Swiss Alps

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When you mention Switzerland, it’s always the mountains and the Alps that come to mind. Even during our short visit we wanted to spend maximum time in the Swiss Alps, so we  had 3 nights in Wengen which is in the Bernese Oberland. Stunning is an understatement for the beauty of the mountains that you see as the train rolls into Lauterbrunnen and then onto Wengen or Murren.

From Lucerne we took a train to Interlaken Ost (East) to Lauterbrunnen and then to Wengen. You can send boxes with the Swiss railways straight to Wengen with same day service so you can roam in Interlaken without luggage.  The Fast baggage service at any train station in Switzerland allows you to check in your luggage by 9.00 a.m. and collect it again at your destination any time after 6.00 pm, the same day. Fast Baggage from Lucerne to Wengen, at the time we travelled was around 22 francs per box.

If you have time to spend around Interlaken:-

There is a 3 hr boat tour on Lake Brienz (every other hour only) which is free with Swiss pass.

You can also visit the Ballenberg Swiss folk Open-Air Museum. Take the boat over the Brienz and then a Postbus up to the museum which showcases the Swiss culture and way of life. Visiting this however needs a day and involves lots of walking.

 

Wengen

Since we prefer quiet and scenic places, we chose Wengen over Grindelwald which has more of a night life. In Wengen, Murren and surrounding areas you will find lots of scenic trails and gondolas that take you to various summits.

In Wengen, we rented a lovely spacious Swiss chalet with 3 Bedrooms. The chalet was in a quiet area and had lovely views of the mountains, so much so that even the bathroom window had a great view. It was just awesome and so much more comfortable for us than a cramped hotel room. The only issue is that it required an uphill walk from the train station. Chalet Brunner  was very clean and very well maintained and had everything for a comfortable stay. With boxes we took an electric taxi initially. We were so glad to have found this lovely place.

Around the train station is the Coop with groceries and sandwiches if you would rather save money dining out in restaurants. Switzerland is expensive but ever so beautiful.

Things to do:-

Take an early morning cable car-short train ride from Lauterbrunnen  to the town of Murren. It is a picture perfect town perched on the mountain top with great. There are a lot of flat walking trails here.

Allmendhubel Funicular is great. At the summit is a good restaurants with views.

The Schilthorn cable car from Murren is an adventure. Schilthorn is a mountain where scenes from the James Bond ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was filmed. The cable car runs from 6000 ft to 13000 ft with 1 change in between. Gorgeous views and rapidly changing terrain will keep you trying to move from side to side to get great views. Early morning rides are suggested because it will be far less crowded at the top. Also the crisp views in the morning made viewing of distant locations a much better experience.

We chose to visit the Schilthorn rather than over crowded Jungfrauoch. At Jungfraujoch there will be many as in tons of noisy, pushy tour groups, and you may feel it is totally overrated and not worth the money. But if you must go to the “Top of Europe” by all means do so. We were happy with Schilthorn and doing many of the walking trails around Wengen and Murren.

 

Hiking in the Swiss Alps

The nice thing is you don’t have to be in fabulous shape to see the views. You can take a gondola or train to higher elevations and see the scene. There are also some easier hikes that are fabulous. The altitude can range from 4,500 to 7,000+ feet so you need to get used to the thin air slowly. If you do plan to hike extensively then walking sticks / hiking poles are recommended. Buy them before you come since you can get a better price in the USA.

Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg trail:

From Wengen or Grindelwald take the gondola up to Mannlichen. A few minutes up a hill to the top of Mannlichen to get a 360 View, then a hike to Kleine Scheidegg (very easy trail, almost all gentle downhill and a small gentle uphill). Then take  the train from there back to Wengen. It is a relatively level and easy trail. On the way you see beautiful and stunning views of glaciers and the Eiger. It’s a pretty easy walk with no climbing and one that is level all the way.

At Kleine Scheidegg, there is a really good restaurant for lunch Grindelwaldblick.

This restaurant is actually located a few minute hike along a well maintained path above Kleine Scheidegg.  The views of the trio, the Eiger, The Monch, and the Jungfrau are simple amazing and so worth the while to get here. You can sit on a terrace under an umbrella and enjoy the amazing views.

Rostizzeria at the Kleine Scheidegg railway station also serves typical Alpine dishes.
Another beautiful place is Allmendhubel which can be reached by funicular in just a five-minute ride from Murren. It is Mürren’s own little mountain. There is a great sun terrace in the Allmendhubel restaurant. The views are incredible. There is also a kneipp path there to rejuvenate walkers’ feet: it leads walkers barefooted first over big rocks that gradually get smaller and a way to rest your feet in fresh alpine spring water.

Grutschalp to Murren path is an ideal easy walking path. You will see wonderful views of the high peaks, easy walking and almost certainly cows with bells along the way!!

As you walk you are facing the snow clad Jungfrau range. If one way is enough, take the little train along from Murren and start your walk at Grutschalp. Half way back along the path there is a good stop for lunch or snacks.

Another very easy path is downhill to Gimmelwald from Murren then cable car back up! It’s even paved, but is quite spectacular!

Lauterbrunnen  has a bridge with waterfalls in the background.  You can take the Postbus from Lauterbrunnen to Schilthornbahn (cable car lift in Murren) and follow riverside trails to Staubbach falls near the town church.

Another possible hike is Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg with side trip to Trümmelbach Falls. If going to the falls note that you will get very wet so please do take raincoats. Some folks feel that these falls are not worth time or money.

Yet another hike involves taking the lift from Wengen to Mannlichen, from there, you can either go east or go west. Both trails are spectacular. The hikes are not too long or demanding and yet the scenery is dramatic and diverse. And from Mannlichen, you can take the cable car to Grindlewald.

Another hike option is from Grindelwald and take the gondola up to First for great views. You can then walk to Bachsee  – very scenic lake with the mountains in the background. Easy, wide path but uphill on the way there. From there you can walk to Waldspitz and Bort (intermediate hike) also known as the Blumen (flower) trail. You can take the gondola from Bort back to Grindelwald.

About Swiss Food

We skipped Rosti since it is just bread dipped in cheese but cheese lovers may enjoy it. Big lunches in restaurants and simple take out for dinner allows you to save money.

Most restaurants charge extra for water by default if no drink is ordered, even if you don’t order it – ask before entering or order tea or milk/juice instead.

 

Wengen/Murren Restaurants

The Baeren hotel restaurant (chicken with lavender, veal are recommended )

Beausite hotel restaurant, Caprice

In addition to Co-op there is a smaller Frischmarket in town (on the main street) that has local produce. There is also a bakery, close to the train station and a cheese/gourmet shop down the street from Hotel Schönegg. The latter has fresh unpasteurized milk and yogurts from local cows but you have to ask for it. They keep it in the back and sell it to you in returnable bottles.

Wengernalp is only reachable by railway and has outstanding views as well as the best food on the mountain. Its kitchen is renowned for its excellent contemporary cuisine as well as traditional local dishes. The Wengernalp is an alpine meadow at an elevation of 1874 m, between Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg in the Swiss Alps. It can be reached on foot, by the Wengernalp railway to Wengernalp station from Wengen.

Edelweiss Cafeteria in Murren has incredible views

Stagerstubli restaurant and Tham Chinese in Murren

Panorama Restaurant Allmendhubel

Brandegg  is famous for its apple fritters.

Kleine Scheidegg Bahnhof is a hotel with a good restaurant known for its hearty regional cuisine and its sun terrace.

Berghaus Mannlichen which serves a range of food from steaks to vegetarian dishes.

 

Lauterbrunnen restaurants

Oberland, Jungfrau restaurants, Airtime Action for cappuccino, Weidstubli

 

We had a wonderful relaxing time and loved our time in the Alps. The Swiss Alps and the Bernese Oberland area is one of the most beautiful regions of the world I think. I hope to go back to this area again.