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The Lauterbrunnen Valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth – reportedly the inspiration for Tolkein’s Land of the Elves. Waterfalls and mountains galore. A must-do on any tour of Switzerland. It’s extremely touristy, however – don’t stay there for the night (choose one of the towns below), just take the walk from the town to the falls – and the tour behind **Trummelbache Falls. It’s all not particularly rigorous and packed with photo ops.

Given a typical 2-3 day visit on a bigger tour of Switzerland, I’d choose a single hotel and take advantage of the trains and trams/gondolas to visit the top sites. On the more expensive side of things, Hotel Jungfrau in Wengernalp would be our first choice, or the Aspen in Grindelwald. Next tier down on the pricing scale, Hotel Bellevue des Alpes or Hotel Eiger in Murren would be good choices. And for budget, try the hostels and/or the rather nice campground on the outskirts of Lauterbrunnen.

Grindelwald

I have mixed feelings about Grindelwald. The mountain scenery is very impressive, and it’s quite easy to get to on public transportation. It’s also very designed for tourism at scale and has a crowded, transactional feel that I don’t love. It’s not a great location for skiing convenience (most hotels would require a bus ride to the lifts). There is easy access to good hiking, but remember that the hiking season is short (June – September).

You can have a far better winter holiday in Grindelwald if you get out of town – staying at the Aspen made a big difference over previous trips. It’s ski-in, ski-out, and you feel firmly out of the chaos of the town itself.

Food & Hotels

Hotels are uncomfortably expensive in Grindelwald. If you’re looking for a bargain, this is not the place to stay. It’s also an area where casual dining can be difficult – book early. I’d also avoid staying on the main drag – it’s busy without having a lot of personality.

  • ***The Aspen: a game changer for us (see note above). While not “super fancy,” this is a well designed, well managed four star on the more premium end of the spectrum. On the negative side – some rooms are quite small, and the lounge area is a little bland. On the positive – ski-in, ski-out, food is very good, service is excellent. Feels quite remote from the bustle of Grindelwald (in a good way). Spa is big (sauna, various showers, relaxation areas), and the slope-side hot tub is wonderful.
  • **Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof Grindelwald: staff is nice, food is better than expected, rooms are big, spa is acceptable if a little small, good location. I don’t love places that are this big (probably 100 rooms), but they are working hard to make it feel intimate. As a historic hotel, this is worth it if you can get a room in the $400 range, but otherwise stay somewhere else.
  • **Stallbeizli Heubode is a newer, slope side restaurant near the Aspen. The menu is limited, but the view is epic and the building is very cute, modern interpretation of a classic farm building. Good place for a cocktail or a light lunch.
  • Hotel Bodmi was cute from the outside, and has goats! https://das-bodmi.ch.
  • Hotel Gletscherblick looks like a more budget option with history – we walked by and loved the location (amazing view).
  • Hotel Glacier is newer, polished, out of town but looks nice – https://www.hotel-glacier.ch/

The Jungfrau Ski Area

To access the towns on the hill, you’ll take a pretty cog railway. Reserve parking in advance at the Lauterbrunnen garage – it does book out. 

The ski area has beautiful views of the Eiger and the Jungfrau. Okay groomers, excellent off-piste. Very weather dependent, can get chopped up and fogged in. In the winter you can ski out (to Wengen) and it’s fun, just plan your luggage accordingly. Walking to Wengen takes about an hour, easy downhill, and would be beautiful year round. There’s also a new high speed gondola from Grindelwald, as of Jan 2021.

Conde Nast on the area (Dec 2023)

Hotels

Our first choice was ***Hotel Bellevue des Alpes – it’s straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. Literally on the edge of the Eiger, the historic place to watch climbers (“the vulture hotel”). Requires a (beautiful) train ride to access Kleine Scheidegg. The station is a bit busy, but from inside the hotel you’re in a perfect vintage environment. Food is excellent. Decor is pure 1950s. Beds uncomfortable, but worth it anyway. Room 48 is worth asking for, larger than most, top floor, corner view and a balcony. 

Our new favorite is the equally historic ***Hotel Jungfrau in Wengernalp – a very scenic and isolated spot. It’s more expensive than the Hotel Bellevue, but it’s also much nicer – there’s a small spa, it’s family run, the rooms are gorgeous. Mid day in the winter, lunch on the patio is a beautiful sunny spot (reserve well in advance). Food is very good, menus change every day.

Wengen

I’d choose Kleine Scheidegg or Wegneralp over Wengen, but it’s a nice little town with great views. We were told it runs quite sleepy. Food looks rather limited, mostly hotel dining. There’s a longish list of hotels that look okay: Maya Caprice Boutique Hotel & Spa, Alpenruhe, Hotel Falken, Hotel Schönegg, Hotel Bellevue.

Mürren

Mürren is a small car-free Swiss mountain village at the foot of the Schilthorn peak. Reached by tram from Stechelberg, or a circuitous tram + train from Lauterbrunnen, it hangs on the edge of a very steep mountain with a stunning view of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. It is also one of the most popular tourist spots in Switzerland and can get very crowded.

We’ve made two mid-March visits (2021, 2024). The first, mid-Covid, gave us the place almost to ourselves. The second was fairly crowded, with foreign groups wandering about in large clusters. I don’t love the town itself – the view, over the architecture, really is the winner here.

There’s a major construction project underway, replacing segments of the tram with a higher speed, steeper, higher capacity series of lines – planned completion in 2026. This is likely a good thing, as wait times can get serious (our most recent trip to the top took about an hour). Aside from skiing and hiking, most people visit to go to the *Piz Gloria, the revolving restaurant at the top of the Schilthorn. This was a principal filming location for the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which James Bond (George Lazenby) made his escape from the headquarters of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Overall it’s not a particularly impressive building, and I wouldn’t eat here, but it’s still worth getting up to the top for the sweeping views.

On to skiing – it’s great. Amazing views, longer season than most, fun historic runs to try. Great on-piste, would be great off-piste. Very steep, very fast. In 1928, the Inferno Race was set up, and continues to this day. It’s the longest (15.8 km, 9.8 mi) and largest amateur ski race in the world with a limit of 1800 participants. 

Hotels and Dining

Perhaps counter to expectations, Murren is not particularly fancy. It’s more of a ‘hiker and climber’ functional scene, with a lot of aging two and three star hotels. The hotels should issue you a Murren guest card, which includes access to the sports complex (which doesn’t look that appealing, but there is a pool and sauna).

  • The ***Hotel Eiger is right across from the train station. It’s very good, fancy in a slightly dated way, three saunas, a pool, lots of places to hang out. Restaurants are dated and overpriced. Views are amazing, and the room size is generous. 
  • **Hotel Alpenruh was fine – highly convenient location right next to the tram, friendly staff, big rooms that leaned functional over stylish, and plenty of rooms facing the valley view. The restaurant has gigantic portions, and if the choices are not exactly unique, you certainly don’t go away hungry. A little expensive for what it is.
  • Hotel Edelweiss Superior is where we plan to stay next. It’s in the same price range as the Alpenruh (250-350 CHF), and has a decidedly bland exterior, but the facility has been modernized, and the nicer rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and nicer amenities. The **restaurant is actually quite good, best meal we’ve had in Murren, a big and diverse menu.
  • Drei Berge Hotel is a hard one to judge at the moment. The reviews are really all over the place. We had a drink on the sunny terrace (pleasant), and wandered through the public areas, which are trying very hard to be hip. I think they’re catering to a party crowd, and charging more than they should (pricing closer to the Hotel Eiger than the Alpenruh).
On Piste
  • **Pension Suppenalp is a good on-piste option for lunch – hearty fare, in a historic building. You can also stay here, but it’s fairly rustic, a hostel with shared bathrooms.
  • **Schilthornhütte is our normal mid-morning break spot. Great views, if a bit exposed and cold.
  • See notes above for *Piz Gloria, which is a skip for the moment (revisit post 2026 when the renovations are complete).

Stechelberg

Stechelberg isn’t so much a destination, as the end of the road. It’s a jumping off point to many summer hikes, and has pretty views.