As part of a 18 day trip to Europe, my sister and I had planned to stay in Murren May 1-3rd. We had planned to arrive there directly from Venice before heading over to Beaune, France. We were excited about taking the mountain trains to catch the views around the Jungfrau region. From reading past blogs, I see that it is a terrible idea and that we can expect rain, fog, clouds, and desolate, closed villages. Will the Matterhorn/Zermatt region be any better at this time of year? Or possibly someplace, anyplace, in Austria where we can see some glorious, snow capped mountains with a better chance of having good views? Thanks!!
The problem is not the views of the mountains. If the weather is nice ( andit could be, or not-no way to predict) you will have glorious views of the mountains. But it is shoulder season-too late to ski, too early to hike-and there will be patches of old snow on the ground and some mud in unpacked areas. And the villages will be quiet, but if you find a hotel that is open the price should be much lower than later. I know of people who have gone in early May and had a fine time riding the lifts, although they were not able to hike. And I know of people who have gone in June, July, and August ( us) and encountered rain, clouds, and or fog then. You just never know about mountain weather. Zermatt is no more likely to have good weather than the Berner Oberland. And even if the weather there is fine, the Matterhorn itself may be shrouded in clouds of its own.
Impossible to predict if it will be foggier in one place over another this far out in advanced. April and May are usually foggier than the summer, however. Here's all I can offer. The climate is a little drier south of the Rhône valley (ie, Zermatt) than to the north (ie, Berner Oberland). However, the difference isn't great enough to make any kind of useful prediction. Also, this spring has been far colder than normal, so the snowpack hasn't started it's annual retreat yet. I would expect the shoulder season to extend later this year than usual.
We are not the seasoned Swiss Travelers you will hear from on this post, but our one-time experience was very fine. We took the "Golden Pass" train two years ago on May 4. It wasn't perfect "visibility unlimited" weather, but a very fine trip nonetheless. The weather at lower elevations was fine--mostly sunny--and the higher we went the more cloud cover we experienced (especially at the higher peaks), but certainly not dismal as you describe. Don't change your plans because of the weather, just enjoy what you get.
Thanks everyone, for your replies. I guess it's just going to be based on Luck! Does anyone have any idea if we can expect many of the businesses in the villages to be closed at this time of year? Also, would any mountain ranges in Austria have any better weather or is it generally the same spring weather pattern throughout?
Denise, we were there in late May and early June. The weather for us was great. We were scared away from Muerren because of possible snow so we stayed in Lauterbrunnen (which was great). But, the snow was way gone from Muerren which is at 5,200'. It was also gone from Kliene Scheidegg where you will change trains to get to the Jungfraujoch. The wildflowers were in bloom and the farmers were walking their cows with their musical Swiss bells up to higher pastures in the early morning. Blue skies with few clouds for our 3 days. You will be there earlier. As mentioned above, no guarantees on the weather. Also, Muerren is just waking up from their "shoulder season" closure. This is when they close down to transition from ski season to summer season. You will want to check first with your hotel to see if they are open. I wouldn't pass it up. Lots of people get very lucky on the weather. It's just too nice to pass up. Here's a link to a picture of the main street in Muerren in very early June. It was fantastic. http://gyazo.com/1fbb45584072c1b3b665c2d6cbdca8f3
Since they ski nearly year round on the glacier in Zermatt, there will be plenty of hotels open. Again, weather is weather. Just look at this year compared to last. We have the set of photos we got of the sunrise, first touching to peak of the Matterhorn, then working its way down the east face. In May you will need to get up very early to get it.