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Travel/transport input for budget hiking adventure

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26 posts
active member
Apr 23, 2013 - 1:52 AM

Long-time reader, first-time poster.

I'm planning a pre-Poland-wedding adventure for my siblings and a few friends. We're all young/students so trying to do this on the cheap. There will be a total of 5 of the more rugged of us in week 1 and four more (for a total of 9) in week 2. Week 1 we want to do some more intense hiking, Week 2 we're looking for farm experiences, day hikes, swimming in waterholes, affordable dinners in the city (haven't decided on Locarno or Lugano).

Week 1: July 7-14
1. FLEXIPASS DAY 1 Geneva airport - Lauterbrunnen (camping or hostel)
2. Lauterbrunnen - Murren - Gimmelwald (via ferrata) (Mountain hostel)
3. Gimmelwald day hikes / rest / acclimatize (Mountain hostel)
4. Gimmelwald - Bundalp - hike (Berghaus)
5. Bundalp - Kandersteg/Oeschinensee
6. Kandersteg/Oeschinensee
7. Kandersteg buffer day (camping)

Week 1 input:
  • The best deals I could find for our itinerary were camping in Lauterbrunnen, the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald and the Bundalp Berghaus. Any others I should consider?
  • Are there any grocery stores in the Lauterbrunnen valley to do our own cooking while camping in Lauterbrunnen? Or for less expensive but still good food (meat)?
  • Other than the Gasterntal and Oeschinensee Lake what are some other breath-taking day hikes from Kandersteg that people would recommend? If we can't fill 2 days with appealing activities then I thought we could tack on an extra day in Lauterbrunnen to see waterfalls. Which would be more rewarding?

Week 2: July 15 - 21
8. Kandersteg day hike to Gasterntal - bus to Selden (out of pocket bus fare rather than use up a Flexipass)
(9). Extra day here perhaps if we really like Oeschinensee -- hike/gondola up, stay at the hotel/berghaus on the lake -- it's a Monday so perhaps less busy)
9. FLEXIPASS DAY 2 Kandersteg to Brig (lift over the glacier to Goppenstein OR bus/train via the Mittaltunnel?) to Domodossola
10-12. Cimalmotto farm stay and/or Brontallo
13. FLEXIPASS DAY 3 Cimalmotto/Brontallo to Lugano/Locarno (hostel)
14. Lugano or Locarno to Milan (airport) (FLEXIPASS or one-way?)

Input on Week 2:
  • How much is the lift from Kandersteg to Goppenstein (or whereever it ends) that doesn't appear to be covered by the Flexipass? SBB says 10CHF... really?
  • DAY 9: Is it possible to get from Kandersteg to Brontallo or Cimalmotto via Domodossola in one day?
  • DAY 9: The appeal of going via Domodossola is to have a rest day seeing some sights by transit. A big appeal is the "Hundred Valleys Train" -- I can't tell from the Flexipass map -- is that train covered by the Flexipass?
  • DAY 9: If traveling that route in one day isn't realistic, then where would be a good place to stay overnight?
  • DAY 10-12: The appeal of Brontallo is the cliff diving I read about -- is that open to the public? Is there a cost? http://www.myswitzerland.com/en/whdf-cliff-diving-world-tour.html If so, is there good local day hiking around there? How about any recommended hostels? I can't seem to find any using the Switzerland website.
  • DAY 10-12: The appeal of Cimalmotto (if Brontallo turns out to be less appealing) is a sustainable dairy farm that has WOOFF-type guests (people that like to help out on the farm and have those types of experiences) that I have yet to write to inquire. Has anyone heard of this farm or stayed there? http://www.muntlareita.ch/index.html
  • DAY 10-12: If the bus fare from Cimalmotto to Brontallo was cheap enough we could even do 2 days in Cimalmotto and 1 in Brontallo without using up a Flexipass day. The SBB site says 12CHF -- how can this be? I thought postbus was expensive (30+CHF)?
  • Day 13: We'd like to have a relatively inexpensive city experience involving dinner and perhaps drinking our own wine. Would Lugano be the place for this or Locarno? Suggestions in each?
  • Day 14: We go to the airport. Our flights are all award flights (easily changed), so we're thinking of changing the departure city to Lugano if it's too expensive for transport to Milan. What's the best way to find out these fares?
  • Day 14: I know this is a Swiss forum, but which is 'better' for the budget travelers: Lugano, Locarno or Milan? We have to pick one place to 'stage' as we all fly off on 7/21-22.

Based on this itinerary I'm thinking the Flexipass would be the most cost-effective choice given our interests and I'm hoping experienced members can weigh in on this thought as well as my other questions. If I should separate these questions into the other forum area, let me know and I can repost?

Transport questions:
  • Is the flexipass for a 24 hour period starting whenever you first use it or from midnight to midnight?
  • How does it work? Do you have an electronic profile that is tracked or is it a booklet stamped by someone on your first use for that day?
  • On an active flexipass day do I get to use the 50% off on mountain lifts/gondolas that aren't covered by the flexipass?
  • When you buy it online, does it ship within a certain period of time? Does it require a photo? For the flexipass for 2+ travelers with the 15% discount, is it a joint pass with 2+ names in it?
  • Where do I find prices for just a 1-way trip up/down a mountain lift (like Stechelberg to Gimmelwald or up/down Jungfrau)? It would be nice to know prices of mt. lifts so I know off of what price I'm getting 50%.
  • I'd like to get the 15% discount for the flexipass since we'll always be travelling together. Will that discount be automatically applied when I buy it online?
  • Of the days we'll be using a flexipass which ones definitely require reservation? How does one tell which lines require reservation?

Thank you so much for any input you can provide and for reading my incredibly long post :-) !!!

15765 posts
expert &
Apr 24, 2013 - 4:02 PM

Hi Remy,

Thanks for submitting your first post here! It looks like you've spend quite some time already to prepare for your trip. I don't know the answer to all your questions, but below is what I do know. There are more people here at the forum with lots of Switzerland experience so they might be able to add more information.

  • There are COOP supermarkets in Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and Mürren.
  • Lots of hiking options from Kandersteg: I like the one from Allmenalp down to the valley. It's not extremely long but you can extend it by walking further into the high valley called Usser Üschene. It ends on the local camping. Sunnbühl near Kandersteg to Leukerbad (called Gemmipass) is popular, and then there is Allmenalp to Adelboden, which is the most difficult one of these three I think.
  • Kandersteg to Goppenstein is a train tunnel. You might have seen a dashed line on the maps, but that only means it's a tunnel. It's covered by the Flexi Pass.
  • Kandersteg to Brontallo is doable in a day. All your travels can be found in the timetable.
  • The Centovalli (hundred valleys) train is covered by the pass. You can download a detailed map from the Swiss Flexi Pass page. It also shows the lifts you get a discount on (you get that discount on any day between the first and last free travel day).
  • Cimalmotto to Brontallo indeed seems to be about CHF 12. Which is reasonable as these towns are only a few km apart. Buses do not seem to connect and it takes a lot of time from what I can see from the timetable. A local taxi might save you a lot of time.
  • Milan is huge and suitable for a city trip (the Cathedral, museums, shopping and lots of ancient buildings). I'm sure there are many hostels there including cheaper ones. Locarno and Lugano are much smaller and allow easy access to the surrounding mountains. Finding an affordable place may be more difficult there, and in general Switzerland is more expensive than Italy. But there are options: take a look at the Montarina Hostel in Lugano and this page for more options.
  • The free travel days on a Swiss Flexi Pass are for calendar days. To allow late night traveling (there won't be many options in reality) it's valid until 5:00 AM the next day.
  • It's a paper pass with a magnetic strip plus an attachment with all travelers names and passport numbers. You can validate it for a free travel day by writing the date in the designated area.
  • You don't need a photo to buy the pass. When buying online you'll get the 15% discount. How to get that depends on where you buy but usually you just have to check a box for friends/family fares. If you're from the US, you can get it here. All purchase options are at the Swiss Flexi Pass page.
  • Prices for the Jungfrau region are on their website, and most lifts have a website of their own as well, like the Schilthorn (Stechelberg - Gimmelwald - Mürren - Schilthorn).
  • All about seat reservation can be found here.

Last modified on Sep 18, 2022 - 1:42 PM by Annika
26 posts
active member
May 5, 2013 - 11:42 PM
Thank you so much for all of that!! Some follow-up questions that are mostly transport related:
  • The leg from Kandersteg-Brig looks like a red dashed line which means 50% covered by the flexipass, correct? We have a spare couple of days so instead, we may hike to Leukerbad where transport would be 100% covered.
  • I'm trying to get the travel from Leukerbad - Domodossola - Brontallo all on one day's Flexipass. It looks like there's a bus that's covered 100% under the Flexipass that goes from Brig to Iselle di Trasquera and I was able to manipulate SBB to give me that as an option. However, I don't see in the SBB timetable whether you *must* have a reservation. How do you tell for any connection, train or bus, whether you must have a reservation?
  • This may seem like a silly question, but I want to make sure the train we take from Domodossola to Brontallo is the Centovalli train -- it looks like the D69 train has a 'stop' or passes "Centovalli". Is this the iconic amazing route that I read about? Is Centovalli as great as they say? Or would we get a better 'show' taking the Glacier Express from Kandersteg - Brig - Andermatt - Locarno (bus to Brontallo)? If that's the more beautiful route for train scenery then is it worth the extra effort in terms of transfers and total time in transit?
26 posts
active member
May 5, 2013 - 11:49 PM
Also, you said that there was camping in Usser Üschene. Do you know of a particular campsite or website for that? I can't seem to find one Googling. I'm also looking for other campsites along the route to Leukerbad via Sunnbühl - Schwarenbach - Daubensee - Gemmipass.

Thank you!!
15765 posts
expert &
May 6, 2013 - 2:11 AM

Hi Remy, you're welcome!

  • That leg is just a tunnel and it's fully covered, please see my previous answer.
  • The standard rule is that you never need a reservation. If an exception applies, a little square with an "R" in it (meaning "reservation compulsory") will be displayed for the connection. See here as well.
  • Any train from Domodossola to Locarno is using the Centovalli route, including the D69. The Glacier Express route is great as well. I would say if you prefer the more authentic, less touristy route, then go for the Centovalli route.
  • I meant the camping that you reach when descending into the valley from Usser Üschene. I just tried to find their website but could not find it. It is (or was) quite close to the Scout Centre, which is another place for budget accommodation (see here). There's another camping as well, called Rendez-Vouz.

Last modified on Jul 13, 2018 - 12:12 PM by Arno


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