Hi there! Post-Christmas in the Four Valleys, we hung in Geneva for several weeks before sneaking up to the Bernese Oberland, one of our all-time favorite regions in Switzerland, for some mountain air! You might remember that we visited the region just weeks of being here back in spring 2018 (but skipped paragliding this time!), and we were keen to explore more to ensure that we left no stone unturned.
It was also important for us to do because it’s an expensive region to visit. We very well may never return to from the US, and we have done the specific elements piecemeal in each visit by design.
We have the benefit of having purchased annual half-fare cards (my #1 tip for any expat in Geneva!) which enable us half priced trains to travel from Geneva throughout Switzerland and to ride the lifts like Grindelwald First (I did this with my mom but never with B) the Schiltorn Bahn (which we saved for this visit), Top of Europe (which we did here), the Grustachalp gondola to hike to Murren, etc. If you ever travel here from the US, I strongly recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass and being very strategic about yoru train visits and lifts because you can spend a fortune otherwise.
We returned to the reliable Hotel Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen (from our first trip!) via a decent rate from Booking.com (we also went the week after the ski vacation week in Switzerland so it was a bit cheaper). We used it as our home base to explore and hike for three nights.
Our first afternoon, we took a quick train (around 15 minutes) from Lauterbrunnen up to Wengen and enjoyed a sunny apre-ski without the ski, and watched the athletes finish up on the final hill. It was a delightful little town to explore with some buzzy stores and restaurants.
The next morning, we took a 30ish minute train to Grindelwald, a town where I stayed in with my mom here during our first fall in Switzerland. We took the 25 minute cable car up to the First Cliff Walk ….
and hiked to Lake Bachalpsee – where my mom and I had the most mesmerizing time and I was certain would be stunning yet again. Regrettably, after the hourish hike (which James mostly napped through, thanks to our not-so-secret weapon, the ErgoBaby!) the lake was mostly covered so I’d save it for the summer! But still wonderful views and not a bad place for James to enjoy a bottle.
There are some flat sections, but also some pretty steep ones!
I was visualizing a frozen pond fit for skaters, but instead it was all covered up at Lake Bachalpsee! At least I had conned my husband into some exercise.
The Hotel Silberhorn is right to the Grütschalp cable car, where you can then take a train, or likely my favorite “hike” in Switzerland (really a flat walk) across the mountain ridge with views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountain chain, to the sweet town of Mürren. The walk was honestly paradise for us winter lovers and such a fun contrast to my first spring walk here!
We were not at all tempted to take the train!
Snow dusted alpines along the way and capped mountains guided us through the forest on the hourish, easy trek.
We saw many older folks along the way and were routinely reminded about why Swiss life expectancy is always ranked among the highest in the world. They take in fresh mountain air and truly never stop moving. Spot the cute little old man?
And these two cute little guys?
We had a drink at the hotel we stayed in last December before heading up the 007 Experience, the Schiltorn!
B is an enormous James Bond fan and while “Her Majesty’s Secret Service” starring George Lazenby, in his sole outing as Bond, is kinda unwatchable, we still had to check out the haunt at the top of the mountain. The views on the way up are awesome and the restaurant is decent, though of course you pay for the scenery. There’s an homage to the film in a small exhibition and scenes play out all day through the restaurant but you are there to gaze outward, not inwardto be sure. We wish we could have skiied it, but loved taking it in with our beloved little boy. We did a quick turn on the Thrill Walk (much like Grindelwald First) before taking the cable car all the way back to the town of to Stechelberg (where we saw the seasonal Trummelbach Falls on our last outing!) and also where we landed from Gimmelwald in our paraglide experience.
From Stetchelebrg we walked the hourish flat path down to Lauterbrunnen, totally oohing and ahhing over the familiar, yet still spectacular, valley views of the land of 72 waterfalls.
We even revisited our old friend, the “honesty cheese mailbox” – just leave your money and take the cheese of your choice!
During our time in Lauterbrunnen we kept it pretty simple meal wise and ate near the lifts – of course went back to the Horner Pub and also discovered The Bell – a new gastropub. They serve innovative, more deconstructed versions of traditional mountain food. It was really good if you’re looking to mix it up from and I enjoyed it, but if you are like my husband and loathe “messing with the classics”, you might find it a bit uppity.
All in all, we had a blast revisiting one of our favorite areas in the world as a trio and just adored our family time all together after a hectic few weeks. I’m getting nostalgic with little James’ first birthday coming up in a few weeks and our move home getting closer all the time, but truly our hearts just overflow for this beautiful, peaceful, incredible country and we are so over the moon grateful for all it has shown us. We couldn’t recommend the Bernese Oberland any more but as with Gstaad, do pack all your pennies!!