How to Spend 5 Days in the Swiss Alps – Bernese Oberland
My first trip to Europe was Switzerland in December 2011. With my Grandpa being 100% Swiss, I couldn’t wait to embrace the culture. I explored cities like Geneva, Zurich, Bern, Lucerne, Lausanne, Montreux, Interlaken, Zermatt & Gstadd. Six years later, I came back with my family & spent time in the Bernese Oberland region. The Bernese Oberland vacation has been one of my top vacation destinations in all of my travels. If you love the outdoors, Switzerland is magical. Even if you don’t, it’s still magical! Here is what I would recommend when booking your trip.
Give yourself a minimum of 4 full days to see the entire region. Five days, six or a full week gives you wiggle room with weather & may allow you to see other areas nearby.
In 2017, we stayed 3 nights. In 2018, we stayed 4 nights. Since we arrived late from Italy in 2017, we really only got 2.5 days to explore. Therefore, I felt a strong urge to come back the following year. In 2018, we stayed four nights, but due to poor weather, we only were able to enjoy 2 days. Be aware of what month you are going. In 2018, we went in late August and still had two days of poor weather which kept us inside. It never hurts to stay an extra day or two in case the weather turns. Try to make your travel schedule flexible, if possible.
Where to stay?
Mürren or Grindelwald.
I feel Grindelwald is more centrally located compared to Mürren, but in my opinion, Mürren has the best views of the Swiss Alps. Mürren is on one side of the valley & Grindelwald is on the other side. Grindelwald is a short ride to Grindelwald First, Jungfraujoc & Kleine Scheidegg. Mürren is a short ride to the Schilthorn, Lauterbrunnen & Gimmelwald. While you could have one home base for your entire trip, you could also split your trip between Mürren & Grindelwald if you wanted to save on travel time between the valleys. For example, 2 nights in Mürren & 3 nights in Grindelwald. If you did one home base, travel time will be longer to see everything. For example, it takes over 2 hours to travel to Jungfraujoc from Mürren with all the train transfers.
Mürren is so charming because you sit on the highest part in the Alps. From Lauterbrunnen, you take a gondola up, then you take a train to arrive to Mürren. This town is also pedestrian only & the only vehicles are farm vehicles. Another popular option is Wengen. It has more restaurants and shopping, but the views face the Lauterbrunnen Valley and I feel are not as scenic as Mürren or Grindelwald.
In Mürren, we stayed at Hotel Eiger. In Grindelwald, we stayed at Hotel Alpenhof. Both hotels provided great service, had a great view and a lovely free breakfast.
Should I or should I not buy the Jungfrau pass?
If I were to do my 2017 trip over, I would have stayed longer & purchased the pass. Even if you are not a hiker, you can ride the gondolas up and down. Yes, it’s expensive, but you can use it daily and it will save you money vs. buying the daily tickets. Or even buying the Swiss Half Card.
Is a trip to Jungfraujoch “Top of Europe” worth it?
Yes. It is expensive since it is an additional cost to the Jungfrau pass, but it’s something you won’t regret doing.
Schilthorn – this was my favorite view out of all the hiking we did because it gives you the best view of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. We hiked down from Schilthorn to Mürren. We loved seeing the sheep along the way.
Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg – We actually did this in reverse because we went to Jungfraujoch first, then hiked down from the Eigergletscher trail to Kleine Scheidegg. The suggested way would be much more scenic. The trail sits above the town of Grindelwald and you get to stare at the beautiful mountains your entire time! The trail is pretty easy with minimal hills.
Grindelwald First – Faulhorn – Schynige Platte – Due to the raining weather, we were only able to do a portion of this hike. However, when I come back, it’s first on my list! On the day we arrived in 2018, we took the cable car up to Grindelwald First and hiked to Bachalpsee, then worked our back down to Grindelwald on foot. I loved this view.
Hike to the highest altitude serviced hut in Switzerland – Mönchsjochhütte. From the Jungfraujoch visitor center, step out into the snow field & hike to trail to reach the hut. It took about 45 minutes. It offers breathtaking views and was our favorite memory of visiting Jungfraujoch.
Grindelwald First to Grosse Scheidegg – This hike gets you away from the crowds & you still get great views.
Mürren to Gimmelwald – A short walk but walking through Gimmelwald allows you to soak in what it must feel like to be a local resident. You’ll see local residents tending to their gardens & lawns, barns with cow bells and even a cute “honest” shop. This was a special memory & I highly recommend visiting, especially if you are staying in Mürren. Note: you can also take a cable car from Mürren to Gimmelwald.
One other hike: Mürren to Lauterbrunnen. Get your workout in & go the opposite direction. It was a little knee pounding going down.
Where to Eat?
As you may know, Switzerland is expensive. Eating out for every meal can add up quickly. We chose to use the local grocery store for every lunch. For dinner, we would enjoy a meal at a restaurant. Here are some suggestions of our favorite spots.