Guide to Western Switzerland: Thun & Montreux

Honeymoon Part 3

After about a week of being in Italy, we hopped on a train from Florence to Milan to Thun, Switzerland. The temperature was a crisp 45-50 degrees, a huge difference between my bikini and sundress days in the Amalfi Coast & Tuscany. Needless to say, packing for this trip was extremely tough, especially getting it all in one carry on bag, but I managed!

Both halves of the trip were totally amazing and so different. We got a taste of everything and I am so happy with the places I picked for us to go!

Thun

*Sigh* The magical little town of Thun, where everyone is happy, friendly and accommodating. We went in October and had a 2.5 chilly days, a bit of rain, and plenty of amazingly gorgeous views.

Thun, said “Toon”, is a German-speaking town to the north of Interlaken. If you want to go to a very locals-only small town, this is the place. And I highly recommend it.

Thun Activities, Restaurants & Tips:

  • Schloss: Gorgeous castle overlooking Lake Thun.
  • Outdoor bars: Even in the cold, the Swiss chill outside.
  • Glug: Return of glug and it was even better than I remembered.
  • El Camino. Had the best nachos ever here. Yes, we’re from Southern California and think that this Swiss bar’s nachos are better.
  • Kaffeebar Muhleplatz: A quaint outdoor bar overlooking the river. Our waiter was incredibly nice and even put on a hockey game for us on the big screen.
  • Cafe Brotie. I had 3 Schinkengipfeli in two days. It’s basically like a pig in a blanket but OMG.

Jungfrau Region

On our second day in Thun, we ventured down to the Jungfrau Region to take advantage of our rail pass and find some cows with bells. Because…Switzerland.

Erlenbach. We wanted to take one of the tramways to the top of the mountain, but it was raining and windy when we got to Erlenbach, so we chose not to take our chances on missing one of the only trains for the day. A girl at the local market took pity on us freezing our butts off and made us some tea from their break room.

Wengen. Again, not a soul in sight here and definitely nothing open for lunch like we had expected. Turns out October in this little ski village is desolate so do your research beforehand!

Jungfrau. You can get to the highest point in Europe, Jungfrau, from Wengen for 112 euros. If you don’t feel like coughing up that kind of dough or want to make sure there’s visibility, walk into a bar and there’s a 90% chance they’ll have a live web cam of the peak on tv. The view we’d have had would’ve been 100% white and not being able to see 2 feet in front of us.

Lauterbrunnen. The cutest little town known for it’s gigantic waterfall pouring down the side of the mountain. The waterfall hike is super cool (and slippery) and definitely a must-do if you’re in the area! The view from the top is so classic Swiss, I could cry. Best news of all? Found some cows with bells here!

Interlaken. We heard and read a ton about having to go to Interlaken. We went, walked around, and realized that the downtown is very city-esque with expensive shopping and restaurants, but that’s pretty much it. According to our favorite bartender in Thun, it’s just the stop off for most activities since there is a large train station and multiple tramways to take.

Montreux

 

If you envision what Fairy Tale Land would look like, this is it. I used to think I liked long walks on the beach best, but long walks along Lake Geneva? Truly magical. Plus, the sunrises and sunsets are unreal, lighting up a snow-capped mountain in the background. The catch, it’s helllllza expensive. Try a standard burger for $26+.

  • Chillon Castle. Holy cow. Best museum tour ever! Definitely give yourself 1-2 hours here…it’s seriously so cool.
  • Les 3 Sifletts in Vivey. Our super friendly Thun bartender recommended this place for trying the quintessential gruyere fondue. Our Swiss table neighbor, who also happened to be the most interesting man in the world, recommended that we have it with white wine and order the meat platter for dipping. Obviously, we obliged. The waitress was shocked we we ordered a small fondue to share, but when we finished it clean, she said she’d rarely seen fondue newbies finish the bowl. Still confused by these reactions.
  • Angels Bar. Had pizza and crepes here that were bomb dot com.
  • Christmas Market. While we weren’t in Montreux for the Christmas Market, they were already building and setting up the structures. Based on how awesome the Christmas Marketing in Copenhagen was, I can only imagine how a Christmas Market on Lake Geneva would be!
  • Grand Suisse Hotel. This is where we stayed and this is where I would not recommend. While the views are spectacular, the service is crap, the dessert sucks and it’s more expensive than it needs to be. Plus, it happened to be particularly warm (shorts & tank weather hot) while we were there but they couldn’t turn on the AC in our room because it wasn’t summer. We slept with the door to the balcony open and no sheets. On the plus side, their plan chailly white wine is delicious.

Swiss Rail Pass

Let’s talk about the public transportation sitch here for a sec. First of all, I’m not sure how anyone commutes here because the trains are so dang expensive! For example, we went from Thun to Montreux, which is about an hour train ride, and it was over 115 euros each.

We did the math ahead of time and figured that we’d get a better deal buying the Swiss Rail Pass, especially knowing that we were bound to take the wrong train or decide we wanted to go somewhere else at some point. No tickets needed and you can hop on, hop off without a care in the world! Except, make sure to look up return trains and ensure that you’re on the Swiss food schedule. A lot of restaurants are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

With the Swiss Rail pass, any mistakes or wrong trains wouldn’t cost any extra, which turned out to be a very good decision (i.e. Erlenbach and Wengen fails)!

Both parts of Switzerland were absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to see more of the country!

Cheers Claudette 2

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