Bernese Oberland: Between lake idyll and eternal ice

Bernese Oberland

© Barbara Harbecke

Between lake idyll and eternal ice

In 1798, a canton of Oberland was created under Napoleon, but it was abolished five years later and incorporated into the canton of Berne. However, the name “Oberland” has been retained and today describes the magnificent landscape south of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. The high rainfall is all discharged from the Aare, which flows into the Rhine at Koblenz. To the south, the valleys rise steeply to the glaciated main ridge of the Alps, which reaches well over 4000 metres in altitude here. The most famous peaks are Eiger (3967 m), Mönch (4107 m) and Jungfrau (4158 m). They form the border with the canton of Valais.

Switzerland Round Trips Bernese Oberland

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Attractions Bernese Oberland

Ballenberg Open Air Museum

From the everyday life of earlier centuries

In the open-air museum you can find over 100 original, centuries-old buildings from all parts of Switzerland, 250 native farm animals, mainly endangered breeds, as well as historical useful plants (vegetables, herbs, cereals). In addition, demonstrations of traditional crafts and special events take place, which give insight into the former life. The museum is supported by a private charity founded in 1968.

Hike to the Rotstockhütte

Between Sefinental and Spielbodenalp

The first section leads to Gimmelwald and provides a comfortable start. Afterwards it descends to the Sefinental. In the valley the hiking trail “Sefinen Lütschine” leads to Flirten. From there its a continual climb of around 400 metres in altitude, up to the Oberberg. The path continues to the Rotstockhütte. After a well-deserved break, the descent needs to be tackled. There are several possibilities: The fastest one leads past Bryndli down to the Spielbodenalp (steep). The last part however is a pleasant end to the hike. A small detour from the Spielbodenalp to the waterfall “Sprutz” is worthwhile. (round trip: 15.1 kilometers, 5 hours, up and down: 809 meters)

Hike to the Sprutz waterfall

Behind the curtain of a waterfall

The hike starts just behind the Schilthorn cable car and leads up to the Spielbodenalp. We continue downhill in the direction of Gimmelwald. At the next junction follow the sign “Sprutz”. The descent down to the waterfall is steep and often a little slippery, so be careful. Since the path leads behind the waterfall, the experience is often associated with a small refreshment. All around it drizzles, splashes and roars. With a rain jacket you will like to stay here for a little while, it is dangerous only for the camera. You won't meet the masses that gondola up to the Schilthorn here. (round trip: 6.7 kilometers, 3:30 hours, up and down: 456 meters)


Phenomenal view from Europe's highest train station

The saddle between the Mönch and the Jungfrau (both mountains are 4,000 meters high), is covered with snow year-round. Around 600 meters east of the Jungfraujoch stands the Sphinx (3,454 m), a distinctive peak with an observation deck and an observatory. Since 1912, it has also been the final station of the Jungfrau railway, making it the highest train station in Europe. The railway, which runs from Scheidegg near Lauterbrunnen to the Jungfraujoch, attracts countless visitors thanks to the phenomenal view it provides of the Bernese Alps. In Summer, you can hike from the station to the Mönchsjoch hut.

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Car-free sunny village in the Bernese Alps

Mürren is situated in the heart of the Bernese Alps and faces the towering peaks of mounts Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The car-free town with a population of 450 is nestled on a sunny mountain terrace high above the spectacular Lauterbrunnen Valley, one of Europe’s deepest valleys lined by over 500 m steep limestone cliffs. Mürren can only be reached by a cable car system that continues in three more stages to the peak of Mount Schilthorn (2,970 m). On a clear day the view from the top extends to Mont Blanc in the south and the Black Forest in the north. The revolving restaurant on the summit was once used for a scene in a James Bond movie. A number of walking paths start from Mürren. A particularly scenic route leads from the Grütschalp via Winteregg to Mürren. The view of the surrounding mountain peaks is absolutely stunning on clear sunny afternoons.


Picture-book landscape in Oberbern

The hike first leads over the “Mountain-View Trail” to Pletschenalp, where no major ascent or descent is to be mastered. Now we continue over the Marchegg down to the Sausläger. The hike can also be extended there accordingly. The route through the Spryssenwald is very pleasant without major climbs. From Grütschalp, a footpath leads back to Mürren. (round trip: 16.4 kilometers, 5 hours, up and down: 559 meters)


With the cable car to the summit

The striking summit in the Bernese Oberland (2,190 metres) is immediately noticeable when you drive through the Gürbetal or Aaretal valleys. Since it consists of an almost vertically set up rock slab, it appears wide or pointed depending upon your point of view. The Stockhornbahn cable car runs from the valley station in Erlenbach in the Simmental valley to just below the summit. From the platform you have a sensational view of Lake Thun, the Mittelland and on clear days over the Jura to the Vosges and the Black Forest.

With the paddle steamer across Lake Brienz

Across the cleanest lake in Switzerland

The Aare flows through the lake which is situated between the Emmental Alps in the north and the Bernese Alps in the south. After the last ice age it was three times of its size today and reached as far as Thun. The “Bödeli” near Interlaken, which today separates Lake Thun from Lake Brienz, was formed only 1000 years ago. The shores are very steep and continue under water, so there are no shallow areas. The lake is low in nutrients and the cleanest of all lakes in Switzerland. The fishing yields are therefore not very high, but the Lake Brienz fish, especially the Egli, are a delicacy. The best way to get to know the lake is by boat – for example with the Lötschberg paddle wheel steamer from 1914.

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