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Travel from Lucerne to Grindelwald to Zurich Airport After Train Tour?

Four of us (active retirees) are taking a train tour of Switzerland in early June 2022. It goes counterclockwise from Zurich, but it skips the Grindewald area. The tour ends in Lucerne, and IF it isn't too complicated or exorbitantly expensive, we'd like to extend the trip by at least 2 more days so we could go up the Jungfrau ("Top of Europe") and the Schilthorn.

Main Question....How difficult (and expensive?) would it be to get ourselves from Lucerne to this area AND then get back to the Zurich Airport without having to drive? Would we be seeing "more of the same" or is this area quite different from the areas we will see on the train trip (St. Moritz, Lake Maggiore, Zermatt, Lake Geneva, Lucerne)? 

​​​​​​(Sidenote: Is it likely that Grindewald would have a lot of wildflowers in early June, or is that too early? What about the waterfalls?)

​​​​​​I imagine some would say that we should do the whole thing on our own, but we have credit we need to use from a trip that was cancelled due to COVID-19... so we are just looking for advice about a possible add-on if we "bailed out" after our 2 nights in Lucerne and got ourselves to the Grindewald area and then back to Zurich Airport a couple days later.

​​​​​​​Thanks, in advance, for your help!

Posted by
134 posts

Definitely worth visiting (although 2 days is very short) - yes, more mountain scenery, but some of the best in Switzerland! But if you want to do both Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn, I'd stay in Wengen or Mürren rather than Grindelwald. Both are also nicer towns in my opinion, mostly due to not being accessible by car.
Lucerne to the Berner Oberland is fairly easy via the train (beautiful ride via Brünig pass, ca. 2:30 hours) and then back to Zurich airport (ca 3 hrs). You will have to change trains a couple of times in both directions, just keep that in mind with luggage etc. Others here can advise you on the various train pricing options.
It's probably a bit too early for peak wildflowers in the beginning of June, but the waterfalls should be in good form.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for your quick reply! Although I have read that it's easy to navigate the trains there, the thought of multiple train changes is definitely intimidating for us 😳, as we have never traveled on our own outside of the US. I wonder if we could each store a suitcase somewhere in Lucerne and then go back there to spend our last night before going to the airport?

We will definitely look into Wengen or Mürren. I read about them, but didn't know they could be better options than Grindewald.

Many thanks!

Posted by
25587 posts

Hi Pamela,

You have lots of time to plan - that's good.

If you don't have the Rick Steves Switzerland Guidebook, can you get one from a nearby library? If so you can see a good diagram of the transportation in the Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald area. It may help you understand the choices better.

What time is your flight home?

Grindelwald is the next valley over from the Lauterbrunnen Valley which is the jumping off point for Schilthorn. You can get to Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald but it is a bit further than if you were in the Lauterbrunnen area. Getting to both valleys is easy by train from Luzern, and easy to return to Zürich. In Grindelwald you will be looking up at the Eiger, in Mürren you look across at a whole suite of mountains.

I'm tight on time but will write more later.

Knowing the time of your flight home is important.

Posted by
15949 posts

Yes, you can store large luggage at the Luzern station for 12 CHF/day.
https://www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/at-the-station/services-at-the-station/lockers/store-your-luggage-at-the-SBB-travel-centre.html

Is it expensive? Everything in Switzerland is expensive. I suspect your train tour of Switzerland will include an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass. 1st or 2nd class? See if you can extend that to a 15-day pass, 95 CHF for 2nd class or 147 CHF for 1st class. Since the Swiss Travel Pass only covers travel to inhabited villages, you will have to pay extra for travel to the Jungfraujoch from Wengen and the Schilthorn from Muerren, but the pass gives a discount for these.

For what you want, Lauterbrunnen might be the best option. In a valley full of waterfalls and a midpoint between the Jungfraujoch and the Schilthorn.

Posted by
605 posts

To answer your question about what to expect in June, you're (sort of) in luck. June is peak season for both waterfalls and wildflowers. But I see you are travelling in "early" June, so weather that particular year will decide exactly what you'll see.

For waterfalls, two you should see are:

  • Trummelbachfalle, on the road between Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg. You can get there by Post Bus or about a 40 minute walk along the flat valley floor (either along the road, or there is a back trail on which you'll see flowers and cows). What makes Trummelbach fascinating is the waterfall is inside the mountain (so its a combination cave and waterfall);
  • Staubachfalle. This you can see right from Lauterbrunnen although a 5 minute walk will get you even closer. Its a huge tall waterfall, very impressive.
Posted by
1283 posts

It sounds like your train tour comes first before your independent touring?? That tour experience will help you understand how friendly and efficient the Swiss rail system is, so travel by train independently then becomes less intimidating. Your tour leader can show you how to read the Swiss train schedules, being aware of the track # on which you arrive, and identifying the track # for your next connection. Swiss trains generally leave at least every hour for most destinations, so if you miss a train, another comes fairly soon. If you research the various Swiss Travel Passes [for the rail systems], you could plan how many more days to extend the trip and efficiently use the Passes.

I would add a few more days for the Berner Oberland area, as staying in Murren, for example, actually in the Alps, is a great way to relax after an organized tour. It doesn't seem like your tour actually gets you up into the Alps, [unless I'm missing something.] You won't regret staying in the Alps!

There has been extended recent discussion here on the Forum regarding traveling and use of trains in Switzerland. Just click on Switzerland and review the posts. You will see that we have many folks [esp Nigel and Sam] with Swiss train expertise who can answer specific route questions. To save some money, book directly with the hotels. I have had great communication with the Hotel Bellevue in Murren, but there are many recommendations here for other hotels in the surrounding areas.

Safe- and exciting- travels!

Posted by
3 posts

You make a good point, Pat. After being on trains for a week, we should be able to figure things out with a little more ease than if we did the independent part first🤞😊👍. Thank you for pointing that out to us!

Posted by
11261 posts

When you first read about how to get from Zurich to the Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn, it will seem very confusing. All those unfamiliar Swiss-German place names, all those methods of transport (regular trains, rack railways, gondolas, buses, etc), all those changes from one method to another. But, once you're there, it's very easy.

Trains can only go through mountains where they have blasted a tunnel. For much of this route, they haven't, so you are going up, down, or around mountains. Once you are actually there and can see the mountains, plus the giant maps at each station showing you the routes, it becomes much clearer. Furthermore, lots of people are taking the same route, so following the crowds will usually work.

Furthermore, Swiss trains are unreserved, and your ticket is good on all trains on that route that day (with a very few exceptions). Trains on all Swiss routes run once an hour or more; on this route, they are 2-4 times per hour. So, if you miss a connection for any reason (slow walking, using a bathroom, getting a snack), just take the next one that comes along, at no penalty.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask others. While taking a train is a new experience for you, for locals it's routine. Most Swiss people speak enough English to help you (if they're not fully fluent).