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Favorite Berner Oberland Experience?

I'm eagerly anticipating our trip to Switzerland later this year. From reading this forum, I've learned a great deal of factual information which will help our trip run more smoothly. Today I'm hoping some of you will share WHY you love the Berner Oberland region. What is it that fills you up and makes you dream of returning? Is it a specific spot, view, hike? Or more of an overall feeling? If this is one of "your places", what makes it so?

I look forward to reading your responses!

Posted by
3525 posts

I think just the beauty of the location. I enjoy the "car free" nature of Murren and the availability of hikes for all ability levels.

Posted by
1801 posts

The smell of grass, the fresh crisp air, the sound of cow bells and goat bells, the scenery that doesn't look real it is so beautiful! Every sense gets satisfied.

Posted by
11266 posts

It's quite gorgeous, and there's quite a variety. You have valley floor with a village (Lauterbrunnen), villages up one side (Mürren and Gimmelwald), Allmendhubel further up that side, the Schilthorn even further up that side, a village on the other side (Wengen) and the Jungfraujoch all the way up that other side. You can take everything from level walks to strenuous hikes, and you can also take lifts and trains around and not walk up or down at all if you prefer. You even have both indoor and outdoor waterfalls!

Yes, the feeling there is wonderful. Whatever the phrase "Swiss Alps" conjures up to you, it's available in the Berner Oberland. I spent four nights there, and would return in a heartbeat.

One unexpected bonus: the restaurants in Mürren, while charging the usual painful Swiss prices, were excellent (the one I went to in Gimmelwald was less impressive). If you want to economize, there are grocery stores in Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, and Mürren. Again, variety and choices, which make the area feel more "cosmopolitan" than the small size of the villages would indicate.

And speaking of economizing, I was able to stay at the Hotel Edelweis at a slight discount by e-mailing them directly and explaining that I found the hotel in Rick Steves' Switzerland book. I spent less than 100 CHF for a single room overhanging the cliff with a great view; for somewhat more, I could have gotten a larger room with a balcony!

Posted by
1 posts

My husband and I stayed in a Wengen self-catering chalet above the Lauterbrunnen Valley for a week two years ago and we loved it. We shopped in the Coop market and saved a ton of money eating dinners on our balcony with views of the Jungfrau massif. The train trip from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen is spectacular and we enjoyed the trip every day in our travels around the valley! We walked all over the Wengen side of the valley, and loved the hike from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg and back down to Wengen. If you want a great view of the Eiger, a stop at Kleine Scheidegg is a must. We skipped the expensive and touristy trip to the Jungfraujoch.

We made the trip from Lauterbrunnen to Murren twice because it was so nice! One sunny day we rode the cable car and train to Murren, then walked down from Murren to Gimmelwald along the gorgeous trail. From there we took the cable car to the valley, then strolled back to Lauterbrunnen along beautiful pastures with amazing views of waterfalls. On another day we just took the cable car up and then walked from there to Murren and back. If we had more sunny days, we would have done at least one alpine hike out of Murren!

Because it rained two days, we took two steamship trips from Interlaken. The fares were included with our Swiss Pass and the steamers are really beautiful ships. Our first trip was on Lake Brienz to the village of Brienz and then on to the Swiss Open Air Museum in Ballenberg by bus. Our second trip was on the Thunersee to the town of Thun and Thun castle. The old town and river there are really pretty. There are lots of other gorgeous spots to hop on and off the steamers!

The one area we would not do again is the Grindelwald valley. The town is touristy and the views are not as spectacular as those in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. I would spend more time hiking from Murren.

This trip was a dream come true. I would go back in a heartbeat to just gaze upon those mountains. The tumbling water, lush pastures, brightly-painted little trains, beautiful woodlands, charming homes with flower boxes everywhere and the breathtaking
mountain vistas are calling me to return.

Swiss Bernese Oberland by Philip and Loretta Alspach is a wounderful guidebook and can be found on Amazon.

Posted by
110 posts

Perfect reading on a gray, rainy day in Indiana - thank you! I think I'm going to want to stay forever 😊

Posted by
159 posts

For a fun change of pace from hiking, rent a bike in Wengen, hop on the train up to Kleine Scheidegg, and then ride back down to Wengen, or even down to the valley floor. It's all downhill, and you can stop along the way and just soak in the views or picnic. That was the highlight of our stay there.

Posted by
17 posts

What a great question. We have been so fortunate to be able to travel all across the globe and to so many "once in a lifetime" type places. Up until our visit to the BO area when someone would ask "What place was your favorite?" or "What place was the prettiest" we would give the old......"Well, it depends on.....". After visiting BO, it is easy = we shout out loud "The Bernese Oberland is the prettiest/best/nicest place we have ever visited."

Why? It starts off in the Lauterbrunnen Valley when you look up at two granite like cliffs. In lots of mountainous regions throughout the world, you see either a lot of green, or a lot of granite, or a lot of snow. In the LV, you see all of it. And the greens in the hills are not real (they will not admit it, but I think the people who live in the BO region spray paint that grass to start every summer season because it is simply too beautiful).

Then it is the public transportation system that takes you by train and gondola to so many areas in the BO area. We had already been on several famous train journeys in Switzerland, and I must say that the single ride from LV up to Kleine Scheidegg was as pretty if not prettier than all of them.

It is villages like Murren and Wengen which are still active communities. We stayed in a hotel on the cliff of Murren....we got a balcony room for four nights and once again I could not believe it. That view from that hotel (and from almost any point in Murren) was again not real. I have never seen anything like it, and I am talking about Alaska, Norway, Rockies, etc.

It is the hiking trails that are so numerous and laid out in such easy to understand detail. It is the ability to choose between dozens of easy hikes and hundreds of hikes that will ruin an Americans knees for life :-) (whereas the Swiss seem to walk these with so much ease).

It is hoping on the gondola car up to Gimmelwald or Murren and after picking your jaw up off the floor from looking at the scenery you notice a few younger looking kids with large backpacks on their backs......and after doing a double take realizing those are base jumpers that are walking off the gondola and soon thereafter off the side of the mountain.

It is finding the luge ride, or the Trotti bike ride, or the tandem paragliding ride or the boats on the two lakes.......or who about realizing you are only an hour from Thun or a bit past that for Bern.

It is realizing that the next time you go back you have only scratched the surface (this is us) and that you should find more hikes and more places such as Kandersteg or Brienz or Meiringen.

It is finally realizing that you just spent a good 15 minutes smiling while typing a reply that was probably too long and way too much information.......but I hope it helps you anyway, and we look forward to hearing about your smiles when you return home!

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you, Eddie! Makes me smile to read your lovely description of the area highlights. I can tell you love it there. so exciting!

Posted by
1804 posts

Lots of great words, but why not just google up any of the dozens of travel videos and photo albums on the internet and see for yourself.

If I'm not mistaken, some guy named Dick Reeves or something has a TV show where he goes places like Switzerland. Perhaps he has a website where you can access them ....

Posted by
110 posts

Phred, Thank you for your suggestions on resources. I have three of Rick's books plus another book specific to the region right here beside my computer and I am well acquainted with Google. (How did we ever plan trips without the internet?) My original post was asking for the why, the feeling, the heart of the place that is often best shared through the personal words and stories. Google doesn't have a heart :-)

Posted by
11266 posts

More than is true for most places, seeing the Berner Oberland is a three-dimensional experience, as well as a multi-sensory one. The photos and videos (particularly Rick's, which is old and standard definition) do not really capture the experience. For this place, the cliché "you have to be there" is really true.

Posted by
1623 posts

Hi amosk, I visited Murren in May 2010 as part of the RS GAS tour. I had a few spare minutes and thought I'd write a couple of postcards. I took a chair out on my tiny balcony at the Hotel Jungfrau and just stared at the spectacular view of the mountains. I was absolutely in awe of nature, it was so beautiful that I couldn't write a word. That's why I dream of returning.

Posted by
1 posts

This area is my favorite on the planet. We have been there more than a dozen times and I often take student groups there. The train from Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald up to Kleine Scheidegg and from there to the Jungfrau is well worth the expense, especially if the weather is good. Have your camera ready for the journey up the mountain - it' spectacular. I like to spend at least an hour at Kleine Scheidegg - great place for lunch a bit of hiking around. At the Top of Europe there are also sights to see - be sure to go out on the glacier and do the zip line, enjoy the ice caves - you can easily enjoy a couple of hours at the top.

I love Lauterbrunnen - a small Swiss village. There are nice small hotels, or you can camp at one of two excellent campgrounds (they also have cabins). On another day, we like hiking down the valley of waterfalls. Midway you will find the Trummelbach Falls - waterfall inside the mountain. At the end of the valley, take the cable car up to Murren - a great little ski village with no vehicles to speak of. In the summer, the shops and restaurants are open. If the weather is good, have a nice lunch facing the Jungfrau. Then there is a great hike (for all skill levels) -- along the way, you might spy a wonderful Alpine chalet that sells home made cheese. Buy some for the rest of your stay! At the end of the hike you will find another cable car that will take you right back into Lauterbrunnen near the train station.

On the other side of the mountain, you can also find Grindelwald. It is a bit more touristy, but still a fabulous place to stay. There are some nice hotels as well as the Downtown Lodge if you're roughing it a bit (hostel accommodations). The people there are great. The train can take you from there up to Kleine Scheidegg and either up to the Jungfrau, or take the train all the way down to Lauterbrunnen. You really can't go wrong here.

If you like more extreme sports than hiking, you can find it in this area, including paragliding, rafting, canyoning, sky diving, and ice climbing. Whenever we go to Europe, I try to make this one of our stops! Enjoy!

Posted by
1118 posts

Eddie-

Where did you stay in Murren on the side of the cliff ????

Posted by
881 posts

Everyone has pretty much said it all. I would watch some videos online of the BO area and then multiply it by ten. As someone said here, the views are so fantastic they seem unreal. You will not be sorry visiting the area....guaranteed.

Posted by
1801 posts

Reading all the comments reminds me of our first visit to Gimmelwald in 2005. We stayed for 5 nights with Ollie and Maria in a little apartment in their house (think RS shows). We visited our neighbors to buy cheese, salami, fresh eggs, etc. I asked one neighbor if she had milk and she told me to come back that night after her husband had milked the cows. We went back and at first said he wasn't back, then as we talked he came home so she went out and brought a glass bottle with warm fresh milk! We will never forget that experience!

I usually shed a few tears after we leave. My heart is in those mountains!