First of all I would like to thank www.myswissalps.com for all of the helpful planning tips. I’ve spent the last 8 months planning for this trip of a lifetime and it did not disappoint. I just returned from 13 days in Switzerland (during the massive heat wave), 5 days in Basel for a conference and then an 8 day vacation in the Bernese Oberland where my 22 year old son met me. I used this site so much for rail info, activities, and reference information.
The most helpful tips I found were:
1) the spreadsheet for determining which rail pass to buy,
2) downloading the SBB app for rail info, and
3) Traveler’s wifi (which I got at a discount that was announced on this site).
I ended up getting both a Swiss Half Fare Card(purchased on line & printed at home) and an 8 day Regional Pass Bernese Oberland. The HFC came in handy for my train rides outside the 8 day BO pass and the combined cost of these 2 passes was only $35CHF more than the BO pass itself. It was very convenient to have the pass and not have to constantly purchase tickets. We had incredible weather, 13 straight days of sun, the last 3 evenings we had severe thunderstorms but we had already finished our activities for the day and enjoyed watching the storms roll thru the valley and the mountains from the comfort of our terrace. The following is my trip report:
June 21-25 – Flew from Boston to Zurich and then took the train to Basel. I stayed at Hotel D for 5 nights. Nice hotel, room was small but clean and comfortable, staff very friendly. The highlight of this hotel was that it had air conditioning in the room which was a godsend with temperatures in the 90s. I was in meetings most of the days but did get to spend a little time exploring. I took the Basel City self-guided walking tour listed on this site. I also spent a few hours at the Basel Zoo which was lovely. I spent the evenings strolling along the Rhine watching the boats and people floating down the river. I had one free day and I used that to take the train to Lausanne where I visited the Olympic Museum which I loved. I was a college athlete and have followed every Olympics since I was a child. The museum was very well done and in a beautiful location right on Lake Geneva. While in Basel I ate at Chateau Lapin, Zum Isaak, & Gifthuttli, all very good. Had my first rosti.
June 26 – My son and I left Basel and took the train to Bern where we purchased our Bernese Oberland Regional passes. We then continued on by train to Meiringen where we stayed at Hotel Victoria for 2 nights. The hotel was very nice, but the heat was stifling and we were very uncomfortable (it was over 80 degrees at 11pm). Upon arrival we walked to the cable car station in Meiringen and took a series of 3 cable cars to reach the Alpen Tower for spectacular 360 panoramic views (& also to cool off). We ate dinner at Stella-Leone. The cable car broke down while we were riding on it and they gave everyone coupons to get a free drink at the restaurant.
June 27 – We took the train to Brienz and then the steam train up the Brienzer Rothorn with spectacular views. We spent a short time at the top, walking to the summit and back to the train. We took the train back down to Brienz and then hopped on a boat for a short cruise over to Giessbach Falls. We rode the furnicular up to the hotel and had lunch at the Grand Hotel Giessbach on the terrace. Probably the first time I have ever paid $32 for a club sandwich. After lunch we hike up along the waterfall, also going behind the waterfall. Again, it was a cooling activity, a great way to beat the heat. We retraced our steps back to the boat, then to Brienz, and back to Meiringen. We ate dinner at Leopolds Steakhouse. The original purpose of staying in Meiringen was so we could take the furnicular up to Gelmersee and hike around the lake and also take the Trift cable car and hike out to the Trift Bridge. We ended up not doing either of these activities because the path around Gelmersee was still closed due to avalanche risk and there were also warnings at the Trift Bridge.
June 28 – We checked out of our hotel & walked to Reichenbach Falls where we took the furnicular to the middle of the falls. We then hiked to the top of the falls and then hiked all the way back down to Meiringen. From Meiringen we headed to Wengen via rail. We moved into our chalet (Bella Vista 2) that we rented thru Wengen Apartments. Very pleased with these accomodations and would highly recommend. We were very close to the train station and grocery store and had fantastic views from our terrace. We cooked all of our breakfasts and dinners in the chalet and packed picnic lunches while in Wengen. After getting settled in we took the cable car from Wengen to Mannlichen. We rode on top of the cable car for the Royal Experience which was a lot of fun. At the top we took the Royal Walk up to the summit. We then hiked the Panorama trail from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg(the trail had just opened a few days earlier) which was still a bit muddy in places. Finally we headed back to Wengen via rail.
June 29 – We got an early start and went from Wengen to the Jungfraujoch. It was a gorgeous day & we enjoyed the drop in temperature at the high elevation. We enjoyed walking outside on the snow and also visiting the Ice Cave. We spent about 2.5 hours there. Upon our descent from Jungfraujoch we got off at the Eigergletscher station. We hiked the Eiger Trail to Alpiglen, stopping for a picnic on the way. We had to cross multiple snowfields and saw some beautiful waterfalls.
June 30 – We headed down by train to Lauterbrunnen and walked along the valley to Stechelberg stopping at various waterfalls. My son and I went paragliding in Murren with Air Time paragliding. This was one of my favorite activities of the trip, I was able to fly right by Murrenbach Falls. We landed in Stechelberg and then took the cable car back up to Murren. From there we took the Allmendhubel furnicular and then hiked along the Mountain View Trail to Grutschalp. We took the cable car back down to Lauterbrunnen and then the train back to Wengen.
July 1 – We took the train from Wengen to Grindlewald via Kleine Scheidegg. In Grindlewald we took the cable car up to First, did the Thrill walk and then walked out to Bachalspee for a picnic lunch. We walked back to First and took the cable car down one stop. We then took the mountain carts down to Bort which was one of my son’s favorite activities of the trip. From Bort we took the trotter bikes back to Grindlewald. My son fell on the trotter bikes and received quite a nasty bruise on his arm & chest. We passed 2 other people who fell and a few others who expressed that they didn’t feel safe. The bikes were fun but we thought the terrain was much too steep for them and you also have to ride in the street with cars and buses once you reach Grindlewald. It was definitely not an activity for children under 12. We then took the cable car up to Pfingstegg and took a ride on the alpine slide since it was all include in our BO pass. Finally we did some shopping in Grindlewald and then took the train back to Wengen.
July 2 – We took the train to Wilderswil and then took the cog railway up to Schynige Platte. We hiked the Panoramaweg and went up the Oberberghorn before returning to the train station. We made our way back to Lauterbrunnen and walked thru the valley again out to Trummelbach Falls. The falls were amazing. There had been heavy rains the prior 2 nights and the noise of the falls was deafening, very impressive. We walked back thru the valley (can you tell we couldn’t get enough of it) and then took the train back to Wengen. We did a little shopping in Wengen and walked thru some of the sections of the town that we had not previously seen.
July 3 – Sadly we checked out of our apartment and took the train from Wengen to Zurich Airport via Lucerne. We departed your beautiful country at 5:30pm and landed back in Boston at 7:45pm local time. I think this trip may have ruined all other vacations in my future because I cannot believe that I will ever encounter scenery as beautiful as that in the Bernese Oberland. Photos/videos from my trip can be viewed at gyshwysh.smugmug.com/F amily/Switzerland-2019.