8 Day Switzerland Trip Report

Jun 18th, 2012, 06:15 PM
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8 Day Switzerland Trip Report

Here is my trip report for our recent 8 day trip to Switzerland. It was an incredible experience and I would love to go back some day. We spent 4 nights in the BO and still didn’t have enough time to see/do everything there. The weather was perfect! It was warm and sunny with only a few raindrops during the whole week. We did all of our hiking in trail running shoes without any problems.

The hardest part about planning the trip was figuring out which rail pass to buy. After working out a spreadsheet, we ended up buying 2 four day 2-for-1 Swiss Passes for $500.00. The promotion expired on 5/31 so we had to purchase a few tickets on the last two days (Bern to Zurich and Zurich to the airport). I still think it worked out in our favor and I loved being able to just hop on a train, bus, or cable car without purchasing a ticket. I was very concerned about how much food would cost so I kept notes in my travel journal on how much our meals were. All prices listed are in francs (chf).

Thursday, May 24, 2012
Our flight was direct from Dulles to Zurich. After we boarded the plane we were told there was a mechanical problem and we had to get off the plane. After about a 1.5 hour delay we re-boarded the plane and were on our way. We paid extra for Delta’s economy plus tickets which give you about 5 extra inches of leg room. We both thought it was worth the money for the extra room.

Friday, May 25, 2012
The flight landed around 10:10 am. Passport Control was a quick process as we were at the front of the line. We stopped at an ATM and withdrew 500 chf. We had our Swiss Pass validated and had about 40 minutes before our train to Luzern. I had a pretzel with butter (5.00) which was more like butter with a little pretzel while we were waiting. The trip to Luzern was quick and uneventful. Our first stop in Luzern was the TI office for a map. However, we should have asked for directions to our hotel. I had the address and some notes about how to get there, but we ended up walking in the wrong direction which was about 15-20 minutes out of our way. I would have enjoyed the detour if I wasn’t tired and carrying 20 lbs. on my back. We had booked a room at Hotel de La Paix, but when we checked in we were put in their sister hotel, The Ambassador. The room was a decent size and very clean, but the bathroom was a little dated. After a short nap and shower we went out for a walk. We had a late lunch at Pizzeria Zum Weissen Kruez. We each had a salad, split a pizza, 1 large beer, and a Coca Cola Light for 56.30. The food was pretty good and we ate outside in a small alleyway facing the river. We strolled through the old part of town taking in all of the sights. We bought a box of chocolate truffles (12.50) and sat by the lake enjoying some chocolate and the view. We walked to the Lion Monument which was nearly empty at 6:30 pm on a Friday night. We called it an early night and headed to bed around 9:00 pm.

Saturday, May 26, 2012
We woke up before 7 am and had breakfast at our hotel. The breakfast was very good with a nice variety. Our plan was to catch the 8:48 train to Mt. Pilatus, but since it was market day we decided to stroll through the stalls and take the 9:48 train instead. We bought our ticket for Pilatus at the TI office (68.00 which was ½ off due to Swiss Pass). We went to the platform and boarded a 2nd class car that had other people on it. As we were waiting for departure, the car in front of us left the station! Apparently, the last 4 or 5 cars on the track were not going to be used until Monday. About a dozen or so people were in these cars. We found a train employee and he told us that there was a 10:08 train instead. Just a note – the train stop for Mt. Pilatus is Alpnachstad. The train to take is the one that ends at Giswil. This wasn’t mention in any travel book or website that I read. The Alpnachstad stop wasn’t even listed on the train stops. We finally arrived at the bottom of Mt. Pilatus around 10:30 am. We took the cog railway to the top. The views near the top were beautiful. We read that it was best to sit facing downhill and on the right hand side for the best views and I think that info was good advice. At the top, we walked to all of the different overlooks. The views were great even though it was a little hazy. We weren’t able to see all of the mountain tops. After lots of walking around and many photos, we stopped for some French fries (8.00). We took the cable car down. We got off at the transfer station and rode the Frakigaudi rodelbahn, Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run. It was so much fun! My only regret is that I only went down once. We rode the gondola to the bottom of the mountain and rode the bus back to Luzern. We stopped at the Rathaus Brauerei for a snack. We had 1 beer, 1 glass of wine, and an interesting pretzel sandwich for 26.60. We went back to our hotel to change clothes and a quick rest. Around 4:30 we headed back out for more sightseeing. We walked along the top of the old city walls and climbed a few watch towers. We roamed over to the Mill Bridge, put our feet in the Reuss River (it was cold!), and stopped in Church of St. Leodegar (Hofkirche) where we heard someone playing the organ and then wandered through the grave stones. We had dinner at Kanchii Indian Restaurant. We had pakora, garlic naan, split an order of lamb vindaloo, 1 Coca Cola Light, a giant pitcher of tap water (free) for 57.20. I thought the food was just o.k., but lamb vindaloo is not my favorite dish. We wandered around the city some more taking in the scenery before we went back to our hotel.

Sunday, May 27, 2012
We checked out of our hotel around 8:30 am and caught the 8:55 train to Interlaken Ost on our way to Murren. From Interlaken Ost, we took a train to Lauterbrunnen, then a cable car to Grutschalp, and another train to Murren. We arrived around noon and dropped our bags at our hotel, Eiger Guesthouse, which is right across the street from the train station. We had lunch at Edelweiss Hotel on the outdoor terrace with breathtaking views of the Alps. Lunch was 1 beer, 1 glass of tap water (1.50), a green salad, vegetable soup, and a mixed sandwich for 33.00. After lunch we walked to Gimmelwald and strolled around the little village for awhile. We rode the cable car back up to Murren and checked into our room. The room (#7) was very basic, clean, and had a new en suite bathroom with a great shower. After getting settled we rode the train to Grutschalp and walked back to Murren. It was an easy 3 miles with great scenery. We had an early dinner at Tham Chinese Restaurant – 1 beer, 1 Sprite, 1 spring roll, wok noodles with chicken, and fried rice with pork – for 44.00. It was a surprisingly good meal and the owners were very nice. We walked through the empty streets of Murren. We had a drink and dessert at our hotel bar and planned our next day of hiking.

Monday, May 28, 2012
We woke up around 7:00 am and had breakfast at our hotel. We walked through Murren again to take some photos since the sky was so clear. We decided to go over to Wengen and do some hiking on that side. Our plan was to hike up to Mannlichen then to Kleine Scheidegg. The TI office told us this trail was closed due to snow. So we changed our plans and decided to hike from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg. We ended up taking the center route via Mettlenalp and Biglenalp. I think this route was probably 7 miles or so. The views were incredible and the weather was perfect! The last hour or so was quite a bit of uphill and we ended up walking through some snowy and water logged fields at the end. I’m not sure if we were on the actual trail at the end part of the hike, but my husband insisted we were. We arrived at Kleine Scheidigg around 2:30. By then the clouds had rolled in and we couldn’t see the top of the Jungfrau. We had lunch at the Restaurant Bahnholf – 1 beer, 1 Coca Cola Light, Swiss mac and cheese (yummy!), and raclette – for 38.80. The food tasted really good, but I was also very hungry. We took the train back to Wengen (36.00 with Swiss pass). We stopped in Wengen and walked through the town. Not much was open as it was Whit Monday. We did find an open bakery and I bought a piece of chocolate torte. We got back to our hotel in Murren around 5:30 pm. We were worn out and glad to get our shoes off. After some rest we went out for a light dinner at the Hotel Alpina – 1 beer, 2 glasses of wine, 2 soups, and 2 salads – for 50.00. We took the long way back to our hotel after dinner and we had the town to ourselves.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
We took the 9:06 am train out of Murren and spent the day in the beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley. We stopped at the Co-Op for some snacks to carry with us. We followed the walking path in Lauterbrunnen and our first stop was Staubbach Falls. We climbed the hill and walked through the tunnel for a close up view of the falls. We continued through the valley passing small farms with great views of the mountains because the sky was so clear. We saw a lot of BASE jumpers and paragliders. We saw Spissbach Falls then crossed the river to go to Trummelbach Falls (22.00). The falls were impressive and the noise inside the mountain was deafening. After spending an hour or so there, we went back to the walking path and continued on the Murrenbach Falls. This is the tallest waterfall in Switzerland. We caught the bus from the cable car station back to Lauterbrunnen. We had a late lunch at Hotel Oberland – 1 beer, 2 glasses of wine, soup, green salad, cheeseburger and fries, and an apple strudel – for 56. 20. We decided to walk down the valley in the other direction to Zweilutschinen. It was a flat 3 mile walk along the river with the Alps to our back. We weren’t that impressed with this walk as the scenery was a lot like what we see on the trails we walk in Virginia. At Zweilutschinen we caught the bus back to Lauterbrunnen and continued our journey back to Murren. We didn’t feel like going to dinner so we just got some snacks from the Co-Op.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
We went to the Murren TI office to find out which trails were open. Of course the hike we had planned to do was closed due to trees down from a wind storm. We decided to hike to Allmendhubel then on to the North Face Trail. The hike to Allmendhubel was mostly uphill. From there the trail was along the ridge to Gimmelwald. The weather was beautiful and the sky was so clear. This was our favorite hike. We only saw a few other people so it was like having the entire mountain to ourselves. There were still some snow covered patches on the trail. The hike down to Gimmelwald was fairly steep and we unfortunately we missed the side trail that went behind a waterfall. From Gimmelwald we rode the cable car back to Murren. We stopped at the Co-Op to get some lunch supplies. For less than 13.00 we purchased a bag of salad, 2 individual packages of salad dressing, a container of macaroni salad, and a bag of chips. Our hotel let us borrow bowls and silverware and we had lunch on the terrace at our hotel. We decided to go to Schynige Platte and hike around there. However, on the way to Wilderswil I realized that the trip to SP was 55 minutes. This would have put our arrival there after 5:00 pm and a little late to start the 2.5 hour hike we were planning to do. We decided to just go to Interlaken instead and see what was there. I wasn’t very fond of Interlaken as it was a very touristy area. After a tour of the town, we headed back to Murren. We had dinner at the Eiger Guesthouse – 2 glasses of wine, rosti with sausage, green salad, and risotto with bacon and mushrooms – for 57.60. We went back to our room so we could pack up our backpacks since we were checking out in the morning.

Thursday, May 31, 2012
We took the 8:36 train out of Murren. Our next hotel reservation was in Bern, but we stopped in Thun on the way. We arrived in Thun around 10:30 am and stowed our bags in the lockers at the train station. We strolled through the town which I found quite charming. We visited the castle, Schloss Thun (16.00). The castle isn’t furnished, but it had some interesting displays. The view from the castle towers was beautiful. We wanted a quick lunch so we ended up going to McDonalds- 2 Cheeseburger Royale meals with medium fries and drink, 1 cheeseburger, and 2 ketchup packages – for 28.40. Our order got lost in translation since I tried to order menu #2 in German. We ended up with two menu #2s instead of one. Next time I’ll stick to English and save 14.00 chf. We got on the train to Bern. Our laptop broke during the week so we didn’t have specific directions to the hotel. We had trouble finding the TI office in the train station. After a little confusion we found the TI, got a map, and caught the bus to our hotel, Hotel Marthahaus. I knew this hotel wasn’t fancy since I read the reviews, but it is probably just a small step above a hostel. We had an en suite bathroom, but the shower was extremely small. It was smaller than a phone booth. We decided to take a 35 minute train ride to Avanches to see the Roman ruins. We arrived in Avanches after 5:00 pm. The amphitheater is the most complete ruin and as luck would have it, most of the ruins were closed as they were setting up for a concert. We walked around the very small town (it is in the French part of Switzerland). We had some time before the next train so we stopped at a café for a drink. We caught the train back to Bern. We strolled around Bern and decided to have dinner at Restaurant Molino – 1 beer, 1 glass of wine, green salad, mixed salad, small penne arrabiata and small gnocchi al gorgonzola – for 67.00. We did some more walking around and stopped for an ice cream cone before heading back to our hotel.

Friday, June 1, 2012
Had a surprisingly good breakfast at our hotel and checked out around 8:45 am leaving our bags with the front desk. We followed the Rick Steves walking tour of Bern. It was nice to get an early start because the streets were empty and we could really look at things. We saw the clock chime at 10 am and continued through the old town to the bear pits. We started the walk back towards or hotel and stopped at a bakery for a pastry. Before picking up our bags we had lunch at Felsenau – 1 beer, 1 ice tea, Asian salad with chicken, and pasta bolognaise – for 47.30. We retrieved our bags and purchased bus tickets (4.40) to the train station. The hotel is within walking distance, but we had our backpacks so we chose the bus. Our 2-for-1 Swiss Passes expired on May 31 so we had to purchase train tickets to Zurich (94.00). We arrived in Zurich around 3:00 pm. Our hotel, Hotel Walhalla, was easy to find and a much nicer place than I anticipated since it was located right next to the train station. After a quick shower and change of clothes, we started our whirlwind tour of the city around 4:00 pm. We walked down the Banhofstrasse to the lake. We stopped along the way to buy some chocolates at Sprungli. Then we walked through the old part of the city and went in the Grossmunster Church. The church had such beautiful and unusual stained glass windows. We walked some more and found a good spot for people watching at Andorra bar. After a nice rest and some drinks we continued our walking tour. I had the name of a restaurant, Le Dezaley, and we actually found it down a little side street. I had to try fondue before we left Switzerland. We had soup, cheese fondue, potatoes and bread for fondue dipping, rosti with sausage, and 2 glasses of wine, and 2 beers for 93.00. The fondue was excellent! We wandered back to our hotel. We stopped at Co-Op to get some snacks for the plane trip.

Saturday, June 2, 2012
We woke up around 6 am and had breakfast at our hotel. This hotel had the best breakfast of our trip. We left for the airport a little after 8:00 am. Security and Passport Control were quick and efficient and we were at our gate by 9:30. Our flight wasn’t until noon, but my aunt & uncle happened to be on our same flight home. We arranged to meet them at the gate early so we could visit before our flight. Before boarding I went to the gift shop and spent our remaining 40 or so francs on more chocolate and some souvenirs.

Thanks to the Fodors community for helping me plan our trip!
LoveLexi is offline  
Jun 18th, 2012, 06:44 PM
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Great report! Yes, the food is expensive in Switzerland. I have never stayed in Murren, but many people love it there. I have stayed in Wengen four times and I return in September. I always pay the extra 20 CHF to include dinner at Hotel Baeren. It is well worth the money. After a huge breakfast, I usually just pick up a sandwich or a banana from Coop for lunch. This helps the budget a little.

It is nice of you to include the prices of all the food and drinks. It will be a big help for people figuring a budget.
Sounds like you had a wonderful trip.
scatcat is offline  
Jun 18th, 2012, 06:58 PM
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I bet you could just kick yourself for not going up to Schynige Platte!!!!!!!!!!

You didn't have to do the 2.5 mile hike, you could have just walked up to the Panoramaweg overlooking Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, then do the 'circle' back to the train station. It would have been less than an hour walk!

What a grave mistake to skip the very beautiful Schynige Platte to walk around boring Interlaken to view the Hooters and all the postcard stands.

I tell everyone here that Interlaken is touristy, but no one listens.

Oh, well. You can always go back.

Thin-Tschuss
Pepper_von_snoot is offline  
Jun 18th, 2012, 10:59 PM
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Great, It loks you enjoyed a lot. Thanks for sharing this.
cristinaposs is offline  
Jun 20th, 2012, 07:00 AM
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great trip dear ,i am also planing to go in september this year with my family from dubai..
minhajbinsabir is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 07:46 AM
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Thank you for a great trip report! My wife and I are planning a 15 day trip to Switzerland next year. We will be leaving on May 22 and returning on June 6, so the dates overlap the dates of your travel, which makes your comments especially pertinent to our trip. We are going to spend five days each in Wengen, Lucerne and Zurich, taking numerous day trips from each.

I have a few questions for you. What range of high and low temperatures did you experience and what clothing did you take? Specifically, what type of jackets, vests, etc. did you need? We want to pack as light as possible, but still want to be sure we don't freeze on any of the trips. I will confess our backpacking days are many years (decades/centuries?) behind us, so we will probably be taking considerably more clothing than you did.

Also, our hiking will be limited to the "easy" trails. We are in reasonably good shape and enjoy hiking, but any trail descibed as including long, steep, uphill portions will immediately be crossed of our list of possibilities. With that said, I would like to know more about your hikes in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. We would like to see Staubbach Falls and Trummelbach Falls. I haven't even heard of Spissbach Falls and Murrenbach Falls, but we would probably like to include these falls on our hike, as well. How strenuous were these hikes?

Based upon your trip is there any additional advice you would like to give those planning a trip? Thanks again for your report. It will help us improve the planning of our trip!
bumper is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 09:14 AM
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Could Spissbach Falls be Giessbach Falls?
Sounds like you had a fun trip!
mokka4 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 09:51 AM
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Great report!

Got pictures?
Trophywife007 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 12:39 PM
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Weather - I think we were really lucky with the weather during our trip. I obsessively checked weather websites for the few weeks before our trip. The forecasts I read right before we left were very accurate. It was sunny and partly cloudy the entire time except for 2 semi-overcast days. In Murren, the highs were probably in the low to mid 60’s and lows were in the 40’s. In the cities, it was very warm and borderline hot on some days. I would say it was low to mid 70’s and maybe even 80+ on the day we went to Interlaken.

Packing - I try to stick with layering. I took a light hooded rain jacket, a medium weight cotton long sleeve pullover, and a few long and short sleeve shirts. I normally pack something fleece, but I couldn’t fit it in my backpack this time. I also packed a light weight button front jacket to wear at night when we went out for dinner. We were able to wear t-shirts every day once the sun came out. I was surprised by the casualness of what people were wearing in Switzerland compared to other European countries. I packed flip flops for the hotel, but felt comfortable wearing them in public with a skirt in Luzern and Zurich. Around Luzern and the Alps there were many people in travel/hiking pants and hiking shoes/boots. For pants, I packed 1 pair of gray convertible hiking pants, 1 pair of black travel pants, and 1 pair of jeans.

Hiking – The hike through the Lauterbrunnen Valley was maybe about 3 miles long and a flat, easy walk with spectacular scenery. I got a map of the valley at the TI and it had all the falls in the valley listed. All you need to do is follow the paved road/path to see them.
Hope I’m not breaking any Fodor’s rules here, but there is a reviewer on Trip Advisor name kimsanjose. She has a 35 page file on Wengen that she sends out to anyone that asks. All you need to do is send her a private message with your email address. It has lots of information on hotels, hikes, and day trips.

Bumper – I don’t know what order you are staying in Wengen, Lucerne, and Zurich. FYI – I think some of the cable cars in the BO don’t open until mid to late May. Also, in Murren a lot of the restaurants weren’t going to open for the season until around June 1. Not sure about Wengen, but something to keep in mind if you have flexibility in your schedule.
LoveLexi is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 12:44 PM
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marking for later digestion!
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2012, 04:12 AM
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LoveLexi,

Thanks so much for this information. It will help us greatly to plan for our trip. I had planned to start the trip in Wengen and then stay next in Lucerne and end the trip in Zurich. However, based upon your information, I may just reverse the Wengen and Lucerne stays. We plan to stay at either the Hotel Caprice or Alpenrose in Wengen. It appears that the Caprice doesn't open until May 25 next year, so that may be another reason to reverse the stays in Lucerne and Wengen. Thanks again for your information.
bumper is offline  
Dec 5th, 2012, 05:04 PM
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kja
 
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Thanks so much for a very helpful trip report!
kja is offline  
Dec 6th, 2012, 04:29 AM
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Great report! Thanks for including prices.
Ella is offline  
Feb 6th, 2013, 03:32 AM
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Thank you for sharing a great report. I am sure you enjoyed your time in Murren? We were so mesmerized by its view that we broke our budget and stayed for 2 nights there during our backpacking days.

I remembered the Coop supermarket really well, as most of our meals were from there!
styrx is offline  
May 28th, 2013, 01:57 AM
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i am in the process of planning a similar trip and would love to know if the hike you did are possible with a kid in tow. she will be 6 and we are planning to go later july..thnx!
nikidi is offline  
May 28th, 2013, 07:34 AM
  #16  
A3M
 
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Wow Lovelexi. Sounds like a great trip.
And it sure helps me... we are a family of four, two teenage children aged 17 and 15. Will be in Switzerland from the 14th to 21st, based in Luzern. Have planned a day trip to Titlis, another to Pilatus, one day in Basel, one in Interlaken to Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg. Your description of Lauterbrunnen keeps me enthralled.
Can we do the falls in one day? Or is Interlaken worth going two days to. In which case I will have to forgo the luzern vitznau weggis.
Planning to go to the glass factory in Hergiswil too and do a cheese trek to musenalp via dallenwil.
Lovelexi...... need your inputs....
Thanks!
A3M is offline  
May 28th, 2013, 10:27 AM
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I tell everyone here that Interlaken is touristy, but no one listens.>

thank God because you obviously have never gotten off the main drag in Interlaken or you would have seen as nice a town as any in Switzerland - nicer than many in fact because it is backdropped by the Jungfrau Massif in all its glory

If you throw places out because 'they are touristy' then you throw out the whole Berner Oberland - teh KJungfrau, Schilthorn and all those heavily touristed mountain towns like Wengen or Murren or Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen - all depend 100% on tourism - so what do you have left - even remote Gimmelwald is not overrun by tourists.

No the Interlaken that folks like pepper van snot never encounter is IME a very very delightful place and many of its places are more sedate in terms of tourists than any mountain village - like the Unterseen section which pepper no doubt did not see and many other parts

Do not judge a book by its cover and do not judge Interlaken by its tourist Schlocked main drag
PalenQ is offline  
May 28th, 2013, 04:09 PM
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Great review. Very timely. My husband and I are also, flying from Dulles to Zurich in July and heading straight to Wengen for a couple of days. Looking forward to spending time higher in the Alps, prior to our train tour in Switzerland.

Thanks for your post.
lormarscribs is offline  
Jun 7th, 2013, 06:21 AM
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Nikidi-I don't think any of the hikes we did would be good for a 6 yo unless she is already an avid hiker. I know there are some more family friendly hikes, but I've deleted my links so I can't make any specific recommendations. I got a lot of my hiking info on this forum and I know some of the posts were geared towards children. If you do a search for hiking you will probably find some specifics. The Lauterbrunnen Valley is a great place for a nice, flat enjoyable walk with great scenery that your daughter would probably enjoy.

A3M-You could easily tour the Lauterbrunnen Valley waterfalls in a day or maybe even a half day. The amount of time it takes will depend on how many stops you make along the way. I think from the Lauterbrunnen train station to the bus station at the other end is only a few miles. Trummelbach Falls is worth a visit. I think we spent about an hour or so there. If it's crowded it may take longer. I think you can even rent bikes in Lauterbrunnen so you could cover the area a little faster if necessary. As for Interlaken for two days-Personally I wouldn't spend 2 days in Interlaken unless you are using it as a base to see the Bernese Oberland area. It's more of a commercial area (more of a city feel than town/village) but your kids may like that. I think Luzern is definitely worth a visit. Also, make sure to ride the summer toboggan run at Mt. Pilatus. Your kids will love it!

Enjoy your trips! Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places I've visited.
LoveLexi is offline  
Jul 13th, 2013, 02:32 PM
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Great report, we head over in 6 weeks. For packing, a merino base layer, 800 denier packable down jacket (pillow for plane!) and waterproof shell should suffice all temp variations. Appreciate your detail on meals and costs. Just posted request today for dining recommendations in Lucerne & Interlaken. Am printing yours to highlight and save...
aliced is offline  

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