Travel Guide

by Lauren Merrill

“The hills are alive with the sound of music”…  ♫♪

I’ve always dreamt of seeing the Swiss Alps. I loved the images of tiny alpine cottages nestled in green valleys and snow-capped mountains. During a European backpacking trip, I needed a break from the movement of frequent travel and decided it was time to go to this special part of Switzerland.

Photograph by Lauren Merrill

SOME BACKGROUND


Lauterbrunnen is a small valley town in central Switzerland. In the “Bernese Oberland” region you can find an abundance of hiking trails, outdoor sports, lakes, and mountain lodges. Lauterbrunnen is known as the Valley of 72 waterfalls, and the area which inspired the elven world of “Rivendell” in the Lord of the Rings series. You can feel the mysticism this area brings when you are looking up at the huge rock cliffs and free falling water.

 

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT

 

The Alps are a nature lovers playground! Though there is something to do for everyone in the family, it has an old world charm that is best for those craving simplicity . You won’t find busy shopping centers and 5 star dining, but you will find the peace that comes from watching chimney smoke stream into the crisp mountain air. The freshest tap water, natural beauty, quaint shops, and the carless town of Wengen (right above Lauterbrunnen) make for a unique corner of the earth. Simply take one of the cogwheel trains through the mountains to the neighboring villages. This whole Bernese region is also recognized and protected as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

This whole Bernese region is also recognized and protected as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

GETTING THERE

It is recommended to fly into Zurich Airport and travel by train to Interlaken. The train ride is breathtaking. Once you arrive in Interlaken, you are only about a 20 min. train ride from Lauterbrunnen! Tickets are easy to access and the Swiss Travel Pass is highly recommended to save money. (More on that later) If you come by car you can park it in the large parking garage in Lauterbrunnen.

Photograph by Lauren Merrill

ACTIVITIES

Hiking

The coolest feature of this area is the yellow walking path signs that connect all the villages! You can hike and ride the  train as you please while exploring the region. One of my favorite walking paths was from Wengen downhill to Lauterbrunnen. It weaves downhill through all the Swiss homes with incredible views into the valley. You will save money by sparing the few minute train ride and walking instead. If you visit Kleine Scheidegg (one train stop past Wengen) there is an amazing mountain hike. For a gentler stroll, explore the paved path through Lauterbrunnen Valley. You will have amazing views. The options are endless for available hikes in the area.


Visiting Neighboring Alpine Villages

 

→ Take the cogwheel trains and cable cars on your own adventure through the Bernese Oberland! Grindelwald and Mürren are beautiful mountain towns.

 

→  Enjoy the famous Staubbach Falls + Trümmelbach Falls of Lauterbrunnen.

 

→  Take the train to Jungfraujoch- the biggest mountain summit around and highest railway station in Europe! Make sure to pack a jacket and snacks. The altitude change can make you feel light-headed.

 

→ Spend a day in Schynige Platte. There is an alpine botanical garden and various hiking trails. Everyday from June- end of October from 11 am to 2 pm you can enjoy a free swiss alphorn concert outside the hotel! It’s a must-see!

 

→  Check out the popular adventure sports in Interlaken like skydiving, paragliding, and canyoning.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Photograph by Lauren Merrill

WHERE TO STAY

During my visit, I loved staying in Wengen. (the W is pronounced as a V) It is completely carless and was hands down one of the most serene places I have ever been. “Alpenruhe Kulm” is an amazing hotel with great prices, views, hospitality, and an included breakfast. I was happy to be able to decompress and treat myself with a hotel room for part of the trip! Airbnb and hostels are always a good choice to save money and cook your own food. There are a few Airbnb’s in Wengen, and Lauterbrunnen has one hostel called Valley Hostel. I stayed here for a few nights and loved meeting fellow travelers- just make sure to bring your own lock since the rooms just have bunks for storage.

 

 

COST/ HOW TO SAVE

Switzerland is a notoriously expensive country, but its beauty is priceless. I swear. I was supposed to be there for 5 day and stayed for 10! The two biggest ways to save money is to purchase a swiss rail pass and shop at the local COOP rather than dining out. One of your biggest expenses will be on transportation while using the trains to go through the mountains- so a swiss travel pass is essential as soon as you get into the country! There are many options available for discounted fares that you can find at: https://www.myswissalps.com/swisstravelpass.

 

 

FROM VISITING, I LEARNED…  

→ You may have a nice breeze and great weather in the high altitude, but you will get BURNT! Make sure to pack SPF for your face and body.

→ The trains are incredibly efficient and you do not have to buy tickets in advance- it is much easier to go to the station and purchase as you go.

→ You have to try Swiss fondue: the best spot is “Pasta & More” B&B in Wengen.
→ COOP market will be your best friend-it is the only grocery store in town
→ The language spoken is mainly german, though most people you will be interacting with speak english.

→No amount of money can compare to the value in traveling and experiencing the beauty of the world. Switzerland may cost more than other countries, but it’s worth every cent.

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