Help with Swiss mountain trips and height phobias!

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15 posts
new member
Aug 28, 2017 - 2:19 PM


First of all huge thanks to everyone on this Forum – your expertise and enthusiasm has been invaluable in helping us plan our first trip to Switzerland next week. We are a family of four with two “kids” (both Uni students) and we’re celebrating our Silver wedding anniversary so we have put together an itinerary which hopefully suits us all.

Day 1 Arrive Basel late night – stay nearby

Day 2 Explore Basel for a couple of hours pick up hire car and drive to Griefensee near Zurich. Overnight Griefensee.

Day 3 Few hours in Zurich then drive to Chur. Overnight Chur.

Day 4 Leave car in Chur and take Bernina Express to Tirano. Overnight Tirano.

Day 5. Return to Chur on regular train then drive to Lake Brienz where we’ve rented a chalet apartment for a week.

Day 6-11 based in Brienz

Day 12-14 – 3 nights in Grindelwald to explore Jungfrau

Day 15 Drive to Luzern and stay overnight

Day 16 Flight back from Basel late afternoon

I know everyone says the train is the best but with 4 adults, a car plus the Swiss Half Card works out the most convenient option for us. I bought the Passes via your link and they were emailed to me within five minutes! Thanks to your site I was able to price the various activities we’d like to fit in as I did wonder about adding the 4 day Bernese Oberland pass especially for when we’re in Grindelwald. But we would not fit all activities covered by that Pass into the 4 consecutive days and would still need to use the Half Card. And the 6 day Pass works out at more than using the Half Card paying as we go. Also we don’t want to be dashing about every day - it’s nice to just chill as a family. Brienz seems a good base as it’s more scenic than Interlaken but still possible to do Pilatus, Schynige, Oeschinensee, Trummelbach Falls, Aare Gorge etc from there. We love lakes – swimming and kayaking plus easy cycling.

From Grindelwald we hope to do the hike to Bachalpsee and explore via Wengen, Männlichen, Kleine Scheidegg, Lauterbrunnen, and Murren. I’m not sure about Jungfraujoch as we’ve worked out that even with the discount it will still be twice what our flights from the UK cost! I appreciate the upkeep involved but we may have to save that for another time. I’m also concerned it may be too touristy at the top? Schiltorn works out a little less for four adults so that can be an option.

My two queries are -

Day 2/3 – Zurich? Every time someone suggests visiting Zurich on the forum you seem to dissuade them from doing so. We need to be in Chur for the Bernina Express early on Day 4. Would you suggest overnighting somewhere else en route to Chur from Basel?

Secondly – I know this sounds daft having chosen to holiday in Switzerland but I have a terrible fear of heights. It’s severe and in the past I have totally freaked out on chairlifts that I thought would be ok. I can just about manage a gondola type lift like at Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain (btw Lucas – we love BC, honeymooned there and stayed in Victoria) but anything very small or open or that stops and swings about (the tiniest wobble feels like a huge movement to me) – I get hysterical. Once I am up a mountain I am fine. I stay away from the edge! And I think the cog wheel trains would be ok too. I have tried Googling various lifts but are there any lifts/journeys that I need to steer clear of? Or hikes that involve bridges/narrow ledges (anything that involves having to actually move myself across at height is impossible. I freeze.) I know about the viewing platforms etc and can sit those out whilst the others enjoy them. I am worried that a journey involving several lifts may mean I start off ok and then can’t complete the last leg. The others will have to continue and collect me on the way back….. Any suggestions?

Thanks so much for all your help.


Last modified on Aug 29, 2017 - 5:31 AM by Lucas
10496 posts
top member
Aug 28, 2017 - 4:34 PM in reply to macca

Hi Mel and welcome to MySwissAlps!

There's a lot to love about Vancouver and Victoria isn't there! I'm heading back for a visit in 2 weeks - it's been almost 2 years!

So Grouse mountain Skyride holds about 100 people max - so it is pretty big but so are some gondolas here. I think you would be ok on cogwheel trains to various mountains (although some are on narrow ledges for sections like Mt. Pilatus). So Mt. Pilatus and Jungfraujoch should be ok for you (though yes, I agree Jungfraujoch is very expensive!)

For pictures of the gondolas just google image the mountain name + cable car/gondola to get a better idea. We have further information on almost all mountain attractions in Switzerland listed here.

Schilthorn has 3 cable cars you need to use to get to the top - all are fairly big but I haven't been in them so can't speak to how much they might "move" I'm sure another member has more details on that one as well as other mountain cable cars/gondolas to avoid or ones that you could find tolerable. :)

Other mountain attractions with cogwheel trains or a Funicular that I know of in the areas (which should be ok for you) are: Brienzer Rothorn, Mt. Rigi, Mount Niesen, and Schynige Platte.

I agree the Swiss Half Fare Card would be a good choice for you along with your car rental.

I am not against Zurich per se (heck I live here!) and it works with your itinerary so no harm at all to visit or stay here!
It is just that for people who don't have any plans in their head about what to do in Switzerland (except see mountains) we would recommend not to worry about a Zurich visit.

If you are looking for more details about Lake Brienz click here and Grindelwald click here. You should have no problem renting kayaks and/or bikes around Lake Brienz - lovely place.

I hope that helps with your planning - let us know if you have more questions!


12328 posts
expert &
Aug 28, 2017 - 4:48 PM

Hi Mel,

Regarding your fear of heights: I think the cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp, and then the train to Mürren would be fine. That cable car is not very high above the ground. I would avoid the cable cars at the other end of Mürren which go up to Schilthorn and down to Stechelberg.

I also think cogwheel trains and funiculars (like Harder Kulm, from Interlaken) are mostly fine. The tracks might come close to cliffs sometimes, but that's only small sections. This applies to the Schynige Platte railway for example. The route is mostly lovely meadows and forests, but the rocky part near the top is a bit exposed here and there.

Our hiking suggestions have detailed maps so you can see the terrain. Feel free to ask if you have questions about a specific route.

Last modified on Aug 28, 2017 - 5:08 PM by Arno
15 posts
new member
Aug 28, 2017 - 5:02 PM

Thank you both. It's a stupid phobia that seems to get worse not better with age! I will hopefully be ok on even the steepest cogwheels as I can sit in the middle. And I will study the Mürren options carefully, thanks Arno. Lucas - have a great trip back home. We've been to Vancouver and the island three times now and it is still the only place we've felt we wanted to move to. But then we've not been to Switzerland yet! ...... Thanks again for this amazingly helpful forum.

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new member
Sep 1, 2017 - 7:28 PM

We did the train up Schynige Platte this week. My husband does not like drop-off. He found there were a few places where he had to look in the distance, look out the other side, or close his eyes for a few moments. He was able to walk on the Naturkino trail, but was nervous walking over the metal bridge near the end of the Alpine Garden trail. We did not do any of the other hikes as we had seen pictures showing a narrow trail close to the edge in places.

He was fine with the hike from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg as it is on a fairly wide path. But you do need to go up on a gondola or cable car. We took the 4-person gondolas. It was a smooth, 30 minute ride from Grindelwald. From Wengen, it is a 5 or 6 minute ride in a cable car that can take up to 70 people.

15 posts
new member
Sep 1, 2017 - 10:27 PM

Thank you Traveller7 I think I will be closing my eyes a few times too! But that is really helpful especially knowing your husband managed Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg and particular gondolas. I can't find any images of the metal bridge - is it impossible to do the trail without crossing it? I've also googled some of the other cable cars and (stupidly) watched a YouTube video of the time the Schilthorn cable car broke down and people had to be winched off!!!! Honestly - I would have had to have been anaesthetised. Ha. We set off tomorrow and I am so excited and armed with lots of ideas thanks to MySwissAlps.

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new member
Sep 2, 2017 - 8:12 PM in reply to macca

The Alpine Garden trail at Schynige Platte is a 1 km loop trail. The bridge is near the end. You could always turn around to return to the start if necessary since the trail is so short.

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