Murren

Mürren is an idyllic resort in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. It is a place that guarantees a great romantic or family holiday with spectacular views of the Eiger (Ogre), Monch (Monk) and Jungfrau (Young Maiden) mountains. It is no wonder that this car-free ski resort is a favourite destination for people seeking mountains, fresh air, solitude and gobsmacking scenery.

This was originally a settlement of people from Lotschen valley in Valais who moved into Mürren long time back and their roots can still be recognized by the unique designs of their houses and their distinct Mürren dialect.

Mürren stands perched upon a terrace up at 1650 meters above the Lauterbrunnen valley and has been one of one of the continuously habited village settlements in the canton of Bern. The village can be reached by a double-cable ropeway from Lauterbrunnen and another runs from Stechelberg, past rock faces and waterfalls. This ropeway further travels up to the top of the Schilthorn at 2970 metres.

As one arrives in Mürren by either of the two cable cars, one is transported to the wonderland of Heidi and the snow clad peaks just across the ridge seem so close as if you could touch them. With its quaint little wooden chalets and car free streets, Mürren is the perfect fairy tale alpine town that is really worth spending a few days in.

During summer time, there is the Allmendhubel funicular that transports one above Mürren where there is a panoramic restaurant and more breath-taking views of the mountains across the ridge. This is also an ideal place for kids to run around and experience the alpine adventure of their dreams.
Mürren is also an ideal place from where you can set out on numerous walking trails which includes the famous North Face trail (1.5 hours) which takes you through meadows filled with wildflowers, waterfalls and glaciers, not to mention the steep and impressive mighty North Face of Eiger.
For kids, there is an Adventure trail that is takes no more than one hour.

During winter, Mürren turns into a bustling skiing resort and the jumpstart for almost 53 km of ski runs. The famous 16 km long Inferno Run that runs down from Shithorn is held during late January since 1928 and attracts about 1800 daredevils and amateur thrill seekers from far and wide.
There are also 53 km of prepared ski runs, suited for intermediaries. A ski-school offers two hour group lessons for Sfr 50.

Perched on a mountain loft 5361 feet high, Mürren along with the neighbouring Wengen have always been a magnet for the rich and famous.

Mürren is the birthplace of downhill and slalom skiing (1920s).

The place is accessible only by a cable car that further connects to a single-car electric train, Mürren has very few visitors during the day. It is the ideal starting point for exciting hikes. There are cable cars from here to reach Allmendhubel and Schilthorn. When there are times when clouds obscure the mountains, visitors can visit the glacier formed Lauterbrunnen valley by train and cable car, from where more than 70 waterfalls can be visited. The 1000-foot Staubbach falls that inspired Goethe and Byron, is one of the famous attraction.

Mürren offers an enchanting combination of the alpine scenery, mountain culture and scenic activities. It is a fairy-tale town of Switzerland. A minimum of two to three days is required to explore the town and its surroundings.

The Village

Absolutely unspoiled and with charming Swiss chalets and chalet-style hotels with dark sun-burned wood and shuttered windows, Mürren is first a community and then a ski resort. A reminder of the fire accident risk the village is to prone quite evident from its well-equipped local fire station, as the village is built mostly from wood.

For all you know, the place might inspire you to opt more for a walk instead of skiing.

The village mainly consists of one main street and has one Coop, the local butcher who also happens to have a side business selling rugs, sheep skin and slippers, a bakery, the bank, post office, a clinic, a few shops selling mountain sports equipment and the newly renovated and modern Alpine Sports Centre with an outdoor ice rink, heated swimming pool, and spa facilities and some indoor games as well as a tennis lawn.

Most of the guests staying at the local hotels can avail of the swimming pool facilities of the Sports Arena on a complimentary basis; just check with your hotel for more details.

There are also a few cafes, restaurants, bars, private chalets, and 15 hotels ranging from 2 to 4 stars that are mostly family owned

A walk on the main street will present you with abundant photo opportunities of the Big Three, Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau and of the wonderful valley below.

When to go

Bestowed with a unique beauty in each of its four distinct seasons, Bernese Oberland, where Mürren is located, makes memorable springs and summers vacations that are perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, biking or swimming. The weather is crisp during fall around October and winter ushers snow that stays until May and returns in early August at over 6500 feet.

The magic of snow can enthral, but it invariably lends a similar visage to all the mountains, whereas an Alpine summer offers a multi-hued panorama. To avoid crowds, plan your visit during the off seasons of early spring or late fall.

Whatever the season, sports lovers will always be entertained with varied opportunities to pursue their passions, like hiking, water skiing, biking, parasailing and gliding, sailing, bungee jumping, skiing, sledding and snowboarding.

How to Reach Murren

Bern Belp and Zurich airports are the closest airports to Mürren, offering easy transfers up to Lauterbrunnen by road or rail. For better flight times there are Zurich and Geneva airports and the Swiss national carrier offer good fares.

Swiss Airways offers direct connections from New Delhi and Bombay to Zurich. There are also many Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates and Qatar that offer one stop connectivity to Zurich or Geneva from almost all major cities in India.

Fast intercity rail services run from the rail terminals at Zurich and Geneva airports and reach Bern from where a change to a local train will take you to Interlaken Ost. From here, one needs to take the regional train to Lauterbrunnen.

Located at an elevation of 1650 meters with nil-pollution thanks to it being a car-free zone, the ski-resort of Mürren has no direct road leading up to it. The last part of the journey from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren have two options.

Option 1. Taking a cable car from Lauterbrunnen followed by an electric train journey from atop the cable car to the outskirts of the village. OR

Option 2. Taking a 15 minute bus ride to Stechelberg and a cable car up to Mürren.

Option 1

A cable car takes you up from Lauterbrunnen cable car station (situated bang opposite the Lauterbrunnen railway station) to Grutschalp from where a train can takes you to Mürren, with a spectacular view en route. You will arrive at Mürren BLM station.

Option 2

Once after reaching Lauterbrunnen from Interlaken OST by train, hop on to the post bus to Schilthorn which would be parked just outside the railway station in anticipation of your train (Swiss efficiency). The bus will take you to Stechelberg cable car station, a 15 minute ride away, from where, a cable car will take you up to Mürren with a switch of cable cars in Gimmelwald in between. The journey of 1650 meters up by the cable car takes only 10 minutes.

Mürren BLM, the train station, is at one end and the Stechelberg cable car is at the other end of Mürren and is connected by the only main road in the village. They are just a 10 minute walk from each other. The hotels are spread out at 5 to 10 minute walk apart from each other, out of which, Hotel Eiger and Eiger Guesthouse are next to Mürren BLM. Hotel Alpenruh is next to Stechelberg cable car. Once you have decided on which hotel you would be staying and their proximity to either of the two stations, you could opt for the best mode of transport from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren.

What to do in Murren

Schilthorn

The 2970m high Schilthorn offers terrific 360 degree panoramic views of almost 200 peaks, which are best viewed from the Skyline view platform or Piz Gloria revolving restaurant, from where on a clear day would let you see Titlis, Mont Blanc across the French border and even the German black forest.

A cable car gets you to the peak of the mountain where the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria and the Skyline viewing platform are situated. From the base of the cable car at Stechelberg to the peak of Schilthorn, there are three intermediate stops – Gimmelwald – Mürren – Birg. At each level you need to step off and walk across the station to take the next cable car.

The cable car runs through the Birg station at 2677m, where you can stop to take in the amazing views. Between here and the summit, you pass over Grauseeli, a small lake.
There are well-marked hiking trails paths that can be taken for a hike to reach the top, which takes around 5 hours from Gimmelwald, for a fit person.

The ‘Inferno’ ski race, started in 1928, begins from Schilthorn during winter. During summer the summit is the finish line for the Inferno Triathlon.

Piz Gloria

Some scenes for the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” were shot here in 1969. The revolving restaurant were under construction which was completed thence, with funds from the Bond production company. The restaurant today, is Bond-themed. The Bond World 007 is a Bond exhibit/museum, that offers two virtual rides (helicopter and snowmobile) and many Bond memorabilia are on display. The Bond themed menu for brunch/breakfast has cold champagne and martinis shaken, not stirred!

Take a hike

Hiking is the best outdoor activity that you can opt for in Mürren, as it is a hiker’s paradise with miles of beautiful trails, right from the centre of the town. There are even options ranging from overnight trips to nearby villages or long day hikes or short easy walks. The easy walking trail from Grutschalp to Mürren takes just a couple of hours.

The Trummelbach falls, which is an indoor waterfall deep inside the mountains is a fine option if the weather is bad up in the mountains though you will have to cough up a fee to get inside the mountains and is not included in the Swiss Pass system. The Lauterbrunnen valley is famous for as many as 72 waterfalls and is called the valley of waterfalls.

The typical farm life of Switzerland can be enjoyed in a day walk through Gimmelwald which is only an hour’s walk downhill from Mürren and for those who do not want to walk back uphill, just jump on to the next cable car back to Mürren.

Allmendhubel Funicular

During summer, reach above Mürren to a panoramic restaurant and the Skyline Chill relaxation area accessed by the Allmendhubel funicular. You are presented with spectacular panoramic mountain views from the wave-shaped loungers in Skyline Chill relaxation area of the restaurant. Giant butterflies, marmot burrows and the alpine flowers make this area children’s favourite new adventure playground.

Northface Trail

Walkers treat Mürren as their base to take up the famous Northface trail (1 ½ hours) via Schiltalp to the west, through meadows, from which the glaciers and waterfalls of the Lauterbrunnen valley and the north face of Eiger can be seen. Take a pair of binoculars to help you get a sharper view. A kids-friendly adventure trail is also available, lasting for one hour.

The sheer and steep drop of the Eiger North face offers one of the toughest mountaineering challenge to this day. The early alpinists had climbed these mountains without any modern equipment that we have today. The story of these pioneers is retold during the two hour Eiger North face trail through 12 information posts that explain the routes, the gears that were used and other related information.

Nowadays, there are climbers attempting to ascend the Eiger North Face almost daily.

Alpine Sports Centre

Renovated in 2012, the Alpine Sports Centre offers a wonderful alpine spa on its first floor. It has two saunas, hot and cold footbath, Turkish bath, cold basin and a relaxing room, with modern wardrobes and shower facilities. Massage, qi gong, yoga and facial treatments are offered by professional therapists in therapy rooms. A spacious work out gym and an exclusive child care centre with its many toys and games are added attractions. There is also a lawn for tennis.

The meeting room in the Alpine Sports Centre has a capacity of 15 persons and can be rented.
The swimming pool is free for the holiday guests in Mürren hotels or apartments.

Gimmelwald

Gimmelwald is not to be confused with Grindelwald, which is one valley away and is a bustling touristic town.

Gimmelwald on the other hand is a small quaint alpine village which is located just below Mürren and can be accessed by the cable car or by a short hike down which is definitely recommended for the spectacular views of pristine alpine scenery.

It is a small, self-sufficient village, proud of their diary and agro based economy and eco-friendly occupations and strive to protect their way of life away from pure consumerism and the greed of the tourism industry.

In order to protect their land from being taken over by hotel chains, they went to the extent of getting Gimmelwald certified as an avalanche prone zone.

Thanks to these efforts, you can get a peek at a place where time seems to have stood still and a farming community that is proud of their way of life and determined to keep it that way in the future too.

There are a few inns run by local families and a hostel for backpackers. Do drop by at the bar of the hostel and you will be greeted warmly by its owners and do take time off to have a drink and take in the extraordinary view of the mountains and the valley below.

Places of Interest near Murren

Schynige Platte

The 6454 foot Schynige plateau offers a spectacular overview of the region. You could walk down its umpteen footpaths and discover pure alpine magic. Its Alpine Botanical Garden houses more than 600 varieties of mountain flowers grow.

An 1893 make cogwheel will take you on a round-trip journey, but you do have an option of either walking up or down, but needs to be mentioned at the time of booking your ticket. The trains operated by the Bernese Oberland railway run from around 7:25 a.m. to 4:45 p.m from Interlaken East to Wilderswil and takes 4 minutes.

Trummelbach Falls

The Trummelbachfalle is made up of 10 glacier waterfalls in all that are accessed by a tunnel lift. From the bus stop / parking lot, walk by a beautiful creek-side walkway, which leads to a steep climb of stairs and reach the tunnel lift, which transports you high up inside the mountain and right onto thundering icy water gushing at high speed from inside the mountains. Bring along a wind cheater to keep yourself dry from the spray that the powerful water falls create and could pose a challenge in chilly alpine weather.

As the sight is frequented by day trippers and tour buses, expect some crowd on most days. It is an ideal rainy day get away.

Brienzer-RothornBahn

The last of Switzerland’s steam-driven cogwheel trains, it connects the waterfront of Brienz and the summit of Brienzer-Rothorn, 7700 feet above the town, in an hour. The rail path meanders through verdant meadows offering scintillating views of the lake. There is a restaurant at the summit offering delicious snacks and spectacular views. Trains run every hour. Advanced booking of tickets is recommended to avoid crowds.

Swiss Open-Air Museum Ballenberg

A small road leads to this massive Swiss Open-air Museum Ballenberg, which lies east of Brienz. There are hundreds of variety of houses from every part of Switzerland that have been painstakingly dismantled, transported and reinstalled here. Many 19th century barns, pastel shuttered houses, lace making shops, haberdasheries and many reconstructed chalets, can be seen on the meadows.

Lace making, spinning, forging, chocolate and cheese making are demonstrated with original tools and by people in their original costumes so as to make you experience the Switzerland as it was. Spread over many acres, you would need at least half a day to explore the entire village. Hang on to the exhaustive and descriptive brochures which would help you immensely to make sense of the happenings as the area of the museum is huge and you could easily get lost. There is also an option to take a ride on a horse carriage where the horseman also doubles up as a guide and gives you a running commentary as you traverse this vast expanse.
The Ballenberg Open Museum can be reached by public transport by taking the, the train to Brienz or Brunig and then reach Ballenberg by bus.

There is a chocolate factory outside near the bus stand where chocolate making demonstrations happen at certain times of the day. Of course, you do get excellent chocolate too and they are quite sought after even in Switzerland. So go ahead and indulge yourself.

Interlaken

Interlaken is closest to what you would describe as a town or a mini city that is located near to Mürren. Interlaken enjoys proximity to many of the wonders of the Bernese Alps, and hence ironically and sometimes a bit harshly known as “the best place in Switzerland to get away from’. It is centrally located between two lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and is a transportation nerve centre of Switzerland. It is also an ideal base from where to explore the Bernese Oberland area and also other parts of Switzerland given its excellent connectivity.

Interlacus is the Latin origin of the name Interlaken, means ‘between lakes’. Towering over the lowland between the lakes, Bodeli, Interlaken stands high at 570 meters. The two train stations of the town are Interlaken Ost (east) and Interlaken West. These are comfortable orientation points from where most sights are very close by.

Things to do in Interlaken

Riverside Walk

The path running beside river Aare near Interlaken East can make a summer day into a lovely holiday. Alternatively, you could start the walk from the Interlaken West too. If you intent to go for a longer walk, you could walk the riverbank from Lake Thun to Lake Brienz.

Harder Kulm

Höheweg

Stretching from the central square to the east, the main street in Interlaken is home to many hotels, restaurants, cafes, and night venues. The 150 year old Victoria Jungfrau Hotel wins a special mention, with its grand interiors and delicious meals served in its outdoor restaurant. Most of the tourists visit Hoheweg, as it offers umpteen shopping opportunities and entertainment. From here, you can get amazing views of the Jungfrau Mountains and the hills around the town. A train takes you on a 30 minute journey around Interlaken for its sights from mid-April to October. Departing from the stop opposite the Victoria Jungfrau Hotel, the journey costs CHF 9 per person and CHF 4.50 for children in the age group of 4 to 12 and family package (2 adults + 2 kids) for CHF 20.

Höhematte

Located in the middle of Interlaken along Hoheweg, Hohematte, the meadow is spread over 14 hectares and offers magnificent views of its environs. Seasonal flowers enhance the beauty of this place, which is a favourite of sports lovers. This is also a landing spot for many paragliders. There is a theatre, café, an Augustinian convent and church. A different attraction is the working clock made of flowers! Once the property of Augustinian monks, it was acquired by the hotel keepers of Interlaken, in the mid-19th century, who transformed it into a beautiful park.

Adventure Sports

Summer and winter see many sports activities take place in Interlaken, the most famous being paragliding / hand gliding. During winter, skiing is very popular with many ski regions in proximity.

Casino Kursaal

Set amidst spectacular gardens, fountain and the majestic mountains as the backdrop, the casino and convention centre enchants us with its view. Centrally located and home to many hotels make Interlaken the favoured destination for conferences. Casino Kursaal, built on the site of a former Augustinian monastery, dates back to 1859.

Unterseen

Across the river Aare near Interlaken west railway station is Unterseen, were beautiful wooden buildings exemplifying the Swiss chalet can be seen, which are normally found in the countryside.

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides

Horse drawn carriages can be taken for the sheer joy of the beautiful views of Interlaken. It is a 30 minutes to 1 hour ride, departing from outside Interlaken west railway station on Hoheweg, costing CHF 40 per person and CHF 10 for every additional person. Children between 7 and 16 are charged half the price.

Boat Trips on the Lakes

Lake Thun and Lake Brienz offer boat trips on motor boats or paddle wheel steamboats. Themed trips and evening trips with entertainment on board are also available. Excellent dining and banquet services are available on board. Departing from the boat landing near the Interlaken west train station, there are half or full day excursion trips available. There are many churches, fortresses and farmhouses and five majestic castles which can be visited along Lake Thun. Surrounded by many interesting places along its shores, Lake Brienz looks wonderful with its turquoise water, along with majestic mountains as its backdrop and beautiful waterfalls plunging into the lake from great heights.

Heimwehfluh

Built between 1904 and 1906, the funicular takes you on a short trip from the Valley Station, up a hill called Heimwehfluh. Besides the views, there are beautiful woodland paths, a bobsled, an open-air model railway and a spacious play area for kids. There is a restaurant up the summit. The funicular operates every day from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. from April to October.

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