What could be better than to relax on a sunny terrace, to enjoy some cheese and admire the glorious Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau? Nothing – and that’s why Männlichen is always worth visiting. Having a sun-drenched terrace right next to the piste, it’s popular in winter too. Overnight stays possible only in summer.
Männlichen can be reached by cable car from Grindelwald-Grundor via Wengen. It’s a great starting point for many hikes.
Kleine Scheidegg (el. 2061 m.) is a high mountain pass below and between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland. It connects Grindelwald with Lauterbrunnen. Not only is it the station where you change trains if you are going to the spectacular Jungfraujoch, it’s also a pleasent destination in its own right. There are several hotels, some more than a century old, where you can enjoy a meal with spectacular views of the North face of the Eiger. It’s a popular hiking spot in summer and in winter it is a popular place for skiers.
JUNGFRAUJOCH “TOP OF EUROPE; A TRIP TO EUROPE’S HIGHEST TRAIN STATION”
Especially in summer, it’s a unique experience to be in the middle of the world of perpetual snow and glaciers. A visit to the Jungfraujoch, part of the UNESCO heritage site, is really a must for visitors of the Bernese Oberland. The Jungfraujoch is the highest train station in Europe at 3,454 m (11,332 ft) above sea level. It is in use since 1912. The plan to extend the railway to the summit of the Jungfrau is as old as the railway itself, but it remains a plan for the time being.
A train leaves from Kleine Scheidegg; it runs through a tunnel in the north face of the Eiger. In this tunnel the train will make a short stop at the Eigerwand station (2866 m, 9,403 ft), where you can get off for a short period of time to look down through windows in the north face of the Eiger. The next short stop is the station Eismeer (3,160 m, 10,366 ft). Here you have the opportunity view an ice lake. From the Jungfraujoch you will enjoy a breathtaking view over the Bernese Oberland on one side, and the Konkordiaplatz on the other. The Konkordiaplatz is an intersection of several glaciers, one which is the Grosser Aletsch-glacier, the second longest in Europe. This region belongs to the canton of Wallis. You can ski, snowboard or go on a zip line. The is the possibility to hike to the Mönchsjochhütte (3,650 m, 11,975 ft) where you can have a drink or some food before returning. An elevator brings you to the viewing point Sphinx (3,571 m, 11,716 ft). Furthermore, there are magnificent ice caves, with beautiful statues carved in ice.
SCHILTHORN “IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF JAMES BOND: DINING AND ENJOYING THE VIEW AT 3,000 M (9,800 FT) OVER SEA”
A cable car goes from Stechelberg, via Mürren, to the Schilthorn (2,970 m, 9,744 ft). You might know the revolving restaurant at the top of the mountain from James Bond’s “On her majesty’s secret service”. On a clear day, you will have a magnificent 360 degree view of the Bernese Oberland peaks. Even when it’s cloudythere is a chance of being above the clouds.
TRÜMMELBACHFÄLLE “THE FORCE OF NATURE”
The Trümmelbachfälle, located at the eastern side of the Lauterbrunnen valley.can be reached by foot, by car or by postbus from Lauterbrunnen or Stechelberg. These waterfalls are glacial melt water, coming directly from the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Thousands of liters per second rumble down in beautifully worn out rock walls. Over the course of thousands of years the water slowly shaped the rocks into remarkable formations.
You can easily combine your visit to the Trümmelbachfälle with hiking. You just need to cross the narrow valley about half-way on the trail Lauterbrunnen – Stechelberg to reach the Trümmelbachfälle.
SCHYNIGE PLATTE AND ALPINE GARDEN
You can take the nostalgic cogwheel railway to this superb vantage point, where the views of the Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau are acclaimed as the finest. A must for rail aficionados: on four days of the week the original steam engine, built in 1893, works its way up the steep mountain slope to the top. Other attractions include extensive hiking trails, the Lowa Hiking Shoe Test Centre and, especially for the little ones, a playground near the mountain top restaurant. The train runs from June to September.
Alpine Garden at Schynige platte:This famous botanical attraction comprises 500 different flowering plants and ferns grouped in 15 groups of near -natural locations. From mid-June until late September, the Alpine Garden is an ever changing blaze of colour.
A tiny century old funicular takes you to the top of the Heimwehfluh. On offer is a playground, a cafe and restaurant, a miniature train track and spectacular views of the mountains and the lake. You can hike down, take the train or more spectacularly hop on the toboggan for an exhilarating ride.
There has been a regular boat service on Lake Brienz since 1839. Today, the fleet numbers five boats, including the splendidly renovated steamer the “Lötschberg”, built in 1914. Especially in summer, there are a number of special excursions in addition to the regular service: for example, the “Indian Dinner Cruise”on board the steamer, or the “Swiss Dinner Cruise”, particularly popular with visitors from abroad who want to try all the Swiss culinary specialities.
The regular boat service links all the little places around the lake on its route from the chic resort of Interlaken on the western side to the idyllic little town of Brienz in the east. Brienz is a charming place which is famous for its woodcarvings. There is a very charming woodcarving museum. From Brienz, the oldest steam rack railway in Switzerland, the Brienz-Rothorn Railway, takes you up to the Brienzer Rothorn (235 m). From here there is a lovely panoramic view of the lakes and mountain chain. The Brienzer Rothorn is also the starting point for some exciting hikes, not least over the summit to the Brünig Pass.
Another destination for a boat trip on Lake Brienz is the Giessbach Falls. The roaring waterfall thunders in a number of different stages down 500 metres into the lake. Immediately beside it is the historic Grand Hotel Giessbach, which looks like a fairytale castle. The oldest funicular railway in Europe leads from the landing-stage in Giessbach straight up to the hotel and the mighty waterfall. Another popular excursion is to walk along the southern bank of Lake Brienz from Bönigen via Iseltwald to Giessbach. The peninsular village of Iseltwald is another village well worth a visit, formerly a fishing village, its restaurants are renowned for their fish specialties.
A lake cruise is the perfect way of discovering the scenic diversity of the region around Lake Thun. A lovely trail leads up from the Beatushöhlen-Sundlauenen boat landing stage to the impressive karst caves with their mighty stalactites, stalagmites and waterfalls.
The picturesque small town of Spiez, with its castle and Romanesque church, lies on the opposing side of the lake. Further castles together with their excellent museums can be found in Thun and its stretch of shoreline, which is also termed the “Riviera of the Bernese Oberland” on account of its mild climate: Hünegg castle, in Oberhofen and by Hilterfingen. Other highlights along the lakeshore include the musical performances in summer of the ‘Thuner Seespiele’ (Lake Thun Festival).
Favourite excursion peaks around the lake are the pyramidal Niesen, the Stockhorn and the Niederhorn. These afford visitors with compelling views across the lake and the Alps. The town of Interlaken, the starting point for many excursions into the Jungfrau region and the eastern Bernese Oberland, lies at the eastern end of the lake.
BRIENZER ROTHORN “A STEAM TRAIN TO A BEAUTIFUL VIEWING POINT”
From Brienz, old steam trains as well as modern trains leave for the Brienzer Rothorn (2,350 m, 7710 ft). The nostalgic steam trains bring a special atmosphere, but this trip is not only a must for train lovers: the scenery and the views are magnificent too. During the trip you will have a view at the Brienzersee for a long time; suddenly you will see the entire Jungfrau group. On a clear day you will be able to distinguish the different mountains in an excellent way. At the top of the Rothorn you will find several hiking possibilities. The view at the northern as well as the southern side are doubtlessly worthwhile.
The trains leave directly across the railway station in Brienz, where you can also find the landing stage of the boat from Interlaken.
BALLENBERG OPEN AIR MUSEUM
With more than 100 original century-old buildings from all over Switzerland,gardens and fields, demonstrations of typical crafts, many special events and 250 native farmyard animals Ballenberg creates a vivid and absolutely unique impression of rural life in bygone days. Probably the best way to see most of Switzerland in one day. Certain crafts are only performed on certain days and it is worth planning which day is most interesting to you.
GIESSBACHFÄLLE “19TH CENTURY HOTEL WITH A WATERFALL IN ITS BACKYARD”
The Giessbach rises on the slopes of the mountains Faulhorn and Schwarzhorn, between 2,000 and 2,500 m (8,200 ft) above sea level. Just before the water reaches Lake Brienz, it flows through a number of waterfalls in the forest, and along the ‘Grand hotel Giessbach’ from 1874. Until the First World War in particular, this beautifully situated hotel has been visited by many poets, artists, philosophers and politicians. The boat trip to the Giessbach, the view of the waterfalls and the possibility to walk along the shores of Lake Brienz make this a great excursion.
The boat takes you across Lake Brienz: from Interlaken or Brienz to the Giessbach estuary. You may walk to the upper waterfalls, about 120 m (400 ft) above the lake. You can view the waterfalls from several locations along the way. If desired, part of the climb can be done using the funicular that takes guests from the boat to the hotel. Giessbach can also be reached by car from Brienz/Meiringen through a narrow road via the settlement of Engi. In this case, you will start at the upper waterfalls and walk down towards the hotel and Lake Brienz. It is worth having a look inside the hotel and even maybe stopping for a refreshment or a coffee.
ST. BEATUS-HÖHLEN “THE INTERIOR OF THE MOUNTAINS”
The St. Beatus-Höhlen are situated at 6 km (4 miles) from Interlaken, at the northern slope which borders the Thunersee. These stalactitic caves can be reached by car, but you can also take the boat or bus from Interlaken or Thun. A 20 minute walk past the accompanying museum and the playground/picnic area takes you to the entrance of the caves, where you also find a romantic restaurant with a terrace. A guided tour enables you to take a look inside the interior of the mountain. The guide will explain and you will have time to look around. The museum can be visited without a guide afterwards. A guided tour may be rather busy on rainy days in July and August. Visiting the caves is not to be recommended if you are not a good walker.
HARDER KULM “THE HIGHEST RESTAURANT OF INTERLAKEN”
Close to the railway station of Interlaken Ost you can take the funicular to the Harder Kulm. You can grab a bite here, go for a shortl hike through the woods and enjoy the views of Interlaken and the mountains in the background. It’s very suitable for small children as well.
NIEDERHORN “MAJESTICAL VIEW OF LAKE THUN AND THE BERNESE ALPS”
The Niederhorn is situated on a narrow ridge, the Güggisgrat, over 1,300 m (4,300 ft) above Lake Thun. Such a location guarantees a magnificent view of the Bernese Alps, including the famous trio of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. But there’s also the village of Beatenberg with Lake Thun below it. The Niesen, behind the town of Spiez across Lake Thun, can clearly be seen. The other side of the ridge overlooks the depths of the practically deserted Justis valley. Berghaus Niederhorn is there to serve you a meal. The Niederhorn is also the starting point for a number of trails; a hike over the Güggisgrat allows you to explore the intriguing scenery surrounding the Niederhorn.
The Niederhorn can be reached by a gondola from Beatenberg. You will reach Beatenberg either by bus/car from Interlaken, or by a funicular from Beatenbucht. Beatenbucht can be reached by bus, car and boat from Interlaken and Thun.
SHOPPING IN INTERLAKEN “PLENTY OF SOUVENIRS”
If you are looking for souvenirs, or if you like to wonder through the town, just go and visit Interlaken. The town offers many shops where you can buy post cards, famous Swiss watches or pocketknives, (sports) clothing and a lot more. Especially the street between the train stations of Interlaken West and Interlaken Ost has many hotels, restaurants and shops. Across the hotel Victoria Jungfrau, you will find a large meadow (the Höhematte) where, during summer paragliders land. Interlaken is famous for the “Tellspiele”, an open air theatrical performance enacting the story of Wilhelm Tell. This hunter and hero of liberty from the canton of Uri refused to salute the governor Gessler, and was therefore forced to shoot an apple from his own son’s head by arrow and bow. He succeeded, but was captured anyway. After his escape he killed Gessler and an insurrection of the people followed. It’s in German, but you can get the programme in English and it quite easy to follow. It’s famous in Switzerland and people come from all over the country to see this.
TOP O’MET “FIRST CLASS VIEW OF THE JUNGFRAU FROM DOWNTOWN INTERLAKEN”
Dining while enjoying a spectacular panoramic view does not necessarily require a trip into the mountains. Restaurant Top o’Met on the 16th floor of hotel Metropole offers a magnificent view of the town and the Jungfrau. You can eat indoors or on the terrace, while watching the activities of the paragliders. They may pass by at virtually no distance from the terrace on their way to the landing place across the street. The restaurant is not the cheapest one in town, but the view makes it a great experience.
Hotel Metropole can be reached in 10 minutes on foot from the train station of Interlaken West. The (paid) parking lot of the hotel at the back can be reached from the Harderstrasse.
BLAUSEE BEAUTIFUL SMALL SCENIC LAKE, A BOAT TRIP AND A TROUT-FARM”
The Blausee is situated between Frutigen and Kandersteg, and can be reached by bus from either of these places, although it’s easiest by car. The amazingly blue lake and the fairytale woods make a visit worthwhile. There are several short walks through the woods, the Blausee and along the banks of the Kander river. A little boat trip on the Blausee is another possibility. As the water is very clear, you can see petrified trees at the bottom of the lake. Also you can visit the trout-farm. Information boards explain about the way trouts are bred. If you are hungry, you can eat trout in the restaurant or prepare one yourself on a barbecue. There are several places you can grill and the kids will love playing in the water as well as the little playground. It’s a great family excursion.
THREE PASSES TOUR “LONG TOUR ACROSS THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF CENTRAL SWITZERLAND”
You will not only cross three passes during this beautiful car trip in the utmost east of the Bernese Oberland; but also explore three cantons: Bern, Uri and Wallis although you will only see a very small part of Wallis. The tour starts in Meiringen. Drive to the village of Innertkirchen and head for the Sustenpass from there. On the other side of the pass, in the village of Wassen, do not turn onto the expressway, but turn right to Göschenen and Andermatt. Andermatt is the last town of size you will come across for some time. From here, head for Realp and the Furkapass. You will enter the canton of Wallis on the pass. As you are in Gletch, you will turn to the Grimselpass and leave Wallis soon after. The Grimselpass leads back to Innertkirchen, and Meiringen, via Guttannen. Some highlights along the way are the Stein glacier on the Sustenpass, the Rhône glacier on the Furkapass and the lakes on the Grimselpass, where the river Aare rises. You can visit the ice grotto inside the Rhône glacier. Due to the movement of the glacier of some 35 m (115 ft) per year, to grotto needs to be carved out of the ice every spring. There are a lot of viewing points along the way as well. Therefore, it is recommended to take enough time for the car ride and to take many breaks on the several smaller and some larger parking lots along the route. You will find restaurants in Meiringen, Innertkirchen, Andermatt and Guttannen, but also on the Sustenpass and the Grimselpass.
This trip of 131 km (81 miles) requires a travelling time of about 6 hours, depending on the number of breaks you take along the way. You may pass along some snow fields until late summer, but the roads are normally clean. There are no gas stations along the pass roads, so you need to check your fuel level before leaving a village. The tour can only be made in summer.
Meiringen can be reached by train or by car from Interlaken. You can make the three passes tour by comfortable post car as well. The post cars depart from Meiringen and Andermatt. Seat reservations are obligatory. More information on these bus tours can be found through Swiss Post.
AARESCHLUCHT “IMPRESSIVE NATURE”
East of Meiringen, the river Aare runs through a “schlucht” (a very narrow canyon). The Aareschlucht was formed after the last ice-age, when the Aare gradually eroded a passage through an enormous rocky dike: the Kirchet between Meiringen and Innertkirchen. Wooden paths along and sometimes through the rock walls give you the opportunity to walk above the water in the 1,400 m (4,600 ft) long canyon
There is a parking place at the western entrance. This entrance can also be reached by taking the train from Meiringen to Innertkirchen. This train leaves just outside the railway station in Meiringen, from a separate small station. You need to get off at the station Aareschlucht West where you cross the bridge over the Aare. A five minute walk brings you to the schlucht. The eastern entrance can be reached by postbus. A visit to the Aareschlucht can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby Reichenbachfall.
PLANPLATTEN “GREAT VIEW AND BEAUTIFUL NATURE”
Meiringen is located east of the Brienzersee. From there you take several cable cars to reach Planplatten. At Planplatten, you will find the panoramic restaurant Alpen Tower, and a great starting point for hiking.
REICHENBACH FALLS “THE FORCE OF NATURE THAT KILLED SHERLOCK HOLMES”
The story goes that Sherlock Holmes fell down this waterfall as he fought with his archenemy. But the Reichenbachfall mainly is an extraordinary work of nature. The funicular takes you to a viewing point where you can see how the water of the Reichenbach rumbles down over 100 m (330 ft). A footpath leads you further up where you can have a close look at the main waterfall and several smaller ones.
The Reichenbachfall is located just outside Meiringen. It is a 20 minute walk from the railway station. A visit to the Reichenbachfall can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby Aareschlucht. You can also visit the Reichenbachfall while hiking as you will use its funicular on the trail Grosse Scheidegg – Meiringen.
NIESEN “MAGNIFICENT VIEW OF THE THUNERSEE AND SURROUNDINGS”
South of Spiez you will find the striking triangle shaped Niesen (2,362 m, 7,749 ft). This mountain top really has a reputation for the inhabitants of the Bernese Oberland. A saying goes: “Trägt der Niesen einen Hut, so wird das Wetter wieder gut” (if the Niesen wears a hat – meaning: surrounded by clouds – the weather will become nice again). So keep your eyes on this mountain. The top can be visited by a funicular (standseilbahn), which leaves from Mülenen. The stair-case along the railway track seems to be the longest one in the world with its 11,674 steps! From the top, the Thunersee, Spiez, the Jungfrau group and the plains east of Thun can be seen.
CASTLE SPIEZ “BEAUTIFULLY SITUATED CASTLE WITH A 1000 YEAR OLD CHURCH”
This medieval fortress has served as a residential castle for several families. Every family rebuilt part of the castle, resulting in a well preserved overview of the transformations that the castle went through. Several rooms can be seen in their original Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style. The furniture is mostly still present. The castle is owned by the Stiftung Schloss Spiez (Spiez Castle Foundation) since 1929, that maintains the building and makes it available for temporary exhibitions and concerts. The garden and the 1000 year old castle church can be visited as well. The castle is beautifully situated at the base of the Spiezberg and along the lake.
The castle can be reached by bus or a 15 minute walk from the railway station in Spiez. You can reach it by boat from Interlaken or Thun as well. In that case a five minute walk is required to get to the castle. You may visit the castle as a break while hiking from Faulensee to Spiez.
STOCKHORN “LITERALLY THE EDGE OF THE BERNESE OBERLAND”
location: Spiez – Erlenbach
Take the cable car from Erlenbach im Simmental, to the summit of the Stockhorn at 2,190 m (7,185 ft). You will see that the Stockhorn is literally located on the edge of the Bernese Oberland. The Stockhorn is where the Alps begin: on the one side, there is a wide view of the relatively flat Berner Mittelland. On the other side, there is an impressive panoramic view of the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. On a clear day, you can even see the Titlis in the utmost east of the canton of Bern, and the Mont Blanc in France. The town of Thun and Lake Thun can be seen over 1,600 m (5,200 ft) under your feet. There is a restaurant next to the gondola station. If you cannot walk to the summit, an alternative can be found in the ‘Stockhorn-Augen’ (Stockhorn Eyes): a grotto with two windows allowing you to enjoy all of the view anyway. There are information panels about geology of the Stockhorn region as well. The Stockhorn-Augen can easily be reached by wheelchair users. You can take a shortwalk around Lake Hinterstocken from the middle station of Chrindi.
You can travel to Erlenbach im Simmental by train or by car from Spiez or Zweisimmen. There is a parking lot along the main road across the gondola station. It is a 15 minute walk from the train station to the gondola station.