After having to postpone visiting Switzerland twice due to COVID we finally made our trip this September to Wengen and Sils Maria. Although I have had recent issues with United cancelling flights our flight connections through Chicago to Zurich was without problems. We had previously bought the Swiss half fare card through the Swiss travel center from this website and downloaded it to our Iphone wallets. As a precaution we also printed a paper copy too. This turned out to be important as we all had to retrieve it from expired passes after only 1 day and in one case the HFC couldn’t be found on the phone and she didn’t have internet access to re-download it while on the train. To get to Wengen we used the HFC to get a point to point ticket from Zurich to Interlaken where we purchased the Jungfrau pass to get to Wengen and use during our stay in the Jungfrau area. Another important point is to make sure you have the exact same name on all your tickets and documents. One of our party had a nickname on a point to point ticket and the conductor almost made her buy another ticket.
** On arrival we were moderately jet lagged but as our hotel (Beausite Park) is less than 5 minutes from the cable car to Mannlichen we decided to stretch our legs with the Royal walk at Mannlichen and then on to Kleine Scheidegg before returning to Wengen. It was as beautiful as I remembered. See photo.
** Day 2- We chose the hike from First to Bussalp. You can choose to go by way of Faulhorn or alternately by way of Hireleni and Feld. We chose the latter as it was easier and I have always thought the trail to Waldspitz was especially scenic and Hireleni is just above Waldspitz. We were not disappointed, the views were spectacular. See photos. We took the cable car from Wengen to Mannlichen then to Grindelwald terminal. I was amazed and impressed with the changes to Grindelwald Grund. It was much easier to get the train to the center of Grindelwald then take the cable car to First. The first leg to Bachalpsee was typically scenic but moderately crowded. But from Bachalpsee to Bussalp we only saw 2 other hikers. At Bussalp we had a late lunch and beer then returned to Grindelwald by bus which ran every hour. The hike was about 7 miles
** Day 3- Meteoswiss predicted clouds and rain so we chose a hike in Lauterbrunnen valley, the Mountain View trail. As it turned out we had no rain and it was only partly cloudy with intermittent good views. I have noticed there is occasionally some confusion between the Mountain View trail and the Panaramaweg trail from Grutschalp to Murren. They are substantially different. The Panaramaweg trail is relatively flat and easy and parallels the train for the most part. The Mountain View trail climbs about 800 feet in the first half hour and a total of 1200 feet or so to Allmendhubel where it descends steeply to Murren. It is a true mountain path(dirt, roots, rocks)and correctly labeled moderate in my opinion but spectacular views, see photos. Possibly not a good choice for very young children. In Murren we ate at the Edelweiss hotel terrace with views of the valley and mountains. afterwards we road the cable cars down to Stechelberg and walked back to Lauterbrunnen, about 1.5 hrs.
** Day4- The weather was clear and cloudless all day so we chose the long difficult hike from Schynige Platte to First. It takes about 1.45 hrs to get to Schynige Platte from Wengen so we got an early start. This is perhaps the most scenic hike I have done and I always suggest starting on the ridge line Panaramaweg trail at the beginning in SP rather than the standard trail through the center of the plateau of SP. It adds possibly 2 miles to the hike but it gives you spectacular views of the lakes on the left and the mountains on the right. See photos. With this route our GPS watches registered 11 miles and 3000 feet elevation gain. The trail is rocky and steep especially the section before Faulhorn. You must be aware that the gondola at First closes at 5:30 and manage your time accordingly. The trail is rightfully rated as difficult.
** Day 5- This was a travel day from Wengen to Sils Maria. I was somewhat surprised the train ride to St Moritz took 6 hrs or longer. We had a 10 minute connection in Bern and our train was 8 minutes late arriving but we still made our connection with only seconds to spare. At St Moritz we were met at the station by a car from our Sils Maria hotel, The Waldhaus. The ride took about 25 minutes. The Waldhaus is a historic old family run hotel. A great place to stay. It reminded me of The Greenbrier Hotel in the US. Hotels in the area give guests a pass that gives free access to area busses, cable cars, and trains.
** Day 6- Another cloudless, clear day. We took the bus from Sils to the Corvatsch cable car (15 minutes)and took the cable car to the top for a short visit. Back down to the mid station, Murtel, to begin our hike. We hiked for about an hour towards Pontresina and stopped at the Fuorcla Sutlej overlook. We had fine views of Piz Roseg and Bernini. We turned back towards Murtel and passed under the lift and continued on to the top of the Furtschellas lift. The entire time we were above the tree line with beautiful views of the lakes, valley, and mountains between Pontresina and Maloja. The entire hike was about 7.5 miles with mild up and down elevation changes. I would say a moderate hike, not too difficult but still 7.5 miles and some moderate climbs and descents. Well worth the effort.
** Day 7- There was rain and cloud cover forecast for most of the day and we were a little leg weary. So we decided on an easier hike down the Fex valley. We rode in a horse drawn carriage from our hotel down the valley past Crasta to Curtins(45 minutes). At Curtins we left the carriage and began our hike up the valley wall to the lookout at Marmore. A moderate climb perhaps 3-4 miles. From there it was a short descent back into Sils Maria. It should be noted despite the poor weather forecast we had many fine views of the beautiful Val Fex. See photos. And only a little rain at the very end. We were very glad we didn’t let the forecast scare us away from a very nice hike.
**Day 8- Sadly our time of hiking was at an end. We took the 4 hr train ride to Zurich without incident. We planned for our last night in Switzerland to include dinner at Kronenhalle restaurant, a high end family run restaurant in old town (since 1924). Known for fine artwork and fine cuisine we thought it a fitting end to our stay in Switzerland.
** Day 9- However our flight was canceled just after midnight by United. Not to worry; we spent the afternoon wandering around old town with coffee outside by the river and dinner in a small cafe in Neiderdorfstrasse. My last taste of Wienerschnitzel.
**Day 10- Home. (24 hrs to Tennessee )
Some helpful hints that the moderators have mentioned before and I find them to be true as well.
- Public transport is the way to go. I used the SBB Mobile app daily. Transfer times may seem tight but are almost always doable. We made a 2 minute connection in Bern (yes I was nervous ). There is no reason not to pack light. All of us had a small backpack and 1 carry on size bag. Even nice restaurants are casual and it makes transport between trains much easier ( we did check 1 small foldable bag with just our hiking poles as you can’t bring them on the plane ). Make sure all the names on your tickets and passes and IDs match exactly.
- It’s fine to take into account weather forecasts but I wouldn’t be too obsessed with them. 2 of our hikes were forecast to have rain and cloud cover but the cloud cover turned out to be intermittent and the rain either missed us or was after our hike. Actually the clouds often add depth and character to photos and we were glad we didn’t miss 2 days of hiking due to weather reports. The hikes turned out beautiful but we were prepared for rain.
- The hikes will typically be listed by how long it takes not by distance or elevation change. The hiking times are generally pretty accurate except on those hikes with steep ascents or descents. On those it took us longer but we were in no hurry. The hiking times do not take into account time spent resting or taking photos. On scenic hikes that can add an hour or so.
- Be aware of when the last cable car, bus, or train runs. You really don’t want to get stuck on top of First or Schynige Platte or Bussalp.
Most of all, have fun! Enjoy! Mark. Looks like I will need to add more photos on another page