What to do in Switzerland

We absolutely LOVED Switzerland….it is probably as close to a real-life fairy tale as you img_7915.jpg can get. There is just something about snow-covered mountains, wide open fields, and charming villages that just speak to your soul. The stillness, quietness, power, wildness and beauty all come together to form this picture perfect scene that will leave you craving more. While Switzerland looks small on a map, there are so many different things to do and see that it can be pretty overwhelming in knowing where to start, so here is a list of all of our favorites!

1.) Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen is a hands-down “must-see” and is a Lord of the Rings wonderland. To be IMG_6692honest, I’m not a huge LOTR fan…yeah, the movies were entertaining but I don’t need to see them more than a few times, and I’ve never read the books, so this opinion is NOT from a LOTR fangirl 🙂 HOWEVER, that being said, DON’T miss this place! It has been said that J.R Tolkien got his inspiration for the elvish town of Rivendell from Lauterbrunnen, which is known as “The Land of 72 Waterfalls”. “Lauterbrunnen” LITERALLY translates to IMG_7887“many fountains”. Because Lauterbrunnen sits in a valley at the base of the Alps, they have TONS of fresh alpine-water waterfalls that are created by snow and ice that melt. It’s absolutely BREATHTAKING and is any waterfall chaser’s IMG_7807dream. The largest and most famous of these falls is Staubback Falls, which is one of the highest free-falling waterfalls in all of Europe, plunging from almost 984 feet (300 meters). The town itself is super cute and fun to walk through…. stop and grab a  cappuccino in the café near the falls, or plan to go down for the day and hike up behind Staubback Falls for an unforgettable view and top it off with a pot of Swiss fondue!

Good to know: Lauterbrunnen has a public parking garage that you can use for about 8 CHF per day (we left our car there for 3 days and 2 nights and paid 25 CHF). Our final destination was Mürren, which is a town that sits above Lauterbrunnen and is car-free. So we left our car in Lauterbrunnen, paid 11 CHF per person to hitch a ride up via the air gondola and then train. It was a 30 minute trip to take the gondola to Grutschalp, and then the train from Grutschalp to Mürren (note that the 11 CHF fare is for one person one way, tickets can be purchased at the train station or the gondola station right near the covered parking garage, and the gondola leaves every 30 minutes). Lauterbrunnen is about a 2.25 hour drive to Geneva and about 2 hours from Zurich.

2.) Mürren

Mürren is the most ADORABLE little town that I have ever visited. It is a car-free village, IMG_6815complete with fresh alpine air and water, which runs freely in adorable water fountains all through the town. It is the highest village on the mountain and is only accessible by a gondola and train. We stayed in Mürren at Hotel Eiger (read more about that stay here) and had an absolute blast. We love the beach, but there is just something about the stillness and majesty of the mountains that just can’t be beat, and Mürren offers you the perfect mountain escape. Honestly, I think we both had the best sleep of our life here…it’s amazing what mountain air and the quietness of ZERO vehicles will do for you! Mürren is brimming with hiking trails, open fields, and cows in their pastures, IMG_7533making for a wildly enchanting display of ringing bells all throughout the fields. That might sound a bit obnoxious (I was certainly expecting it to be), but it was actually quite soothing and I find myself missing it already! Even if you aren’t a hiker, there are lots of smaller trails to take, and even walking through town, or down to Gimmelwald is super fun! If you ARE a hiker then you’ll be in a hiker’s paradise, as there are hiking trails that run all up and down the mountain that begin (or at least pass through) Mürren. We did the North Face Trail, which took us about 2 hours to complete, although we did go up the harder way. There is an option to take a train/trolley up the hardest portion, which will drop you off at the path, but we didn’t take that so I don’t know the price. The North Face Trail is a complete circle, so you begin and end in Mürren, and the difficulty is ranked as “medium” (it’s known to be good for kids, and probably even more-so if you are taking the trolley). Pro Tip: pick up fresh bread, cheese, and chocolate at the store on your way up and have a picnic in the Alps when you reach the open field! You get a perfect view of the mountains, including Eiger. (Pro PRO Tip: make sure that the water that you pick up to bring on your hike isn’t sparkling…we MAY have made this mistake….sparkling water is much less refreshing on a hike 😀 ). You also get to see lots of cows and sheep and hear their mesmerizing bells chiming throughout your whole hike. The path is mostly dirt and gravel until the last ¼ mile that brings you back into town where it turns to pavement. Total mileage is about 4 miles and the trail is situated right above Mürren. More adventurous hikers can hike for several days to get to the top of Schilthorn, but there are many hikes with difficulty levels for everyone in between! Be sure to ask your hotel receptionist for a map that lists hiking trails…everyone that we met spoke very good English and was super friendly, helpful, and hospitable!

3.) Schilthorn-Piz Gloria

Schilthorn is one of the peaks in the Bernese Alps, right above Mürren, and offers a perfect panoramic view of the 3 tallest points: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. It is also home to the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria, which was featured in the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Piz Gloria is a functioning restaurant that includes IMG_7605 a gift shop and a James Bond museum. To be honest, we didn’t spend much time inside, as we were there more for the spectacular view, not so much for the James Bond references 🙂 The only way to get to the top of Schilthorn (other than hiking) is by gondola. We started in Mürren and rode the 2 gondolas (Mürren to Birg, and then Birg to Schilthorn) for 82 CHF each, which also includes the return trip. I think you can get a discount if you have a Swiss Travel Pass, or other types of rail passes, but we didn’t have those so I’m not sure as to what the discount is exactly. The entire trip from Mürren up to Schilthorn took IMG_7648 about 20 minutes, but it would be a longer trip if you were starting lower than Mürren. I would advise you to look online at their live camera first before you go…sometimes it’s so cloudy/foggy up there that you can’t see anything, which makes the 82 CHF not worth it. The camera is live 24 hours a day and can be visited here. Make sure you dress warm, even if it’s not that cold when you start your trip…. it definitely gets colder the higher you go! Be sure to get out and explore when you stop at Birg on your way down from Schilthorn. You can go through a series of Thrill Walks….walking over the edge of the mountain on a glass walkway bridge, crawl through a caged fence tunnel hanging over the mountain edge, and tightrope walking over the edge! It’s a pretty neat (and free) experience that definitely gets your adrenaline pumping! We were debating between doing Schilthorn or doing The Jungfraujoch, also known as the “Top of Europe”, which is the highest railway station in Europe, but significantly more expensive…one second-class ticket was $238 if you didn’t have a rail pass with a discount. We read reviews of travelers who said not to waste money on Jungfraujoch and that the view was just as good, if not better, at Schilthorn. We decided to take their advice since we wanted a great view for less money and for a trip that wouldn’t take an entire day, so Schilthorn worked out perfect for us! I would definitely recommend this option!

4.) Gimmelwald

Only a short 25 minute walk away from Mürren is the town of Gimmelwald, which is situated right below Mürren. Gimmelwald is a super cute little farming village that is less travelers and more locals. In fact, a lot of Gimmelwald’s products are brought up to be used in the restaurants in Mürren, especially the cheese 🙂 Be sure to check out the Honesty Shop and the bar next door, both adorable spots! You can take the gondola back up to Mürren (we hopped on for free), or you can walk back…we read that the average time to walk back up is about 1.5 hours, even though it only took 25 minutes coming down. The 2 mile path is paved and offers gorgeous views from a different perspective since Gimmelwald doesn’t have as high of a vantage point as Mürren does.

5.) EAT

Switzerland is home to many culinary experiences that you absolutely MUST try…some of our favorites are listed below

  • Chocolate – this is obvious, but the Swiss are the chocolate connoisseurs of the IMG_7022 world, and as such, have some of the best chocolate in the world. My suggestion: try it all! You can get a variety of different bars at a grocery store for around $2 each…they make for great mid-hike snacks, paired with coffee while you sip and stare at the view, or even as a late night snack in the hotel! Be sure to stock up and bring some home for friends and family…. they’re great inexpensive options that everyone loves 🙂
  • Cheese – with having so many cows and local cheese, this one is another obvious one. Pair it with fresh bread from a grocery store and you have yourself a super cheap but tasty and filling breakfast or hiking lunch!
  • Cheese Fondue – again, another Swiss delicacy. Most restaurants offer some type of fondue pot, made with a blend of different cheeses that is always a secret recipe img_7908.jpgthat varies from restaurant to restaurant. The fondue usually comes with a variety of vegetables, bread pieces, and potatoes to dip…we split a pot of it for lunch in Lauterbrunnen and it was fabulous!
  • Local beer and wine – I always recommend trying the local beer and wine wherever you are…..a.) It’s cheaper than water, and the local varieties are usually less expensive than the other options, and b.) It allows you the opportunity to taste and experience more of the country that you’re in. We loved everything that we tried!
  • Latte Macchiato – try this at Hotel Eiger’s restaurant in  Mürren, where the views IMG_7422are spectacular! You can sit on the terrace outside that gives a perfect view of  Mount Eiger…perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up or a post-hike treat!
  • Venison – we didn’t try this, but I can only imagine that it’s just as magnificent as everything else the Swiss create. We visited Switzerland in the fall, so venison and other game were on every menu we looked at.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Switzerland is known for being pretty expensive, HOWEVER, if you do it right it doesn’t have to be! Go in the off season, utilize the grocery store, drink local beer/wine instead of the $6 soda, split meals when possible, stay in a hotel where breakfast is included, and IMG_7375take advantage of the free hiking and you can make it affordable!
  • All tap water in Mürren is drinkable.
  • Mürren also has free flowing water fountains all over town where  you can fill your water bottle up for free with fresh alpine water…can’t beat that!
  • The Swiss currency is Swiss Francs, also known as CHF.
  • Make sure you have an international adapter for your hotel room so you can charge your electronics if your chargers aren’t already in European format.
  • The Swiss are super friendly and speak great English… don’t hesitate to ask locals for suggestions on what to do or where to go!
  • Switzerland is big on paragliding adventures. We didn’t try it because there were other things that we wanted to do, but if you’ve ever wanted to try it I certainly can’t think of a better place to do so!
  • Other popular Swiss activities include snow sports (skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing), hiking, and biking (lots of bike trails). We also saw lots of lakes as we drove through Switzerland, so I’m sure they have water sport options in the summer too!
  • Make sure that you leave plenty of time to catch your flight if you’re leaving out of the Zurich airport…it took us 2 hours to get from the door to the gate. There was a long line at check-in, a line at the passport check, and took 30 minutes to get to the gate (including the walk and the shuttle).
  • We did our trip a bit unconventionally and did not buy a rail pass. Since we were coming from France, we rented a car in Marseille, France and drove 5 hours to Geneva (we wanted to drive through France and see the countryside – we highly recommend it!). It was super expensive to drop the car off in another country, and France and Switzerland share the Geneva airport, so in order to save $200, we dropped off our French car on the French side of the airport, and then walked over to the Swiss side of the airport to pick up a Swiss rental car, which we would eventually drop off in Zurich. It was definitely a hassle, but worth it to save the money!
  • If you ARE driving through Switzerland, there is a 40€ toll that you have to pay to cross the border into Switzerland (even if you’re just trying to get to the French side of the Geneva airport). The sticker looks like it’s good for all year, and we didn’t see any other tolls throughout Switzerland, so we assumed it’s a one-time toll that’s good all year…..but not helpful if you’re only visiting for a few days. Our French rental car did not have this sticker, so we had to pay the toll when we crossed the border, but our Swiss rental car already had a sticker on it, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that is a standard for Swiss rental cars.
  • If you’re looking for a cheap hotel in Zurich that is near the airport check out Ibis Budget Hotel here. It isn’t anything special, but it is only 10 minutes to the airport and around $90/night. It’s small but clean and will do the job for one night if needed!

Where to Stay in Switzerland

As anyone who follows our blog and Instagram knows, we are DEFINITELY beach bums. IMG_7035 Most of our trips revolve around some type of beach, however, there is just SOMETHING about the mountains that just draws you in! We have both always grown up around mountains, so maybe we just got used to them, but there really is something so profound yet powerful and magical about them, and the Alps are no exception! This was my first trip to the land-locked country of Switzerland and the first time I’d seen any of the Alps and there really is just nothing to compare them to, the country is just absolutely breathtaking! If you have not ever been, I HIGHLY recommend that you make this a top bucket list item. We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the adorable little car-free town of Murren, which is in the Burnese Highlands in the Jungfrau region (to read more about what we did in Switzerland check out my post here). Murren is nestled up under the mountains of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, which provide a gorgeous view no matter where you are in the town. The best view, however, comes from Hotel Eiger, which gives you a perfect view of the tallest and most famous mountain, Mount Eiger, hence the hotel’s name. We were hosted by Hotel Eiger in the fall of 2017 and had an absolutely fabulous experience!

This incredibly charming family hotel has been in Adrian and Susanna’s family for 4 generations, which is part of what makes this hotel so endearing and also so well-run…they have been perfecting the hospitality business since 1892! This means that every detail of IMG_7394 your stay has been thought out ahead of time so that all you have to do is relax. They even allowed us to store our luggage at the front desk after we checked out at 11 since we were still planning on doing some hiking. They also are able to offer a room to shower and change in after you check out in case you need to clean up after exploring…see, I told you they thought of everything 🙂  We were welcomed by owner Susanna, who gave us a super helpful rundown of the town of Murren and of the  IMG_6823hotel. Susanna (like most Swiss natives that we met) was extremely hospitable and helpful and is willing to answer any and all questions. She showed us the best places to go in town, the best hiking trails to take, suggested other towns and attractions to explore, and explained how to get there…she is a great resource that is always willing to help! That same hospitality is also true of the rest of the staff at Hotel Eiger…everyone is extremely friendly and hospitable and eager to help make your stay the best! Honestly, the customer service that we experienced at this hotel was probably some of the best we’ve had in all our travels. On top of that, we probably have had the best sleep here that we’ve ever had in a hotel, no joke. The combination of a quiet car-free town, fresh mountain air, and the glorious alpine water makes for a perfect night’s sleep, and some pretty perfect days too 🙂

The room itself was great…very spacious with a large bed, desk, lounge chair, wardrobe, IMG_6783mini fridge, flat screen tv, and a very clean bathroom (which comes complete with robes and hairdryer!). Everything you could need is provided and the room is very clean. The decor in the room is also very pleasing and makes you feel right at home. We especially loved the fresh air and natural light coming from the windows and balcony door. The best part of the room is the balcony (obviously), which faces the mountains and gives you a SPECTACULAR view, quite honestly, probably the best view in the town. Hotel Eiger was one of the only hotels with a clear view of the Eiger, which is what makes the hotel so spectacular. Free wifi is also available and you also get a guest card which will get you discounts in town at nearby shops!

As far as extra features and amenities go, Hotel Eiger offers just about anything you IMG_6792could want! They have an indoor swimming pool and lounge area, an outdoor rooftop lounge area,  gym, ski room, sauna, indoor lounge area with leather couches, a bar, a child’s play room and library, souvenir shop, and 3 restaurants…THREE! (Check out the souvenir shop for super cute local handmade gifts and Swiss treasures; we loved the shop!). The free breakfast buffet is located in one of the indoor dining rooms with big windows that offer a perfect view of the Eiger. The buffet itself is fantastic with all types of bread, cheese, and meat options, cereal, yogurt, eggs, and pastries. They even offer a variety of juices and champagne!

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As far as the restaurants go, the three restaurants offer the same menu, but all 3 have different, but spectacular views. One is located outside on the deck, which we visited

daily for after-hiking drinks, coffee, and ice cream. The other 2 restaurants are located inside and are a little more formal. Be sure to book your dinner reservation during sunlight hours so you can still see the view, and request a window seat if there are any available! We spent about $100 the night that we did dinner at the hotel restaurant and had some amazing local Pinot Noir, pesto-crusted lamb with spinach and ricotta ravioli, which we finished off with a crème brulee that was to die for! Everything was absolutely fantastic and definitely worth the money, I would highly recommend planning to do at least one dinner at the hotel restaurant, even if you don’t end up staying at the hotel.

We even got to meet the owner Adrian during dinner as he made his rounds and greeted every dinner guest in the room. It was really awesome talking to him and Susanna about the history of the town and the hotel and seeing where it came from and how it’s grown. We love supporting “mom-and-pop” establishments, and this one was top notch! Adrian and Susanna and their staff treat everyone like family and make you never want to leave!

Prices seem to run within the range of $200-$1,000+ per night, depending on the room  and season, and so worth it for the value that you receive here! There are several options to fit a variety of needs and budgets, including standard rooms, superior rooms, junior suites, superior suites, and family suites. The price, value, hospitality and views are all part of what makes Hotel Eiger the #1 TripAdvisor ranked hotel in Murren, and for good reason (check it out here)! We were not disappointed (clearly). If you’re planning a trip to Murren you should DEFINITELY look into staying at Hotel Eiger….and if you aren’t currently planning a trip to Murren you should definitely start 😉


To get there:

Being that it is the highest town in the area, and Murren is a car-free town, it can be a bit  IMG_6695 tricky to get to. But again, the views make it completely worth it! We had a rental car that we left in the covered parking garage located at the train station in Lauterbrunnen, which is the town below Murren which IS accessible by car. We ended up paying about 25 CHF (Swiss Francs) for the 2 nights and 3 days that our car was in the garage, so it evens out to about 8 CHF per day. From there we got tickets to Murren, which cost about 11 CHF per person for a one-way trip. The fare includes a gondola from Lauterbrunnen to IMG_6745Grutschalp, and the train ride that takes you from Grutschalp to Murren. The entire trip from Lauterbrunnen to Murren takes about 30 minutes total. You can buy the tickets at the train station or the  IMG_7787at the gondola station, and the gondola leaves Lauterbrunnen every 30 minutes. The train station at Murren is located right in front of Hotel Eiger, and while there is a  porter available for the  hotel, you really don’t need it since its right across the street. From what I’m told, you can also get to Murren via gondola instead of the gondola/train combination. We didn’t take that route, but the gondola station is on the other side of town, so if you go that route with your bags you may want to utilize the porter option.



*This post was a collaboration with Hotel Eiger, but all opinions and photos are my own