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Car necessary in Wengen, Switzerland

Old Feb 1st, 2013, 07:18 AM
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Car necessary in Wengen, Switzerland

Hello all my travel buddies,

I am in the early stages of planning hotel/apartment accommodations in Wengen. I have never been to Switzerland before and am super excited about the trip. I will be in Paris for a week and am all set there. Then transferring to Jungfrau area. It is a toss up where to stay. I am a single traveler and will not have a car. Don't want the hassle. With that being said, where is the optimal area to stay and use the train system. Will Wengen work or do I need to be closer to Interlaken? I have made reservations at the Hotel Edelweiss that can be canceled if need be.

Also, I am a really picky eater and much more so internationally. If I stay in a place like Wengen, are there places to eat and socialize with the locals?

Thank you in advance for all your advice.
Catherine
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 07:22 AM
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Sorry, trip is in September 2013.

Catherine
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 07:56 AM
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Wengen is entirely car-free anyway. Hence a car would be of zero use and rather a nuisance because you have to leave it down in the valley, unload your stuff and take the train up. You could just as well take the train for the whole trip.

Wengen is a busy mountain holiday resort with everything a visitor would need.
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 08:45 AM
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Is Wengen the place to stay in this region?
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 09:12 AM
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Hi catherinehaas,

Yes, I believe so. I've stayed in Wengen two times and prefer it over the other villages in the area. It has enough facilities to keep you happy, and is small enough and pretty enough to amaze you.

I've also stayed in Grindelwald three times, mainly to ski. It would be my second choice. It's larger than Wengen and allows cars.

The only caveat I would add is that Wengen sort of shuts down in the shoulder season -- April, May, and November. If you are going then, then you ought to find a place at a lower elevation or larger.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 09:13 AM
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Not sure what you mean by picky eater. This is a small town and restaurants will be open limited hours and usually have typical local menus.

How picky is picky?
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 09:23 AM
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Thank you for your responses. I will be traveling in September, so that should not be a concern.

Picky is picky. I don't eat meat off the bone, I don't like seafood of any kind, not into lamb or veal, vegetables are pretty much limited to green beans, corn, carrots, and peas. I will eat salad... Pizza and pasta is good as long as they are basic. Steak and chicken are good. Sausage is ok. Beer and wine are wonderful...
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 10:14 AM
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catherine - there is lots of food in Switzerland that will suit you.

you will find plenty of plain meat, sausages, potatoes, and salads.

and great wine and beer.

the prices can be a bit steep though!
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 11:24 AM
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Public transit is the only way to reach Wengen or many parts of the fantastic Jungfrau Region - toylike mountain trains, thrilling aerial gondolas or hairpin-turning postal buses - and to get to Wengen yes the train is the only way - via Interlaken with great rail links to all parts of Switzerland. For loads of great info on Swiss trains and transports (and the Swiss Pass, which can be incredibly useful and a good value to many) check out these IMO fantastic sites - www.swisstravelsystem.com; http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id3.html and www.ricksteves.com. For schedules and fares check out the official site of the Swiss Federal Railways - www.sbb.ch.
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 01:05 PM
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the prices can be a bit steep though!>

a BIT steep - as steep as the Jungfraujoch Railway IME - and one of the benefits of staying say in Interlaken is that you can actually find vaguely reasonable restaurants such as at the Coop Superstore or Migros super store and discount supermarkets and large supermarkets unlike the small more expensive stores and restaurants, limited in number in small towns like Wengen.
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 05:40 PM
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Hi,

Wengen is like Heaven on Earth. That's how we felt during our 4 night stay years ago in early October. I'm with you... "I don't eat meat off the bone, I don't like seafood of any kind, not into lamb or veal,". That said, I had no problem eating during our stay in Wengen. Don't even consider a rental car as you can't get to Wengen by car anyway. The trains are excellent and go practically everywhere.
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Old Feb 1st, 2013, 08:12 PM
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Just stayed 3 days in Wengen. Didn't try out any of the restaurants. They are pricey. Looking at 20 CHF for a pasta dish, a European pizza, for Rosti.

Burgers are 10-12 CHF. Not sure if they're any good, didn't try. Rugenbrau is about 6 CHF for a bottle.

I chose to go with the half board at my hotel, because it was situated about 1 km from the main village, up and down some inclines. Didn't feel like walking in the cold, dark nights, where the choices seemed pretty limited.

Of course, they only offered one main course and so on so I got veal, chicken curry and lamb chops. All great quality though, great fresh produce too.

But yeah, I'd imagine in Interlaken, you'd be able to have some fast food meals (which aren't cheap either) or get some takeaway sandwiches and salads at the bigger grocery stores. There is a Co-op in Wengen but it's small and there's a smaller market which sells a lot of locally produced cold cuts and cheeses.

The hotel half board option is convenient but the wines are kind of a rip off. Small bottles of cheap wine are 7 CHF or more, enough for a couple of glasses but even up in Wengen, you can get nice full bottles at the Co Op for about 10 CHF, I found.

Even Swiss wine, which shouldn't cost as much as good French or Italian wines, are pricey off the hotel menu. Of course, they have to have the wines carted up the train so everything is expensive up there. It's like if you go to an island, things are expensive because of the transport costs.

As for where to stay, if you plan to spend those 4 days mostly up in the mountains, doing all the different hikes, then it's great to be up there. But if you think you'd want to day trip to the lakes or maybe Bern or Luzern, then it's not as convenient to get down to Interlaken each time before you can change to the longer trains to those cities.

BTW, my understanding is that the Half Fare Card will get you 50% off Junfrau while the Swiss Pass only gets you 25%. I looked up all the train trips I was going to have to take, like from Zurich airport to Wengen and then back towards the airport and I saw that the Half Fare Card made more sense for me. Even without the savings from going up to the Jungfrau, the Half Fare Card more than paid for itself on all the different trips I made.

If you're only going to be in Switzerland for 4 days, then the calculus may be different and favor the Pass. So complicated that I had to put together a spreadsheet to compare costs.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 06:42 AM
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I'd definitely stay in Interlaken. More choices for food, and easier and faster access to other parts of the Bernese Oberland if the weather is not good, and I wouldn't go up to the Jungfrau if the peak is shrouded in clouds. You wouldn't see a thing, and the trip up there is not exactly cheap. If you stay in Interlaken, and use the Good Morning/Good Afternoon or the "Connecting Jungfrau Ticket" you could profit from seeing more in one day... all tickets are roundtrip tickets via Grindelwald, Jungfraujoch - Wengen - Lauterbrunnen. You could interrupt the journey at each village for a bit of sightseeing before you return to Interlaken.

Harder Kulm, Rothorn from Brienz and open air museum, a cruise on Lake Thun or Brienz, Oeschinen Lake and Blausee in the Kandertal, the steepest post bus trip up to Griesalp at the foot of the mighty Blüemlislap in the Kiental, amazing views to Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch from Beatenberg... all easier done form Interlaken than Wengen.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 12:18 PM
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and open air museum, a cruise on Lake Thun>

Yes this is a dandy day out from Interlaken or from higher up bases like Wengen (though of course a longer day trip - one reason for basing in Interlaken like WildWanderings says - better or easier at least day trips out of the mountains when funky weather sets in - not unusual in a place where wet weather can unfortunately set in for days on end - then time to day trip on the lakes (boats are covered) or to cities like Bern or Lucerne that are much nicer in wet weather than trekking around muddy trails, etc.

And the day on Lake Thun involves a ride on a classic steamer and can include a visit to the amazing Ballenberg Open-Air museum - take a postal bus there from Brienz - right opposite the boat dock - and yes take the steam train up the mountain behind Brienz as well (I walked back down - a great great walk with the lake always in full view and the glacier-drenched Jungfrau Massif looming across the lake!

And if you have a Swiss Pass it covers the lake boats in full as well as free entry to the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum - over a $20 value along and also gives 50% off the Rothorn steam train - again a sizeable chunk of money.

And with a pass you can do the Jungfrau train cheaper than the early bird special and leave when you want as the pass is valid in full to Wengen or Grindelwald and then gives you 25% off from there - early bird special involves leaving on the first train of the day from Interlaken or intermediate station - very very early though you can take any train back.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 01:55 PM
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I beg to differ with those recommending Interlaken. It is full of cars, tourists, retail shops, there is even a Hooter's Restaurant on the main street through town. Yes, it's convenient for taking trains all around. And since it is a small city it certainly has more restaurants and food shopping options than the mountain villages. But it is totally devoid of charm IMO. After 17 trips to the region I try to avoid it other than to change trains. And should you want to go to Jungfraujoch you're basically already half way there from Wengen.

Wengen sports one of the most scenic views in the entire world. September is perfect season as the weather is usually clear and mild with highs in the 70s. There are two grocery stores, including a Coop that sells take away sandwiches and salads. The bakery in town also sells take away sandwiches, there's a fast food restaurant (locally owned) on the primary street that sells hamburgers and such. Most if not all of the restaurants in town are fantastic. A great place to have dinner or a drink and socialize with the locals is at Pickel Bar. I have a 35+ page document of tips, hiking, and outing ideas about the region. If you'd like a copy send me a private message with your email address.

I've always found the Half Fare Card to be the most cost-effective transport discount card. You get 50% off of all transport, period. No trying to figure out which routes are "free" (with the super expensive passes), which are 50% off, which are 25% off, which travel days are covered and which aren't. Only way to know for sure is to "do the math" which involves lots of mental torture and spreadsheets, looking up the costs for every trip you think you might want to take, then evaluating all the various passes (there are LOTS). I've done it four times and every time the HFC came out the best deal.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 08:32 PM
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Brienz is on Lake Brienz not Lake Thun. The boats for Lake Brienz leave from Interlaken Ost train station. Buses for the Open air (Frei licht) museum connect with boat arrivals in Brienz -- in that efficient Swiss way. The boats for Lake Thun leave from Interlaken West station at the far end of Interlaken.
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Old Feb 5th, 2013, 03:58 AM
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Thank you everyone for all your great responses. Since it is a couple months before I leave, I will check out everything. Since I am traveling alone, it might be better if I am located in a town where I can do things later in the evening. Also, I will check out the rail passes. I know from everyone on Fodor's and RS that the trip up the mountain is VERY expensive, so I really am hoping for great weather. Too far to go to be socked in with clouds the entire time....
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Old Feb 5th, 2013, 10:23 AM
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. But it is totally devoid of charm IMO. After 17 trips to the region I try to avoid it other than to change trains.> Anyone who says Interlaken is devoid of charm has probably never ever gotten off the main drag and into its several parts that anyone would have to call charming - like Matten, Unterseen and the old town square - but yes if you just hurry thru Interlaken and only see the busy main drag yeh then you may say Interlaken is devoid of charm - but if you seek charm you will find it in several areas.
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Old Feb 5th, 2013, 11:48 AM
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http://www.google.com/search?q=unter...=1600&bih=1075

Interlaken devoid of charm? Well check out these pictures of a part of Interlaken that is absolutely charming - and it is not the only area.
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