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Murren/Lauterbrunnen/Gimmelwald

Our family(2 adults, 2 kids) will be in Switzerland(Berner Oberland area) for 3 days in the 2nd week of June, 2010. Our primary purpose is to catch some good day hikes and enjoy the natural beauty. Which is a good place to stay from a hiking perspective? Murren or Lauterbrunnen or Gimmelwald?
Can anyone recommend nice, clean family place to stay with a kitchen? I heard that the sports complex in Murren rents out an apartment...have not found any mention of it in Rick Steves' books...anyone know anything about this place?
Any other sightseeing recommendations and specific hikes recommended?
Also, are the roads clear of snow and safe to drive with an intermediate car in early June? Do we need snow tires?
Thank you.

Posted by
12563 posts

ania---are you sure you want to take a car? Both Mürren and Gimmelwald are car-free villages high above the valley. You would have to pay to park in Lauterbrunnen and you wouldn't be using the car for those 3 days.

As to your lodging choice, we love Mürren as a base for hiking. Chalet Fontana has a 2-bedroom apartment with a well-furnished kitchen. Breakfast is included in the rate, so you have an opportunity to meet the B&B guests at breakfast. The grocery store is right across the street.

Posted by
12040 posts

Second that, a car is a waste of money in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. All three locations are decent for hiking, but I would give a slight edge to the mountain villages (Murren and Gimmelwald), simply because it's easier to hike down from them to Lauterbrunnen than the opposite.

Posted by
26 posts

We enjoyed Chalet Raufthubel in Murren. Two bedroom apartment with kitchen, very reasonable price. Absolutely loved Murren, July of 2007.

Posted by
1525 posts

Chalet Fontana in Murren has an apartment in the lower level which I think includes a kitchen of sorts. Their other rooms share another kitchen but no cooking is allowed. You can store cold foods there & make sandwiches. Grocery store is across the street.

Many hikes right outside the door.

Posted by
31319 posts

ania,

One more vote to ditch the car! Travel by public transport is really the best way to go in that area.

Given the activities you're planning, my suggestion would be to stay in Murren. It's got a good selection of Hotels, ATM's, a Co-Op store if you want to pick up a few groceries, good access to both the Schilthornbahn (if you want to take a trip to Piz Gloria and the revolving restaurant) and also the Allmend-Hubel Funicular. The trip on the Funicular is fairly short, but it's a wonderful hike from there back to Murren.

I doubt very much if there will be snow in the second week of June, but I usually go by the rule that whereever there's snow, snow tires are required.

Happy travels!

Posted by
7205 posts

Another reason to ditch the car is that your kids, if they are < 16 years old, will travel free with you on ALL public transport all over Switzerland. That's a fantastic bargain.

Posted by
430 posts

Fifth the recommendation: Ditch the car. Use the trians.

Second (or third?) the recommendation to base in Murren, especially with a family.

I can't comment on the apartment, but if that doesn't work http://www.hoteleiger.com/ has rooms that are nice for a family, has a restuarant and bar onsite, but can be pricey (since the remodel...).

For some other accomodation options, here's the Muerren city page with some links to places to stay: www.muerren.ch

Definitely see Trummelbach Falls (I suddenly wonder if I'm remembering that name correctly...). Big waterfall inside a mountain -- caused by the melting glaciers above. How old are your kids? If they're old enough, they might really enjoy the longer tour of these caves.

There's a little fernicular rail / small train combo that ties Lauterbrunnen to Muerren. There's also a fernicular that runs from Muerren farther up the mountain. [EDIT -- Note that I've been corrected... my favorite, cute little fernicular is no longer there... very sad... see below...]

Posted by
7205 posts

Sorry, there is no longer a funicular from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschap to Mürren. The funicular was replaced by a gondola. But the gondola still delivers you to the same place (Grutschap) where you can catch the same little train onto Mürren for those spectacular views.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you all for the great feedback. The reason we have a car is because we are driving around France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland and Berner Oberland is our last stop( we will be driving to Lauterbrunnen from Salzburg)before driving back to Paris and flying out of Paris. So may be we should return our car at Interlaken and find public transport back to Paris? Any ideas, anyone?
From all your input, we will definitely be staying at Murren.
Anyone know of any vegan or dairy free products like soymilk available at grocery stores or restaurant choices in the area? We have a 8 year old child who is allergic to dairy, but is well traveled and not too fussy with food.
Also, would having a car help in seeing areas around Interlaken like the Swiss Open Air Museum at Ballenberg? Would the kids like this? Any other suggestions?
Thank you all so much for being so helpful.

Posted by
251 posts

Esther's Guesthouse in Gimmelwald has two apartments with a kitchen. It also has a large living/dining room with two couches to sleep on plus a bedroom with three beds. What we liked best was the large balcony looking right toward the mountain range. You will see the view I'm talking about on the websites I'm giving you. There is also hiking info on both websites. Esther's is on the first one.

www.gimmelwald.ch/en/index.htm

www.gimmelwald.com/

We loved staying at Esther's and at Gimmelwald.

Posted by
251 posts

Something we really enjoyed doing was the Murren Music Festival--that may not be the exact name. It's on one night a week, is free, as is the wine you help yourself to. They will having singing, dancing, alphorn, yodeling, etc acts. It's in the Murren sports building.

Posted by
7205 posts

If you will just book the Chalet Fontana with Denise Fussell (across the street from the COOP) she can attempt to locate the dairy free products you request. She is very kind and helpful and speaks English with a wonderful British accent.

Posted by
12563 posts

Coop has an excellent website and you can find the store in Mürren---with opening hours, products they carry, etc.

http://www.coop.ch/pb/site/common/node/5673/Lde/index.html

You will have to spell it with the umlaut (Mürren) so copy and paste that if you have to. Muerren won't work (it will recognize that as Murten).

Once you find the page, there should be contact info if you want to e-mail and ask specifically about soymilk. But I would be VERY surprised if they didn't carry it. Even in this land of dairy products, they are very health-conscious and aware that not everyone can drink cow's milk.

Also, for dining out, the Asian restaurant on the main street will have many vegan and dairy-free choices. the husband goes down to Interlaken nearly every day to purchase fresh vegetables, and the quality of the food there is very good. They speak very good English if you need to ask here specifics about the food.

Posted by
11 posts

Hello, we may still think about leaving our car at Lauterbrunnen(charges for returning at different location adds up).
How safe is it to park at the overnight lot at the cable station for 2-3 days while we stay at Murren?
Also, from Murren can we do Jungfrau or do we have to come back to Lauterbrunnen...do kids get a discount on the cable tickets and can we take 1 big duffle bag with us on the cable? Thank you everyone.

Posted by
12563 posts

From Mürren, you will have to return to Lauterbrunnen and take the train up to Wengen and onward to go up to Jungfraujoch. Mürren is on the opposite side of the valley from the train up Jungfraujoch.

AS for the kids, the type of pass you have will determine the price for childrens' tickets.

Posted by
7205 posts

Lola, that's not exactly true for kids' tickets. As long as the parents purchase 1 Junior Card (16chf) for each kid < 16, then that kid travels FREE with their parent(s) anywhere in Switzerland. Doesn't matter what kind of tickets the parents have...as long as that ticket allows the parent on a train, bus, boat, funicular, gondola...even to the Jungfrau and Schilthorn - the kids are free.

Posted by
7205 posts

I only purchased Junior Cards one time (many years ago at 16 chf). Then I discovered the free Swiss Family Card and that's the way we went until the kids got too old :-(

Posted by
12563 posts

ania,if you are absolutely sure you are going to go up the Jungfraujoch, you and your husband should consider getting Half-Fare cards.

Here's the math: RT tickets to the Jungfraujoch from Mürrren are 181 CHF. So 2 adult tickets plus the 2 junior cards would be 402 CHF total. With the Half-fare cards, you pay for 2 cards at 99 CHF each and get 2 RT tickets to the Jungfrau for 181, so the total is 379 CHF (you can get a Family Card for free with the half-Fare card).

http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/produkttexte.php?passid=6

Any other use of the transport system (including your first ride up to Mürren, and the Schilthorn if you do that) would be half-price for the adults and free for the children.

Posted by
1147 posts

Ania- You might consider staying in Lauterbrunnen. Many places provide a free parking space. This web site:

http://www.jungfrauferien.ch/index-en.php?frameset=49&search=true

has apartments listed. We stayed at the Anton-Graf and it was very nice (2 bedrooms, one bath, parking place, etc.) If you do choose to stay up in Murren or Gimmelwald, you can park at the parking garage by the Lauterbrunnen train station or the parking lot at the bottom of the lift in Stechelberg. However, there is a parking fee at both of these places. I do not know of any place you can park and leave your car for free in the area. (without worrying about tickets or towing)

Posted by
7205 posts

"you need that flexibility for things like what if they get seriously ill, what if you want to take one of them someplace close to like lauterbrunnen and the bus or train does not go there."

Can this be for real? Flexibility to go to the doctor? What if the train doesn't go to places like lauterbrunnen (ha). Do you think the kids in Muerren who get sick can't visit the doctor...after all there are NO CARS in Muerren (nor wengen nor gimmelwald). I'm amazed.

Posted by
6 posts

Hi,
I will also be visiting this area in June with my fiancee. We are also unsure whether to stay in Gimmelwald or Murren. We plan on going to schilthorn, ice caves, Jungfrau etc. We will also be leaving our car at the station (prices online are about €20 for 3 days) Has anyone any advice on where is best to stay (eiger guesthoue in murren or pension guesthouse in gimmelwald) and what are the top things to do over our 3 day stay?
Thanks in advance.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for the replies everyone. We are renting in Paris..and traveling through Germany, Austria and Switzerland before returning back to Paris. So cost wise, it seems to make sense to rent a car all the way, even if it means parking the car at Schtelberg or Lauterbrunnen. Parking lot safety is our only issue.
It looks like our tickets up to Murren and Jungfrau will be the only cable/train option we will be considering and I understand kids are discounted on that with the Swiss Family pass, right?
Also, has anyone rented an apartment at the Sports Complex in Murren...the pictures look pretty nice, but I have not come across any reviews. Did not hear back from them about a reservation inquiry either...found them on the BO tourism website.

Posted by
12563 posts

You will only get a Family Pass for the kids to travel for free if you and/or your husband buy one of the Swiss passes. Otherwise, you pay 20 CHF per child and then they travel for free with a parent.

Please re-read my post about the Half Fare card. Even if your only trip is up the Jungfraujoch, I think you will come out ahead.

Posted by
12563 posts

Pauline, what kind of place do you like to stay, and what is your budget? Also, if you don't mid that I ask, are you in your 20's-30's or a bit older? I ask because my kids (in their 20's) love the hostel at Gimmelwald, but we (parents) prefer Muerren.

They are only 20 miutes apart by walking path. Muerren is higher. Views are good from both, but for lodgings with a view out your window you will have to pay a bit more.

Gimmelwald is a sweet little place that has no commercial establishments. It is very quiet at night. Muerren has a bit of opportunity for social life outside your lodging at the end of the day. There is a nice "pub" (Stubli in German) there.

Eiger Guesthouse is a lively, friendly place, but it has only a view of the train station across the way. We like the B&B Chalet Fontana, but not for the views. It is well-located in the center of Muerren, a short walk from the views and the start of trails.

Posted by
203 posts

I looked up the apartments using the website given by another poster but it only lists them as available by the week. Looks like a great deal if you were staying that long.

Posted by
7205 posts

Hey Brad, you're right...I've not traveled with small children since about 5 years ago when mine grew up. While they were "small" we traveled all over Europe and the times I needed a car for a doctor's visit was 0. I've heard many speculations of why one should have a rental car, but the emergency doctor's visit for your kids is definitely a new one.

Comparing one to a lawyer, Brad...really?

Posted by
837 posts

Car better than train for small children, I don't think so!!! In a car, they are confined and belted into a seat. On a train, they can move around. All the "car entertainment toys" can be used on the train. Walks up and down the aisle can be done anytime and don't necessitate a stop. Plus, trains and other public transport are likely to be new experiences versus "old hat" cars.

Posted by
6 posts

Hi Lola, we are in our 20s and the hostel is booked up the dates we are visiting! We had picked the eiger guesthouse in murren, are the views not great?
Our budget is about CHF300-400 for the 3 nights.

Posted by
12563 posts

Hi Pauline---Eiger Guesthouse is across the road from the views and there are buildings in the foreground. But I wouldn't let that worry you. If it meets your budget then it is the best place for you. It gets very good reviews for friendliness.

We stay at Chalet Fontana and there are no views from the rooms there. We just go outside to enjoy the scenery.

I believe Chris knows of an apartment lower down in the village that does have views. I don't remember the name (or whether it is for weekly rental only) but maybe he'll come back and explain more.

Posted by
12563 posts

Pauline---I'm sure you can trust what they say about the views--I raised an unnecessary concern. I was talking about street-level, not higher up where the rooms are.

I sent you a private message too.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, thats a relief :-)
Really looking forward to going! We will be there for 3 days and want to do as much as we can. Is there a travel pass or anything that will save us money? Tickets for the cable cars etc seem quite pricey.

Posted by
6 posts

Any correspondence I have had with the guesthouse has said the rooms have views, we have chosen to stay in the superior room with private bathroom and balcony with excellent views! We chose this for the views, are we being misled?
Its not cheap to stay there and don't want to be disappointed!
Any advice on the Eiger guesthose would be great.

Posted by
12563 posts

Maybe the Half-Fare Card for 99 CHF---this gives you all your train, boat, and cablecar rides for 50% off. buy it as you enter Switzerland, and you can use it to get to Mürren, as well as to ride the cablecars from there.

Your travel would have to add up to more than 200 CHF to make this card worthwhile, but if you are riding the Schilthorn cablecar and others---especially the expensive Jungfrau trip---it likely will.

Posted by
6 posts

we had planned on doing Schilthorn trip and maybe Jungfrau! We will be driving as far as cable car station and leaving our car in the parking lot for the 3 days.
So would you recommend us getting that half fare travel card and would we need to buy 2?

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks Chris, good to get reassurance! Reviews I have read have all been positive.

Posted by
2193 posts

To get you primed for your upcoming trip, you may be interested in seeing the German-language film, North Face. It’s based on a true story about a couple of German climbers and their attempt to summit the Eiger in the run up to the 1936 Olympics. This film received excellent reviews from NY Times and every other serious critic…I’m going to go check it out this weekend. Not sure it will work for you, but check out Chalet Fontana...great place with awesome views of the mountains! Also, check out the Sportzentrum in Mürren. We swam there one afternoon in July after hiking all day, but they also have a lot of other sports and related activities to keep a family busy: http://www.muerren.ch/sportzentrum/ Have a great trip!