Honeymoon in Switzerland

Hi all, I've been reading through all the wonderful posts and have a quick question of my own. My fiancé and I are are getting married in Cinque Terre next summer (thanks to Rick Steves) and are planning our Honeymoon in Switzerland. We want to spend about a week in a small swiss town where there is nothing more to do than enjoy the view, eat good food, wander around town and talk to locals. We will be traveling in late June. We originally wanted to go to Zermatt but are now reconsidering based on Rick's description of it as a "glitzy ski resort town". We are now considering Murren because it is in the mountains and sounds quite small and there are so many great recommendations of it on this website. But we also like Rick's description of Murten. We only want to go to one place. We are also quite keen bicyclers if that is any help. We would like a nice easy bike ride though and don't want to do any strenuous biking on this trip. Can anyone tell us if Murten is worth missing out on Murren or recommend another place that we have not yet considered that fits our lazy agenda? Thanks,
Anne

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2281 posts

My vote is for Muerren, maybe just because I've been there and know how fantastic the scenery is. I've never heard of Murten, looks like a pleasant lake side town, but then I love Zermatt, especially in the Winter.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3081 posts

I dislike Zermatt very much probably because I've been to Mürren so many times that nothing else just quite lives up to it. You'll also find that walking easily (or biking) down to Gimmelwald from Mürren is quite enjoyable. Biking in the Lauterbrunnen Valley always looks SOOOO enticing although I never seem to have a bike there - I just walk. Don't think you'll be "just" in Mürren your entire time. The little village of Gimmelwald is almost a part of Mürren because it's so close. Lauterbrunnen Valley is just a little jaunt down the mountain on a gondola and small train. Your visit will probably include Mürren, Gimmelwald, Schilthorn, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen just because they're all so close and so easily connected by the wonderful little trains. Hopping around to these surrounding villages is just part of the fun of the area. My one and only visit to Zermatt was such a let down. I was expecting more of the Mürren atmosphere, but Zermatt is all about glitz and shopping in expensive boutique stores...yes there's skiing there, too, of course. But the glitz just way overpowers it. It's almost like a theme park in my mind...not authentic.

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
495 posts

Muerren, hands down. I'll be there a few weeks later. Can't wait. You'll have a grand honeymoon!

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

BTW, Mürren is also a ski resort. It's just much smaller than Zermatt. Zermatt is absolute tops for hiking, although many of the hikes are quite strenuous. I also like the mountain resort town of Flumserberg. Its about an hour outside of Zurich and it more or less functions as a weekend getaway for residents of the city. The hiking is fantastic and not too physically challenging.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

Murren!! We spent 3 days there several years ago and are trying to figure out when we can get back. It will be very romantic, cozy and beautiful. Lots of fun things to do at all intensity levels. You can stroll downhill, or do serious mountain climbing, and everything in between.
If you are hard core cyclers, there is a website called cycling-challenge.com that is all about cycling in the Alps, including route maps, etc. Looks fun!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6735 posts

IMHO, Muerren is everything you would want to see in an Authentic Swiss Village. Not too large and not too small. No tourist cars permitted. At 5,200', you can stand near the edge of the cliff and with one sweep of your eyeballs can go from the valley at 2,000' feet below to the tops of the Eiger, Monch and Junfrau at 12,000'. You can also stay at hotels with large balconies right on the edge. Here's a LINK to a picture of one of the main streets in Muerren. As for biking, it's mostly downhill. You'll need a bike with good brakes. You can even see a YouTube video of Rick Steves and his Muerren bike ride. Once on the valley floor, lots of nice biking from Stechelberg to Interlaken. Once you are done, go back up in the gondola.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

Murren. If you want to do any hiking, be sure to bring hiking shoes. Too many of the Americans we saw were stuck wandering around the village or asphalt road, while others were able to go out on the trails.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

I'd not stay in Murren for a week. It's a tourist resort much more than a city. If anything, stay in Lauterbrunen which is in the nod of the Y-shaped valley there. I'll suggest, if you want a place to enjoy the views with far less crowds around you, go to Eastern Switzerland. I particularly like the small town of Klosters of the small but not tiny city of Davos. Stunning views, hikes and interesting activities all around.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

BTW, what exactly is "an authentic Swiss village." Does the country have any "fake Swiss villages"?

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

Just have to second Klosters over Lauterbrunnen area (which includes Mürren).

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3081 posts

Would you call Zermatt an authentic Swiss Village? In particular would you call the men who march the goats through the streets on a specified schedule for the amusement of tourists authentic Swiss Villagers? I don't. I don't mind seeing other tourists and a few gift shops here and there. But I WOULD like to see Swiss villagers at work in their vegetable gardens or cutting the hay for the winter feedings or the local children out to play together. Not sure there is a strict definition, but some destinations seem to be a lot closer to authentic than others.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

" But I WOULD like to see Swiss villagers at work in their vegetable gardens or cutting the hay for the winter feedings" So basically, "authentic" is something vaguely reminscent of peasant pre-industrial agriculture that couldn't survive without huge subsidies, in a rich country that has one of the world's most highly developed manufacturing and finance sectors? And because Zermatt caters more to modern reality, despite there still being some animal husbandry practiced in the mountains, it's somehow not "authentic"? I can understand not liking a place because of the extent of the tourist infrastructure. But please, don't call a place "inauthentic" because it doesn't conform to some obsolete folksy stereotype. I had an American guest at my house who told my neighbor that our village wasn't "authentically German" because it has a few modern factories and hardly any Fachwerk (or as she termed it, "Gingerbread houses"). That comment was NOT appreciated by my otherwise good-humored neighbors.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

Exactly, Tom. I roll my eyes when people think "true Europeans" live like roaming in picturesque and quaint fields, it were 1830 in an human zoo the elusive American in-the-knowledge tourist can observe from a safe distance. It is like a Swiss travelling to US then whining Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Houston wouldn't be cities inhabited by "true Americans" because, gosh, they drive SUVs and work on offices mostly instead of razing cattle in the ranges and hunting down some wild bison in the meantime. There is nothing wrong looking forwards for a mountain/small destination or the likes, but I think there is some misdirected expectation when I read things like "I want to watch farm work", "I want to stay in a family guesthouse where I work side by side with the family (meaning: where I can spy in the whole family as some sort of mixed breed between Simple Life and Big Brother experience)" or "I want a place with true ( nationality of choice and apply Tom's filter)" . I don't own a farm, but I'm pretty sure like any other intensive job, having someone inexperienced and/or curious eager to get hands down the jobs makes you the experienced worker lose productivity and waste time having someone interfering with the work. Yet many people want to visit "a real working farm" (dismissing the establishments catering for such 'rural experience' as 'unauthentic') and expect the "real work" aspect to be oblivious to their presence/interference.

Posted by Mike
Atlanta
97 posts

Go to Murren, it is fantastic. Although it will hard to be "lazy" in Murren because there is so much outdoor stuff to do. Great hiking and also you can rent bikes. You can make the hiking and biking as easy or difficult as you want. As other posters mentioned, you can bike downhill, then use the lifts to go back up.

Posted by Todd
Oxford, OH, USA
17 posts

Mürren hands down. There is so much to do in the Valley, all within 20km. And consider renting a house or apartment. Live like a local. Shop for groceries. A week in a hotel is just tooooooo long.

Posted by TC
Atlanta
295 posts

We've been to Murten and Murren and based on what you are looking for there is no contest. Murren, Murren, Murren! Can't think of a better place to go on a honeymoon and we've been to 32 countries. Just wish we could have done it when we were young, broke, and just married. TC

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1590 posts

"I WOULD like to see Swiss villagers at work in their vegetable gardens or cutting the hay for the winter feedings or the local children out to play together." Too bad the citizens of Zermatt did not perform for Tim so he could like the town better. It offers great hiking and mountain biking, far more than Muerren does. And yes, like Muerren, it is a ski resort as well as a town. It also offers some stunning honeymoon-worth hotels, such as Coeur des Alpes, and others that have been run by the same family for generations. High-end hotel hospitality is just as "authentically" Swiss as cutting hay by hand on a mountainside, and actually is more relevant to modern Swiss life. Muerren offers great views of the mountains, but is pretty small. If that is what you are looking for in a honeymoon, great! You might also look at Wengen, which has a few more upscale hotels. Or for an "authentic" Swiss experience, stay at one of the mountain inns you have to hike to. There are several in th eupper Lauterbrunnen Valley, beyond Sttechelberg, and several more in the mountain areas above Grindelwald.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Anne, you didn't mention hiking, which is the main activity at Mürren. It is a bit unrealistic to think you can spend a lot of time wandering through town and talking to locals. The Swiss are very reserved and business-like with strangers. People employed in the tourist industry may talk and joke a bit, but most of the other residents probably just are glad when tourist season is over. I speak passable German and have spent quite a bit of time in Switzerland, (all over, not just in Mürren). In eight weeks of travel there, the only people I have had spontaneous conversation with (i.e., apart from our lodging hosts and shopkeepers, who always are friendly) are (1) other tourists who appropached me for directions, thinking I was Swiss and (2) several residents in the tiny village of Rigi Kaltbad, who recognized us as strangers when we were out for a walk, noticed out interest in flowers and gardens, and advised us of particular houses and yards we should see. I have had much better luck talking with locals in italy, Spain, and Germany than in Switzerland. I will also mention a fantastic bike ride, since you mentioned that interest. This would be in the Gasterntal, a beautiful undeveloped valley near Kandersteg. You rent bikes in Kandersteg and ride into th eGasterntal as far as you like. Traffic on the road is restricted so you are likely to meet only the Postbus and a car or two , if that. And Actually, since people are suggesting that a full week might be too long for Mürren, consider spending a couple of nights at this rustic and romantic mountain inn on the shores of a beautiful lake above Kandersteg: www.oeschinensee.ch With 2 nights there you could use the intervening day for the bike ride.

Posted by Anne
Sunnyvale, Ca, USA
2 posts

Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions! The response is overwhelming. It sounds like the consensus is Muerren and that most of you are very happy with your travels there. That is great to know. Basically we just want to avoid crowds. We know we will encounter other tourists anywhere we go, so we are avoiding large cities because we just want to have a quiet, relaxing holiday where we can enjoy each others company and not be hustled and bustled by hordes of people. The biking and hiking are an added bonus! Andre, We are very interested in avoiding crowds. We will certainly look into Klosters and eastern Switzerland. Thanks for the advice. Bets, We will definitely bring our hiking shoes as we'll be doing a bit of hiking in Cinque Terre as well and are coming strait from there. Thanks for the suggestion. TC, Thanks for letting us know about Murten. It seems like most people have not heard of it(which is actually what attracted us to it) but it's good to know that you prefer Muerren. Lola,
Yes we are interested in hiking as well but maybe not everyday :). Thanks for your suggestion of biking in Gasterntal, it looks lovely! Also the mountain inn you suggested looks ideal.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3081 posts

Always enjoy relevant and differing points of view...even from Sasha! You're right, Sasha, the Zermatt Villagers did not perform hay-cutting for me but they sure know how to march their parade goats on cue for the tourists, dont they ;-)

Posted by Mike
Poplar Grove, IL, USA
8 posts

On your journey up to Switzerland you should consider stopping in the Italian section of Switzerland shortly after crossing the border. Some friends introduced us to the Ticino Valley area years ago and we try to get back there as often as we can. There are plenty of unique villages and towns along the river before going through the tunnel or over the Gotthard Pass. We like hiking in Faido and further south around Chironico. Although I can't recall the names of them right now, all of the communities have small inns or B&B's that you can find online. It would be a nice transition from the Italian culture to to Alpine.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

I don't usually re-open old fights, but I just can't help it this time. In the annual World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, Switzerland has once again taken the top ranking: http://reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-report-2012-2013/ I'm going to take a stab in the dark, but I'm guessing the Swiss didn't achieve this ranking because they can parade cows down from the high Alpine pastures more efficiently than anyone else. And I doubt the market for recordings of jodeling music is particularly vibrant worldwide.

Posted by Geraldine
New Salem, Massachuse, USA
11 posts

Ignore the self-proclaimed critics of your post, and then go to Murren! The Lauterbrunnen VAlley will probably have everything you are wishing for. Wander down to Gimmelwald, you may find someone willing to talk awhile, but don't plan on it. Buy a sandwich at Esthers and hike back up to Murren. Wengen is a favorite of mine because of the views, but this summer I went farther up to Kleine Scheidegg. Amazing views while on the train. Expensive to contiune up to the Jungrau, but, hey, it is your honeymoon, give it a try! Check out www.myswitzerland.com and learn all you can about that area. I learn more each time I go over and wish I had done more "studying" before I left. A cruise on Lake Brienz or Lake Thun is certainly not out of the question for a relaxing few hrs. Enjoy, Happy Life to you...

Posted by Kemal
Istanbul, Turkey
10 posts

There is such a big consensus for Murren, nevertheless I wanted to write about my only experience for another town of Switzerland. Having said that, my wife and I would like to visit Murren this october, after that I can make a comparison. So this is just about a personal experience but not being able to make a comparison is of course a major weakness.
Four years ago, by chance we stopped at Weggis, close to Luzern.We stayed at Hotel Friedheim, visited the neighboring towns by boat and by bus, climbed to Mount Rigi taking the cable car and cog train and although our initial intention was to stay overnight, we spent four nights there. I am writing this because sometimes we all tend to go where the risk is minimum, that is look for general consensus. However, this might leave out 'boutique' solutions. Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places to visit and so has been Weggis, therefore I wanted to post this note just as an idea out of the main stream. I hope all will go well with your wedding, travel, marriage and life.

Posted by Barry
Clearwater, Florida, USA
7 posts

Anne, not sure if you have made arrangements yet but I recommend Liesi's heart place in Gimmelwald. We found her lodging on Rick's web site in 2009 and had a delightful 4-day stay. Very romantic and the views from the room and round-the-clock sound of waterfalls were stellar. Gimmelwald is a short walk down from Muerren but, even better, arrive by cable car from the Lauterbrunnen Valley (Stechelberg, I believe). We did that with 2 big and 2 small suitcases via train from Zurich (short bus transfer at the end) and it was easy. Gimmelwald is tiny, has no motor vehicles (I am sure there are exceptions but not worth ruining the mental picture) so you walk everywhere. You could walk to Muerren for meals (or a small grocery) or take the cable car back down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley and find lots of dining choices. FYI, you can buy a pass for the cable car and local bus. My girlfriend/now wife and I walked everywhere in the valley and took the train up to the Jungfraujoch. Too many activities and sites to mention. It was the trip of a lifetime.

Posted by Bill
Nicholasville
2 posts

Sounds like someone might needs little more fiber in their diet. Layoff the poster. She just wants help planning her honeymoon.

Posted by cabalist
Alabama, USA
7 posts

But check out Gasthaus Aescher Wildkirchli ( http://www.aescher-ai.ch/ ). My wife and I found this on our own and then found out that Rick loves it as well! It really is incredible, on the side of a mountain, and run by the most loving family. When we got married we stayed at Bad Schachen in Lindau, Germany, across the BodenSee/Lake Constance from Switzerland. It was unique and wonderful and my wife LOVED it. If you are up for hiking (you take a cable car to get to Gasthaus Aescher Wildkirchli) try one of the 153 huts (or huetten) that the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC-CAS) operates. Even if you don't go check them out: http://www.sac-cas.ch/ Good luck, whatever you choose in Switzerland will be fabulous!