Making our way to Murren
After seeing the sights in Bern, we hopped on a series of trains to Murren to begin our tour of the beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley. Please do not miss this area if you go to Switzerland. The scenery can’t be beat and there is plenty to do to keep you busy for several days. We planned four days in the area, which was about the minimum in my view. We wanted to stay long enough to make sure we got some good weather high in the Alps and also have time to hike and explore both sides of the valley. Oh, and take a ton of pictures! Honesty, you could spend an entire week here and not get bored.
Reference the illustrated map below to see where Murren is in relation to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. It’s in the right center of the map. Murren is not accessible by car. Sounds great doesn’t it? To get there, we took a train from Bern to Interlaken Ost (East), then a train to Lauterbrunnen (lower right of photo), then a cable car up the cliff, and finally a train to Murren. It was all very east to navigate with our carry on luggage and backpacks. The amount of walking we had to do was astonishingly minimal.
Frankly, I expected to see more people in Murren. It has a population of 450 with 2,000 hotel rooms. Surprisingly, in late August, there was hardly anyone there. Perfect! In addition to the quiet town, there are well marked trails everywhere of varying difficulty, which are a must to explore while you are there. For instance, below is a photo I took while hiking from Murren down to Lauterbrunnen. Just another day in paradise!
In Murren, we stayed at the Eiger Guesthouse, which was a quaint, clean and affordable hotel about 50 steps from the small train station. Imagine waking up to the subtle click and clack of the first morning train. Heaven! It was on Rick Steves’ list of places to stay and was not fancy. It has a homey charm and Ema, who runs the guesthouse, was very nice and seemed genuinely interested in helping us have a good time while we were there. Murren was great because it was big enough to have some variety but was not overrun with tourists. I could walk a few steps down the pedestrian-only streets and see some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen on my life.
Below is the view two minutes by foot from the guesthouse.
There is another town called Gimmelwald (upper middle of top photo) within hiking distance but it only has one hotel. It was a little too quaint for our tastes. We did hike there though and it was wonderful. Below is a shot of my lovely wife waiting for me to snap a picture. We were on our way to Gimmelwald that day. Wow, I can’t tell you how fun this is writing for you and reliving my vacation!
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I have included an image below courtesy of MyJungfrau.com so you can see a map of the entire region. As you can see, there is plenty to see in the region and the views are breathtaking at every turn!
Image credit: My Jungfrau
If you look above Murren in the upper right of the map, you will see Mt. Schilthorn. To get there, we simply hopped on a cable car in Murren to the top of the mountain. We did this and saved a few Swiss francs using our Swiss Half Fare Card. Below is a photo I took while on Mt. Schilthorn. Believe me now? Breathtaking!
You can actually hike up to the peak on trails if you want. We did not and opted to go up and down the mountain in the cable car. Way down at the bottom you can see tiny Murren waiting to welcome us home.
Exploring the Lauterbrunnen Valley
After getting our fill of the Schilthorn side of the valley, we decided to work our way to the other side by foot, rail and cable car. The first order of business was to hike down to Lauterbrunnen. We left around 9 am after breakfast and spent almost three hours hiking down to Lauterbrunnen. I took lots of pictures and we took our time as we basked in the beauty of the area. We went through forested areas, saw 200ft waterfalls and stunning vistas of the other side of the valley.
Once we made it to Lauterbrunnen, we decided to have lunch at the Oberland Hotel, which is shown in the photo below. We sat outside on the patio with our jaws open the whole time looking at the views. See that waterfall in the background? It’s just your average 1000ft glacier-fed waterfall in every town. 😉
After lunch, we caught a 20 minute train in Lauterbrunnen to Wengen on the other side of the valley. It is much more swanky than Murren, allows cars, and has a lot more tourists. We did not stay long in Wengen because our goal was to get to Mannlichen where more awesome views could be found. Mannlichen was accessible via cable car from Wengen. Mind you, we are easily walking between all these modes of transportation with our backpacks. The Swiss have moving people to any elevation down to a science!
At the top of Mannlichen, this is what we saw:
And again, the money shot from Mannlichen is of the entire valley. Note to file…take a wide angle lens!
Once we were done taking in the views around Mannlichen, we made our way back on the trains and cable cars. The hike, lunch, Wengen and Mannlichen can all be easily done in a day.
One of our days, we took the train back to Interlaken and caught a bus to Brienz so we could visit the Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum. It is a great side trip where you can see pristine Swiss architechure in natural surroundings. Below is a picture I took while I was there. It rained the morning we visited but cleared up later to be a beautiful day.
I hope this gives you a good feel for the beauty of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and of what you might do while you are there. I plan to go back to Murren in the winter someday. I won’t feel that I entirely experienced the area unless I see it full of snow. This is such a gorgeous place and it should be experienced in everyone’s lifetime. Go and you will not be disappointed!
Other posts related to this trip to Switzerland
- Montreux to Bellagio – Switzerland Itinerary
- Murren to Montreux – Switzerland Itinerary
- Bern to Murren – Switzerland Itinerary
- Train to Bern – Switzerland Itinerary
- Switzerland Itinerary – Part 1 – Getting Ready
- Ballenberg Museum: Swiss Chalet
- Travel Photo: Swiss Barn on the Blumental Trail
- Lauterbrunnen Valley – Exposure Blending to Capture the Scene
- Travel Photo: Bern Row Houses
- Rainy Day Swiss Chalet
- Grindelwald View from Männlichen
- A Stroll in Montreux on Lake Geneva
- Tough Choices at Bern’s Münster
- The Olive Press
- The Jungfrau region of Switzerland
- Picture Perfect Barn at Ballenberg Open Air Museum
- Castle of Chillon: Chateau de Chillon
- Awestruck in the Lauterbrunnen Valley
- Bern parliament building by day and night