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Alternate to popular towns in Bernese Oberland?

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22 posts
new member
Feb 8, 2016 - 4:26 PM


My husband and I are reaching Geneva on 8th of March, 2016 from Paris. We have decided on these places as the places we would like to visit. (Excluding day of arrival and departure, we have 6 days to go around and we will be taking a Swiss Pass)

- Chateau de Chillon, Lake Geneva Promenade and Rochers-de-Naye in Montreux.

- Jungfraujoch, Schilthorn, First, the villages of Murren, Wengen and Lauterbrunnen in the OB region.

- Mt Rigi, Lake Lucern, old town of Lucern, transport museum and a concert at the Lucerne Concert Hall in Lucern.

- Old town of Zurich and the lake Zurich on the day of departure (we plan to reach Zurich on 15th March, our flight out of Zurich is at 3 PM)

1. Can we base ourselves at just one place for the entire duration and chose to go to various places based on weather? Or would it be more sensible to have at least 2 bases, one in OB region and one in Lucern?

2. Since second week of March is still the ski season, is it possible to stay in a place which is not a ski town? The hotel prices in the popular villages in the mountains of OB for our days seem very expensive and we don't want to stay in Interlaken if we can help it.

3. Is there any other must sees that we haven't chosen? We have not chosen Mt Pilatus as the Cog wheel railway is closed till May 2016.

Would appreciate any help with the above plan. Thanks in advance

7567 posts
Feb 8, 2016 - 6:18 PM in reply to Vasudha

HI Vasudha-

Welcome to the forum.

I can see from your comments that you have done your homework, especially regarding skiing and prices.

You might check Brienz or Meiringen...but ski season accommodation is certainly more expensive in the region.

You have enough time to do what you wish, but there are three different "regions" (+ Zürich). All can be reached from the intermediate point ( Luzern) but with some long train rides and very late days.

Some of the decisions on where to stay depend on your arrival time in Geneva. If you can accomplish the lake front promenade walk (both sides?) by late afternoon on day zero, I'd stay the first night in Montreux, then get up early, fit in Rochers de Naye, and Chillon and go on to the BO the second night, via Bern , not the slow Golden Pass route.

Two nights in the BO region to allow for weather - nights 2 and 3.

Interlaken-Luzern Expres0s early on day 4, days 4 and 5 at/near Luzern. Luzern is an hour or less from Zürich.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Day 6 - not scheduled in my advice - add it in where you would like. Possibilities - Slow train from Montreux to Interlaken on the scenic Golden Pass route via Zweisimmen; more time in either BO or Luzern area; on the first days don't get up so early and make the first days a bit more leisurely....Or stay only in Luzern and the BO, and take a long long day trip to Montreux sometime during the trip. There are fast trains and scenic slower trains to consider if you do that.

Day 7 - Day of Departure -

You can stay the night before at Zürich airport (not my choice, but preferred by many for an early flight),

www.myswissalps.com/zu richairporthotels

or, Zürich downtown ( my normal pattern),

or, Luzern. Two fast trains per hour Luzern to Zürich Hauptbahnof ( main station). You can check your luggage in Züri main station while you tour...lockers or left luggage office.

Several trains per hour from Zürich Hauptbahnhof to Zürich Flughafen ( airport). 10 to 20 minute trip.

Is your flight into a Schengen country? If not, definitely get there at least 2 hours ahead of your flight. Less timeneeded for clearing passport control if you go to a Schengen country.

Hope that gives you a bit of a flexible travel framework.

The luggage carts at Zürich airport are free and can go up and down escalators.


22 posts
new member
Feb 9, 2016 - 12:46 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Brienz looks like a great option, thanks for the suggestion, Slowpoke.

22 posts
new member
Feb 12, 2016 - 2:17 AM

While trying to book a hotel in Brienz, I stumbled upon the town of Brunig. While being midway between Lucern and Interlaken with a train station in the town it seems like a good base to explore both the BO region and Lucern region.

Could you please tell us if we are right in basing ourselves between the 2 regions that we want to explore?

With the idea of being able to choose a mountain/place to visit based on weather each day, would we be wasting more time commuting being mid way in Brunig?

Given the weather in Mid-March would it be a better idea to base ourselves in Lucern for the entire duration of our stay in Switzerland so we could have things to do in town if the weather up the mountains is not friendly?

The more we look at the various options, the more confused we seem to be getting. Any help would be great. Thank you.

7567 posts
Feb 12, 2016 - 10:43 AM in reply to Vasudha

<<"While trying to book a hotel in Brienz, I stumbled upon the town ofBrunig. While being midway between Lucern and Interlaken with a trainstation in the town it seems like a good base to explore both the BOregion and Lucern region. Could you please tell us if we are right in basing ourselves between the 2 regions that we want to explore?">>

<<"The more we look at the various options, the more confused we seem to be getting. Any help would be great. Thank you. ">>

Brünig in itself is a small cluster of houses and a few hotels at the high point of the Brünig Pass. There is nothing to do there, and not much to see.

You are placing your self about an hour from Interlaken , almost an hour and one half from Lauterbrunnen and about an hour from Luzern.

Train to Luzern is once per hour. Train to Interlaken is once per hour, with some hours having a bus+train at the half hour mark. That is a major deficiency, shared with the train from Luzern to Interlaken (they are the same train.) Every time you go somewhere - every day - yu spend two hours on the same train route, back and forth. Nice ride to Luzern, but, it gets old after a while.

Trains from Brienz to Interlaken run twice per hour. 50 minutes +/- all the way to Lauterbrunnen.

Brienz has a few things to do, there and nearby.

<<"The more we look at the various options, the more confused we seem to be getting. Any help would be great. Thank you">>

That is not surprising, and not uncommon. Switzerland has so many options for places to stay and things to do or see that making choices, especially for th first time traveler, can be difficult.

Perhaps you do not, have a sense of priorities. Although it is still difficult for the first time traveler, you might consider the trade-offs used in the discipline of "project management." They are often stated in a short hand fashion as -

"Good, fast, or cheap. Pick any two."

It is not a simple or clear guideline when you put it in practice, but it helps you think about what choices to make.

If you want to save a much money as possible, you will have to take more time ( travel further from the major tourist destinations), and or sacrifice the quality and amount of what you see or do. Without experience there, and a clear sens of your priorities for cost vs. the other factors.

When I travel in Switzerland, I always keep in the back of my mind that I am there to be a tourist, that what I can see and do is unique, and that everyone else has already figured out the best places and they charge more money to see them and stay in them. Ski season distorts the costs , because the value is high for skiers to be close to the slopes. Obvious, but, once I accept that, then I tend to favor the choice of quality of experience, and minimal "wasted" time, even if it costs more. Up to some limit. And, i try to balance the extra cost of a better location with the perspective of what percent of my total cost s it is to pay more for a room or meal. And, i want to have access to walks, which is somewhat lower priority in winter, especially at higher altitudes. March is definitely Winter in the Alps.

It is almost impossible to make those choices for another person.

That said, I'd pick Luzern and Brienz or Interlaken if i were trying to control costs while maintaining access to the sights. Or, as you suggest, I'd pick Luzern and bite the bullet on travel time . I would never stay in Brünig, because it is short on things to do and too far away from what I want to see and do.

The forum has some suggestions on where to stay, and Arno and Annika can also help with good, current knowledge of relatively inexpensive accommodation in the main locations. Post a question in the accommodation section.

www.myswissalps.com/ac commodation

The descriptions of towns in "Where to go" offer hotel suggestions in all price ranges, for example:

www.myswissalps.com/gr indelwald/hotels

Tradeoffs -

I used to choose Brienz, to save some money, when the Weisses Kreuz was a superb hotel at moderate prices. Unfortunately, Frau Meyer went broke, and it has been through some changes in management. Last time I stayed there, a few years ago, it was on its way back up, since the management of the Brienzerbürli bought it,. and it offered generally comfortable stays, with an acceptable kitchen. The Brienzerbürli was a better hotel, but too far from the train station, and the Lindenhof had an excellent kitchen, comfortable rooms, and was impossible without a car. I'd stay at the Weisses Kreuz again if it were equal to or better than what it was 3 or 4 years ago. That management knows how to run a hotel, and clearly was getting it in shape, but the cash to fix it up comes in a bit more slowly when the Swiss frank is strong relative to the Euro, and travelers go elsewhere. Can't beat the location if you are going to stay in Brienz as a base for travel.

Nowadays, I simply bite the bullet, and pay a lot more to stay in Wengen, at a good hotel, for a shorter stay. I figure it is worth it to stay in a stunning location ( although Brienz is not bad at all) close to the scenic walks/hikes. (Not so much walking in ski season, though.) There are a variety of costs and options available in Wengen.

Search the forum using the search tool, for example, for "Hotels in Wengen" You'll get some useful threads.

A terribly long answer - and not a precise one. My advice, from my personal perspective,with my set of trade offs, is to base in Luzern and stay one (or maybe two) night(s) in Grindelwald, Wengen or Lauterbrunnen. I, personally, would accept the cost, especially if some of the less expensive hotels were available on a week day. I'd avoid weekends.


7157 posts
expert &
Feb 12, 2016 - 1:16 PM in reply to Vasudha

Hi Vasudha,

Brünig is very small, so in terms of facilities it's not a great option. Brienz would be better in my view, if you want to be in between the Lake Lucerne and Jungfrau regions. Alternatives you may consider are Meiringen and Lungern.

7567 posts
Feb 12, 2016 - 2:42 PM in reply to Annika

My friend who ives in Sachseln and I have enjoyed quite few pleasant meals at reasonable prices at the Restaurant Bahnhöfli in Lungern. Nicer out of doors in the warmer months....


22 posts
new member
Feb 12, 2016 - 8:06 PM

Thanks a lot for taking the time to write such a detailed reply, Slowpoke. Really appreciate it. You were right we had to sort out our priorities, just too many things were playing on our minds and we were quite confused.

We have booked 5 nights in Parkhotel du Sauvage, Meiringen and will book the remaining 2 nights in Lucern. I hope the 5 days in Meiringen will be afford us at least 2 days of good weather to make a trip up the mountains in the Jungfreu region.

Annika, thank you for chipping in with your views, helped us make the decision.

7567 posts
Feb 13, 2016 - 1:31 AM in reply to Vasudha

<<"We have booked 5 nights in Parkhotel du Sauvage, Meiringen ">>

Be sure to sample the cooking of Herr Simon Anderegg at the Hotel Victoria. Reservations are probably necessary, certainly desirable.

I stayed there when he first began to cook there, and have been back a few times since he took over the hotel.

A world class chef.

I have been known to take the trains from Wengen specifically to eat at his restaurant.


22 posts
new member
Feb 13, 2016 - 2:59 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks for the suggestion, Slowpoke. Will surely dine at Hotel Victoria during our stay in Meiringen.


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