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The best 2.5 days in Berner Oberland?

Hello. I'll be going from Paris by train first thing in the morning to see the Swiss Alps and I was wondering how to best enjoy the 3 days (first day will become actually half a day because of the travel time) I'll be spending there. I want to hike, see the snowy mountains, bike around the Lauterbrunnen valley (maybe the route RS did in his video), etc. I love scenic landscapes, green or white. I love waterfalls. And I love picturesque villages. But the truth is I'm very unfamiliar with the place and I don't know how much time I actually need to see everything and have a great time.

Which is the best village to use as home base, Lauterbrunnen, Gimmewald or Murren? How should I space my time? The month I'll be going is also not set in stone, it could be in the spring or fall. Which period/month has the best weather? Which one has the most snow-covered mountains? Also, I understand it's two different mountains? Are both worthwhile? I think Rick only reached the top of one in his Alps video.

The only sight I have in my list other than the top of the mountains is the cave with the waterfall inside. I definitely wanna see that.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
6898 posts

I see that the first 1/2 day is travel. Is this the same for the 3rd day as well or are you staying 3 nights? Where are you going from the B.O.? If you only have 1 full day and 2 half days, you will not be able to do everything you want to do. For example, it's a 2hr ride up to the Jungfraujoch and a 2hr ride back down. Yes, there is a great ice cave in the glacier there that is accessible from Jungfrau building complex. If you go in the spring, what month are you suggesting? April is not really good, May is not bad and late May and early June can be really great. There is no forecast on weather. You take your chances. It can be 70 degrees and beautiful or it can be cloudy and raining. No guarantees. There is always snow on top of the Jungfrau, Monch, Eiger and the Schilthorn. The Jungfraujoch looks down on Europe's largest glacier.

For scenery, you get to see the alps on steroids. Standing on a cliffs edge in Muerren, you can go from 3,000' to 12,000' in one scan of your eyeballs. It really is quite stunning. From Muerren, you have the cable car access to the Schilthorn. Much quicker times up and back.

For the bike ride in Rick's video, I believe that he rented the bike in Muerren and rode down the roads to Lauterbrunnen. From there, you can ride to and from Stechelberg and back or, at Stechelberg, take the gondola to Gimmelwald and either bike back up to Muerren or take the cable car from Gimmelwald to Muerren. There are loads of waterfalls in the spring and lots of places to hike. But again, you may not have enough time to do all of this.

Posted by
85 posts

I was in the area last year. We stayed in Murren - beautiful and convenient. Here's how I spent my 3 days:

Day 1
• Murren to Schilthorn cable car to 10,000 foot peak
• From Murren ride Allmendhubel Funicular up- North Face Trail – 2 hour easy hike

Day 2
• Murren – train to Grutschalp, cable car to Lauterbrunnen, train to Wengen, cable car to Mannlichen , 1.5 hour hike to Klein Scheidegg
• Jungfraujoch – train ride through the Eiger – Europe’s highest train station at 11,300 feet – 1 hour from Klein Scheidegg (sit on right) – restaurant, history exhibit, ice palace, elevator to the Sphinx observatory for the highest viewing point

Day 3
• Gimmelwald walking tour
• Hike Up Sefinen Valley to Kilchbalm

Details on all of these in Rick's Switzerland book.

Posted by
130 posts

Larry,

The last day is a full day. The next destination is Italy, although the city is still not defined. It should be Rome or Naples, but the travel time seems to be ridiculously long and I might consider making a stop somewhere else. I'll probably make a thread in the future asking for help about this. :)

As for the month, it'll be either May or September. I'll choose based on weather history, but I understand there's no guarantees. Also I think May has an advantage on September in terms of snow because it's pre-summer. But I don't know if it has more snow for a fact, I'm just using commom sense.

Anne,

Days 1 and 2 of your trip seem great. Should I use my halfday for biking? Do the full lap from Murren down to Lauterbrunnen and back up to Murren. How much time would this take if I made very few stops in the way? Maybe stopping at Trummelbach? This is the cave I was refering to before. I know it should be doable because Rick mentions in his video that he only had half a day, and he makes quite a few stops, including the Trummelbach. I'm just not sure if he actually did all that (things like stopping for cheese) in just half day.

It seems Murren is the best option for a home base.

Posted by
6898 posts

We were in Lauterbrunnen in the very last days of May a couple of years ago. No snow anywhere in Muerren (5,200'). Weather was beautiful. Wildflowers were in full bloom on the lower mountainsides and the farmers were walking their cows up to higher pastures. Here's a short video I took of the farmer and cows going by our hotel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3AhYmEKqps Muerren was a bit quiet but beautiful and scenic nonetheless. Hotels were open. Here's a link to a picture of Muerren in the last days of May.

http://gyazo.com/16a48c8937196292c450ebb40f827438 Notice that the snow was even gone from the higher hills in the background. Here's a link to a picture of the weather for the month of May of this year. http://gyazo.com/bbb0718ffd54f9147f325cfe3bd55942

For a train trip from Muerren to Rome, you are looking at about 8hrs on the train with 4-5 transportation changes (Mostly Muerren to Spiez).

Posted by
3107 posts

Psyche , I will add nothing further , but that you should pay close attention to Larry's advice .

Posted by
12040 posts

Historically, September is the safest month to visit, weather-wise. May is a transitional period. You could get lucky and have great weather, or your entire visit could take place under fog and rain and/or sleet. You can't exclude rain and overcast skies at anytime of the year, but September and early October are, on yearly average, the driest times of the year. And, you would safely avoid the rare heat waves that can afflict July or August.

"Which one has the most snow-covered mountains?" Well, probably January and February... obviously, there will be more snow in May than in September, but as mentioned above, May is much more risky weather-wise. Some of the higher peaks have glaciers and patches of snow that stay unmelted throughout the year. I have seen fresh snow in September (in the German Alps), but it was just a light coating at high altitude that melted after a day.

"I understand it's two different mountains?" The whole area is surrounded by mountains. Mr. Steves just concentrates on the Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch, but there's plenty of other hiking and excursion opportunities.

"Which is the best village to use as home base, Lauterbrunnen, Gimmewald or Murren?" For the hiking season, I would give equal weight to Mürren and Wengen, probably followed by Grindelwald, then Lauterbrunnen, with Gimmelwald dead last (I don't understand why Mr. Steves makes such a big fuss about this little place).

Posted by
4125 posts

You've got enough time to see all you say you want, weather permitting, but I think you should have a plan for inclement weather. You can use the half day to your advantage if you plan ahead and deal with your bag.

If it's raining or foggy when you get there, for instance, leave your bag at the Lauterbruennen train station (or carry it) and go see the cave.

If the weather is good, and you arrive early enough, you might jump right into your Jungfrau trip, leaving your bag in Interlaken. Then if you have a foggy day after that you can use it to tour the valley without feeling you've missed the Jungfrau.

I think you can also check your bag to any train station, for a fee, which will free you to sightsee on that half day without having to go to your hotel first.

Another activity for that half day (do not waste it!) would be to take the train from Interlaken to Wengen, the lift to Mannlichen, and walk to Kleine Scheidegg. A train will take you back to Lauterbruennen via Wengen; from there you can get to Murren and Gimmelwald. It's a gorgeous hike and an easy one too; it would not be unreasonable to carry your bag on your back if you pack light.

Just some ideas. Good luck fitting the pieces together!

Posted by
1800 posts

We were there in June and also in September. We were very fortunate to get good weather, but on both trips it rained and total fog the day we left, and snow expected on our departure for September. So, you just never know! If you plan to travel around the mountain (funicular,gondolas, etc ) bring a lot of money, and if you plan to travel around both mountains, bring a ton of money!

There was enough snow, even in June, for snowy sights.

But, it is worth every penny you have and worth taking a chance on the weather because it is probably the most beautiful place I've seen. Just thinking about it makes my heart quiver!