I spent three and a half weekends in the Bernese Oberland, here’s an account of all the places I went to.
First of all, my favorite places and highlights:
1. The First cablecar above Grindelwald and the hike upto the Faulhorn peak.
2. The view from Mannlichen.
3. Views of the peaks from Murren in the evening, just around sunset.
4. Going up the cog wheel train at Brienzer Rothorn. Walking a little on the ridge and getting to see a HUGE team of Ibex.
5. The virtually “virgin” pastures and mountains near Obersteinberg, and the hike upto it, with a detour to Tanzbodeli. Without doubt, a favorite, although the hike was quite hard.
6. Adelboden, not so commonly seen on the international tourist’s map, was great as well.
Things I would do differently:
- Stay in Murren, not in Gimmelwald.
- Try to go to Allmendhubel for the sunset, if the weather is good.
- Stay at the Obersteinberg Hotel, it was one of the best locations to stay I have seen in Switzerland.
The Grindelwald valley: This was my first trip in the region, and my favorite. The village of Grindelwald is great, it sits right below massive, towering peaks and is at the end of the valley. In the evenings, the views of the entire mountain range is breathtaking. I arrived on a Friday evening, checked in at the Grindelwald hostel, which was alright and was all pumped up for an active trip that weekend. Dinner was at Barry’s, had a Spatzle with mushrooms and Stuffed pepper with beans.
Woke up to a gorgeous clear, sunny day. took the cable car upto Mannlichen. I was overawed by the massive Eiger wall. Walked upto the “Royal walk” point. The place lived upto it’s it’s hype. However, I wished I had arrived even earlier, the sun’s rays were hitting pretty hard. The walk upto Kleine Scheidegg was pretty good: quite easy, good views, although there were quite a few people doing it. The walk from Eigergletscher was quite stunning as well, within a few minutes you come so close to the massif, you can see huge chunks of ice, and the top of the Jungfraujoch station looks quite dramatic. It really gives you a sense of the size of the massif, since the station building really looks tiny from below. The walk was a little steep, but not too difficult. Lunch was at the Eigergletscher hotel: Rosti and a local dessert, pretty good food.
Now I had to get back to Grindelwald, I decided to walk down the Eiger trail to Alpiglen. This turned out to be one of my favorite hikes (well, most of the hikes I did were my favorites). But this one was unique because it was right below the Eiger peak and the views onto the peak were very inspiring, very different from all the other hikes I did. The initial parts were a little slippery, with all the gravel, but soon it became an easy stroll down to Alpiglen. At Alpiglen, I had a meringue with cream at the local restaurant, which was delicious, but heavy, and got a train ride back to Grindelwald. Back in Grindelwald, the sunset light over the Eiger and all other peaks was breathtaking, the light was beautiful and the amount of clouds was just right. Dinner was at Barry’s again, had a portion of Raclette, an Onion soup and a dessert, all of it was good and the price was reasonable.
The next day was a sunny one as well. I took the cable car upto First and walked upto Bachalpsee. What a wonderful view that was! The mountains looked really really big and sharp because you are so close to it. The stroll upto Bachalpsee was an easy one.The hike from there to Faulhorn was pretty difficult, steep and a little snow in patches. But once you go up, the view is staggering again. It’s almost a 360 degree view. Right from the Lake Thun, the mountain ranges behind the lakes, the entire Eiger range, the Jungfrau, all of it. The ridge after the Faulhorn looked pretty cool as well. However, my favorite part of the hike was an Ibex climbing up one of the rocky peaks, and several rocks coming tumbling down. Later, I had a good fondue lunch at the First restaurant. And now was to begin another hike. I walked all the way to Gross Scheidegg from First. It was about an hour’s walk. The walk was very pleasant, you walk through some really good, virgin meadows, you pass by several streams and the views onto the peaks are really good. Gross Scheidegg was an interesting place as well, you get to see the Meiringen part of the valley. The bus ride back to Grindelwald was a very good one, although a little expensive, I wish I could have walked it.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley: I arrived in Lauterbrunnen on a cloudy Friday evening from Zurich. The weather was supposed to brighten up the next day. Dinner was at the Oberland Hotel, had a rosti and a soup and a salad. Started the next day with a train trip upto Wengen. The view from up there was really good. Came down to Lauterbrunnen and started walking towards the Trummelbach Falls. The walk was pretty good passing by a couple of big waterfalls and through some pastures. The Trummelbach falls was very interesting, try to visualize the connections between and waterfalls on different levels and concentrate on the flow of the water. Quite a treat. Took a bus to the Schillthorn station, by now the view at the Schillthorn had been covered with clouds, so did not go up. I checked into the Gimmelwald Hostel, had a cheese and soup lunch at the neighboring restaurant. I walked up to Murren, the views over to the peaks were absolutely great. The train/cable car to Allmendhubel, closes early, so I couldn’t really go up. I enjoyed the views from Murren, walking up the village as much as I could. After the sunset, which was glorious, with all the peaks turning yellow-orange-pink, I walked down to Gimmelwald, had a very average pizza dinner at the hostel and slept off. I wish I had stated at Murren.
Hike to Obersteinberg and Tanzbodeli: This turned out to be one of the highlights of my entire trip. The walking started from Gimmelwald, you go down to a river bed and then there’s a pretty big hike up. My walking sticks really helped a lot. Gradually, you go above the tree line and you can see the entire Lauterbrunnen valley in front of you. The pastures here are absolutely pristine. The hike up to the Tanzbodeli top was a little tricky at places, but still not very difficult. When I got to the top, I couldn’t have been happier. The view down the valley was fabulous, the view was 360 degrees. All around, there were mountains of all shapes and sizes. The troubles of hiking all the way up were soon forgotten. The next destination was the Obersteinberg hotel, I had initially planned to go the Obersee lake, but that seemed really far away. The walk to the Obersteinberg hotel was a very interesting one. Quite on the edge, with very good views of the neighboring peaks. And very rocky, the ridge route looked as if the mountains would tumble down any minute, and some of the mountains were partially covered with mist. A very Lord of the Ring-y route. Had lunch at the hotel, a simple cheese on bread and soup.I spent quite a bit of time lurking around, I had no intentions to walk all the way to the Lake and back. I took the road down to Stechelberg, the route was quite long and steep downhill. Satisfied with the hike, I returned back to Gimmelwald, went to Murren for another beautiful sunset and dinner. Dinner was at Bellevue Hotel in Murren, had a risotto and a dessert, was about average.
The next day, I walked from Grutschalp to Allmendhubel, quite a good and scenic walk and then got back to Zurich stopping at Thun on the way.
Brienz: Another favorite, which surprisingly doesn’t get many foreign tourists. I reached Brienz on a stormy evening. The train ride from Lucerne to Brienz was very beautiful. Dinner was at Weisses Kruz Hotel. I had a vegetarian Cordon Bleu and a salad, both were great. The next morning was a dark, cloudy one. Nevertheless, I reached the Brienzer Rothorn Bahn for the earliest train and boarded it. And within a few minutes, we were above the clouds! The views were absolutely top-class from top. Seas of clouds below and abundant sunshine above. I lurked around quite a bit and decided to walk atleast a small part of the Hardergrat trail. The train was very very slippery from the previous day’s rain, not very safe, and my shoes weren’t helping. At a couple of places, there were free falls on both the sides, and no ropes at all. And the trail was a bit washed out at places. I gave up and came back. But, on the brighter side, I got to see a big herd of Ibex, so it was worth all the troubles.
Had lunch at a place near the Brienz station, a thick pizza, probably my worst dinner in the entire trip. I took a train to the Aare gorge and walked across it. Was quite an experience, despite the significantly large number of people. Also, had a look at the Reichenbach falls, the place where the duel between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty happened. Dinner was at Steinbock Hotel, I had a mushroom in cheese sauce and an apfel strudel, both were very well done. The next day was at Adelboden.
Adelboden has the one of the tallest waterfalls, an Instagram post brought me here. Adelboden isn’t very well known among international tourists, but is very well frequented by Swiss families. I took a train from Brienz to Adelboden, stopped at one of the stops before Adelboden and reached the Enstligtenalp station. Walked through the woods to the base of the waterfall. It was quite a sight. I took the cable car up to Enstilgtenalp. The place was like no other place I had seen in Switzerland. Very beautiful, though the glacier had almost melted for the season. There was a large green flatland nicely surrounded by mountains. Several glacial streams ran through the flatland. The best part was the clouds moving at a very high pace through the area. Many cows grazing around. Very pristine. I walked around quite a bit, the views of the area around and the waterfall below were really beautiful. Lunch was at one of the restaurants around, I had a very good rosti with vegetable gravy and a tomato soup, both very well made. By now, it had become very cloudy, I took the cable car down and walked towards Adelboden along the stream, a pleasant walk. Took a train back to Zurich.