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Family trip to Bernese Oberland, Montreux in April

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2 posts
new member
Jan 25, 2017 - 12:45 AM

Hi everyone and thank you for all of the information in these forums, I cannot wait for our upcoming visit. We are a family of 5 with young children (ages 5,7, and 8). We are visiting over spring break in mid-April.

Presently we arrive in Zurich and hope to travel to Berne, Bernese Oberland, and likely Montreux.

Our major interests are cultural heritage, spring hiking, and wine. As a disclaimer, our children spend their summers in the American rockies, so while not exposed to technical climbing do quite well with mid-level hikes.

The questions I'm hoping to answer are:

1. What is the easiest mode of travel between sites - rail or car rental?

2. Do you expect the trails to be open this time of year? We are hoping to avoid technical hikes would love to take in as many vistas as possible.

3. What town in Bernese Oberland would you recommend as a base - Interlaken or Lucerne?

4. If recommending rail is there a single pass that will accomplish all this?

Thank you all again! We are all so excited about this adventure.

14279 posts
expert &
Jan 25, 2017 - 11:13 AM

Hi Berne,

Thanks for posting here!

1. Definitely rail. It's easier, safer, eco-friendly, and probably cheaper as the children will travel for free. Please see myswissalps.com/train and myswissalps.com/ carversustrain.

2. Trails above 2000 m, or perhaps 1500 if spring is cold, will not be accessible. There will be plenty of options left though.

3. Lucerne is not in the Bernese Oberland, and whether Interlaken suits your needs depends on your expectations. It is not a pretty town, but it is a convenient base with lots of stores and lots of trains to a wide region. The smaller villages in the Jungfrau Region, and Brienz, are more scenic, but might be quiet as you will be there in off season.

4. The Swiss Travel Pass is the best one there is, and covers the whole country. It comes with the free Swiss Family Card which allows all three children to travel along for free everywhere you go.

Does this help you out?

2 posts
new member
Jan 26, 2017 - 12:58 AM


Thank you for the quick reply. That really helps a lot. Your transit advice makes a lot of sense and I agree with the ecologic footprint as well.

Given the fact that Interlaken isn't as scenic we will look elsewhere for a base in Bernese Oberland. I will report back when things solidify.


7355 posts
Jan 26, 2017 - 8:33 AM in reply to Berne

Hi Berne-

How long will you be in Switzerland?

Much of the Jungfrau region of the BO is car-free. Another good reason for some form of rail pass. Each kind has its features, both + and -.

Arno has definitely picked the best choice for your stated needs. At the next level of detail, there are differences in details from pass to pass.

In particular, once you are not traveling on public transport between population centers, different passes may offer different kinds of discounts. For public transport ( as opposed to excursion or ski lift type transport) the Swiss Travel Pass almost always offers travel with no additional costs.

Once you have an actual itinerary laid out, it might be worth another look at other options, but almost certainly the Swiss Travel Pass is the best for your needs as stated. Arno and Annika keep up on all the passes and details if you need more information than this website offers:

www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses

The variety and options can be confusing.

The timetable will help you in your travelplanning:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Note that it will tell you if the key scenic cableways in the BO are open if you try to use it for a particular date. Check Wengen Wengiboden to Männlichen LWM on various dates for a test.

Off hand, I think they will be shut down for their own spring break, and re-start on May 25th.

Note that those are the precise names for the large cabin cableway ( die Luftseilbahn; "LSB"). The generic names Wengen and Männlichen will work, but the query may result in a display of or offer more stations.

The cograil train runs all year. Schilthorn should be accessible in the Spring. ....I think they take a break in around November. The timetable will tell you.

Altitude defines the weather in the seasons; no surprise to you, I'm sure.

<<"Our major interests are cultural heritage, spring hiking, and wine. As a disclaimer, our children spend their summers in the American Rockies, so while not exposed to technical climbing do quite well with mid-level hikes.">

Do you have Swiss family background? if so,which language region? More to the point for the BO - Do you speak or read German? If your history is Anabaptist, the Emmental is a rich source of Anabaptist cultural heritage. Is your interest in the city of Bern or the canton?

April in the high Alps provides somewhere between Winter hiking and no hiking. Popular trails are groomed during ski season. By April, the conditions deteriorate, and the trails are not maintained until re-opening in early to mid-June ( depending on snow pack and slides that block trails.) Quite a few hotels and restaurants take a Spring break...but many are open.

Spring hiking is possible at lower altitudes, in the BO as well as elsewhere.

<<" so while not exposed to technical climbing do quite well with mid-level hikes.">">>

There are extensive map resources, including those which grade the hiking trails by difficulty. More detail on that if you are interested

A useful bit of light reading about the Jungfrau region, focusing on Wengen:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

A map oriented toward Summer:

www.swissholidayco.com /Public/Assets/User/fi les/Map-of-Jungfrauregion1.jpg

Have you tasted any Swiss wines?

There have been a lot of changes in Swiss wines in the past decade or so, especially in improved reds from the Bündner Herrschaft. I don't like to drink extract of sawdust, as featured in some California reds, so I appreciate the many excellent Pinot Noirs (Blauburgunder) made without oak, or with little oak . That has been the norm until the past few years.

The Swiss experiments....and they still are that...with wood provide wines with the label "barrique." I don't think they have got that figured out yet, but "barrique" wines are trendy, and sometimes cannot be avoided.

You will also find a variety of grapes in the whites.. Some chardonnay is now grown in Switzerland, but they are not up to speed vs. the French. I like the Sauvignon Blancs that are appearing. Definitely not New Zealand style.



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