We are going on a river cruise in December. Since we were landing in Zurich I thought we could spend a couple days in Switerland before we get on the boat. How do we get from Zurich to Gimmelwald and which side trip should we take Schilthorn or Jungfrau. We only have one day to do this. Any help would be appreciated. We have never been to Europe before but plan to take as many trips as possible.
There are two ways to get to Gimmelwald from Zurich. The faster way is to take a train from Zurich to Bern, and connect to another train to Interlaken-Ost. A more scenic, but longer route is to go from Zurich to Luzern, and take the narrow gauge train to Interlaken-Ost. From Interlaken Ost you take another train to Lauterbrunnen, and connect to the postal bus which will take you to the cable car up to Gimmelwald. You can check schedules at the Swiss Rail site: http://rail.ch
Both Jungfrau and Schiltorn are first class attractions, I personally prefer the Jungfrau journey. But as you have only one day and will be staying in Gimmelwald, the Schiltorn is a better choice as it's much closer. It's just a couple of cable car stops from there.
Since you only have one day, I'd also recommend the "faster route" that Michael suggested.
When you arrive at Interlaken Ost (note there are two stations), you can buy your tickets for the trip to the Schilthorn (the tickets will include all modes of transport). You might also buy your tickets for the return journey at this time.
From Interlaken Ost, you'll board the Berner Oberland train to Lauterbrunnen where you'll disembark and transfer to the Post Bus (bright yellow, you can't miss it). The Bus will take you to the Cable Car station in Stechelberg. The trip to the Shilthorn requires four different trips - Stechelberg to Gimmelwald, Gimmelwald to Murren (you may want to stop & explore there, it's beautiful), Murren to Birg and Birg to Schilthorn (Piz Gloria).
At Piz Gloria you can dine in the world's first revolving restaurant or have a "Martini shaken not stirred" in the James Bond Bar.
Given the short time, I also feel the Schilthorn would be a better choice in this case. Both attractions are a bit "pricey" but as I recall the Jungfrau is more expensive than the trip to the Schilthorn.
This is a view of one of the trains for the trip from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen.
I completely agree with everything Tim has said, his advice is exactly what I would do. When we were in Muerren/Gimmelwald we could not believe what we were seeing. It's mind blowing. We took the cable car up from Muerren and hiked back down to Gimmelwald. The best day of our 7 wk trip and I think of it all the time. We regretted going to the Jungfraujoch...it took all day, was outrageously expensive and we were not impressed (We were spoiled I guess, having been to Mt.Blanc in Chamonix). I'd spend the day in and around Muerren walking/hiking.
One thing to keep in mind is that in December your "touring" options will probably be a bit limited due to the weather.
If the trip had been earlier in the year, I would have suggested a trip on the Allmend-Hubel Funicular and then hike back to Murren, or even Paragliding for the adventurous in your group.
You might want to have a look at www.gimmelwald.ch/en/index.htm for further details on activities, specically the "Seasons" and "Activites" sections.
Thanks Michael & Ken you have been most helpful. Have either of you been on one of the river cruises down the Rhine river? We head out from Basel and end in Cologne.
You will have to start your day early if you want to maximize your chances of having a good view. Daylight hours are very short at that time of year, and if the weather is bad (it can change in minutes in the Alps), you may have a great view of nothing but clouds.
I spent one week in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, starting points to both the Schilthorn and Jungfrau areas. Both were wonderful, but nothing beats the trip to the Jungfrau if you like views of glaciers. It was by far the greatest train trip we have ever gone on, and the views were spectacular. We went in the summer, however, so views might vary in the winter, but I guarantee a trip you would never forget. Yes, the Schilthorn is nice, and closer to Gimmelwald, but the other side of the valley is more spectacular.
With only one day and being in one of the most beautiful valleys in the world (Lauterbrunnen Valley) I highly recommend that you choose the Schilthorn. As a matter of fact, you may just want to wander around Muerren, Gimmelwald and Lauterbrunnen and not go to EITHER the Schilthorn or the Jungfrau. The views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley are spectacular, and I would rather spend my precious few hours out and about rather than another very long train ride up to the Jungfrau.
If you absolutely must do one or the other the Schilthorn is 1/2 the time and 1/2 the price of the Jungfrau. The Schilthorn is also located on the same side of the valley as Gimmelwald so there is no wasted time of going back DOWN from Gimmelwald, crossing the valley and up the other side. Believe me, the Lauterbrunnen Valley and surrounding mountain villages of Muerren, Gimmelwald, and the Alps in your face will give you all of the spectacular scenery you need for 1 day. Don't waste time and money on an excursion when are ALREADY there :-)
Getting anywhere in Switzerland is fairly easy with their great public transport system. Look at www.sbb.ch for timetables.
Thanks everyone for your words of wisdom.
If I were to stay down in the valley and see the other little towns are they also excessable by train? What do they have in those town to see?
I've got to agree with the advice that the others have given you. Although the train ride to the Jungfrauhoch and the scenery up there is better (IMHO) than that at Schilthorn, if you only have one day, then staying on the Gimmelwald side of the valley and going up to the Schilthorn makes more sense. And definitely spend some time exploring Gimmelwald and Murren. You can take the cable car up to Murren from Gimmelwald, and then walk down on your return trip.
Kym: Yes, all of the villages are connected by trains and gondolas and all are covered 100% by the Swiss Pass. The Swiss Pass will also get you a 50% discount on the trip to the Schilthorn.
You ask what is there to do. You will be in the Alps and if you've never been there before you just can't understand the scenery that you will be encountering. You shouldn't think of it as "what attractions are there to see" because there aren't any museums or roller-coasters or anything of that nature. What you will see are the living Alpine villages, wonderful little restaurants, Schilthorn, Trummelbach Falls inside the mountain, Staubbach Falls wafting down from the alpine peaks, winding paths from Muerren to Gimmelwald and even on down to Stechelberg or you can just take the gondola. This is the place to be outdoors.
That all sounds wonderful, however my group consist of my husband who is very overweight, my 70 year old father and his wife of the same age. Now don't get me wrong my Dad and Patti are in good shape but still slow. I can walk the farthest of all of them, and I am the one who likes to do things like paragliding. I love the outdoors but not so much the cold. I know that everyone in my group would love to see how people in small communities really live. We want to taste the food and hear the music, etc. of the people of switzerland. I feel everyone will love the gondolas. I'm just trying to make a wonderful trip for everyone. Think you for all the feedback. We will be seeing my dad & patti this Sat. and I will show them all of your suggestions to see what they want to do. Thanks everyone!
The good thing about walking/hiking in the Muerren/Gimmelwald area is that the paths are excellent. Some are paved and some are compacted dirt/gravel. Most all of them are not steep at all...gentle & easy walking. Walking through meadows filled with wildflowers, cows grazing nearby with their bells softly jingling, little alpine huts in the distance, and being surrounded by the Alps which feel very up close...like you could reach out and touch them. It's an amazing place and there's no place else like it. It's heavenly.
That's all certainly true but keep in mind that the trip will be taking place in December. The Cows will likely be staying close to the barn!
Hi Kym - I am in Switzerland right now and can tell you that any time you spend in Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Gimmelwald or Wengen will be amazing. I clearly cannot tell you how it will be in winter, but today I walked from Stechelberg to Trummelbach Falls along the river in Lauterbrunnen Valley, and it was completely flat and a nice easy walk.
Trummelbach Falls is really neat, but not for anyone who cannot climb stairs easily. It is 11 CHF to get in, and if you cannot climb stairs it will not seem worth it, in my opinion.
Any of the cable car rides will be spectacular, as will either the train to Murren or Wengen. I really preferred Murren myself. The walk from the Grutschalp to Murren is pretty easy, mostly flat, but a couple areas of some moderate inclines.
Whatever you do, do not attempt the walk to Kilchbalm/Chilchbalm. It is in the RS Switzerland book as very easy, but it really is not, especially for the group you are traveling with. The book does note it would be unsafe in the snow, but it was tough for me in the great sunny weather we are having. Just a fair warning.
It is mind blowing in the Alps. You will not be disappointed.
Yes I do want to go back sometime when the flowers are blooming and the weather is nicer. My husband is the superintendant over the school district swo Christmas break is our longest which helps when we are traveling far distances. We will probably have to wait until we retire to see it in the spring. My husband does not get summers off like teachers. That is his busy season, getting the schools ready for everyone to come back. I have been readying Ricks books of course to see what is available at this time. I am excited about seeing the holiday come alive while we are there. I hear it is spectacular. Keep sending me advise and suggestions. It is really helping me to plan and know what to expect.
Ken, you're right, that changes everything. My bad. I broke my own rule of reading the OP carefully before writing.