Hiking the Best of Interlaken, Switzerland for Cheap! {Day One}

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Visiting Switzerland, the incredibly beautiful, eco-friendly, efficient country, is an absolutely amazing experience, but it's no secret that it definitely is not cheap! A 1 euro ice cream cone in Berlin, suddenly becomes 4-5 euros (5 CHFs) in Geneva, and before you know it, you're dropping 100s of dollars a day on your Swiss vacation.  When I'm visiting a city, I tend to just accept the fact that different places will be more expensive than others, try to budget, and find the best deals I can. But when I visit the mountains or other natural features, it's hard for me to rationalize paying the crazy cost of living to enjoy the free nature. I found that you can actually have an incredible and cheap mountain experience in one of the best hiking destinations in the world - Interlaken -  if you plan ahead and pack smart. 

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where to stay: 

Choosing where to stay is where the planning ahead comes into play the most.  There are a couple of reasonably priced hostels in the Interlaken / Grindelwald area to choose from that have great reviews, are safe, and offer incredible amenities. The problem is, they book up fast! We booked our private room at the Mountain Hostel in Grindelwald multiple months in advance, which ended up being perfect for our stay. It's located right by the trailhead for Eiger, and an easy walk to Grindelwald main town.  Plus, it's bright blue, so it's easy to spot from the trails, making it pretty hard to get lost.  We split a four person room for $40 / night each, which included a decent breakfast and reasonably comfortable beds. 

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What to bring: 

Another money saving trick is coming prepared and limiting what you actually have to buy in town. We decided to hit a grocery store on our way to Interlaken and stalk up on a lot of easy food rather than trying to go out to eat in the pricey towns. We got foods that we knew wouldn't spoil quickly and we could pack during our hikes too. These included: fruits with peels, bread, nut spreads & jellies, and veggie snacks like carrot sticks and celery.  For water, it's hard to know where exactly you'll get a clean source on the trail, and it's best to avoid having to buy some from the shops along the way ($$). I recommend getting a camelback-style water backpack or carrying at least a 32 oz. bottle in a backpack.  Also, pack an extra layer, like a long sleeve, because the weather at the top of the mountain is always a lot different than at the bottom.  

Interlaken Map

Hiking: 

On the first day of our trip, we fueled up on breakfast at our hostel, and each packed a PB & J and other snacks for the day long hike ahead. We started right from our hostel, heading first for signs to Männlichen.  It was a small walk down first to Grund from Grindelwald, and we took the yellow path on the map above labeled #30 to Männlichen (printable map here). It was an hour plus journey up - with us stopping to take pictures - and the 1224 ft elevation gain made it for sure a workout. As we hiked the well-marked trails up, we could look down into the valley with the roaming cattle, see the Eiger peak, and watch as gondola tracked above us.  Basically it was a sensory overload. There were even Alphorns, or those long horns that are seen in old movies or in traditional Swiss mountain scenes that you can play with / get a laugh out of along the way. 

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At Männlichen, you're basically above the clouds, and the views from all sides are insane. There's a small playground and hammock at the top, which we each took some time laying in to give our feet a rest. We also took a break for lunch here and took in the amazing view.  I for sure got made fun of for taking my PB & J pic (pictured)   

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We continued along the trail numbered 33 to Kleine Scheidegg and up #37 to Eiger. Some of the mountain trails were actually covered in snow making them pretty hard to trek across.  We had to be super careful and made sure that we were watching our steps, especially in areas where the trails got thin.  Even with the tricky spots, I did this trip fine in old sneakers, but I've since invested in a pair of Lowa hiking books (these are my exact pair) which I love. 

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From Eiger, we took path #36 to Alpiglen and then #34 back down to Grund. Getting to Alpiglen was the iciest part of the trip, so I barely have pictures from there because I had to put my phone away and be fully balanced, ready to catch myself if I were to slip. Getting down to Grund from Alpiglen was nice and easy, which we were super grateful for because at that point, we were pretty exhausted. It took us about 12 hours total for the journey, which was great for us. We didn't have any other intensions for the trip than to spend all day hiking, so an all day excursion was exactly what we wanted. For dinner that night, we just ordered a big pizza for $14 and everyone split it, again saving us money.  Even in the slightly cramped hostel room, we all slept so soundly from our exhausting day, and got up early ready to do the next hike (Schnyige Platter --> First), which you can read more about in this post! 

As you can see from the map, there are a ton of options when it comes to Interlaken trails.  I would love to hear about your experiences there!  Please leave your questions / comments below!


 

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