Trains, Hikes and Cities 10 days in Switzerland
Updated: Jan 30, 2019
We basically took off and almost immediately landed in Geneva. We arrived at night and were at our hotel within 10 minutes of leaving the airport. The transit around Geneva was not only really easy it was free!! (we got bus passes from our hotel but I suspect if it’s not free it’s very inexpensive). We spent the day checking out the area right around Lake Geneva. It was really pretty but I was ready to get going after a couple hours. It quickly became apparent that Geneva was super expensive so after spending over $10 on coffees and over $50 on groceries for snacks and lunch we were ok leaving.
We had booked to stay for 2 nights in Geneva but I had seen these beautiful pictures on Instagram of Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland area and I had to go. Although it was too late to get a refund we went ahead and booked a place in Interlaken to escape the cities and get hiking.
Interlaken, as the name suggests, is a town in between two lakes and is know as an adventure capital. We spent the days hiking and the evenings enjoying our view of Jungfrau. The first night we spent in a not so great room overlooking a parking lot and as we were walking out to go on our first hike one of the rooms on the other side of the hall was being cleaned and had the most stunning view of the valley and the garden. As we left I asked if we could switch rooms. To do so we had to pay a cleaning fee but it was well worth the 20 Francs!!
Day 1 we walked through town and took the cable car up to the top of Harder Kulm which took about 10 minutes and climbed 1322 meters. At the top is a restaurant, a viewing platform that juts out over the cliff edge as well as the start of a number of hiking trails. We decided to the Habkern Trail, leading to the base of Mount Ringgenberg. It was a challenging hike much of it through forest but along the way were stunning glimpses of the lake below. Near the end (about 2 hours in) the trail opened up and there are breathtaking views of the lake, Ringgenberg and the valley below.
All in all the hike took 4 hours. It would have been a bit longer but we ended up running part of it because the clouds were rolling in and the sound of thunder spread through the sky. As we descended so did the rain and we walked back to our accommodation through the rain. About 5 minutes after arriving it poured down while we enjoyed our dinner in comfort.
Almost all our meals in Switzerland came from the Coop (grocery stores-everywhere) because it was more affordable, although still very expensive, than eating out. We found the food from the Coop actually really good with lots of delicious vegetarian and vegan options.
On our second full day in the Jungfrau region we wanted to see the picturesque town of Lauterbrunnen and to do another hike in the Swiss alps. It was a lot to get in to one day but it was all we had left. First we travelled by train to Lauterbrunnen which took about 30 minutes. I had seen pictures of it on Instagram and having planned to come to Switzerland to see my cousin I HAD to see it because it was just so picturesque. It was just as stunning in real life as it was in pictures. The town is surrounded by magnificent waterfalls that cascade off the valley edges. Through its centre runs a swift alpine river. We did a couple small walks, took LOTS of pictures and bought a new Swiss Army knife (useable souvenir) before heading of to our second destination-Grindelwald.
Grindelwald is a ski resort in winter and in summer an adventure playground. We initially planned to do a big 6 hour hike but by the time we got there it was well into the afternoon and the weather was turning. When we visited the tourist information centre they recommended we do another hike. Instead we did the loop from First to Bort. To get to First you need to take a 25 minute gondola ride. It was so much fun! The hike started by ascending to a lake and then returning downhill to Bort. It was one of the best hikes I have ever done!! Not only was it STUNNING but cows and goats with bells sprinkled the alpine meadows and could be heard from miles away.
Along the hike we actually walked with the cows as they were being herded back to their stables for the evening. FYI cows make the best hiking buddies!!!!
Unlike the day before we weren’t so lucky and the rain started as we headed to Bort to take the gondola back down and by the time we arrived at the bottom of Grindelwald it was lamping down. We ended up running through the rain to the train station and travelling back completely soaked through but luckily Craig has a rain cover for his camera bag. Once again we enjoyed a cozy night in feasting on our Coop dinner ( Vegan schnitzel and salad).
On our way to Winterthur we wanted to check out Switzerland’s capital city Bern.
Although smaller (or so it appeared to us) than Geneva it was very pretty and was on a beautiful bend of the river. We had a snack in Einstein's park (apparently he lived in Bern) and later lunch at a vegan pop up shop called Gruner Gauman. A very cool concept is that some businesses close in the summer, yet smaller businesses use their space as a pop up shop. Craig and I both got wraps but we ate them so fast there’s no picture evidence-you’ll have to trust that they were delicious!!
Our final couple of days in Switzerland were spent with my cousin, her husband, and my little niece. Also invited for the weekend were a couple of their friends from Germany. It was awesome! They were such amazing hosts and we got to travel around the country surrounding Winterthur going for a hike, checking out a beer garden, swimming in the Rhine River and going to a street music festival. While we were there we got to celebrate my cousin’s husband's birthday with a beautiful BBQ in the garden. During our visit my cousin and I discovered that our return flight from Iceland was the same flight as my cousin and niece who were coming back to Vancouver to visit our family!! So fun!!
Maps me app-This app was the best (literally saved us when hiking Harder Klum, Interlarken...it showed the trail maps!! Not like my iPhone that just showed the area as a big green mark on the map.