I was wondering where is the best place to stay since there's so many towns to choose from. My contenders would be Mürren, Gimmewald, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Stechelberg, or Interlaken? Which is the best out of those or if your favorite isn't on here, still put it in your response?
It might be helpful for responders to know how many nights you plan to spend in the area, at what time of year, and for what purpose. Do you primarily want to hike, or are you primarily planning to enjoy the scenery from inside mountain lifts, etc.?
My vote would be Murren, we stayed there, it’s a beautiful area and great location. RS likes Gimmewald but it was too “sleepy”/small for us and we thought there were better connections with Murren. I wouldn’t stay in Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken unless you want to stay in the valley. Murren is in the mountains with beautiful views of Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch. I can’t comment on Wengen or Stechelberg since we didn’t visit those areas.
Mürren and Wengen are up on the mountains, Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg in the valley floor below. You can pretty much see all of them from each other. Interlaken is a transit and staging place. Gimmelwald is a tiny appendage a short walk from Mürren. Mürren is my choice, easy.
I stayed in Interlaken just a few steps away from Interlaken West and the Migros with its buffet. Several times, ignoring the advice to stay in the mountains not near them.
Then one year we stayed in Mürren (at Diane's that first time) and we've never looked back. I'd consider camping in the valley (in a trailer, not in a tent, at the usual place) if I couldn't get in to Mürren, but I like Mürren because of the views of the mountains, the transportation and walks up there, and because we can look down on Wengen and the valley.
I haven't really considered Wengen because I prefer where the sun is for sunrise and sunset in Mürren, Grindelwald is too busy for me, Lauterbrunnen is still too busy for me, and Gimmelwald is way too small for me.
But everybody's different. You will be too.
The first four on your list all have their fans, and you can't go wrong with any of them. They have different characters, so you won't necessarily know which one you prefer until you've seen them.
Lauterbrunnen is the most convenient for seeing other sights in the area, since it's on the valley floor (easy to walk or take the bus along the valley floor, or to go up either side from the station), and is the transit hub. However, it has car traffic, and is less "cute" than the others.
Gimmelwald is Rick's favorite, but that's because he has made personal connections with people who live there. Those of us who don't have such connections often find it too small and limited. For instance, there's no grocery or ATM, and only a few restaurants that serve to people not staying at the attached hotel. I did find the walk in his book interesting, with the details he provided, but that's a quick activity.
Wengen is the largest of the four, with more restaurants and the largest supermarket. It's convenient for stuff on that side of the valley (like the Maennlichenn to Kleine Scheidegg hike or the Jungfraujoch), and a bit farther from stuff elsewhere (the valley floor or the other side of the valley).
Muerren is for me, just the right size, and it has enough restaurants plus a grocery and an ATM so it's convenient. It's closest to stuff on that side of the valley (the Allmendhubel and the Schilthorn), but of course farther from other stuff. Many of the hotel rooms have direct views across to the mountains - a breathtaking way to wake up.
Note that while Muerren, Gimmelwald and Wengen are "car free," that does not mean vehicle free. They have service vehicles (a bit like tractors) that can come through at any time of the day or night. I was almost run over because it was dark and I wasn't looking for these. It's still nicer than car traffic, but you can't completely let your guard down.
The other two are much lower on my list. Stechelberg is only convenient for its accommodations; there's not much else there, so you'll be spending a lot of time on the bus through the valley to Lauterbrunnen, or the lift to Gimmelwald and Muerren. It's too far to walk to other attractions in the valley (at least more than once).
And Interlaken is great if you want large hotels, large tour groups (many from South Asia and the Middle East), lots of restaurants (some of dubious quality, others apparently fine), jewelry shops, sex shops, and casinos. To be fair, they also have very large Migros and Coop stores (a bit like Target in the US), so they're very handy if you want to buy something at more reasonable prices. Interlaken East station is also the hub for changing to various trains, boats, and buses for not only the region, but the whole country. But most of us recommend using Interlaken only as a place to buy stuff and change trains, and actually staying somewhere else in the mountains. Interlaken is near the mountains, not in them.
Mürren - Perfect and no cars
Gimmewald - really enjoyable 20 minute downhill walk from Murren. Too small to stay there
Lauterbrunnen - in the deep valley between Murren and Wengen
Wengen - Good Place, larger than Murren, no cars
Stechelberg - the far end of Lauterbrunnen Valley
Interlaken - not in the alps, not in the valley, just don't do it
Tim nailed it.
I generally agree with Tim however I usually stay in Lauterbrunnen and find that to be a great location as it's the transportation hub for that area, and it's very convenient to get from there to places on either side of the valley. The fact that it's in the valley isn't really a concern, since I'm usually out touring around the higher elevations in the daytime anyway. However I might consider staying in Mürren on a future visit just to see what it's like. Hopefully it will be possible to travel again soon!
We had the same choice you're making and picked Wengen for 4 nights back in Summer 2017. After visiting the area we felt we made the right choice - up in the mountains and larger than Murren.
Like Ken, we stay in Lauterbrunnen. We usually spend two weeks there each fall and Lauterbrunnen makes a great base to travel all directions. We did a short stay in Mürren once (4 nights) and it was great for a short stay with most activities on that side of the valley. How long do you plan to stay and what kind of activities do you want to partake of?
I plan to go in summer, hike, and stay 3-5 days.
Murren is the best! Check out Chalet Fontana for a B&B style chalet with an incredible view of the Eiger/Monch/Jungfrau.
I plan to go in summer, hike, and stay 3-5 days.
That being the case, Murren without a doubt. Many trailheads accessable from there and the beauty is beyond belief. Just the right size for accomodations and places to eat.
I generally agree with the above comments. Interlaken is not in the mountains – it’s a small town and not a mountain village like the others. Although Gimmelwald and Stechelberg have their proponents, I personally think they’re too small to stay there. That eliminates three of the six.
Of Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Wengen, I’ve stayed in an apartment within easy walking distance of the village of Lauterbrunnen and thoroughly enjoyed it (plus it’s centrally located and easy to get to other locations in the Berner Oberland).
I’ve never stayed in Murren or Wengen, but I’ve visited both multiple times and had excellent meals there. Both mountain villages are scenic, car-free and great choices. I agree that the beauty of these villages is beyond belief. Of the two, I’d pick Murren because it’s closer to a higher number of wonderful hikes. As shown below, Wengen is larger and has a better choice of hotels and restaurants. I think Wengen is the most upscale of all of the six alternatives. The only disadvantage of Murren and Wengen is that you need to get down off the mountain (via train or lift) if you want to get to any other part of the Berner Oberland.
For comparison purposes, I’ll include Grindelwald in the mix. On my last trip, I stayed there in a nice apartment on the top floor of a chalet on a quiet street within walking distance of the village center (cheaper than a mid-range hotel, with a fantastic balcony with a view of the Eiger and other mountains). The disadvantages include (1) the main road through the middle of the village is busy, and (2) the number of tourists is significantly greater than the other villages. But it’s a scenic mountain village, too. Much smaller than Interlaken and right in the mountains.
I spend most of my days hiking, so the tourists don’t bother me that much. In addition, I appreciate the greater number and variety of restaurants in Grindelwald. Like Lauterbrunnen, it’s easy to get to other locations and hiking trails throughout the region. For better or worse, Grindelwald is also on the upscale side, probably somewhere between Wengen and Murren. It also has more hotels, a larger COOP foodstore, and more shopping opportunities than the other five villages. Although I like all of the mountain villages very much, Grindelwald will be my choice for a return trip to the Berner Oberland.
Population – # Hotels – # Restaurants – Name of Village
130 – 3 – 3 Gimmelwald
255 – 2 – 2 Stechelberg
450 – 11 – 21 Murren
1,300 – 21 – 31 Wengen
2,452 – 7 – 21 Lauterbrunnen
3,826 – 39 – 73 Grindelwald
11,106 – 85 – 185 Interlaken (includes Unterseen)
[Note – Data from TripAdvisor.com]
Another vote for Murren. It can’t be beat. Village hanging on a cliff with amazing views of the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger.
Another vote for Murren. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Try the Hotel Alpenruh. Breathtaking scenic views, great food.
We spent a week in Grindelwald and thought it was perfect for the scenery, choices of restaurants, and is a very good transportation hub. It was large enough to offer options for dining, food shopping. We felt like we could reach out and touch the Eiger from our balcony. We easily visited all the towns listed above, had lunch in Wengen , and were very happy we chose Grindelwald.
It was not crowded either. The only place we did not care for was Laugerbrunnen at the bottom of a valley. We wanted to be higher up with expansive views.
Muerren. For the reasons Tim said. And for the sunsets, like Nigel said.