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Time budget between Murren / Zermatt / Lucerne

My partner and I are planning a trip for the first week of August. The current plan is to spend:

4 nights in Murren / 3 nights in Zermatt / 2 nights in Lucerne / Fly in/out of ZUR

The hiking and alpine sights will be the key draw for us -- experienced one full day in Zermatt a couple of years ago and have since wanted to return to better explore the region and hike.

  1. Is Murren a good base for a hiking focused trip, or would we be better served by the centrality of Lauterbrunnen?

  2. Any thoughts or reaction to the order / length of stay?

  3. If you were to add 2 more nights -- a new city or lengthen one of the current stays?

  4. Travel pass -- since I'm there 10 days, go for the 15 day pass, or am I overestimating it's value on the days I'm in Zermatt and Murren, and really should just do the 8 day flex?

Any suggestions appreciated!

Posted by
15944 posts
  1. I think Muerren is ideal spot for a hiking trip. I am less enthused about Lauterbrunnen, despite its centrality. Staying up on the mountain, especially in a unique village like Muerren, trumps a valley location.

  2. If it was me, I'd go to the far point in the trip as soon as I got off the plane, in your case, Zermatt. It is 3 1/2 hours by train and there are hourly direct trains from the airport to Visp where you change to the cog wheel train up to Zermatt. Get the pain of travelling over in one shot. Its 3 1/4 hours to Muerren and a lot of changes. Save Luzern for the end of the trip, where it is an easy 1 1/4 hour to the airport on a direct train.

  3. I guess I would add one day to Zermatt to increase the chances of good weather there, then one more day in Luzern.

  4. Also think about an 8-day continuous pass, which is 95 CHF less than the 15-day pass. Last days in Luzern local transport is provided by a tourist card you get when you stay at a hotel in the city, and it also gives discounts for mountain excursions and boat rides. You can buy the train ticket to the airport for 60 CHF per person, or buy an advance train specific ticket for as low as 12 CHF to match up with the departure time of your flight home. If you decide to extend to 12 days, then the 15-day pass is indicated.
    Also consider just getting a 30-day Half Fare Card instead of the pass. This usually save more than a travel pass, although you do have to purchase a ticket for each trip. Many of the mountain trains and lifts you will be taking only give a 50% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass, so you have to buy tickets for them anyway.

Posted by
1171 posts

Welcome to the forums. Sam has laid it out verity nicely. I’d take that trip.

A few things I will add.

In the Berner Oberland, Lauterbrunnen is on the valley floor and Murren is up in the mountains on one side of the valley and Wengen is up on the other side. The choice of where to stay would be up to your preference. Many of us here in the forums prefer up in the mountains especially Murren. Staying up there is a bit of a trade off. Going up to the Schilthorn will be easier and faster but getting to Kleine Scheidegg will take longer. But getting from Murren back to Lauterbrunnen is only about 30 minutes or so and the train ride to Grutschalp is quite scenic.

The last time I was in Murren was on a RS tour and we stayed at the Hotel Alpenruh. Nice but small rooms but the balcony views made for a fantastic stay.

https://alpenruh-muerren.ch/en/Offer/Willkommen

A forum member by the name “Shoe”. Has been kind enough to post up some of his favorite hikes. They are available here:

https://lauterbrunnenhiking.wordpress.com/

Posted by
12133 posts

Muerren is our choice, for 5 visits to Switzerland so far. We have also stayed in Wengen and Grindelwald, but definitely prefer Muerren for the car-free village ambiance, the views of the Jungfrau massif across the valley (especially from the upper village, near Hotel Bellevue), and the opportunity to hike right from our door. There are at least 3 really good moderate to strenuous hikes you can do right from Muerren or by walking down to Gimmelwald.

My other favorite hike in the area is from neither Lauterbrunnen nor Grindelwald, but starts with a train ride from Wilderswil up to Schynige Platte. Wilders will is easily reached by train from Lauterbrunnen. A cogwheel train takes you up to Schynige Platte for the start of the hike. The panorama web traverses the ridge that divides the Grindelwald Valley on your right and Brienzersee (lake) on your left. You end at the first tip station for gondola ride down to Grindelwald (you don’t want to miss the last gondola down and have to walk as it is a descent of several thousand feet). Walk through the village to the train station to get a free train ride back to Lauterbrunnen and beyond to Muerren with your pass.

I agree with Sam on the suggestion to take the train directly to Zermatt to start there. As for the allocation of 3 nights to Zermatt and 4 to Muerren, it is pretty much a coin toss. There are so many good hikes in both areas. If you aren’t sure what you want to do with your 2 nights/one full day in Luzern, you could make it 4 and 4 for Zermatt and Muerren, leaving just your last night for Luzern.

Posted by
1259 posts

Have you seen the posts here regarding the 25% off sale on various Swiss Travel Passes if purchased in the month of July ?

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for all of the tips everyone. Super helpful.

I'm definitely taking advantage of the travel pass sale.

I think I'm convinced to start in Zermatt -- should optimize the transport a bit.

The hiking guide that Shoe made is fantastic. Thank you for sharing. I've also been looking at hikingwalking.com, which is quite detailed. However, many of the hikes are full day affairs, which given my short time there, I might try to get two shorter hikes in a day.
Lola, is your favorite hike listed in one of those online guides? I feel like I've seen it listed, but can't seem to find the route you describe.

Thanks for the hotels tips. Sounds like the crowd favorites in Muerren are Alpenruh and Bellevue. And Ambiance in Zermatt.

I'm also wondering a bit about trekking poles. Sounds like a bit of a gamble with the TSA in carry-on luggage and we almost never check bags. Do any of the hotels lend out trekking poles to guests? We don't normally use them, but might be useful on the more advanced hikes.

Posted by
203 posts

Thank you Rocket for posting the link to those hikes. We will be staying in Murren in August and look forward to checking some of these out. Enjoy your trip, hike4life!

Posted by
12133 posts

The Panoramaweg hike is well-described on the hikingwalking.com website, but in the opposite direction, from First to Schynige Platte:

http://www.hikingwalking.com/destinations/sw/sw_bernese/grindelwald/schynige_platte

Maybe they go that way because it is slightly more downhill. But the trail has little ups and downs the whole way, without a lot of elevation gain or loss in total. I like the way we did it, from Schynige Platte to First, because the views were wonderful, and by ending at the First gondola and riding down at the end,we had the opportunity to stop for dinner in Grindelwald before returning to Mürren. There are a number of good restaurants in Grindelwald, including the oddly-named but very good Onkle Tom's Hütte, which (if it still exists) is a nice casual place with outdoor seating and excellent pizza and salads.

I have particularly fond memories of that hike because while walking through Grindelwald after dinner we heard the beautifully haunting sound of yodeling (which is not at all the jokey-sounding "yodel" you may have heard, but rather lovely a cappela harmonized singing, without words.). This is a popular social activity in .switzerland; even competitive. This was a group practicing, and they were seated at an outdoor table in from of a hotel, yodeling while the hotel supplied them with glasses of beer. We found 2 seats at a shared table and sipped a glass of wine while enjoying the impromptu "show".

Back to hiking. One of my favorite hikes directly from Mürren is the North Face Trail, not to be confused with the Eiger Northface Trail near Grindelwald ( that one goes from Eigergletscher stationnon the Jungfrau Railway down to Alpiglen passing below the infamous North Face of the .Eiger).

The Mürren North Face Trail connects the top of the Almendhübel funicular with Mürren in a long sweep outward and back, above Gimmelwald. It is dotted with signs discussing the history of mountaineering in the area, with first ascents of the various peaks you see across the Valley. I think it is the same as the M2 hike described on the Lauterbrunnen website linked above, although they don't call it the North Face Trail.

If you Google the name of the trail you will find many descriptions, starting and ending different places, and covering both directions. We did it anti-clockwise, from Allmendhübel back down to Mürren, although we hiked up to Allmendhübel rather than riding the funicular. You could make it a half-day hike by taking the funicular.

This blog took the same route ( starting at the top of the funicular) has photos, including photos of the signage for the trail:

https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2012/08/switzerland-north-face-trail.html

Just to give you more options, here is a website with more hike suggestions (and photos), starting from Gimmelwald just a short walk down the hill from Mürren:

https://gimmelwald.ch/?page_id=83&lang=en

We like the circular hike to Rotstockhütte and the Sefeinental (7th hike in the list), although it was a bit muddy in parts due to cow activity ( our hostess at Chalet Fontana warned us of that).

The Gimmelwald down to Kilchbalm (or Chilchbalm) hike (4th hike on the list) is another good short hike, especially if you are looking for a rainy-day activity.

I have always wanted to do the hike to Oberhornsee (3rd on the list) but haven't been able to make time for it yet. Need to go back . . . .

Posted by
4 posts

These trail suggestions are great. Definitely have to add them to my list. Thank you Lola!