Lets face it, scores of travellers take the Jungraujoch Bahn to the top of Europe (11500 ft) and will continue to do so. It is a stunning day trip from Interlaken providing some superb views on a clear day. We on the other hand make our case for visiting Schilthorn (10000 ft) to view the Jungfrau instead of being on it.
To make the most of limited good weather, we started early to make our way through the beautiful Lauterbrunnen valley to the top of the Schilthorn mountain sitting at 3000 m (10K feet) with a view of the Jungfrau wall (Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau). We got some spectacular Swiss Alps views just as the clouds rolled in. We then walked through the charming town of Murren before Yoda retired for the day back in our cozy Interlaken hotel. Dalek stayed at Lauterbrunnen to get some rain soaked waterfall shots.
Why did we chose Schilthornbahn over Jungraujochbahn?
- Half the price (base fare without swiss pass / card). Pretty much the main reason.
- On shorter trips like this, the weather must cooperate on the day earmarked for a mountain top ride. As Schilthorn takes lesser time from Interlaken to peak, we could see some great scenery before the clouds rolled in.
- Murren is an additional town to visit (Jungfrau visitors can do Grindelwald/Wengen as an extra).
- You get to see the true depth of the Lauterbrunnen valley from the cable cars.
- Many people packed in the cable cars (in our case, with skis). Not good for the claustrophobic.
- You must book the Rail & Away ticket (described below) atleast a day in advance and print it yourself.
Day trip itinerary & our experiences + tips
8:31 am – Leave Interlaken OST for Lauterbrunnen : We should’ve left earlier to get some clear sky views but we really needed our hotel’s excellent breakfast in our bellies.
Tip: The cheapest possible ticket to the top of Schilthorn is buying a Rail & Away ticket (website) that gives a 10% discount on the public transport and cable car tickets. To save 3 CHF more, book your tickets from Wilderswil station than Interlaken as hotels give an Interlaken guest pass that is valid for train journeys between Interlaken and Wilderswil. This makes the return journey from Interlaken cheaper than a normal cable car round trip ticket.
9 am – Reach the beautiful village of Lauterbrunnen (an IG travel photographers darling) : We took a few quick shots of the waterfalls and the valley before catching the Post bus towards Schetelberg.
Tip: All connections are timed to be within 5-10 minutes of each other but the next connection is within 30 minutes. So break your journey as you please based on the weather. Do spend some time in Lauterbrunnen / may even take a short ride to Wengen / Grustchalp.
9:30 am – Arrive at the base cable car station : You can buy tickets to go to the top here. Again choose to take the 4 cable cars in quick succession or get off at each stop as you please.
Top tip: Carry thermal wear with you (we bought some for our Iceland trip). The temperature is pretty low at the top, no matter how sunny it is. We changed at the 2600m station and took some of our best Alps pictures!!
10 am – 12:30 pm: Enjoy Schilthorn : A portion of the Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was shot here so there are a number of Bond related paraphernalia here (some of them cheesy). The thrill walk is awesome! There’s also a fancy restaurant at the very top offering panoramic views on a clear day. However, the weather really started to turn cloudy just after we reached the top.
1 PM – Lunch at Murren : We got off at Murren on the way down. It is a touristy but charming little village. We chose to eat the Swiss meat platter at Staegerstubli (pic at the top) for an expensive lunch (35 CHF shared main only) but the meats were actually quite good (boiled beef was the best tasting).
Tip: There was a small stall selling produce including cheese & meats just outside the restaurant. It was quite affordable for Swiss standards and cheese tasting is always free. We got a delicious pack of cured meat.
2 PM – Take the bus back to Lauterbrunnen : But not before capturing the beautiful valley from this end, atleast 3 of the valley’s 72 waterfalls can be spotted from the bus stop.
Tip: You can get off at the Trummelbach falls on the way back as a stopover attraction.
2:30 PM – Stopover at Lauterbrunnen : Dalek took some rain soaked photos just because. Even in some pretty horrid weather, the village gave us some nice pictures (this time for our IG).
4 PM – Back at Interlaken : Get warm and cozy back in the hotel and go over the day’s pictures. Also get an affordable hot meal from the Migros restaurant before it closes at 6 PM. Sleep early for another early start the next day.
Top tip: All the buses and trains will arrive exactly at the scheduled time. If you haven’t been to Switzerland before, you must know that their transportation scheduling is literally like clockwork. Use the Interlaken guest pass to ferry you around the city to reduce walking (our hotel was in Interlaken West so we used the local bus / train to go to Ost).
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