· Lake Thun
· Lenk i.S.
Alpine tourism was born in Bernese Oberland in late 18th century when naturalists like Albrecht von Haller, a physician from Bern, "discovered" the awesome beauty of alpine scenery. Awesome is close to awful and horrible, and that's how the alps had appeared to people in earlier centuries. While the local population had respect of the obvious dangers (and even more superstitious fears of all sorts of ghosts supposed to live up there), the urban society had detested lack of civilization. But writers like Goethe and Schiller jumped on the bandwagon and made the new - perhaps all too romantic - sight popular. 19th century engineering (railroads, paved roads) then made it possible to travel safely and comfortably to the mountains.
Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau dominate the Bernese Oberland scenery
10th largest Swiss city
regional railway hub
oldest Swiss tourist resort
Lake Thun Tourist Office
Interlaken Tourist Office
Thun (41,000 inhabitants) and Spiez (12,000 inhabitants) are not really tourism oriented and focus on their role as regional centers and - due to fast and frequent Intercity train connections - as suburbs of Switzerland's capital Bern.
Interlaken (5,000 inhabitants) on the other hand is a classical prealpine tourist resort with Grand Hotels, promenades and a night life you would not necessarily expect in such a small Swiss town if it were not for the tourists. Interlaken, too, can be reached by direct Intercity trains both from Basel and Zurich / Zurich Airport and there is a scenic narrow gauge railway line from Lucerne through Meiringen to Interlaken.
As the town is situated in a relatively flat and open area between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, it is a good choice for those not wanting to stay within a narrow valley during the night and for those prefering snow-free streets when going out in the evening in winter and more natural light in cozy summer nights.
For those who wish to be closer to the alpine experience, however, smaller resorts up in the valleys (Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren) may be a better choice. Nowadays, comfort and service level in smaller resorts are absolutely comparable to larger ones, but there are of course different hotel categories (and price levels).
Lake Thun Excursions
In summer hourly departures from Thun to Interlaken
splendid view on Lake Thun and Bernese Alps
|St. Beatus-Höhlen [St. Beatus Caves]
open: mid April to mid October
The Haslital [Hasli valley] region stretches from Brienz (at the upper end of Lake Brienz) to Brünig Pass (pass road / railway line to Lucerne), Susten Pass (pass road to Reuss valley, canton Uri) and Grimsel Pass (pass road to upper part of Rhône valley, canton Wallis). From Meiringen, you can go for a one-day three pass ride with the famous yellow post bus (Grimsel Pass - Furka Pass - Susten Pass) in summer.
Major resorts Brienz and Meiringen are located down in the relatively flat valley of River Aare, while Hasliberg [Hasli mountain] is a common name for some very small resorts on the sunny south side of central Switzerland's prealpine mountains. Though there are some points from where to spot major peaks, they are a bit distant and the area is more recommended to those wishing to go for easier prealpine hiking tours.
Regional Tourist Office Brienz - Meiringen - Hasliberg
old Swiss houses
Grindelwald Tourist Office
Wengen/Mürren/Lauterbrunnen Tourist Office
Lauterbrunnen valley with a side valley coming down from Grindelwald is the place for those wishing to get in touch with steep mountains (Eiger north face, Mönch and Jungfrau). There are narrow gauge trains to the region from Interlaken Ost (terminal station of the normal gauge line). Two coupled trains start from Interlaken Ost and they are split at Zweilütschinen station. So make sure you mount the right section of the train in Interlaken.
At Wilderswil station, you may change to a cogwheel train to Schynige Platte, an alp with a splendid view over Lakes Thun and Brienz and up to mounts Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
Grindelwald is located in a side valley at the foot of mount Eiger and can be reached by train or car from Interlaken. The location is quite sunny in summer with nice evening sun. Grindelwald is an optimal starting point for excursions to the Grindelwald glaciers, to Grosse Scheidegg (pass road to Meiringen) as well as to Männlichen hill (cableway), Kleine Scheidegg (cogwheel train) and Jungfraujoch / Top of Europe (cogwheel train, mostly in tunnel inside mount Eiger starting at Kleine Scheidegg). There are many hiking paths and mountain bike routes for different levels and those who prefer climbing will find qualified guides.
Wengen is located on the steep right slope of Lauterbrunnen valley, so there is more shadow than in the other resorts. A cogwheel train leads up from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen and continues to Kleine Scheidegg. Männlichen can be reached from Wengen with a cableway, too. Wengen is famous for its Lauberhorn ski run (world cup races).
Mürren is located on a sunny terrace on the left slope of Lauterbrunnen valley, opposite to mounts Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. It can be reached by cable car train starting at Lauterbrunnen or by a cableway from Stechelberg, continuing up to Schilthorn mountain. A good choice for those who like a car-free resort.
Jungfrau Region Excursions
Jungfraujoch: promenade on eternal snow
Top Of Europe
Trümmelbach water falls
Both Kandersteg and Frutigen are stops on Switzerland's second important alpine crossing railway line (Lötschberg: Bern - Brig - Domodossola - Milan). Since there is no transit road, Kander valley is relatively calm. Cars may be loaded on trains at Kandersteg in winter. A little bit outside of the village, there is Kandersteg International Scout Center, the only permanent world centre of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, visited by more than 10,000 young people each year. Adelboden is located in a side valley, Engstligental.
Kandersteg Tourist Office
Adelboden - Frutigen Tourist Office
|Lenk im Simmental||Zweisimmen|
Simmental [Simmen valley] is a wide valley and can be reached from Spiez or Montreux by regional trains or by road.
Lenk im Simmental Tourist Office
Zweisimmen Tourist Office
Gstaad is probably the most elegant resort in Bernese Oberland. It is situated on an elevated plain marking the border between German and French speaking parts of Switzerland. Gstaad/Saanen may be reached both by road and scenic narrow gauge railway line Montreux Oberland Bahn from Montreux (Lake Geneva) and Bern / Spiez. There is also an airfield for smaller private aircraft. Both sports not necessarily related to the mountains (golfing, Swiss open tennis tournament, beach volleyball tournament) and and
Gstaad - Saanenland Tourist Office
Gstaad - Saanenland Excursions
|Lauenensee||Museum der Landschaft Saanen
probably the best museum on
Swiss rural culture
from the 17th to early 20th centuries
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