To get to the Berner Oberland mountain region, you will likely need to first fly to Geneva or Zurich depending on your prior destination. From either city, you will then need to take transportation to reach the mountains. Since the journey from the cities to the mountains takes some time, you may want to consider spending a night in the city before making the trek out to the mountains. We stayed two nights in Geneva and made a day trip out to Mont Blanc before heading to the Berner Oberland region.
If you start in Geneva, the likely route will begin by taking a train from Geneva to Bern (about 2 hours). Upon arrival in Bern, you will switch trains and catch one from Bern to Interlaken Ost (about 1.5 hours). We stopped in Interlaken and stored our luggage in lockers at the train station so we could enjoy the town for a few hours.
Your journey from Interlaken then largely depends on what town you selected for accommodations. There are two valleys with Lauterbrunnen as one base town and Grindelwald as the other. We stayed in a mountain town above Lauterbrunnen so took a train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen.
From Lauterbrunnen, one may stay in the town itself or venture up to Wengen, Murren, or Gimmelwald. We stayed in Murren and there are two main options to get to Murren from Lauterbrunnen. One option is to take the bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg followed by the cable car to Murren. The second option is to take a cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp and a train from the top of the Grutschalp cable car to Murren.
There are a variety of passes you should look into if you are going to this area of Switzerland. The primary way you get around between towns and to different places on the mountains is by train and cable cars. With this in mind, you either can purchase tickets each time you use the train, or you can buy a multi day pass that covers most of your transportation.
The Swiss Pass covers all travel on regular trains, buses and boats. It allows you to access most of the towns (Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Grindelwald, Gimmelwald, Wengen). For the more scenic trains and cable cars, the Swiss Pass will cover part of the cost. It does not include all the high lifts in the Berner Oberland region so you must look at a map to see what is actually included. Any of the lifts that aren’t included then get a 25% or 50% discount with the Swiss pass, still making it worth it.
Lifts you have to pay more for include:
Jungfrau (top of Europe)
Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfrau you pay for
With Swiss Pass: $142 per person (save 25%)
Murren to Birg and Birg to top (two short cable car rides). The cable car starts in the valley in Stechelberg but this first one is included with Swiss Pass.
With Swiss Pass: around $40 a person (save 50%)
First – Grindelwald
Mannlichen (around $24 a person)
What we did:
We stayed 3 nights in the Berner Oberland region, specifically in Murren. We traveled from Geneva to Murren one morning, had two full days there, and then left on the 4th day for the airport. Thus, we decided to buy the 4-day Swiss Pass. It cost just over $200 dollars for one “youth” (youth is up until 26). This is quite expensive, but it would’ve been even more expensive if we had not purchased this and it avoids a lot of hassle.
Another option is renting a car and using the car to drive from your beginning destination into the mountains. Keep in mind that some of the mountain towns are car free so if you opt to stay in one, you will leave your car at the base of the valley and travel up to the town via cable car or train.
Many different choices so depends on preference and desires for the trip
This will be the first town you hit when taking the train. It is between two lakes (Lake Brienz and Lake Thun). It’s the largest town of the ones noted here. However, if you are traveling to this region, you are likely going here to see the mountains and have some active days
Getting to Interlaken:
Trains stop here at Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West. These are a few minutes away by train and about 20 minutes by foot. Interlaken Ost is the larger station and it is where the transfers happen to travel further into the valleys and up the mountains. The station also has luggage storage.
Stay here if you do not like smaller towns. However, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald are not too small and have much nicer views. I instead would recommend stopping in Interlaken for a brief stop, store luggage and then check out Harder Kulm, the viewpoint over Interlaken.
Small village at the bottom of the mountains after veering right on train coming from Interlaken. It is the highest point on this side that allows cars (good if you have a car, but also means tour buses come here so it is busier). Lauterbrunnen has many restaurants, stores, grocery stores, and hotels. It is a good spot if you have a car, like it a little busier or do not want to continue to take transformation up to the smaller towns.
Getting to Lauterbrunnen:
Catch the train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen (takes about 20 minutes)
Larger village at the bottom of the mountains after veering left on train when traveling from Interlaken. It is the highest point on this side that allows cars (good if you have a car, but also means tour buses come here so its busier). Similar to Lauterbrunnen, but slightly bigger and more touristy, there are many restaurants, stores, grocery stores, and hotels. This is another good spot if you like it a bit busier, but want to be in the mountains past Interlaken.
Getting to Grindelwald:
Take the train from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald (takes about 20 minutes)
Found on the mountainside of the Lauterbrunnen valley, it is a very small town that does not allow cars. There are only about 400 permanent inhabitants but 1000-2000 beds for guests. The town only takes about 10 minutes to walk from one side to the other. There are a series of hotels and guesthouses, a grocery store (Coop), restaurants, and some stores.
The views are exceptional! We stayed here at Hotel Edelweiss with a view over the valley and of the mountains. It was unbelievable. I loved this little town for staying in at night.
Getting to Murren:
At first it seemed very difficult to get here and it was quite a trek as it took four hours to get from Geneva to Murren. First we took a train from Geneva to Bern (about 2 hours), then a train from Bern to Interlaken Ost (about 1.5 hours). From Interlaken Ost, take a train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen. At Lauterbrunnen you have two options (I would recommend the first but it depends on how much luggage you have and where you are staying in Interlaken):
Option 1: Take the cable car from Lauterbrunnen up to Grutschalp (takes about 3 minutes and runs relatively frequently; every 20-30 minutes). Then, once you get to the top of the cable car, there is a train about 20 meters from the cable car exit. You take this train to Murren (takes about 20 minutes but it’s along the edge of the mountain so it has some nice views). At this point, you’ve arrived in Murren. Like I mentioned earlier, you can walk the entire town in 10 minutes so even if your hotel isn’t right next to the train station, I would recommend doing this option. The cable car is attached to the train station, both in Grutschalp and in Lauterbrunnen so it’s an easy route
Option 2: Take a bus to Stechelberg from Lauterbrunnen (takes about 10 minutes) cable car. Then take the cable car up to Murren. Here you arrive on the opposite side of town as the train station.
Found on the mountainside of Lauterbrunnen valley, on the opposite side as Murren. Like Murren, this town also does not allow cars. Wengen is larger than Murren, but also has the quaintness of being a small mountain town with no cars. After having visited, I would happily stay in Murren or Wengen as both provided the mountainside perks where the towns had enough to offer . Murren does have the slightly nicer view.
Getting to Wengen:
If you start in Geneva you, the likely route will start by going from Geneva to Bern (about 2 hours), then a train from Bern to Interlaken Ost (about 1.5 hours). From Interlaken Ost, take a train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen, take one final train up to Wengen (about 15-20 minutes).
This is a VERY small town, the smallest of the ones listed here. If you like that, this is a good place for you. However, it was too small for me.
Getting to Gimmelwald:
Take the bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg followed by the cable car to Murren and another cable car from Murren to Gimmelwald. Both cable car rides are short (just a few minutes and the bus is about 10 minutes)
Large town located between two lakes (Lake Brienz and Lake Thun) where you can walk around, rent bikes or get out on the water and rent kayaks.
View point located in Interlaken. Catch the funicular up to the top and walk over to the viewpoint to observe the mountains and both lakes in Interlaken. One can also hike up, but not necessarily worth the hike as the hike does not have many “viewpoints” and there are many better hikes in the area.
Larger town located at the bottom of the mountains to walk around and enjoy the scenic surroundings
Comparable to Lauterbrunnen, just in a different valley, this town is larger and at the bottom of the mountains. It tends to be more touristy and busy here and is where you can access Grindelwald First.
Small town on the side of the mountain. Somewhere great to stay, but not necessary to visit if you are not staying here.
Small town, comparable to Murren, but on the opposite side of the Lauterbrunnen valley.
Tiny town close to Murren
Known as the Top of Europe as it connects the highest peaks and provides a beautiful viewpoint. This is a spectacular spot if it is clear at the top, but if not clear, it is not worth the expensive price per person. Snow covers the mountain tops year-round. We spent 3 hours up here (largely because we had to due to the train availability), but was a perfect amount of time to explore all the top had to offer.
Keep in mind that there are limited spots on the final train traveling from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch. Thus, this requires a seat reservation (not assigned seat, but just assigns you a specific train time). Some would recommend buying this in advance. However, we purchased tickets the day of with no problem in mid July. We had to wait a bit as the earlier to midday trains were already filled up, but we decided to walk around Wengen.
I would recommend getting up early and purchasing tickets if the day looks nice. There are live cameras up at the viewpoints to observe what the current climate is so look this up before you go. For us, it was very cloudy in the valley, but was great up top. However, the next day was the opposite.
The food options are limited, expensive and not great at the top so consider bringing snacks or working up an appetite.
Getting To Jungfraujoch:
The route to get to Jungfraujoch depends largely on where you are staying. If you have the Swiss Pass, you will pay for everything after Wengen. Plan to get yourself to Wengen (whether you are staying there or in a nearby town). Then, take the train (or continue on the train past Wengen if you get on it at Lauterbrunnen) up to Kleine Scheidegg. Once at Kleine Scheidegg you will have to get off and transfer to the train that takes you to Jungfraujoch. This is the train you need a seat reservation for. It is a long red train that runs every 30 minutes and takes about 30 minutes to get to the top (the highest train station in Europe).
There are two stops along the way. The first stop is still outside the mountain so some people choose to hike to this point and then take the train. Then the train enters the mountain where about 60% of the train ride takes place. Here there is also one stop at Eismeer. It stops here for 5 minutes on the way up for individuals to get off the train and look out at the beautiful mountains through the window. Passengers then get back in the train and finish the journey to the top.
The trip takes about 1.5 hours from Wengen plus any additional time it takes you to get to Wengen. (Some may think that this would provide a good reason to stay in Wengen, which is true. However, keep in mind that there are a few other high altitude lifts (especially Schilthorn) that are easily accessible from other side. Thus, wherever you stay – aside from Interlaken—will likely help you save time on some journeys and add time on others.
Allow at least ¾ of the day for this trip
Underground railroad station on the train trip from Kleine Scheidegg up to the Top of Europe, also called the Sea of Ice. The train stops here for five minutes for passengers to get out and look out at the view on the way to Jungfraujoch
The Sphinx observation deck
Elevator out of mountain to observation deck
A giant snow globe and then some history about the train and train station creation
Ice cave with many ice sculptures
Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven
Small Lindt store but discounted prices
Outside Snow Area
One of the stops allows you to go outside and walk around on the snow with more nice views
An opportunity to go sledding, tubing, snowboarding/skiing, or ziplining up high. This is pretty expensive, but can be good entertainment especially for children. Regardless, it is worth going outside here and checking it out as we liked walking the beginning portion of the Monchsjoch Hutte path.
Highest altitude hut in Switzerland. This is about a 45-minute walk from the main area. The walk is completely through the snow so if not dressed in proper boots (or even if you are), then it is a slow walk. We did not do this, but we did walk about ¼ mile up from the “Snow Fun” area. There are beautiful views without the crowds and without the barriers. You must be careful and should stay on the path as there are many places near the path that may be very deep cracks simply covered by snow.
Summit in Bernese Alps that one can hike up to or take a series of cable cars up to reach the top. If you are up for the challenge, you can take the hike up and use the cable car to get down so you get the rewarding views, but can save some time/
Allow approximately 2-3 hours for this trip (of course this also depends on where you are staying) and more time if you plan on hiking. If starting at base level, there are three different lifts to take you to the top. First from Stechelberg to Murren, then Murren to Birg, and finally from Birg to Schilthorn (Piz Gloria).
If starting at base level, this is the 2nd stop on the Cable car. The cable car rides are quick, only a few minutes, and run about every 20 minutes. This stop has a few specific items to hit before going to the top.
View over the mountains, on a platform that allows you to see what’s below
Cliff side walk where you can always see below you due to the criss-cross floor. One portion is transparent so you have a clear view of what is beneath you. On this thrill walk, there is also a tight rope (over a safety net of course so very safe), a tunnel, and a few other unique pathways. This was pretty cool, but anyone with a fear of heights will not enjoy the Thrill Walk.
The peak and final cable car stop, taking just a few minutes to reach from Birg and runs every 20-30 minutes.
There is a gorgeous 360 panoramic view at the top
Bond World 007
James Bond “museum” created as some scenes for a Bond movie were shot on Schilthorn
Schilthorn – Piz Gloria 360°
Restaurant at the top of the peak with beautiful views
Another summit in the Bernese Alps that many visitors travel to the top of to enjoy the views and check out the activities. First can be accessed by taking a cable car from Grindelwald to the summit (lasting about 25 minutes). At the top, there are a variety of activities to check out including mountain car riding, a thrill walk, and zip lining.
Summit that can be reached from lift in Wengen or from lift in Grindelwald. From the cable car station, it then takes about 15 minutes to walk to the summit
Group of waterfalls fed by glaciers in Lauterbrunnen. These falls collect the water from Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau alone. Thus, they are very powerful. There are 10 viewpoints here (but you must pay a few dollars to get in). There is an elevator that allows you to skip about 4-5 of the viewpoints. I would only recommend the elevator if you are immobile OR if you do not want to walk up and CAN walk down. However, it’s worth seeing all 10 viewpoints. The sheer power the falls is very impressive and cool
Getting to Trummelbach Falls:
You can walk there from the town pretty easily (45 minute walk) or take a bus. We first went to the Staubbach falls and then walked to Trummelbach falls. We spent about 1 hour here. The walk is easy and nice to do one way, but not necessary to do both directions. The bus is included in the Swiss Pass if you have it and only takes 5-10 minutes to get back to the center of Lauterbrunnen.
Falls visible from Lauterbrunnen. If considering seeing Trummelbach falls, start with Staubbach Falls as Trummelbach is far more impressive. These are nice falls that you can walk up “behind” after about a 10 minute walk up some stairs and ramps. It is a nice, quick stop and can be done on the way to Trummelbach Falls. The base of the falls are about a 10 minute walk from the center of town.
Paragliders can be seen in many different areas of Switzerland, enjoying a true bird’s eye view of the mountains and small towns. Many different companies take visitors out for tandem paragliding trips. We used Airtime Paragliding which had an office location in Lauterbrunnen.
On our experience, we spent about 15 minutes in the air and had incredible views. The takeoff point was from Murren, but they also offer pickups in Lauterbrunnen and meet you to take the cable car up if you wish. We were staying in Murren so we just met the pilots at the top of the lift to walk up to the take off point.
The long and adventure filled days left us tired wanting an easy meal at night and decided to eat our meals in the town we stayed in (Murren).
We only ate in Murren, but there were restaurants in most towns. The bigger towns had more restaurants to choose from with wider opening hours. We also used the Coop grocery store for snacks/small meals during the day. As we had a gorgeous balcony view, one of our favorite things was to buy some drinks and snacks and sit outside looking out over the valley at the mountains.
Hotel restaurant with very good food. The steak option comes out on a hot stone and you cook the meat to your liking. The restaurant also has a beautiful view over the mountains.
Small restaurant in Murren, good for an easy bite
Download the SBB phone applications as it helps you navigate the area a lot so you know which train connections to take and when to catch them.
Do not trust the weather apps. The weather was wrong almost every day we were there and it changed quickly. Thus, have some ideas of plans and be willing to adjust. Instead, if you have a specific destination in mind, see if the location has weather cameras you can use to view the current climate (especially paying attention to fog when venturing up to high points).
Switzerland is expensive so be aware of this in advance, especially considering all the transportation you’ll have to pay for in this area.
We spent 3 nights here. We covered what we wanted to, but I would have loved to have had a few more days and gotten the opportunity to do more hiking. There are endless amounts of hikes at different levels depending on your desires and capabilities.
All the transportation and little towns might sound complicated before visiting and when trying to plan a trip, but once you arrive there, you get an idea about how it all works pretty quickly.
Transportation and Accommodations
Things to do and see
Food and Drinks