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Three Days in Bernese Obeland with Elderly Moms

Hello Travelers!

My wife and I are planning a three day trip to Bernese Oberland with our mums in the first week of September. Although they are in decent health we would like to avoid heavy hiking. We expect to do light strolls, take in the views & picnics. Our mums are OK doing around 5-6 kms of walking/day. We are in no rush to go through a checklist.

Our tentative itinerary is:

  1. Day 0 - Arrive from Netherlands around 5 PM, check in at the hotel and then do what?
  2. Day 1 - Friday - Day trip to Murren. If a whole day is too long in Murren (hopefully not) we could also visit Gimmelwald
  3. Day 2 - Saturday - Day trip to lake Lucerne
  4. Day 3 - Sunday - Drive/walk around Lauterbrunnen & Grindelwald

This itinerary gives our experiences in a valley, by the lake & in a mountain village which I thought is a good mix of things to do. I picked Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald on a Sunday in the hope that it would be less crowded.

Does this itinerary makes sense? Do we have too few things to do/places to see (I am hoping not). I would also appreciate if we can get recommendations on what to do and where to go in these places considering we will be accompanied by our mums. Our accommodation is in Signau which is between Lauterbrunnen & Lucern, an hour drive on either side.

Thanks in advance! V

Posted by
28145 posts

Signau has a train station on the lowland S2 line between Bern and Luzern which is operated by a small modern train.

It is a shame that you will be driving to the Lauterbrunnen Valley because the train line operated by the Zentralbahn between Interlaken Ost and Luzern via Brunig Pass is absolutely beautiful, and much more so than the adjacent roads. The train drops the cogwheel on several times on the route and it is a pretty nice route. There is a period where the train stops for a few minutes in Meiringen to change ends.

If you drive to Lauterbrunnen there is a multi-story car park across the street from the cable car to Grutschalp and Muerren.

You can park at the bottom of the Schilthorn cable car in open car park and take the cable via Gimmelwald, Muerren and upwards.

The gentle walk from Muerren to Gimmelwald is sloped downhill towards Gimmelwald.

I don't usually go to Grindelwald at all, I find I don't need the traffic.

Posted by
153 posts

Hi Vee,
Unless you are planning to take some of the lifts or trains upwards from Murren or Grindelwald, I think your Friday and Sunday plans could be rolled into one day. To get to Murren and/or Gimmelwald, you need to park in either Lauterbrunnen or Stechelberg. To "walk around" Lauterbrunnen takes no more than half an hour, as it is not a very big town. Grindelwald is much bigger, but mostly consists of a lot of hotels and restaurants, and does not add anything new to the overall experience. The walk from Murren to Gimmelwald, while downhill, is quite steep- there is a cable car between the two villages. You mums might find that walk very hard on the legs.
If you want to spend a whole day in the area, I would suggest parking in Lauterbrunnen (or taking the train there), taking the cable car up to Grutschalp, and getting on the train towards Murren (it's right at the top of the lift). If you want to do some walking, get off the train at Winteregg, halfway between Grutschalp and Murren. Or stay on the train to Murren, and then walk around the town- if the skies are clear, you will have good views of the mountains from the edge of town. After lunch in Murren, take the lift down to Gimmelwald, have a look around, then take the lift down to Stechelberg. From there it's about a 6km hike or an easy bus ride back to Lauterbrunnen. The hike is table-top flat, in a valley between 300m cliffs. Once back in Lauterbrunnen, check out the town, then head back home. If you're not too tired, stop in Interlaken on the way home, for a stroll down the main drag.
I'd suggest a trip to Bern on Saturday morning, when the markets will be in full swing. You can easily spend a full day in Bern, and then visit Luzern on Sunday.
I hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks Nigel & ottawawanderer!

I was away couple of days so could not check earlier.

Unfortunately, Signau to Lauterbrunnen roundtrip works out a bit expensive for 4 people, so we will be driving. I will indeed be rolling up my Friday & Sunday plans. So Lauterbrunnen & Murren will be on the same day. Any intinerary ideas besides a trip to Berne?! Appreciate the tips for not going to Grindelwald, will be skipping it then.

Regards,
V

Posted by
153 posts

As much as I liked Bern, if you'd rather not add another city visit to your three days, I'd consider Murten. (Although Luzern and Bern are very different from one another.) Murten (not Murren) is a small, quaint lakeside town, within an hour's drive of Signau. It's a pleasant half day, or longer if you add a boat tour on the lake (which I haven't done). A little farther away is Gruyères, where you could visit a cheese factory and/or the Cailler chocolate factory. If visiting the latter, call ahead for a timed reservation, or you will have a long wait when you arrive.

Posted by
13 posts

@ottawanderer

Wow, you must have spent a lot of time wandering in Switz! A visit to cheese/chocolate factory sounds like a great option. Although I like to stick to small villages & towns, my wife likes to spend some time in some of the larger areas. But I think both of us will be able to agree on a visit to cheese/chocolate factory, plus it will be something very new for our mums. Thanks a ton! As we get closer to our travel, I'll post a finalized itinerary.

Posted by
9930 posts

I, of course, have no idea what shape your Moms are in but I am 65 and found the hike from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg to be a very easy hike. It did not feel like it had much elevation gain at all. The path was wide and well trodden. It's up the cog railway/cable car from Lauterbrunnen then a relatively level hike with gorgeous views to the cog train back down.

http://www.jungfrau.ch/en/tourism/destinations/kleine-scheidegg/hiking-trails/hiking-trail-no-33

I also loved the hike along the valley which as stated above is perfectly level. I was staying in Stechelburg and walked from Truemmelbach falls to Stechelburg looking at the amazing waterfalls and the crazy base jumpers in the flying squirrel suits.

Posted by
761 posts

If the weather is clear, it would be criminal not to take the cable car up to the Schilthorn. The ride and the Views are just fantastic. Since the cable car trip is in four sections, you can stop on the way back down at both Murren and Gimmelwald since they are stops on the trip. Since you will have a car it will be easy to go to the Schilthornbahn base station at Stechelberg rather than starting from Lauterbrunnen. You want to be by a window ... when that gondola pulls out of the base station and starts going up the view is simply breath taking. Have a a great time.

Posted by
13 posts

@Chris - We are anyways most likely to skip Bern, planning on taking our time around Lucerne. Is the hike up the Trümmelbach Falls steep or strenous? I am wondering if our mums could do it.

@Pam - My mum was involved in an accident so her mobility is a bit affected. When we invited her to Japan (with my mum in law) she was happy walking on flat roads about 5 kms a day. Japan demands lots of walking! Thanks for the tip on the hike. How long did you take for the course? We are planning to do the falls, Lautrbrunnen & Muren in one day, wondering if it's too much in a day.

@Irv - As much as I hate, we may have to skip Schilthorn due to budgetary constraints (we are sponsoring our mums trip). But I'll keep this in mind if I ever go back with my wife :D

Posted by
9930 posts

I was walking with a group of people so we had lots of stops to ooohhh and aaahhh at the scenery and it probably took us an hour and a half. However, taking the train and cable car to get there and the train back probably took longer than the hike itself.

I am probably the only person this bothered, but I found the stairs at Trummelbach Falls a little unnerving. They were steep and in some areas, of course, wet from the overspray from the falls and felt slick to me. You take an elevator up and walk down or if the stairs are too much, get out of the elevator, look at the viewpoint of the nearby section of falls and take the elevator back down.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you Pam! Elevator ride sounds like a good option. We will make sure we have at least 1:30 to 2 hours for the walk in the valley!

Posted by
9 posts

We are planning to be in the Berner Oberland area at the end of Sept. so have been appreciating your tips. We also like the small villages vs. big cities, and we are hoping to go to Brienz one day. We are staying in Lauterbrunnen so will take the train to Interlaken and take a boat trip to Brienz on Lake Brienz ... (you can also get off at a couple of small villages along the way--one website said Bonigen has decorated houses --painted and carved). Brienz has a few woodcarving businesses and there is an Open Air Museum just outside Brienz called Ballenburg. Not sure if we'll have time for that or not. We'll take the train back to Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen.

Would love to hear about your experiences after you return which may be about the time we are getting ready to go there.

Posted by
16 posts

We spent 6 nights in Murren - and still didn't do everything! One idea I might also suggest is taking the Allmendhubelbahn Funicular up above Murren. It offers a spectacular view at a fairly inexpensive cost with an informal restaurant at the top. This would offer a nice alternative to doing the Schilthorn. Spend your time in the alps if you have good weather!

Posted by
13 posts

@Linda - I will update this post once we are back from our trip. On the way back to Netherlands we are also planning to spend a couple of nights in Alsace (France) around Riquewihr. I don't know if you have time but if you do and are driving, I would highly recommend it as it is a short drive (2:20 hours) and the places in Alsace on Rue de Vin are fabulous.

@Mary - Wow, I didn't know you could spend that much time in Murren! But thanks for the fantastic suggestion on Allmendhubel. The place looks awesome. I think I have reached a point where a one day trip to cover Lauterbrunnen, Murren & Allmendhubel is too short a time :( Will have to do some rethinking on routing.

Posted by
50 posts

Hello Vee, My husband and I have stayed in the Lauterbrunnen valley several times and will actually be there again just after your time there. I agree with several of the other posts but will adds some thoughts of my own. We usually take the train from Zurich to Lucerne to Interlaken (which is not worth spending time at). Our impression of Lucerne is that its convenient for tour companies but that it lacks the charm of other places we've visited in Switzerland. My personal recommendation would be to skip Lucerne and give yourselves more time in the Brienz - Lauterbrunnen areas. Rather than Lucerne, you could spend a couple nights in Brienz on your way to Lauterbrunnen. We stayed at a lovely chalet that overlooked Lake Brienz. Very reasonable. From there you can take the boat ride from Brienz to Interlaken with the mountains towering over the lake. You also have easy access to Ballenberg, the open air museum that was mentioned. It is fantastic with actual historic buildings and homes that have been brought there from across Switzerland. They are furnished and include craft and cheese making demonstrations. There are lovely cafes to eat at there as well. Ballenberg is large but you can do as much of it as you'd like. It is all level easy walking. You could spend most of a day there or at least a full afternoon. When you go to the Lauterbrunnen area, we like to stay in Lauterbrunnen itself because it gives the easiest access to both sides of the valley. The Grutschalp lift to take the train to Murren is wonderful, and on the way you can stop at a great restaurant where you can sit outside with a fantastic view of the mountains. Don't miss the cheese making factory next door and the best caramels you've ever tasted! Murren is lovely with nice shops and restaurants. Unless you plan to hike there, (which I love to do!) I think an afternoon is probably sufficient to enjoy Murren. Our favorite restaurant is the Alpenruh near the Lift that descends to Gimmelwald. I'd recommend taking the cable car down from Murren to Gimmelwald for a stroll there and then down again to Stechelberg to catch the bus to Trummelbach falls if that is on your agenda. Its fantastic, but as one post said, you take the elevator to the top of the falls and then walk down along the waterfalls. The entire thing is INSIDE the mountain. There are handrails all along the way. The roar of the water is incredible and it is quite an experience. Then you can either take the bus or walk along the valley floor back to Lauterbrunnen. On a second day, on the opposite side of the valley, you can take another lift up to Wengen. Lots of shops there. From there you can take another lift to Mannlichen where you can encounter the wonderful Swiss cows with their bells and take an easy paved level short hike towards the Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau mountains. They call it the Grandmother Walk so you can see its easy walking. The view all along the hike is FANTASTIC! As you approach the end of the hike at Kleine Scheidegg there is a wonderful chalet restaurant where you can also eat outside before walking down into Kleine Scheidegg. From there you can take the short train ride back to Wengen, where you catch the lift down to Lauterbrunnen. These lifts are not expensive like the higher elevation ones and well worth it for the views! This is the most beautiful part of the world we have ever experienced and we know you will love your time there!

Posted by
9 posts

Wow! 2-4theworld - Thanks for all the great tips re: the Lauterbrunnen area. It will save us a lot of time trying to figure things out once we get there. We will be staying in Lauterbrunnen for 3 nights before heading to Cinque Terra Italy.

Posted by
13 posts

@2-4theworld

Thanks for that comprehensive insight! We have already made arrangements for accommodation so unfortunately we will be unable to stay in Brienz. We have decided visiting Murren & Allmendhubel. Will be adding Grandmother's walk also, thanks for the tip. The walk looks & sounds really beautiful!

I am a little surprised that you didn't find Lake Lucerne worth the time. From the pictures it appears to be a lovely lake. But I also have been reading about Brienz as well that you recommended also. We will keep our options open :)

Is it walkable from Grimmelwald to Stechelberg? If yes, is the trail steep/narrow? The Trummelbach falls is absolutely on our agenda, still deciding if we have time for the 72 waterfalls walk. Did you happen to do it? Suggestions?

Again, I truly appreciate your detailed reply. Thank you so much for your time.

Posted by
153 posts

Hi Vee- You've been getting lots of good advice since I last checked in- especially 2-4's detailed post. I can answer your question about Gimmelwald to Stechelberg. It is definitely not walkable for any but the fittest of legs. I don't even think there is a path between the two, as Gimmelwald sits on the edge of the 300 m cliff overlooking the Lauterbrunnen valley. The cable car ride down is one of the most exhilarating you'll have! I will also add that, at the Trummelbach Falls, the elevator does not take you to the top, but only to the sixth of the ten Falls. From there, you walk up the rest of the way, as 2-4 said, on a sometimes slippery combination of stairs and rock path. Or you just walk down from number six. Either way, it's entirely worth it!

Note also that the Murren/Allmendhubel combination and the Wengen/Mannlichen/Kleine Scheidegg combo are on opposite sides of the valley- you would need to spend two days in the area to do both. You can access both sides from Lauterbrunnen though. The train to Wengen runs from the Lauterbrunnen station, and the lift to Grutschalp/Murren, on the opposite side of the valley, is directly across the road from the train station. The "grandmother's walk" is a good choice too. It's listed in the hiking map as 1:20 h, and while it has its ups and downs, it is mostly a gradual downhill, losing about 150m over all.

For a Swiss "city day", I still think Lucerne is a good choice in terms of things to see and do. However, if you chose to eliminate it from your itinerary, keep in mind the you can take a boat trip around Lake Brienz from Interlaken. It's one of the "laken" that Interlaken is "inter", and is serviced by regular ferries.

Have fun!

Posted by
16 posts

Hi Vee,
I posted earlier about taking the Allmendhubel above Murren. Something else you may want to try is the Northface trail from the top back down to Murren. . It is a beautiful "Heidi" experience hike and is approximately 4 miles but mostly a gradual descent. My husband is 68 and found it a fairly easy hike. I would also definitely visit Gimmelwald . It is a working farm/cheese little community and different than Murren.. You could stop on the way down on the cable car - do a 30 min. stroll through it and continue to the valley floor near Stechelberg. We also took the Mannlichen hike to Klein Scheidegg and loved it. However, there was a lot more people on that hike than the Northface. This might not be as much of a problem in September . Of course, everything depends on the weather. If you have sunshine I'd head up and hike. If the weather is not good you will still have a wonderful time visiting the valley, falls, and perhaps a lake tour on Oneof the lakes near Interlaken. Have a wonderful trip! Wish I could go back!

Posted by
13 posts

@Ottawanderer - Yes, I have received some great tips indeed! I will list out all the places mentioned in this post. Will be skipping Gimmelwald to Stechelberg. Cable car trip down from Gimmelwald looks awesome! As regards, Trummelbach falls, I understand it can be slippery, hopefully it is a safe (handrails all along) as well.

Yes, we quickly realised that Wengen & Murren will require two separate days. And we really want to do both the sides! It will be tough to skip a few suggestions :( especially when we want to do Lucerne also.

@Mary, really appreciate your tips on Allmendhubel & Northface! Which walk would you recommend if we had to do just one - Grandfather's walk (Grutschalp to Murren) or Northface walk (Allmendhubel to Murren)?

Posted by
13 posts

Just wanted to update the post with our experience from the recent trip.

Emmental, where we stayed, is stunning! The drives to Lauterbrunnen Valley & Luzern from Signau were quite special.

Sounds like a cliche, but pictures don't do justice to Lauterbrunnen Valley. We thought it was stunning. We hiked from Grutschalp to Winteregg. Note that the path is slightly upward sloping and my mom & mom in law found it slightly challenging. But the views were quite grand (this was the grandfather's walk). From Winteregg we took a train to Murren. It's nice little place, the houses are overflowing with flowers! From there we took the cable car to Gimmelwald and enjoyed drinks at a restaurant facing humongous cliffs, quite special (it's right next to the cable car station). From there on, we continued towards Stechelberg, an incredibly steep ride! Quite thrilling. From Stechelberg we hiked to Trummelbach falls (about 3 kilometers), took us an hour and fifteen minutes. The walk was amazing. There were also facilities for BBQ along the river! The mountains look so grand from the valley. I would highly recommend walking all the way to Lauterbrunnen if anyone has time & energy.

The next day we visited Luzern. An amazing town. Walk by the lake promenade is quite peaceful.

On the last day we visited Wengen and hiked Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg (grandmother's walk). The scenery is incredible. There was some snow even in September! But wasn't cold. The three big mountains were all snow capped. Quite a sight to see them so up close. There is only one toilet on the 4 mile trek and lets just say that you would use it only when there is an emergency. There is a restaurant when you arrive at Mannlichen, it has all the facilities, plus play area for children and awesome views of the valley. From Kleine Scheidegg we took the train down to Lauterbrunnen. There are many walks when you reach Mannlichen. We took the Panorama Walk. There is also Romantic Walk and the one that goes all the way down to Lauterbrunnen! For four adults the tickets cost EUR 242 - round trip. Well worth it.

The drive past Brienz was amazing. I would recommend stopping by at Spiez if you have time.

I thank everyone for their tips. It really helped me plan in quite some detail. I would like to summarize a list of all the places mentioned in this post.

Lauterbrunnen Valley & Around
Lauterbrunnen valley, Trummelbach falls
Truemmelbach falls to Stechelburg hike - 72 waterfalls walk
Murren (Grutschalp lift to take the train to Murren is wonderful), Alpenruh restraunt
Murren - Allmendhubel - cable car
Northface trail from Allmendhubel to Murren - 4 miles
Murren to Gimmelwald - cable car
Gimmewald to Stechelberg via cable car going to Trummelbach falls
Gimmelwald - working farm/cheese making
Wengen
Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg view of the three mountains (Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau) - Grandmother's walk
Brienz lake tour to Lauterbrunnen

Side Trips
Murten - lake side town
Gruyères - Cheese/chocolate factory
Bonigen - decorated/carved houses
Ballenburg - open air museum
Lucerne - lake & city
Berne

Posted by
9930 posts

Thanks so much for the update! It sounds like you had a wonderful time with "The Moms"!! I am sure they were deeply appreciative of the trip and the time you took to plan it for them.

Posted by
538 posts

Want to add my thanks to all. This plan sounds wonderful. I am going to use it for my Dad and I's trip in 2 weeks. Helps it was road tested by the 'mums'.

Posted by
13 posts

@Pam, yes the trip was amazing, all of us enjoyed it a lot! We did as much as we could without stressing ourselves with check boxes. Wish we had more days to cover other places mentioned in the post. But, I have a feeling, there will be another time. Hope you enjoy it atleast as much as we did :)

@Diane, wishing you happy travels.