One Week in Wengen
Our One Week in Wengen began on Monday, September 5, 2022 when we finished our One Week in Beckenried. We also switched from our Tell Pass to our Berner Oberland Pass. Both passes cover all buses, boats, trains and the full price of nearly all cable cars in their regions. The train ride from Lucerne to Brienz is one of the most beautiful in Switzerland. You climb up the valley from Lucerne to the amazing turquoise waters of the Sarnersee and the Lungernersee. Then you descend to Meiringen where the train reverses its direction as it proceeds to Lake Brienz.
We got off the train in Brienz, stored our luggage at the station and walked across the street to the ticket booth for the Brienzer Rothorn steam train. Unlike our time in Beckenried with low levels of tourism, this tourist train was packed full. We had lovely sunshine, in spite of the forecast of overcast skies.
The Brienzer Rothorn steam train takes an hour to reach the top of the mountain. At the peak, the restaurant was being remodelled, so the only food services were hot dog stands. Too many tourists at the top, so we decided to shorten our visit and took the next train back down. Line ups were long to board the return train and it was hot, noisy and uncomfortable for the one hour descent. Not a pleasant visit, but the photos at the top were amazing.
Back in Brienz, we found some pastry and coffee along the waterfront of Lake Brienz. Then we retrieved our luggage and caught the Lotschberg steamboat to Interlaken Ost. With our first class Berner Oberland Pass, the steamboat was a pleasant experience. We had burgers, fries, a drink and a dessert which ran about $93 US for the two of us. Prices everywhere in Switzerland are not cheap. The sunshine turned the waters of Lake Brienz a beautiful turquoise blue as we motored past Giessbach Falls and the picturesque village of Iseltwald. From Interlaken Ost we easily and quickly took two trains to reach our final destination at the Jungfraublick Hotel in Wengen.
Brienzer Rothorn Slide Show
One Week in Wengen – Jungfraublick Hotel
The Jungfraublick Hotel was our home base for One Week in Wengen. This hotel was a let down compared to our magnificent experience at the Nidwaldnerhof in Beckenried. The view of the Jungfrau was ok, but didn’t match what was advertised. The rooms were older and the tub / shower was awkward. When temperatures dropped to 39 F (4 C) later in the week, we were informed that it was too early in the season to turn on their central heating. At breakfast many of the guests wore heavy ski jackets to keep warm while they ate.
Also, the Jungfraublick had stopped operating their evening dining services, which was inconvenient. Luckily the Italian cuisine at Ristorante da Sina became our go to option. At the end of the day, it wasn’t pleasant to hike up the hillside to the hotel after seeking out a place to eat. The Jungfraublick isn’t a choice that I’d ever make again. In fact I wouldn’t even choose the Jungfrau region again, because it has far too many tourists. Switzerland has so much to offer outside of the most popular international tourist destinations.
One Week in Wengen – Mannlichen
With yet another forecast of afternoon cloud and rain on our first full day, we started off early to enjoy the sunshine while it lasted. The Wengen – Mannlichen gondola was minutes from our hotel on foot. We paid the extra 5 CHF pp to ride on the open air top in the crisp morning air. The light over the mountains to the west was excellent, but the low angle of the sun in September meant that the Eiger and the village of Grindelwald were shadowed in the morning. We decided to descend the gondola to Grindelwald. On the way down, I decided the weather was perfect for the Jungfraujoch, so we changed plans.
One Week in Wengen – Jungfraujoch
At the Grindelwald Terminal station, we paid the additional ticket price of $99 US per person to ride the Jungfraujoch Railway. This railway is one of the few attractions not covered by any passes. To reach the Jungfraujoch Railway we caught the new Eiger Express gondola to the Eigergletscher station and then boarded the Jungfraujoch train. The train heads immediately into a tunnel for the rest of the trip up to 11,300 feet in elevation.
The weather was perfect at the summit. We enjoyed the views of the Aletsch Glacier from the Sphinx Observatory, walked on the snow and wandered through the ice cave sculptures. I’m still not sure the experience is worth the extra fee though. You can find arguably better views, snow and ice caves at many other locations in Switzerland, such as Chamonix and Zermatt.
First Gondola Station
After the Jungfraujoch, the weather was holding, so we made our way back down the Eiger Express to Grindelwald Terminal. Then we caught the train to Grindelwald Bahnhof and a quick two stop bus ride to the First Gondola Station. English speakers often misunderstand this German name “first” which refers to “ridge” or “crest”. The gondolas for First are older, small cabins for 4 – 6 people. The gondola route has optional exits at Bort for trottibike scooters and Schreckfeld for mountain carts. The final stop at First has a restaurant with panoramic seating and easy access to the free First Cliff Walk. The First Flieger zip line starts here too.
First Mountain Carts
On the way up, I noticed the mountain carts being pulled along on a conveyor belt at Bort. The physical effort to move the carts back up the mountain could have been exhausting, but Swiss engineering had solved this. Suddenly a robot machine grabbed the next cart on the conveyor and quickly hoisted it up onto the side of our gondola. The mountain cart rode attached to us all the way to Schreckfeld, where another robot removed it in preparation for the next ride down. Amazing.
First Cliff Walk
At First, I succeeded in overcoming my fear of heights to walk the First Cliff Walk and stand on the suspended viewpoint for pics too. The final gondola ride section to First also has great views of the people who were riding the First Flieger, suspended like flying super heroes, as they sped down the mountain side back to the Schreckfeld gondola station.
After lunch at Berggasthaus First, we retraced our route back to Grindelwald Terminal where we we rode the gondola up to Mannlichen and then down to Wengen. This completed an exhausting day which we undertook because we thought the good weather was ending. Little did we know that the Jungfrau has its own micro climate. We had lots of good weather the rest of the week.
Jungraujoch Slide Show
One Week in Wengen – Aare Gorge
On the second full day of our One Week in Wengen, overcast weather was forecasted. So, we decided to visit Aare Gorge. The trains took just under two hours to reach the Aare Gorge from Wengen with typically quick Swiss rail transfers in Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken and Meiringen.
One of the most unusual parts of this day trip is the arrival at the Aareschlucht Ost train stop, which is located in a tunnel. This train stop for the Aare Gorge is by request only. When you hit the stop button, the train stops in the tunnel. Then you will find an exit button at a steel door on the train platform. The door slides open to let you out of the tunnel. From there you cross a foot bridge over the River Aare and climb a hillside trail to the Aare Gorge entrance.
The Aare Gorge is an interesting experience. At the start, the walkway is suspended over the river as you follow it downstream. The gorge then narrows to only a few feet with tunnels and short paths over the river to enjoy. Eventually you come out at Aareschluct West where you catch the train again. You can also do the entire route in reverse if you want.
One Week in Wengen – Thun
By the time we finished the Aare Gorge, the sun had come out. With the Berner Oberland Pass, the options were almost endless. We could visit Giessbach and Istlewald on a steam boat, head to Harder Kulm for lunch or head past Interlaken to Spiez. With the great train connections from Brienz, we quickly found ourselves all the way at the end of Lake Thun in the sunshine at the village of Thun. We wandered over the quaint and historic bridges in Thun, through the old town, up to the castle and to the viewpoint at the church.
Lake Thun Cruise
At the train station after our visit to Thun, we noticed a boat cruise leaving across the street. So, we took the boat on a 2 hour cruise all the way back to Interlaken. The cruise passes several castles along the way including Schloss Shadau, Hunegg, Oberhofen and Spiez. From Interlaken we took our standard two train rides back to Wengen. At dinner time we enjoyed thunder, lightning and a heavy downpour to celebrate another over-the-top, successful day.
On the third day of our One Week in Wengen, the forecast was for sunny periods in the morning. We took a very empty early morning train from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg. This route was impressive. You get lovely views of Wengen, the Lauterbrunnen Valley and Murren on the way up. Then the train line passes along the base of the north face of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks.
At Kleine Scheidegg the early morning air was crisp and the absence of tourists made the small train station feel like an intimate part of the alpine peaks. A glimpse toward Schnyge Platte let us know it was likely a good choice for a visit this morning too. So, we took the next train back down past Wengen to Lauterbrunnen. From there we transferred to Wilderswil and caught the next cog train ride up to Schynige Platte.
One Week in Wengen – Schynige Platte
The cog train ride to Schynige Platte takes almost as long as the Brienzer Rothorn, but not being a steam train made the ride so much quieter and enjoyable. Clouds and fog formed in the mountain valleys as we rode up, but Schynige Platte and Lake Brienz remained in bright sunshine.
At the Schynige Platte station the Jungfrau was glistening brightly, while the tips of the Eiger and Monch were barely visible. Clouds kept swirling up the valley to change the views. As the train arrived, two men in traditional German outfits began playing alpenhorns. The sound of the horns combined with the fog to make a magical experience.
Schynige Platte Pics
To the north of the station, the hills were in sunshine. We hiked for about half an hour to the ridge which provides the opportunity to look down at Lake Thun, Interlaken and Lake Brienz. The viewpoint was amazing. Lake Thun was dark blue while Lake Brienz was a lovely glacial turquoise. Schynige Platte exceeded all my expectations. Plan your visit in the spring and you can enjoy their alpine flower garden too.
Alpenhorns in Schynige Platte
One Week in Wengen – Stockhorn
On the next day of our One Week in Wengen, we headed north out of the Jungfrau region to Stockhorn. Four train rides from Wengen got us to Erlenbach im Simmental in under two hours. The Simmental valley was basking in sunshine and turning the landscape that unmistakably Swiss pattern of green pastures dotted with homes. The Stockhorn gondola is a 15 minute walk from the station and this was the only time during our vacation where we didn’t have an option to take a bus.
As we rode the first, larger gondola up to Hinterstocken Lake, we started to see all the clouds clinging to the peaks of the Alps. Next we rode the smaller gondola, which is quite famous because at the end of the day, they use this gondola for bungee jumping over the lake below. The winds were quite strong on the ascent and it is was very chilly at the Observation Deck. The cool thing about Stockhorn is that it not only has a gigantic deck facing the Alps, but also a tunnel through to the other side where you can view Lake Thun and the villages on the plains to the north. Unfortunately, the clouds and swirling fog hid the mountain views, but the view also showed us that Lake Thun was sunny, so we headed there next.
Spiez to Faulensee Walk
We reached the village of Spiez after one train ride from Stockhorn.The weather was perfect along Lake Thun. After coffee and pastry at the train station, we opted to walk down the marked pathway to the harbor below. When we reached the water, we took the lakefront trail to Faulensee instead of visiting Spiez Castle.
The walk to Faulensee has lovely views of Lake Thun and takes less than an hour. When we reached Faulensee, the Blumlisalp steamboat was approaching the dock. We caught the steamer for the ride back to Interlaken. With our 1st Class Berner Oberland Pass, we enjoyed restaurant options on the voyage. This day made me reconsider my love of Swiss gondola rides. A Lake Thun steamboat cruise was the perfect day trip instead.
Faulensee Walk Pics
Kleine Scheidegg Repeat
The next day was very cloudy, so I decided to ride the train up from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg again. The ride to Kleine Scheidegg at the foot of the Eiger is impressive in almost any weather. We connected with the train up to Eigergletcher, but immediately caught the return train back to Kleine Scheidegg where we caught the next train down to Grindelwald Terminal. I’d never ridden the train on this route, but the new Eiger Express gondola has much better views and is also a much quicker ride.
Mannlichen Panorama Trail in the Fog
At Grindelwald Terminal the weather looked promising, so we took the gondola up to Mannlichen. At the top the weather was clear toward Grindelwald, but foggy over the Eiger. We decided to hike the Panorama trail from Mannlichen back to Kleine Scheidegg. The hike wasn’t difficult and we got some pleasant glimpses through the fog down to Grindelwald. We also had fun walking among the cows and the fog.
At Kleine Scheidegg the salami sandwich, potato chips, soup and vanilla slice were delicious as we sat outside in the chilly air and fog. In fact we enjoyed it so much that we came back again the next day.
Paragliders, Fog & Jungfrau Peaks from Mannlichen
Mannlichen Royal Walk
The last day of our One Week in Wengen was forecasting clear skies. Early in the morning, we headed up the Wengen – Mannlichen gondola to check out the views. The skies were clear, but clouds were forming as moisture evaporated in the valley floors and drifted up the mountain sides.
We hiked up from Mannlichen to the viewpoint at the end of the Royal Walk. Then we watched a group of paragliders take flight for a landing in Grindelwald far below. The morning moisture began to disappear, so we headed back down the gondola and then caught the train to Lauterbrunnen for a valley walk.
Lauterbrunnen Valley Walk
Temperatures were perfect in the sunshine as we walked from Lauterbrunnen along the valley floor. After a pleasant Lauterbrunnen Valley walk, we left the main trail in order to catch the bus from Trummelbach Falls back to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen we decided to return by train to Kleine Scheidegg for lunch. The peaks were in full view at Kleine Scheidegg and temperatures were pleasant for an outside meal.
At this point Viki was getting tired while I was getting excited about the excellent views of the peaks. We returned to the hotel in Wengen and then I headed up the Wengen – Mannlichen gondola again by myself.
Mannlichen on a Perfect Day
The views from Mannlichen in the afternoon were amazing. In September it takes until late afternoon for the sunlight to start illuminating the Eiger. The lighting was perfect. I took way too many pictures and simply couldn’t stop staring at the view. I realized it was probably the last time in my life that I’d ever be here and it was a glorious moment. Staying One Week in Wengen had provided me the opportunity to experience a perfect day in the Jungfrau!
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