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.
Two traditional Swiss resort villages ● Surrounded by stunning Alpine scenery ● Miles of well signposted hiking paths ● The Wildstrubel (3,243m / 10,640ft) and Lohner Mountain ranges (3,049m / 10,000ft) ● The Jungfrau region is 45 mins away ● Easy access via the Lötschberg tunnel ● Reach Lake Thun and Kandersteg within 30 mins.
Brienz & Lake Brienz (Brienzersee)
Picturesque Brienz, “the village of wood carving” ● Explore the Ballenberg Open Air Museum and the stunning Giessbach Falls ● Lake Brienz with its amazing turquoise waters ● There have been passenger ships on Lake Brienz since 1839 ● You can reach Mt. Brienzer Rothorn’s summit (2,350m / 7,710ft) via steam train from Brienz.
Gstaad, at an altitude of 1,050m (3,445ft), is surrounded by beautiful scenery ● High society and shopping in Gstaad, but also romantic villages and 300km (186mi) of hiking trails in Saanenland ● Discover the picture-perfect Lake Lauensee and the fairytale mountain village of Abländschen ● White water rafting on the River Saane!
Situated at the convergence of three of Switzerland's major passes: Grimsel, Susten, Brünig ● 300km (186 mi) of top-notch trails ● Europe’s highest and longest pedestrian suspension bridge (Trift bridge) ● The world-famous Reichenbach Falls (think Sherlock Holmes…) ● Meiringen, attractive and the perfect base for your hikes.
Bustling Interlaken is located between Lakes Thun and Brienz ● The snow-capped peaks of the mighty Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau ● Interlaken offers access to a vast variety of hiking trails (500km / 311mi) ● Take advantage of the extensive rail, bus, boat and cable-car network ● Starting point of the world-famous Jungfrau Railway.
Jungfrau Region / Lauterbrunnen Valley
For many, the dream walking holiday destination ● The world-famous trio of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau are the crowning glory of this region ● Limitless alpine delights in Lauterbrunnen Valley ● Four charming villages: Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren and Lauterbrunnen ● A total of 500km (311 mi) in footpaths and hiking trails.
Kandersteg & Kandertal Valley
A popular mountain-walker’s paradise ● Outstanding network of trails – from high-alpine to family-friendly ● Excellent transport links; a wide variety of accommodation options ● Easy access to idyllic Lake Öschinen and the beautiful deep-blue Lake Blausee (blue lake) ● Kiental Valley, which is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch region.
Some of the very best of Swiss alpine wonderland ● The Simmen Valley offers an incredible 600km (373mi) of walking trails ● Lenk (at 1,068m / 3,504ft), has been awarded the ‘Swiss Families Welcome’ quality mark ● The Wildstrubel chain (Mt. Wildstrubel 3,243m / 10,640ft) divides the Valais (Wallis) and the Bernese Oberland.
Thun & Lake Thun (Thunersee)
Blessed with a mild climate that lasts well into autumn ● You’ll love the deeply-blue Lake Thun ● The picturesque town of Thun is beautifully situated at the lake’s western end ● Take the magnificently restored “Blümlisalp” paddlewheel steamship (originally built in 1906) ● Mt. Niesen (2,362 metres / 7,749 feet) is this area’s popular peak.
More great places to go walking in Switzerland:
Walking in Valais and Zermatt, Graubünden, Bern and hiking near Bern, Eastern Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Lake Geneva Region (Vaud), Lake Lucerne Region, Ticino, Jura & Three-Lakes Region, Jura, Pays de Fribourg, Alpes Vaudoises, From Schwyz to Zurich