Exploring the likes of Interlaken, Eiger, Jungfrau and Thun in Bernese Oberland (Berner Oberland) is nothing short of magical. The craggy mountains and host of glacial features which characterise this region, truly are a hiker’s dream.
About this Switzerland walking region
Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland is undoubtedly one of the best regions to go walking in Europe. Not only is the scenery out of this world, but there are also hundreds upon hundreds of trails to choose from. A walking holiday in the Bernese Oberland offers something new and exciting to discover at every turn, from mountains to lakes to charming, traditional villages to mountain railways and high-adrenaline activities. The area is dominated by the impressive Jungfrau mountains and the sparkling lakes of Thun and Brienz. Other highlights include the town of Interlaken with its romantic central park which affords views to the Jungfrau massif (and is one of the world’s best adventure sports destinations); the various mountain rail routes, which afford the most incredible panoramic views; gorgeous mountain villages such as Wengen and Mürren (both of which overlook the Lauterbrunnen valley and are blissfully free of traffic); Grindelwald, a bigger but equally intriguing mountain village, and Wilderswil, a low-level hamlet situated close to both Lake Brienz and Lake Thun.
This is a landscape which alters dramatically each season: spring brings swathes of colour in alpine flowers and butterflies; autumn is no less colourful as the foliage changes and the first frosts come in. In summer, the high ridges and rugged scenery becomes fully accessible to walkers, yet in winter the landscape is beautifully carpeted in glistening snow. In addition to walking, the Bernese Oberland is the ideal place to enjoy other outdoor activities, including swimming, mountain biking and cycling.
Walking in the Bernese Oberland
A walking holiday in this beautiful part of Switzerland could not be easier to organise, as there is a fantastic network of local transport comprising buses, cable cars and mountain trains which can take you to your chosen location with minimum hassle and plenty to see out of the window along the way!
Bernese Oberland offers walks for all abilities, from easy rambles in lowland to heart-pumping high ridge hikes and for the really adventurous, a network of via ferrate through jaw-dropping crags and rock faces.
The Bernese Alps, with the famous peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau is the country’s most popular range, so it is wise to plan ahead and book your accommodation early. Winter is high season, where skiing and other sports take centre-stage; in summer it is hiking that draws people to the meadows, peaks and glaciers. An impressive network of walking paths and hiking trails take walkers through varied terrain, high and low, among Europe’s most famous mountain vistas. The often white peaks are punctuated with the colour of red cable cars, yellow buses and a fantastic mountain railway system.
Jungfrau is possibly the best known area within this region but it does get busy. If you seek a quieter experience then the southern and western parts of the Bernese Oberland offer equally spectacular hiking – but without the crowds.
There are many wonderful places to base yourself for a walking holiday in Bernese Oberland, including the pretty villages of Kandersteg, Adelboden and Lenk. Kandersteg, nestled beneath the mighty Blüemlisalp massif, offers access to a wide network of trails, both gentler valley walks and cable car-accessed high routes. Adelboden, which retains much Victorian charm, is located south of Thun and boasts a fine combination of pastoral and mountain scenery. A ski resort in winter, the cable cars and chair lifts can be used in other seasons to access excellent walking routes and it is much quieter than many other resorts in this region. Lenk is also a quiet spot and perfectly situated for hikes into the Simmental Valley region and the western reaches of the Oberland.