Where to go in Berner Oberland area?

Old Mar 9th, 2017, 10:26 AM
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Where to go in Berner Oberland area?

Hi!

I'm headed to Switzerland in early June this year and am lost as to where to stay. I'm a 33 year old female traveling by myself. I'd like to stay away from the more touristy parts and really experience the Swiss culture. I don't have much interest in seeing any big cities or shopping but want to see the more picturesque parts of Switzerland.

Day one I'll be flying into Geneva and getting in early morning. Was planning on heading out right away so that I'd have the majority of the day to explore the first destination. Days 2-3, I was thinking I would see another town or two in the surrounding area. Day 4, I have the entire day but do need to get back to Geneva that night for an early flight out the following morning.

Towns I've read about that interest me are Brienz, Thun, Spiez, Gimmelwald, Wengen, Murren, Lauterbrunnen (although this last one sounds like it may be more of an area rather than a single town?)

Could I double up on any of these and see more than one in a day? Or would that be trying to cram too much in? Does any one have any suggestions as to best itinerary to see the best of these areas? Also, are there some that are better to stay overnight in than others?

I'm not looking to go out partying at night but would like a local watering hole that I could meet other travelers and have a beer or two!

I appreciate ANY help or suggestions!
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 12:21 PM
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Well you really only have 2 days to work with. I don't see going beyond one place.

You might want to consider taking the train to Montreux on your first day and transfer to the Golden Pass panorama train to take you up to Gstaad. It's a busy ski resort in the winter but in June it is not nearly as busy. It's a nice walkable little town and you can also do some nice hikes in the area.

Then I would return to Geneva on the fourth day and see what interests you there. While Geneva is a city, it's not overwhelming and the small downtown/oldtown core is quite walkable. Or you could spend a half day in Montreux on the way back to Geneva and take in the waterfront and Chateau Chilon.
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 12:43 PM
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With that short of a time, I don't think I would venture past Lake Geneva. There is a lot to see and do in that area.

If you do decide to proceed on to the Berner Oberland, every place that you've mentioned is "touristy," but there is a reason for that, and it's because those places are worth visiting--well, Gimmelwald is kind of a Rick Steeves ghetto, but it's literally walking distance from Murren. In particular, in the mountains, there wouldn't be much of anything up there at all were it not for tourism--a smattering of farmhouses, at most.
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 04:54 PM
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As already noted, you don’t have as much time as you think! That said, transportation is so easy in Switzerland that you still have MANY options.

If you want to see the Bernese Oberland, then you might want to focus on Wengen, Murren, or Lauterbrunnen. (Lauterbrunnen is a town; the Lauterbrunnen Valley is an area; Wengen and Murren are both above the Lauterbrunnen Valley and are reached by traveling through Lauterbrunnen.) If I could afford a room with a stunning view, I would opt for Wengen. As it was, I was pleased with Lauterbrunnen. I enjoyed Brienz and Thun, but don’t think they give the same range of options. And whatever you decide, please note that you would NOT be “away from the more touristy parts” or experiencing “Swiss culture”: the Bernese Oberland is very heavily touristed – for good reasons! The area is, hwoever, decidedly picturesque, or perhaps nore accurately, jaw-droppingly beautiful.

I would strongly recommend that you get a copy of the Michelin Green Guide or Rough Guide – the cost will be nugatory in comparison to the cost of your trip, and you will probably learn things you haven’t realized you ought to be asking.

As others have noted, you could stay in / around Lake Geneva – much of which is also, IME, tourist-y. Personally, I would not recommend Gstaad – I found it far less scenic than either the Bernese Oberland or Lake Geneva, and I also found it WAY too upscale for my tastes (dogs wearing more jewelry than I own, etc.), although that is not everyone’s experience of the area.

And you might find some ideas in my trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...any-thanks.cfm

Hope that helps!
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 05:20 PM
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Grindelwald or Wengen !
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 07:52 PM
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After 20 trips to the Jungfrau region I agree with kja's advice. We particularly adore Wengen. In early June the area will not be full of people, it is still sort of off season. Some of the high elevation walks won't yet be open but there are plenty at lower elevations with scenery that is swoon-worthy. I would avoid Spiez, Thun, etc as they are small cities rather than idyllic Swiss alpine villages which it sound like you are looking for.
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 11:44 PM
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Another chimp in for Lauterbrunnen Valley area. From Lauterbrunne tram station, you can easily go up to Murren, Wengen or Gimmelwald in 10 mins. They are all gorgeous tiny mountain villages of the same valley. During the evening choose any restaurant and you'll inevitably run into other travellers. The area is touristy, sure, but it's a vast mountain region that has a quiet corner for everyone (when I was there in May, I was alone on my path most of the time, I don't see anybody around.)

Stay in one of those villages for the night, don't stay in Interlaken, which you will have to pass by to reach Lauterbrunnen, but which itself isn't interesting.
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Old Mar 10th, 2017, 02:33 AM
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Thank you to EVERYONE that replied. Do you think it possible to do both Wengen and Murren? Spend 2 nights in one, 1 night in the other? Aren't they less than an hour by train from each other?

And then walk to Gimmelwald one of the afternoons from Murren?

Sorry for all of the questions, does anyone have any suggestions as to best hikes to do from any of those locations? I'm a female traveling solo.

Thank you for the book suggestions as well!
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Old Mar 10th, 2017, 03:18 AM
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Yes, it's easy to visit the Murren side of the valley from Wengen. Gimmelwald is a fun downhill 30-minute walk from Murren.

From Wengen, you can take a cable car up to Maennelichen, then walk mostly downhill to Kleine Sheiddegg and back to Wengen. The Eiger Trail from Eigergletscher to Grindlewald is epic.

Get a copy of "Swiss Bernese Oberland" by Philip and Loretta Alspach. It has details on 12 awesome hikes in the region. Your hotel or tourist info office in Wengen will also have lots of information.

https://www.amazon.com/SWISS-Bernese...rnese+oberland
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Old Mar 10th, 2017, 04:44 AM
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Edward2005 - so do you think it's possible to see them all - Murren, Wengen and Gimmelwald? If so, which of these would you overnight in? If not, which would you choose?

I heard there is a hostel in Gimmelwald with fantastic views.
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Old Mar 10th, 2017, 05:02 AM
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They are all pretty close to each other. You could see them all in half a day. Check it out on GoogleMaps.

Gimmelwald is tiny and rustic. It's not for everyone, but it is my favorite place in the world. The Mountain Hostel is glorious. It's relaxed, communal, and comfortable (for a hostel). And cheap at $45 per night.

https://www.mountainhostel.com/gallery/

I'll be there again in late May, early June.
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Old Mar 10th, 2017, 07:04 AM
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Wherever you choose, stay in only 1 place. It makes no sense to move at all with only 3 nights. Even if it is just an hour by train, you still spend time making that move that could have been spent hiking on the mountainside etc.

While it is human to want more, it is wise to realize the limitations of what you can have and make the best use of your time. Best use of time is never time spent moving.
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Old Mar 11th, 2017, 05:30 AM
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Forget the crowds and the nightlife! Early June is low season. And if the weather is rainy, windy and foggy, you may meet a few cows and sheep along your hikes, probably no human being.
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 04:30 AM
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Thank you Edward2005 - definitely want to check that place out. Maybe I'll see you there!
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