Top Lift: 2970m
Ski area: 213km of piste
Adult lift pass: 323CHF for six days
In a Nutshell
If the mountains move you, then go to Murren. The views from its slopes are the most stunning you’ll see in Europe or North America. It’s just a shame there isn’t more skiing here – it’s best visited on a short, three or four-night break.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
Traffic-free Murren is the perfect example of a classic Swiss mountain village that sits in rural splendour on a sunny ledge 550m above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. It shares a lift pass, but not a joint ski area, with Wengen and Grindelwald – giving a total of 213km of pistes, although Murren itself has only 54km. All three resorts are reached by train from the railway halt at Lauterbrunnen, which acts an alternative cheaper base from which to explore this corner of the Bernese Oberland. Distances are large and the lift system slow. One reporter complained it took more than two hours to travel home to Wengen after skiing at Winteregg.
The mountain railway came here in Victoria times and is still the backbone of the lift system. Henry Lunn, a non-skiing Methodist minister and one-time lawn tennis equipment salesman, is credited with introducing the first-ever ski package holidays in the region in the winter of 1910–11. To encourage the class-conscious British to come on his tours, he founded the Public Schools Alpine Sports Club. His more distinguished son, Sir Arnold, went on to found the Kandahar Ski Club in Murren, where slalom racing was first introduced in 1922.
Murren, as one reader elegantly described it, “is like a coveted biscuit jar hidden above the kitchen cabinet. It is high up, difficult to reach, but full of delights once within your grasp”. Old chalets and hotels line the paths between the railway station at one end and the cable-car at the other. The same British families, many of them members of the Kandahar Club, have been returning here for generations and have forged firm links with the local villagers.
Reaching the village by rack-and-pinion railway
The village is reached by a steep rack-and-pinion railway from Lauterbrunnen, followed by a further stretch of track that winds from Grütschalp through Winteregg to the resort. Alternatively, you can take a cable-car up from Stechelberg in the valley.
“Nothing had prepared me for the north wall of the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. It’s not just their height – although that’s pretty impressive (each peak tops 3962m). It’s the way they fuse into a single massif, then drop away so suddenly, in a tumble of hanging glaciers, sheer cliffs, and catastrophic rock falls. In the space of a couple of miles, the massif loses 3353m in height. It’s as if God had taken a mighty axe, swung it miles above his head, and then, in a single blow, buried it deep into the earth,” says editor Sean Newsom.
On the whole, the kind of people who come here love the village atmosphere, and the views, and the skiing is just the icing on the cake, really. We recommend going over to Wengen for at least one day of your trip, although it’s a long and tedious commute. Ideally, if you want a full week in the Jungfrau region, you would spend three or four nights in Murren, and then move to a new hotel in Grindelwald, on the far side of the Jungfrau ski area.