Suggestions for Berner Oberland area Nov 1-4, 2017

Suggestions for Berner Oberland area Nov 1-4, 2017

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kkelly
kkelly
4 posts
new member
Oct 14, 2017 - 11:25 PM

Greeting!

My college age daughter and I are flying into Zurich the morning of November 1 and we depart November 5 in the morning. We plan to visit the Rhine Falls on arrival and then take a train to our "base location". I've read a lot of posts on this forum and found them very informative and helpful.

Our top priority is to visit the Berner Oberland area, particularly Jungfraujoch and/or Schilthorn, on Nov. 2nd or 3rd, but we are realistic about the weather and closings due to maintenance/off season and are open to changing our plans and locations. Mt. Titlis, Gruyeres, Chateau de Chillon and exploring Lucerne and Bern have all been suggested by friends.

We already have Tageskarten day passes for Nov. 1-4 and a hotel in Zurich for Nov. 4.

My questions are:

1. Should we make Bern or Lucerne our base and book a hotel near the train station there for the 3 nights, or possibly Interlaken? It appears that most hotels have very limited, if any, flexibility for cancelling so I hesitate to commit too early but also don't want to find ourselves without a room.

2. Previous posts all seem to be against booking any tours or scenic rail tickets ahead of time in November due to the weather---Is it realistic to check the weather first thing in the morning and still be able to book a tour or Jungfrau railway ticket for that day?

Older posts suggested that a half-fare travel card may sometimes be needed with the Tageskarten day pass, is that your experience too?

Thanks in advance for any tips and suggestions

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
1176 posts
top member
Oct 15, 2017 - 4:36 AM in reply to kkelly

Hi, and welcome to MySwissAlps!

>> 1. Should we make Bern or Lucerne our base and book a hotel near the train station there for the 3 nights, or possibly Interlaken?

I would prefer Luzern or the Jungfrau Region (Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren or Lauterbrunnen). Interlaken is a good transport hub, and has a lot of shops and hotels, but cannot compete with the scenic beauty of the mountain villages in the Jungfrau Region. I like visiting Bern, but personally I prefer to stay in smaller towns and villages.

>> It appears that most hotels have very limited, if any, flexibility for cancelling so I hesitate to commit too early but also don't want to find ourselves without a room.

That hasn't been my experience. Cancellations can usually be made up until a week or so beforehand, or even up until the day before in many cases. The exception is usually when you book in advance at a discounted price, which is not refundable if you change your mind.

There will always be rooms available, but if you want the best choice of location and price, I would not leave it till the last minute to book a hotel, even in low season. The crowds will have gone, but many hotels will also close for a break, reducing the number of rooms on offer.

>> 2. Previous posts all seem to be against booking any tours or scenic rail tickets ahead of time in November due to the weather

That's true in relation to mountain transport for the whole year, not only November.

Scenic trains such as the Glacier Express have compulsory reservations that do sell out, so if you want to be certain of travelling on a particular date, you do have to reserve in advance. However, the Glacier Express will not be running when you are there. If you decide to travel on the Bernina Express, there is one departure per day from Chur, and reservations are compulsory, but could probably be made a day or two beforehand at that time of the year. You can also travel the same route on regional trains without a reservation. It is really too far out of the way for you though, given your limited time and other plans.

>> Is it realistic to check the weather first thing in the morning and still be able to book a tour or Jungfrau railway ticket for that day?

Yes, that is the recommended way of doing it - either the day before, or the morning of the day you want to travel to a mountain top.

>> Older posts suggested that a half-fare travel card may sometimes be needed with the Tageskarten day pass, is that your experience too?

That depends on whether you have bought the 1-day travelpass (Tageskarte) or Saver Day Pass (Spartageskarte). The Tageskarte is only valid if you also have a Half-fare card, but the Saver Day Pass can be used on its own. The Saver Day Pass is quite a new product, having been introduced only a few months ago.

There is more information on both cards, and a map to show where each is valid, on the following pages:

1-day travelpass (Tageskarte)

www.sbb.ch/en/travelca rds-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/1-day-travelpass/1-day-travelpass-for-the-half-fare-travelcard.html

Saver Day Pass (Spartageskarte)

www.sbb.ch/en/travelca rds-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/1-day-travelpass/saver-day-pass.html

If it's the new "Saver Day Pass" you have bought, this discussion about its validity on mountain transport might interest you:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/1-day-travel-pass

Alpenrose

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
1176 posts
top member
Oct 15, 2017 - 5:12 AM in reply to kkelly

>> flying into Zurich the morning of November 1 and we depart November 5 in the morning ... Jungfraujoch and/or Schilthorn, on Nov. 2nd or 3rd ... Mt. Titlis, Gruyeres, Chateau de Chillon ... Lucerne and Bern

Some info on the status of mountain transport etc during your visit:

Operating - Luzern area

  • Boat, trains and cable car to Rigi
  • Pilatus - cable car/gondola between Kriens and Pilatus Kulm not operating, but you can still get up and back in the cogwheel train from Alpnachstad

Operating - Jungfrau Region

  • Train Interlaken-Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen/Wengen-Kleine Scheidegg-Jungfraujoch
  • Schilthorn - Cable car Lauterbrunnen-Grütschalp will be closed for maintenance 23 October to 3 November, but you can still get to Mürren and the Schilthorn by cable car from Stechelberg.
  • Golden Pass trains Interlaken Ost-Luzern and Interlaken Ost-Zweisimmen-Montreux

Not operating - Jungfrau Region

  • Cable car Wengen-Männlichen
  • Gondola Grindelwald Grund-Männlichen
  • Funicular Mürren-Allmendhubel

The Glacier Express from Zermatt-St Moritz won't be operating, but you can travel the same route on regional trains.

Alpenrose

kkelly
kkelly
4 posts
new member
Oct 15, 2017 - 1:21 PM in reply to Alpenrose666

Thank you Alpenrose you are awesome!

I really appreciate your helpful advice and links on location choice, the rail pass and especially the mountain transport status for our dates.

Last modified on Oct 15, 2017 - 1:24 PM by kkelly
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3731 posts
expert
Oct 16, 2017 - 1:37 AM in reply to kkelly

Hi kkelly-

What country are you coming from? Or, more specifically, are you from the USA or Canada?

If so, you should know that the Niagara Falls are head and shoulders above the Rhine Falls , in height, water flow and beauty, and November has (relatively) low flow on the Rhein.

Each person has their own perspectives, and background experiences, but if I were doing it, I'd go directly to my base town ...Luzern, or somewhere near the Jungfrau, for example. There are some prettier ( less powerful, though ) waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.. Same issue of reduced flow in late Fall or early Winter, but they are beautiful.

www.worldwaterfalldata base.com/country/Switz erland/list

Staubach, Mürrenbach, and Trümmelbach falls are accessible from Lauterbrunnen. Different kind of waterfall, though.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/walking-from-lauterbrunnen-to-trummelbach

Based on your clearly stated priorities, I'd suggest Interlaken or one of the villages in the Jungfrau area as a first choice, and Luzern as a second choice.

www.myswissalps.com/ju ngfrauregion

Luzern is really nice, and less seasonal, but the Jungfrau region is more spectacular...if you don't have thick clouds. It is still a nice experience to go into the Lauterbrunnen Valley and take the train up to Wengen, though, even if the visibility is limited.

Give some thought to booking directly with the hotels by telephone or internet, after checking prices and terms on the internet. That are always happy to avoid the fees that the booking services provide, and English is good. You can discuss cancellation terms with them. Hotels that are open in early November are unlikely to be fully booked, so there will surely not be a long line of potential guests waiting for a room at your chosen hotel.

Slowpoke

kkelly
kkelly
4 posts
new member
Oct 16, 2017 - 2:09 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thank you Slowpoke!

You make a good point re the Rhine Falls and we can always save that for our final day in Zurich, if there is time.

I really appreciate your positive outlook on exploring the Jungfrau region in early November and will take your advice on calling the hotels directly.

Marki
Marki
56 posts
active member
Oct 16, 2017 - 2:53 AM

Wengen is hard to beat. Very quaint and picturesque. We’ve stayed at Beausite Park hotel and beautiful views of mountains from most rooms. I expect that is true of many of Wengen hotels. Also Wengen is very convenient to access Jungfrau area as well as well as Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken. Personally I found the gorgeous views from our hotel room and Wengen in general to be very desirable. Of course the ultimate experience is the hiking in this area but that will be limited by weather and not a priority for everyone. Mark

kkelly
kkelly
4 posts
new member
Oct 16, 2017 - 3:18 PM in reply to Marki

Thank you Mark--I appreciate the personal recommendation. I will look into Wengen and the Beausite Park hotel.

Marki
Marki
56 posts
active member
Oct 16, 2017 - 10:27 PM

I usually check out hotels and restaurants on trip advisor. It is not infallible but is usually helpful. If you use Trip Advisor, l would suggest changing the filter to highest rated for hotels or restaurants instead of the default filter of best deals. Mark

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3731 posts
expert
Oct 16, 2017 - 10:52 PM in reply to Marki

Hi Marki-

The hotels listed on this site are quite useful...range of options, and all checked out personally and reliably, by knowledgeable and thoughtful people:

www.myswissalps.com/ac commodation

And, in September this year, I found the Hotel Bellevue in Wengen, recommended by Kim in her encyclopedic report,

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

to be an excellent value, with quite good kitchen, and one of the best views in the village. ( Not far from the viewpoint at the church so often mentioned in discussions of Wengen). I stayed 2 nights, and went with the fixed menu offered by the hotel. Great price, excellent food, adequate portions, and huge salad bar to help fill the empty corners of your stomach.

The hotel is clearly run efficiently with a focus on value for money, as opposed to extra features for higher cost. My single room was small but met the normal high Swiss standards for comfort and cleanliness, and had the excellent view of the Jungfrau Massif..

The only drawback is that it is a 10 minute walk from the station, which explains the views. That is where you get the best angles to look along the valley. They'll pick you up and take you back to the station with your luggage.

Slowpoke

Marki
Marki
56 posts
active member
Oct 17, 2017 - 12:02 AM

I suspect Beausite Park is very similar. It is a block above the church and probably a 10 min walk to train station. We got the half board and the food was excellent with view of Jungfrau from our table. The hotel was recommended highly by some friends of ours but I later noted it was ranked #1 Hotel on TripAdvisor for Wengen. It is run by a local Swiss family with the matriarch using a very hands on approach to all the hotel operations. Her knowledge of the area was encyclopedic and she knows every trail in the Berger Oberland region from having lived there 70 + years. I mentioned TripAdviser because it has reviews by hundreds of different travelers,often with pictures. Of course you have to consider the reviews as a whole and discount outliers and I use it only as a rough guide. While I’m an obvious fan of The Beausite Park due to 3 previous stays, I wouldn’t be surprised to find many first rate places to stay in Wengen. Incidentally, 10 of us went in September and we also stayed at the Riffelalp hotel above Zermatt. It was very plush, fancy and expensive. Also a great place to stay with room views and good food but all 10 of us preferred Wengen. Mark

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