Of course, this 3 day trip in the middle of February was comprised of all winter activities — but we are already dreaming of returning in the summer months to compare!
Tip: If you are planning to drive to Switzerland — you will need a “vignette” (aka a sticker for your windshield) — which takes the place of paying highway tolls. You can purchase one online, at almost any gas station before you reach the border, or at the border. A vignette cost 40€ and is good for the year.
We stayed just south of Interlaken in the quaint town of Wilderswil @ Hotel Berghof Amaranth. There was nothing overly special about this small hotel located at the top of a hill but — compared to the many other overpriced options near by — we were pleased!
After checking in late Thursday night — we grabbed dinner at Luna Piccante (one of the only restaurants in town still open after 9 PM). The pizza was a hit!
Unfortunately, it rained our entire first full day in Switzerland so we decided to hold off on the activities we had planned. BUT, we still managed to enjoy a peaceful drive around Lake Thun and enjoyed some delicious meals.
We had lunch at Little Thai — some of the best (& most expensive) Thai food we’ve ever eaten! (William even proposed we go BACK for dinner that night!)
But instead, I talked him into driving 10 minutes south to Lauterbrunnen to explore around before sunset — and then to enjoy a traditional cheese fondue dinner @ Hotel Oberland.
After waking up early and checking the forecast (no more rain!), we immediately bought (online) train tickets from Wilderswil to Jungfraujoch (aka the Top of Europe). Warning: These tickets cost 206 Swiss Franks/each!
Depending on where you are staying, it may be cheaper or more convenient to take the train from Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen. OR if you aren’t interested in going all the way to Jungfraujoch, you can buy a far less expensive ticket to many other towns. (Although, there’s a reason the ticket to Jungfraujoch is the most expensive 😉 )
Tip: DO NOT buy train tickets to Jungfraujoch until RIGHT before going. These tickets are non-refundable and cannot be changed — you do not want to risk getting stuck with bad weather after paying a pretty penny!
We took our time going up the mountain — getting off at multiple stops to look around. Your ticket allows you to get on and off as much as you want that day. (Trains come by every 30 minutes.)
Wengen was our first stop of the day. We grabbed hot chocolates and wandered around as the morning fog let up.
Next, we stopped at Kleine Scheidegg. This town is a skier’s dream — and much busier than Wengen. Although we were not skiing, we certainly enjoyed watching! (This area is known for some of the best skiing in the world!)
Finally, we took the last leg all the way to Jungfraujoch aka the “Top of Europe” (11,333 ft). The train ride up this mountain was worth the ticket price alone. We were glued to the windows as we went higher… and higher… and higher, above the clouds!
Jungfraujoch first opened in 1912. It took 300 men, 16 years to drill. 2 million people visit here a year — and we quickly figured out why!
The views from the top are unreal! They cannot be fully captured by a camera.
Inside, you will find the Lindt Chocolate Factory, the “ice palace” (touristy but fun for photos), the sphinx, and many restaurants. We were surprised by how much there was to do outside of simply being above the clouds. This can easily turn into an all day event.
After a few hours spent at the Top of Europe — we boarded a descending train. Without taking any stops, the ride back down averages 2.5 hours.
But on our way back down, we decided to stop again in Kleine Scheidegg to share a pizza and watch the skiers speed by (SO ENTERTAINING!).
After finally making it back to Wilderswil — & walking to our car at the hotel — we drove 15 minutes north to dinner in Interlaken. We had our favorite dinner of the trip at Taverne Restaurant (Hotel Interlaken). The service and food were both great — and compared to how much we had spent on other meals, their prices were reasonable!
After such an amazing (and expensive) Day 2 — we almost skipped out on our Day 3 plans. We questioned if it was worth the time and money to try to compete with the greatness of Jungfraujoch…
Looking back… I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW GLAD I AM WE DID NOT SKIP DAY 3!
We bought another round of train tickets from Wilderswil to Murren — (which actually includes 1 train ticket to Lauterbrunnen, a switch to a cable car up to Grutschalp, and then 1 more train over to Murren). This ticket costs us 35 Swiss Franks/each — but again, would cost less directly from Lauterbrunnen.
The town of Murren is only reached by cable car/train. The cable car takes you to Grutschalp where you will catch a connecting train to the upper valley of Murren. You could also choose to hike to Murren and then train back. (It would be more uphill this way.)
We chose to take the train to Murren and then hike back to Grutschalp — where we then took the cable car back down to Lauterbrunnen. I promise this is far less confusing in person, than it sounds on paper (or screen 🙂 ).
The hike from Murren to Grutschalp takes an average of 1.5 hours. We stopped half-way through the hike in Winteregg for lunch — so it took us around 2.5 hours.
This is not a difficult hike (although it would be more challenging going from Grutschalp up to Murren)… but the scenery cannot be beat! Neither of us had EVER been on hike as breath-taking as this one.
Disclaimer: We were surprised (my husband, disappointed) to find that the hike was completely ‘carved out’. Let’s just say that people of any age or health status could do this hike.
But, you can find opportunities to get off the course if you really want to feel like you are hiking through the Swiss Alps. We were able to do this a couple of times.
Day 3 felt super magical — wandering through the epitome of a winter wonderland! I’m so glad we didn’t skip out on this day. It was such a different experience than Day 2 and definitely worth purchasing another train ticket.
It’s no surprise that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. This was not a “cheap” weekend by any means. But by the end, we both agreed it was well worth the investment and had zero regrets. Now, we just need to start saving again to return during the warmer months! 🙂
If you’re not already sold on Switzerland — here’s a video capturing our winter wonderland weekend in the unforgettable Jungfrau region… enjoy!