“I’m saving Switzerland for someone special”. These were the words of an individual which had put a restraint on visiting a country which we’ve wanted to explore for years. When the time came, we explored the country’s green valleys, cooled in glacial-fed streams and let the fresh air sweep past ourselves. This is what we covered in 7 days. (Note: we purchased a half fare card so transport prices per person were based on this).
Day 1 – Interlaken
We wanted to hike up to Harder Kulm, its entrance just a short walk from Interlaken Ost. A sign showing the temperature read 35 degrees. We ended up taking the funicular (19CHF return), which goes up at quite a steep incline and a bit scary at first. (Tip: This is a good time to forget about the physics of falling at this angle!). After checking out the panoramic views over Interlaken, we took shelter from the sun by some trees. Just walking the 20m from the station to the viewpoint was exhausting! We ended the night with a luxurious eggs and tomato with rice and a can of octopus. By the end of the first day, we couldn’t wait to get into the cooler mountains…
Day 2 – Interlaken
Interlaken, for us, was largely a destination to try hang gliding over beautiful turquoise lake views. It could be because I had tried paragliding already but it wasn’t that scary! One thing we discovered about Interlaken was that there were many fountains dispensing cold, clear glacial water. And in the scorching weather, water never tasted so good.
In the afternoon, we walked from Interlaken West to Neuhaus which followed the turqouise waters of the river Aare. Neuhaus, as we discovered, was a popular place for people, perfectly content with the pebbles and shrubs as a landing platform, to cool off by the lake.
Day 3 – Interlaken to Murren
The journey from Interlaken to Murren took about 1hr as was Interlaken – Lauterbraunnen, Lauterbraunnen – Grutschalp and then Grutschalp to Murren. Murren is a small car free village in the mountains and we stayed in the Hotel Eiger, a charming hotel run by a family for a number of generations. It was a bit of a splurge but we loved the decor, retro styled lift (with a manually closing door and big chunky buttons), and friendly faces.
After dropping our bags off, we took the cable car to Schilthorn (41.3 CHF) and ate our self packed lunch at the top of the peak overlooking gorgeous snow peaked caps. We could see many savvy travellers opting to bring in their favourite snacks and finest treats.
In the afternoon, we couldn’t resist getting a coffee at the hotel balcony with the tables set against the mountains. Maximum gain, minimum effort.
In the early evening, we walked from Murren to Gimmelwald – another quieter mountain village and a short 40min walk downhill. It was a pleasant walk and we came across a pretty looking honesty shop. There was mention of an honesty cheese shack but we didn’t see it.
Day 4 – Hiking in Murren
We filled ourselves at the hotel breakfast which was delicious. All doubts on splashing out on the hotel had vanished by this point. Fresh coffee, pastries and a large selection of cheeses, fruits, cured meats – perfect preparation for a long and strenuous hike!
We walked the North Face trail, followed by the Mountain View trail and then headed back to Murren after stopping at Winteregg. There were vast sheets of daisies and bluebells across the trail. Picture yourself among dairy cows and their cowbells, with the smell of green grass and against a backdrop of grand snow peaked mountains!
We again made good use of the Migros supermarket in Interlaken and had some fresh cherries under a cooling tree.
After finishing the North face trail, we stopped at Allmendhubel for lunch. We went into the cafe and came out with (what we thought was the best option) a Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough sandwich and some leftover dried fruit. Cheese fondue and chips just aren’t our usual sustenance.
The total loop was about 6 hours and was pretty exhausting in mid 20’s temperature. But considering the scenery and the ease of getting around, we thought the trails we did that day were the best we ever attempted.
The best part of Murren is the jaw-dropping majestic views of the Eiger and Monch mountains right on your doorstep and we actually wished we stayed here a bit longer.
Day 5 – Murren to Vevey
We first went back to Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken then took the Golden Pass Line to Vevey (total time approx: 4hrs) where we stayed the night. As promised by various advertisements, the Golden Pass Line was very scenic indeed. Our aim was to visit Montreux where the Jazz Festival took place but we stayed in the nearby town of Vevey above a sandwich shop where rooms were a bit cheaper (and not a bad smell to wake up to). In Montreux, there was a good atmosphere and free concerts taking place. The paid concerts had some famous names to them but we found the tickets quite expensive.
Day 6 – Vevey to Geneva
We took a short train ride to Geneva. It could have been the heat, but we didn’t find Geneva hugely different from other European cities. It was nice to walk and sit beside the lake the city rests on and there were plenty of luxury shops to spend your life savings on.
We found the Lauterbrunnen area the most beautiful and the most enjoyable and if the main aim is to hike the same areas, we would probably base ourselves there for the duration of the trip and skip visiting the other towns and cities. However, transport is pretty good so you could probably visit the places we went to from here.
Tips on saving money
– We ended up cooking a fair bit, going to Migros and Coop quite often to stock up on fresh supplies. If you have the time, go there daily as we found various items reduced by 30-40% on different days.
– Train tickets can be quite expensive, especially to some of the higher altitude stops. You can purchase a half fare card to reduce the price of tickets or buy a travel pass that gives you unlimited travel on most routes. It all depends on how many journeys you plan to take and how many days you’re staying in the country. Do your maths. Download the sbb.ch app to quickly find out train schedules.
– If you want to visit Montreux, it could be cheaper to stay in the surrounding towns and take the train/bus in (ticket is a couple of euros).