This particular trip was going to be 10 days split between Switzerland and France. You could spend 10 days in either country and still only see a small fraction of what there is to see. As most of our trips are centred around wine, hiking, and tennis, Switzerland obviously fit into the “hiking” category. We chose to stay in the Interlaken region.
Trevor previously spent time in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, staying at the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald (Click Here). This time we wanted something a bit more comfortable than large dorm rooms.
Your choices in the Lauterbrunnen Valley range from large town (Interlaken) to touristy village (Grindelwald, Wengen etc.) to rustic (Gimmelwald).
The obvious benefit of Interlaken as your base is ease of access, with a central train station with connections to Zurich, Lucerne etc. Interlaken also has a wide range of facilities including good restaurants, plenty of hotels, and lots of tour operators. The downside is you lack a bit of the charm you get in the smaller villages, and less of that “in the mountains” feel.
Staying in Gimmelwald is an experience in itself. Trevor last stayed there over 10 years ago so we’re speaking a bit more from memory than current experience. To get there you take a train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, a bus further up the valley, then the Schilthornbahn cable car to Gimmelwald. That makes for a pretty cool place to stay and the Mountain Hostel is fantastic with a great atmosphere and amazing location. The downside is limited accommodation and food options. Easy access to amazing hiking trails though.
In our experience, Grindelwald was a fantastic choice offering a bit of both worlds. It’s in a different valley from Lauterbrunnen, but iss no less scenic with plenty of soaring mountain views and waterfalls tumbling into the valley.
The town itself has a train station with direct train connections to Interlaken. It is also big enough that you have a range of hotel and guesthouse options and plenty of restaurants and stores. We stayed at the Hotel Gletschergarten, which is a bit out of the centre of town but had amazing views of the Eiger Mountain, friendly English-speaking staff, and included breakfast. The restaurants we tried were all good.
Please see our article on the best day hike from Grindelwald.
It is also possible to stay in other villages of the area, including Wengen and Lauterbrunnen. Each has its own pros and cons, is more or less touristy etc., but we never regretted our decision to stay in Grindelwald.
Additional pictures are available in our Switzerland gallery (Click Here).