Backpacking in the Swiss Alps: Gimmelwald and the Mountain Hostel

Backpacking in the Swiss Alps: Gimmelwald and the Mountain Hostel

We arrived in Gimmelwald on a foggy afternoon, on our last day of backpacking through the Swiss Alps. Gimmelwald sits overlooking the Lauterbrunnen valley, perched on the mountain edge at the end of Via Alpina Stage 12. When I say fogg, that is perhaps an understatement. We could barely see anything around us as we neared the little town! Our destination was our home for the night, the famous Mountain Hostel.

Mountain Hostel, Gimmelwald

We got there while reception was closed, so we walked over to Pension Gimmelwald for cups of hot cocoa and some shelter from the rain. We sipped our bevs and played cards in the cozy restaurant until it was time to check in (and shower!).

Hot chocolate at Pension Gimmelwald

The Mountain Hostel

After our delicious hot chocolates, we headed back to the Mountain Hostel to check in. We were some of the first to arrive in our room, and after getting settled, we headed downstairs to the showers with our coins. Though coin operated and communal, the shower was lovely after our hike up to Lobhornhütte and then onto Gimmelwald.

The Mountain Hostel is is big, with several floors and large sleeping rooms. We stayed in the “Lovers Dorm,” where we shared a bunk in the co-ed room. The room was big, but there wasn’t much space to hang out without coming down with a serious case of cabin fever. Thankfully the communal area downstairs was large, and featured a kitchen and bar. There are also large women’s and men’s sleeping rooms, and communal bathroom and laundry room on the bottom floor.

Mountain Hostel, Gimmelwald

More than other hostels we’ve stayed at, the Mountain Hostel requires some self sufficiency – you’re to strip your bed and re-make it for the next person and though breakfast is provided, you’re required to get and wash your own dishes. All totally fine, but different than we’ve encountered in hostels before and much more communal than our previous hostel stays. The location and views are excellent and staying at the hostel was much cheaper than the surrounding options!

Mountain Hostel, Gimmelwald

The hostel had plenty of games around to play, so before we headed to dinner, we grabbed a drink from the bar and settled in to play some dominoes. Around us, others grabbed drinks and snacks, while others made meals in the communal kitchen and feasted on ramen.

Mountain Hostel, Gimmelwald

In the evening, the hostel was lively as people returned from their daytime activities and made dinner. One group played Cards Against Humanity late into the evening. If you’re looking to make friends while traveling, the vibe at the Mountain Hostel is very friendly!

For us, we would have gone a little crazy staying here for more than an evening, but for the length of time we spent here, it was a great budget option.

Schilthornbahn to Mürren

The Mountain Hostel is right next to a stop on the Schilthornbahn. In just five minutes, this giant gondola takes you up and away to Mürren, which is a fair bit larger than Gimmelwald. We decided to take it up for dinner, since there are many more restaurants in Mürren and we had plenty of time.

View from the Schilthornbahn

View from the Schilthornbahn

In Mürren, we wandered around the town looking for a place to eat. We settled on the restaurant at Hotel Edelweiss, where we had a lovely meal and chose seats with a view of the mountains outside. After all that pizza earlier, a salad was much appreciated!

Dinner at Hotel Edelweiss

It was amazing to watch as the clouds rolled into the valley and completely obscuring our view of the mountains, then roll on out again. Towards the end of our dinner, a brilliant double rainbow formed over the valley. It was incredible! It was the perfect scene to end our fantastic days of backpacking and a great end to our last day on the trail.

Rainbows in Murren

As the name suggests, the Schilthornbahn goes all the way up the Schilthorn. At the very top, at 9,744 feet, is Piz Gloria. With viewing platforms, a rotating restaurant and a James Bond connection, it’s a spot we were super excited to check out. Looking over the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, our visit the next morning was set to be the perfect end to our Lauterbrunnen hiking journey.


Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us. Instead of getting breakfast up above Lauterbrunnen at Piz Gloria, thick clouds completely shrouded the view. A Mountain Hostel breakfast it was then, and we took the Schilthornbahn down to the bus instead of up to Piz Gloria. If you visit on a clear day, you must go up there!

Pension Gimmelwald

Truth be told, there’s not much to do in Gimmelwald in the evenings, which was really nice. We posted up at Pension Gimmelwald, when we returned from dinner. The bar there is open later and the clientele a bit less rowdy than the Mountain Hostel. Like many people around us there and the hostel, we enjoyed an evening of playing games. We had a deck of cards with the Jungfrau on them that we used to play Speed until closing time at 10pm, while watching the beautiful sunset through the clouds.

Cards at Pension Gimmelwald

We found the service to be good and the vibe and atmosphere perfect for an evening in the mountains. We only wish it had been nice enough weather to sit on the beautiful terrace!

Pension Gimmelwald


Jenn is an American expat living in London, spending her time freelancing, traveling and writing on this here blog. Thank you for reading. Are you planning a trip here? Tell me your plans in the comments!

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