the numbers for point-to-point, Swiss Pass, Berner Oberland Pass, Half Fare Card for the four of you including all the train trips within Switzerland and lifts you anticipate.

Posted by
8889 posts

For your one night between Venice and Gimmelwald I suggest Stresa
On a very pretty lake in Italy. It is on the rail route, before Brig and before the Swiss border.

Posted by
1618 posts

Agree with Stresa for a night. It will be much less expensive than another night in Switzerland. Then you can take a Eurocity train to Interlaken from Stresa with a connection or two. However, you will need to have a Trenitalia ticket for the Stresa to Domodosolla leg, then the Swiss ticket or pass from Domo to Interlocken or Murren.

Coming back you will probably connect through Milan and will need to do the same thing. Swiss pass up to Domodosolla, then Trenitalia ticket from Domo to your destination. You need to make sure both tickets are on the same physical train.

You need to do the math to see if the travel passes are worth it. I believe if you decide on the flex passes, they actually have to be mailed to you. We purchased the 8 day pass for a seven day trip and it was. One thing that is good about the passes is that you have flexibility and are not tied to a specific train.

Posted by
657 posts

We spent last week in Muerren; my son is special needs (13-yo with cognitive and physical disabilities). We found the systems and the Swiss people to be delightfully accommodating for his needs; the trains and lifts were easy to access (even with short connections), and lift/train operators were always super helpful.

However, we did experience some oblivion on the part of other, non-Swiss travelers. Not to stereotype, but our experience was that the huge number of big, Asian tour groups were prone to crowding and being somewhat insensitive to the fact that my son (whose disabilities are apparent) cannot stand up for himself (literally). My family wound up standing around him in a protective circle on crowded lifts and trains to keep him from being shoved. Had we not done this, he would have been pushed down and run over — no exaggeration.

I am sure this is a survival technique and cultural norm for the Asian folks given the crowded conditions in their home countries, so we didn’t take it personally; however, it was something we definitely found to be a real problem.

So, be aware of crowding and similar situations where large tour groups may not give you space or awareness, but on the whole, the BO region was a great place to spend a week for someone with special needs.

I see that you are also spending time in Venice, where we spent the second half of our vacation. We found it to be just as wonderful for my son, maybe even more so because it doesn’t seem to lend itself to giant tour groups in tight situations like public transport. So, although it was crowded, the crowds were far more respectful and aware than in Switzerland (in our experience).

Have a great trip!

Posted by
34 posts

Thank you all for the advise! We will look in Stresa for a hotel for the night. We stayed on Lake Como last year (we loved it, kids not so much)...hence Gimmelwald! If they don’t love the Lauterbrunnen Valley, there’s something wrong with!

I’ll work out costs for the Swiss leg of the trains in and out and all of the cable cars/trains/buses I think we’d use to see if a Swiss pass, 1/2 off pass etc. is a good value for us.

Posted by
7209 posts

Yes those tour groups can be awful! They are a growing phenomenon in this area and they keep getting bigger year after year. Tiny Murren used to be a haven , but even it has become victim to those huge groups.