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Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Pirates on Tour: Switzerland's Jungfrau Region on a budget

Budget and Switzerland are probably two words you don’t often hear in the same sentence. And while I also had this preconceived notion that Switzerland was impossible to do on a budget, I was surprised to prove myself wrong.

Read on to find out how I spent three fully-packed days in the region on a budget!

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I spent three amazing days in Switzerland's Jungfrau Region this Autumn. For those that are unfamiliar with the area, it's located in the Bernese Oberland, at the foot of the Bernese Alps. The region is made up of two valleys south of Interlaken: Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen.

I went into the trip thinking that everything was going to be outrageously expensive. And while some things were, other things were actually very well priced. A beer, for example, ranged anywhere from £5 to £7 in a restaurant. Accommodation, as well, can get pricey in the region, however, cheaper options can be found in Lauterbrunnen, where rented an Airbnb for three people. If I were to do it again, I would stay here for even more savings!

While there are plenty of other places to stay in the region, including the larger city of Grindelwald, I can really recommend staying in Lauterbrunnen if you’re short on time. While Grindelwald has the most hotels, I found that it’s completely built up to accommodate tourists, and has therefore lost a lot of its small town charm that Lauterbrunnen is big on.

If you're in the area for three to five days, and you already know that you want to go to the top of all the mountains in the area, then I highly suggest that you get the Jungfrau Pass. The pass ranges from 3 to 8 day options, starting from 190 CHF going up to 310 CHF (about £166 - £270), respectively. This option will save you a lot of money in comparison to doing each mountain individually. Be careful though, there are still a lot of things that the pass doesn't cover.

We decided not to do the pass for a few reasons. First, we really wanted to spend a good portion of our time hiking, which meant we could cut out some cable cars or trains that can be the most costly part of the trip. Secondly, we were visiting in autumn, a time when the weather can be very fickle, so we weren't even sure if we went up to the top, we'd have a view.

In the end, we spent around £70 on cable cars and transport that would have been covered by the pass (versus £166 that the pass would have cost us). You might be surprised to hear that there are a number of free or inexpensive attractions in the area. Below are my top picks for things to do in the area that will help you keep costs low!

My top picks for the Jungfrau region

1. Hike from Mürren to Gimmelwald

Cost: Free

If you're staying in Lauterbrunnen, we suggest catching the local bus to Stechelberg where you'll take the cable car up the mountain. You can decide how far up you would like to go, but just remember if you don't have the Jungfrau pass, the higher up the mountain you go, the more expensive it will be. One option would be to take the cable car up to Mürren. A return trip from Stechelberg to Mürren is around £75.

Located at the foot of the Schilthorn peak in the Lauterbrunnen valley, Mürren is another small mountain village that is heavy on charm. We stopped here for a coffee and the view. The village can be easily reached via cable car that you can catch from - or for those more adventurous, a steep climb up the mountain.

Pirate tip 🏴‍☠️: If you're in need of a coffee break, Hotel Regina has a large sun terrace that looks out to the valley below. It's also a prime viewing spot for paragliders that take off from the higher peaks.

If you do find yourself here, I highly recommend the walk down to Gimmelwald. It's an easy, downhill hike on a paved road that winds through the hillside and offers some spectacular views. The hike takes 30 minutes in total, or a little longer if you stop along the way to take pictures, like we did. For us, this hike was the highlight of our time in this region. Even better, you can reward yourself with a nice cold beer once you reach Gimmelwald.

2. Birg Thrill Walk

Cost: Free

Those big on adventure should not miss Birg. While there isn't too much here, and it is slightly pricey to get to (via cable car), it's a fun stop before you hit the Schilthorn peak. Adrenaline junkies will have fun at the Birg Thrill Walk, which is a free attraction that consists of a sightseeing path built into the side of the cliff. Glass-bottom floors and chain-link tunnel that you can crawl through are just a few of the obstacles that await.

Those who are happy to stay above will also be rewarded with beautiful views of the Eiger and Jungfrau peaks.

3. Taste the famous Schwarz Mönch beer in Gimmelwald

Cost: around £5 for a pint

If you find yourself in Gimmelwald, you'll need to head to the local pub (which also doubles as a pension) for a pint of the Schwarz Mönch lager. Named after the Black Monk mountain that can be seen from the terrace, the dark lager has won many awards and is well worth the journey.

4. Hike to Pfingstegg via Obere Gletscher

Cost: Free (Local bus from Grindlewald to Obere Gletscher was around £5)

Grindelwald is the one of the larger mountain towns, and therefore it has plenty to keep you occupied. We were a bit shocked at the prices to go anywhere. We had one goal in mind for the day, hike. We caught a train from Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald, which is located in the next valley. The train cost about £6 one-way. We stopped by the visitor's centre in town and asked where we could hike with amazing views without spending any money. Unfortunately, there weren't a wealth of option, but we found one that looked nice. We were told to catch one of the local buses to the last stop, Obere Gletscher. From there, there was a beautiful hike that took an hour and ended in the town of Pfingstegg.

5. Toboggan in Pfingsteg

Cost: £5 for one ride as an adult, £3.50 for children

After your hike, you'll be rewarded with a little more adventure in Pfingstegg. Grab a beer or two and a meal at the local restaurant (which has some of the best views) so you can have a little before getting in line for the toboggan run. While you might see a lot of kids lining up, I can ensure you that it is just as fun to ride as an adult!

6. Visit Trummelbach Falls

Cost: £10.50 Adults; £5 for children aged 6-15

You can easily walk to Trummelbach Falls; from Lauterbrunnen's town centre it takes about 20-minutes by foot. While there is the free Staubbuach waterfall in town that you can hike up to, Trummelbach Falls is home to the world's largest underground glacier waterfall.

7. Try your luck with the slide in Gimmelwald

Cost: Free (just make sure you have travel health insurance)

Last, but certainly not least, if you're really looking for a thrill, you can find a slide near the cable car entrance in Gimmelwald that will make you fly. I actually advise anyone to stay away from this slide as it can cause serious injury, so this is more of a warning to travellers with children. Don't believe me? Check out the reel below.

Disclaimer: ride at your own risk

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