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travel to Gimmewald

6 of us are planning a 3 week fall trip to Europe. We hope to fly into Paris or Zurich for a couple of days then make our way to Gimmewald or another alps town. My first question is - what is the best way to travel from Paris or Zurich to Gimmewald. And which is the better to fly into. From Gimmewald, we are going into Italy for the remainder of the three weeks making our way to Rome from where we hope to fly home. We are newbies to this part of Europe and would appreciate any travel tips. We have been studiously studying Rick's travel books and videos. At this point we would like to spend time on the Ligurian coast, the hill towns, Florence and maybe Torino or Alba area or Lake Como (Milan hasn't excited anyone in our group)

Posted by
6095 posts

We took the train from Luzern to Interlaken. (You can get to Luzern via train from Zurich) We changed trains to head to Lauterbrunnen. Then there was a bus that went to Stechelberg and gondola that goes up to Gimmelwald. We didn't do it, but you can also take the train from Lauterbrunen to Murren and then take a gondola down to Gimmelwald. We stayed in Lauterbrunnen but went up to Gimmewald several times. We loved Berner Oberland.

If you fly into Zurich you are a whole lot closer to BO.

The Swiss train system is excellent.

Posted by
721 posts

Agree with Jules except that to get from Lauterbrunnen to Gimmelwald without going through Stechelberg you would take a cable car up the hill, then get on a train to Murren, then the gondola to Gimmelwald.

OP, are you sure you mean Gimmelwald or do you really mean Grindelwald? Gimmelwald is very small with not much to offer in the way of lodging or restaurants. I suggest that you look instead at staying in Murren or Wengen or even Lauterbrunnen which is much easier to get to.

BTW, you are really cramming a lot into your 3 week trip. Just your itinerary in Italy alone could take a couple of weeks. I would drop Paris and just fly into Zurich. Spend a week in the Berner Oberland area, then make your way to Rome. Probably the fastest way from BO to Rome would be to take the train back to Zurich and fly from there. We recently went from Lauterbrunnen to Rome by train and we left at 7:00 and arrived at 21:00. Doable but took a lot of planning. It involved changing trains four times and a metro ride across Milan to change train stations.

Posted by
33324 posts

3 week fall trip to Europe

what do you mean by Fall?

How you plan could be a lot different at the end of September or in November or December....

Do you want snow or do you want dry hiking trails and roads?

And Gimmelwald, the tiny village on the edge of the cliff - if that's where you mean - may not be doing much (it never does but even less) depending on when, whereas other places like Grindelwald, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen or Mürren will, even if they are past the tourist summer season and before the winter season....

6 - 2 adults and 4 kids, or 6 adults, or ???

Posted by
375 posts

GIMMELwald is super tiny, I was stunned. Everyone told me it was small but I wasn't expecting it to be that small. I stayed in Lauterbrunnen which was a nice size and it had a grocery store but be aware of very limited hours especially on weekends. It also was nice at the bottom of the valley floor, very outdoorsy. I don't recommend staying in Interlaken or GRINDELwald both are over touristy not charming not cute very commercialized.

Posted by
32265 posts

You can fly into either Paris or Zürich. It depends on which option is most important to your group. You can fly inbound to Paris, spend a few days there and then travel by high speed train to Switzerland. If you'd prefer to focus more on the Berner Oberland, then fly into Zürich as it's relatively easy and quick to get from there to the Berner Oberland.

When you're researching rail trips, use Lauterbrunnen as the final destination. From Zürich or Paris, you'll change trains at Interlaken Ost, which is about 20 minutes from Lauterbrunnen. Once you arrive there, it's easy to get to any "home base" location, whether you decide to stay in Gimmelwald or one of the other villages there. Your transportation from Lauterbrunnen will depend on which place you decide to stay. If you need more information on that, post another note here.

I've stayed in Gimmelwald and enjoyed my time there. Yes, it's small and somewhat quiet but I didn't have a problem with that. Mürren (which is the next stop uphill and a big favourite with many here) is a larger village and has more hotels, restaurants etc. On more recent trips, I've stayed in Lauterbrunnen as that's the rail hub for the area so very easy to get to either side of the valley from there. I usually like to make a stop at the Schilthorn on my trips there, and staying in Lauterbrunnen only adds a few minutes to the travel time.

Posted by
1073 posts

To get to pretty much anywhere in Europe that is not directly served from North America, I just get the best scheduled / cheapest / most convenient flight to ANYwhere in Europe, and from there use Europe's fantastic low-cost regional airline system to get from my point of entry to wherever I want to go.

For example, when we went to Murren a few years ago, we flew Air Canada to London, stayed in London a few days, then took EasyJet from Gatwick to Basel. From Basel, we rented a car and drove via Bern, but you could also have taken a train. We parked the car in Stechelberg while we were staying up in Murren.

You could do the same by flying to Paris or Zurich or wherever you can get to easily from your home town. Then take a low-cost regional airline to Basel or Zurich (closest airports to Gimmelwald). Then take car or train to Interlaken / Lauterbrunnen / Murren or Stechelberg / Gimmelwald.

But do bear in mind what others have said about Gimmelwald. If there are 6 of you, you will mostly fill up all the available accommodation in Gimmelwald. I would highly recommend staying in Murren instead and walk (20 minutes) or cable car to Gimmelwald.

Posted by
32265 posts

"If there are 6 of you, you will mostly fill up all the available accommodation in Gimmelwald."

Not necessarily....

Esther's Guesthouse has 7 rooms and 2 apartments. If you book early enough, you shouldn't have any trouble getting rooms there.

As I recall, the Gimmelwald Pensione had enough rooms to accommodate six. It's quite "rustic" but very comfortable, and they have a nice outside patio bar.

And of course there's always the Mountain Hostel for those that don't mind "communal accommodations" (they do have some private rooms).

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for that good advice. The 6 of us are adults in our 60's, we are going mid Sept. to early Oct. We have decided to fly into Zurich, We wanted to go to Gimmelwald/Murrin and go hiking. and then go south into Italy. One of the women in our group REALLY wants to go on the Bernina express from Chur to Tirano. It looks really beautiful and we are trying to accomodate her. Are there any towns East of Zurich (betweem Zurich and Chur) that would be comparable to Murrin where we could stay and enjoy the hiking? Are there thoughts on the best places to exit the Bernina Express as a jumping off spot to Italy? Would you recommend spending a few nights in Lugano at the end of the express? Thank you for your insight and input.

Posted by
2389 posts

If you google “Lauterbrunnen to Chur” (for example) and click on the train symbol, it will show you the options for public transportation. You can do this for any places you want to travel between. You may be surprised how much time it takes to travel between locations, especially when there are mountains in between.

For basic trip planning, remember that two nights in one place equals one full day for sightseeing. Every time you move hotel locations you lose half a day or more of actual sightseeing time. Days fly by. Start with a list of your days and where you plan to sleep that night. You’ll see that days fill up fast, especially with long travel days. For example:

Day 1: depart US
Day 2: sleep in Zurich (maybe go straight to Gimmelwald?)
Day 3: travel to Gimmelwald
Day 4-6: sleep in Gimmelwald
Day 7: travel to Chur
Day 8: Bernina Express to Tirano
Day 9: travel to Varenna
Day 10-12: sleep in Varenna (guess what, the trip is half over already!)
Day 11: travel to Ligurian coast
Day 12-13: sleep in Cinque Terre area
Day 14: travel to Florence
Day 15-16: sleep in Florence
Day 17: travel to Rome
Day 18-20: sleep in Rome (not nearly enough time)
Day 21: fly home

See how fast the days go?

Posted by
16892 posts

Let me make a suggestion.

The Bernina Express is one of several famous “scenic trains” in Switzerland, and one of the very few routes between Switzerland and Italy that goes over the Alps instead of under them in a tunnel. If you ride it to the end at Lugano, your entry point into Italy will be be Milan, but it is so close that you can simply change trains there and continue to Verona, Venice, Florence, Bologna, or Torino.

But the Bernina Express route lies far to the east, and it takes time to get to Chur from Gimmelwald or Mürren. And there really aren’t any villages between Zurich and Chur that would serve as a substitute for Mürren/Gimmelwald as a base for hiking. The area is not really “alpine”. I would hate to see you give up the Berner Oberland just for the sake of a ride on the Bernina Express when there is a better option.

The Treno Gottardo is a new and little-known scenic route that uses the old (pre-tunnel) Gotthard Pass route between Luzern and Locarno (on Lago Maggiore in Switzerland).

It is easy to get to Luzern from Gimmelwald (also a scenic train route known as the Golden Pass), so you would not have to give up the Berner Oberland hiking to take this route. The Treno Gottardo runs every 2 hours so you could leave Gimmelwald/Mürren in the morning and end the day in Locarno in mid-afternoon. Overnight there in a lakeside hotel near the train station. Then continue to Italy (via Milan) the next day.

Another option, also on the Gotthard Pass route, is the Gotthard Panorama Express from Luzern to Lugano. This is a once-a-day trip by boat across the Vierwaldstättersee ( aka Lake Lucerne) to the southern tip of the lake at Flüelen, where you board the train over the Gotthard Pass, but end in LugNo instead of Locarno.

As a six-time visitor to Switzerland, avid hiker, and frequent visitor to Italy, I can tell you I would much prefer either of these options over going out of your way to take the Bernina Express. It is nice, but no better than these other routes. And I have never done the bus part of the Bernina Express to reach Lugano because I just don’t care for long bus rides, and have never heard anything about it that would change my mind.

The Gotthard Panorama Express, with the boat option, might be particularly appealing to your friend. Please show her the options and see what she thinks. As I said, I would hate to see you give up the beauty of the Berner Oberland for a lesser experience elsewhere just to ride the Bernina Express.

If if you are not completely sold on staying in Gimmelwald, I can suggest a really nice 3-bedroom 2bath apartment in Mürren, with beautiful views from the large deck.

Posted by
1073 posts

Actually, the Bernina Express' entry point to Italy is Tirano. The train ends there. If continuing on to Lugano, that is by bus (can't comment on that as we didn't do that part). From Tirano you can continue to Lugano on the BE bus, or to Lake Como and Milan on Italian regional train (Trenord, trains every hour or so, no need to book).

I highly recommend the BE. A real highlight of our trip.

I wouldn't bother with a waypoint between Murren and Chur. You can get from one to the other in a very easy day, either by car or train. Chur is an underrated place, well worth an overnight before getting the BE the next morning.