The car-free villages of Wengen and Mürren offer some of the most stunning scenery in the Bernese Oberland - the magnificent Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains can be seen from both villages.
Out of season,especially in early snowy winter, they are peaceful and beautiful. In season - high summer or full winter - full of hikers or skiers.
Wengen and Mürren lie on opposite sides of the Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Bernese Oberland, one of the most beautiful valleys in all Switzerland. It is a huge U-shaped valley, the shape caused by glaciation (river valleys are more V-shaped), and dominated by the three peaks of Eiger (3970m), Mönch (4099m) and Jungfrau (4158m).
The Jungfrau was first climbed in 1811 and the area became immensely popular with climbers. The first railway from Lauterbrunnen through Wengen and up to Kleine Scheidegg opened in 1892. Eventually trains were able to reach right up to the Jungfraujoch, at 3454m it is the highest station in Europe. More information on the building of the railway can be found at the Aletsch Glacier article - the Aletsch begins its journey at Jungfraujoch.
Tourism plays a large role in the area and cable cars allow access to the mountains above Wengen and as far as the top of Schilthorn and the famous rotating restaurant above Mürren.
Skiing and other snow sports in winter and hiking in summer make the area attractive to visit all year round. Both villages are essentially car-free and very popular with the British contingent. The oldest ski race in the world - the Inferno, begun by an Englishman, Sir Arnold Lunn - begins just below Schilthorn and ends in Lauterbrunnen. It was
While in Lauterbrunnen, though, a trip to the Trümmelbach Falls is well worthwhile. Tens of thousands of litres of water barrel down through the mountain every second at peak flow, draining 24 sq. km of Alpine landscape including the glaciers of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. You'll get wet so take waterproofs and a brolly!
On the western side of the southern Lauterbrunnen valley, at a height of 1650m, lies picturebook Mürren, one of the first villages to be settled in the thirteenth century. Reached by cable car from the valley, the views across to Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau are fantastic.
On one visit in November 1990 there had been a fresh fall of about a foot of snow, no other visitors were there and the effect was magical.
Even on such a beautiful day the menace of the north face of the Eiger is evident. Many lives have been lost on the North Face and it was only in 1938 that two German climbers, Anderl Heckmair and Ludwig Vorg, and two Austrians, Fritz Kasparek and Heinrich Harrer, succeeded in climbing it.
In 2008 a Swiss climber, Ueli Steck, knocked 58 minutes off his own record for speed climbing the North Face of the Eiger set the previous year: he got to the top in an unbelievable 2 hours and 47 minutes.
In 1991 we returned on a glorious July day when the flower meadows were in full bloom.
Made famous by the Bond movie "On her Majesty's Secret Service", the location of the revolving restaurant at the top of this 2970m mountain provides a stunning 360° panorama encompassing over 200 peaks including, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau; on a clear day, right to the Mont Blanc range. It is reached by cable car, itself a wonderful experience as the views just keep getting better and better.
The Piz Gloria revolving restaurant was the first of its kind in the world, but you may have to wait for a table!
In 1991 we made two visits to Schilthorn: one in snowy March, the second in sunny July. I love the mountains in winter when they are covered with a thick blanket of snow, but there's a lot to be said for a hot, sunny summer's day!
We got another lovely day in April 2013 when we returned to have lunch at the revolving restaurant!
Rather larger Wengen is at the northern end on the east side of the Lauterbrunnen Valley at 1274m.
In the shadow of the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch and high above the beautiful Lauterbrunnen valley the scenery is again stupendous.
Wengen is reached by train from Lauterbrunnen.
We visited Wengen in 1990 and 2009 to walk amongst this amazing mountain landscape and visit Jungfraujoch.
In September 1990 we took the cable car up to Männlichen from where there are amazing views. It was an easy 90 minute walk down to Kleine Scheidegg for lunch then two hours walk back into Wengen - a bit steep in places and hard on the knees! The weather was cool and cloudy, at times quite dark and threatening, and the north face of the Eiger looked very forbidding.
Another day we took the train to Jungfraujoch from Wengen with more great views over the valley on the way. Jungfraujoch is a fabulous place, a must-see in Switzerland - more photos at the Aletsch Glacier article.