Located in central west Switzerland, the Bernese Oberland region has a lot to offer with diversified landscapes such as glistening lakes, magnificent mountains, and unspoiled nature. In other words, if you want to get a great overall picture of what Switzerland has to offer, the Bernese Oberland region is right for you! In this blog post, I share my complete Bernese Oberland travel guide that gathers everything you need to know to organize your trip to Bernese Oberland and enjoy the region to the fullest.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to get to the Bernese Oberland region?
Bernese Oberland region is located in the center of Switzerland. Therefore, the region is easily accessible by train or by car from any part and border of Switzerland.
Having said that, if you are coming to Switzerland by plane, the closest airports to the Bernese Oberland region are:
- Zurich airport: approximately 2,15 hours away from Thun (one of the main towns of the region)
- Geneva airport: approximately 2 hours away from Thun
When to visit the Bernese Oberland region?
Great news, the Bernese Oberland region is well worth visiting all year round, which makes this part of Switzerland super attractive. Of course, each season has its particularities and specific activities. Indeed, from Spring to Autumn, you will be able to discover the Bernese Oberland region by hitting the colorful hiking trails, while during winter, skiing and snowshoeing will allow you to explore the surroundings.
However, in my opinion, if you want to enjoy the hiking paths and outdoor activities you should visit the Bernese Oberland region between June and October. If hiking is something you are into, I would definitely try to avoid the period from March to June as not all trails are opened due to the remaining snow.
On the other hand, visiting the Bernese Oberland region during the winter season allows you to get a typical picture of Switzerland with all its snowy landscapes and winter activities. So, if this is something you want to experience, I highly recommend visiting the area during January and February.
How to move around the Bernese Oberland region?
Since the Bernese Oberland region is large and vast, the best way to visit this beautiful region is by car. Especially because it is composed of many mountain peaks, it will be easier for you to get around by yourself. If you are visiting Switzerland from abroad, I recommend that you pick up your rental car directly at the airport. This way, you will have the opportunity to visit other wonderful parts of Switzerland on your way to visit the Bernese Oberland region.
To get the best price for your car rental in Switzerland, book now here.
Where to stay in the Bernese Oberland region?
The Bernese Oberland region is home to several mountainous villages and towns, with Thun and Interlaken being one of the main towns. However, if you prefer to be a little away from those big cities, I recommend you to stay in Spiez, a smaller town located halfway between Thun and Interlaken. No matter where you choose to stay between Thun, Interlaken, and Spiez, these cities will be a perfect hub to visit the Bernese region.
Here are my hotel recommendations:
- For Spiez: I would highly suggest you book a room in this lovely boutique hotel that offers a great panoramic view of Thun Lake and mountainous summits.
- For Thun: I would recommend you book a room with a view of Thun Lake – check out the most beautiful hotels in Thun here!
- For Interlaken: I would advise you to book a room with a view of Brienz Lake – check out the best hotels here!
Aside from these cities mentioned above, if you would rather stay in an even more picturesque mountain village, you should book accommodation in Grindelwald. That is to say, this charming town has everything you need from supermarkets to nice restaurants. Nonetheless, keep in mind that it is located in a valley, which might increase traveling time when exploring the rest of the region.
What to do in the Bernese Oberland region?
As mentioned above, I believe the Bernese Oberland region is one of the most breathtaking regions of Switzerland. In other words, this part of Switzerland is filled with amazing must-sees and hidden gems. Therefore, I am glad to share the top activities I recommend doing while in the Bernese Oberland region.
In case you want to join some guided tours around the Bernese Oberland region, you can find the best experiences here and book yours in one-click.
Blausee Nature Park (also known as Blue Lake) is a gem of rare beauty! In reality, you will be amazed by the crystal emerald color of the lake. Depending on the season, the park completely changes its appearance which makes Blausee worth a visit at any time of the year.
Also, keep in mind that Blausee is a gated park with opening hours. The entrance fees allow you to walk through the park as long as you like. In addition to a restaurant and two cafes, a BBQ area is also available on-site.
Moreover, if you want to treat yourself well, there is a hotel with few rooms available inside Blausee Park, offering a wonderful view of Blausee Lake! Above all, since Blausee Nature Park can get pretty busy, it would be a great advantage to have the park to yourself in the morning (and evening) before the visitors arrive!
“I suggest visiting either at the opening hours or at the end of the day to avoid the crowd. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the sun, which reveals the lake’s colors, might be hiding behind the mountains at those specific hours depending on the season.”
Entrance fees: CHF 12.00 per adult
Parking fees: CHF 3.00 for 4-hours
all year round
open daily 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Grindelwald - First
Grindelwald-First is the ultimate hub to enjoy thrilling activities surrounded by an amazing Swiss landscape. If you take the cable car from Grindelwald station (located at the center of the village) to First station, there are many activities you can do such as Trottibike, zipline, or mountain kart.
Above all, you get the opportunity to walk on a metal path clinging to and around the mountain’s cliffs. Guaranteed thrills!
Cable car from Grindelwald to First: CHF 64.00 per adult (return)
Parking fees: CHF 1.00 per hour
Activities: several package prices
closed from the end of October to mid-December
open daily from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm
(may vary depending on the season)
Bachalpsee is a beautiful lake located within a short hike from the top of Grindelwald-First station. Great reflections of some of the most beautiful mountain peaks of the country can be seen there. You won’t be disappointed!
Cable car from Grindelwald to First:
CHF 64.00 per adult (return)
CHF 1.00 per hour
6 km / 3 miles (return)
200 m ascent / descent
cable car closed from
the end of October to mid-December
open daily 8:30 am to 6:00 pm
(may vary depending on the season)
Oeschinensee (also known as Oeschinen Lake) is an altitude lake close to Kandersteg village. Frankly, no words can describe its beauty and I can say without a doubt that this is my favorite place in the Bernese Oberland region. That is to say, if you are short on time and must choose only one place to visit, I would highly advise you to explore Oeschinensee.
From Kandersteg, there are two ways to reach Oeschinensee, either taking a gondola (10 minutes) or hiking to the top (1:30 hours). However, keep in mind that the trail is not accessible during winter. Subsequently, once you arrive at Oeschinen station, you still need to walk 20 minutes to get to the turquoise lake. No worries, this is an easy path suitable for everyone.
On top of the mountain, there are two restaurants: one located right next to the gondolas station that offers a view into Kandersteg valley, and one directly overlooking Oeschinensee.
During summer the surroundings can be visited through different hiking trails. In winter, those hikes being closed, you get the chance to walk on the lake as it is completely frozen. In addition and if you are more into skiing, there are a few ski slopes on the same mountain. If you want to complete the full Swiss experience, you should rent a cheese fondue set at the first restaurant and enjoy it at the foot of the lake.
“Taking the first cable car will allow you to enjoy the sun coming up which offers a perfect reflection of the snowy mountains on calm waters.“
Cable car from Kandersteg to Oeschinen:
CHF 30.00 per adult (return)
Parking fees: CHF 8.00 for the day
summer season: open daily - May to October
winter season: open daily - December to March
Lauterbrunnen is without a doubt the most typical village in Switzerland and is surrounded by 72 waterfalls and impressive cliffs. Most importantly, the town is the ideal starting point for some amazing experiences such as the Schilthorn observatory (see below for more details).
Schilthorn - Piz Gloria
Schiltorn – Piz Gloria offers a magnificent 360° panoramic view of nearly 200 Swiss summits. Piz Gloria sits at an altitude of 2’970 m which allows you to see the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch peaks as well as Thun Lake. Interestingly enough, the place has a theme around James Bond as it was the main location of one of the first 007 movies. The restaurant on top of the mountain proposes notably a 007 brunch, which is the perfect way to start the day!
Furthermore, Big Thrill Walk is the ideal stopover to or back Schilthorn to enjoy the impressive 200 meters walkway clinging to and around the cliff.
Cable car from Stechelberg to Schilthorn:
CHF 108.00 per adult (return)
Parking fees: CHF 1.00 per hour
open all year round
except from maintenance days in April and October
daily from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm
Located at Brienz (near Interlaken city), Giessbach waterfalls are surrounded by mountains and thick forests. Accordingly, this is the perfect place to walk through colorful nature and take some fresh air.
Giessbach waterfalls are easily accessible as there is parking available close to the falls (a 5-minute walk). An alternative to the car would be taking a 15-minute boat ride from Brienz on one of the most turquoise lakes of Switzerland and combining it with a funicular ride up to Grandhotel Giessbach (located right in front of the falls).
“Depending on the season you are visiting, I don’t recommend you to go too early in the morning as the waterfalls will still be in the shadow.“
Entrance fees: free of charge
Parking fees: CHF 10.00 for the day
boat from Brienz to Griessbach: CHF 6.00 per adult
funicular ride: CHF 10.00 per adult (return)
open all year round
accessible at any time by car
only accessible between June to October by boat and funicular
Triftbrücke is a famous suspension bridge up in the mountains close to Trift Glacier and its lake. The suspension bridge is not easily reachable and requires some fitness skills! Indeed, even though the trail is well-marked, there are some sections with a lot of rocks! Despite that, all the effort is worth the great view of Trift Gorge. To reach the starting point of the trail, you need to take a 15-minute cable car ride from Trift station.
“I recommend starting the hike early in the morning in order not to be stressed by the cable car’s schedule as the last ride back is at 4:00 pm.“
Cable car from Trift station to the beginning of the hike:
CHF 24.00 per adult (return)
Parking fees: free of charge
3,5 km / 2,1 miles (return)
Open daily between June to October
from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
The Aare Gorges, which sits inside the Bernese mountains, have an effortless 1,4 km / 0,9 miles path made up of footbridges and tunnels. It is amazing to see what water erosion can create.
In summary, this is the perfect place to visit during a hot and sunny summer day!
“As the Aare gorges is a humid and cool place, I advise you to take a jacket with you even during the summer season.“
Entrance fees: CHF 10.00 per adult
Parking fees: free of charge
open daily from May to November
from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Jungfraujoch, famously called “the top of Europe“, has the highest train station located at 3’454 meters above sea level and is the best-known scenery of the Bernese Oberland region.
There are different ways to get to Jungfraujoch but we opted for the train (2-hour ride), which is the easiest journey to the top. Note that you have the option to book your seat for an additional fee, but if you do so, you will not be allowed to take a later train. Having said that, from my standpoint, 3 hours is the minimal time to enjoy the surroundings without stress.
On top of Jungfraujoch, you will enjoy a wonderful 360° panoramic view of the Aletsch glacier on one side and the famous mountain ranges of Switzerland on the other one. Moreover, you will have the possibility to visit the Ice Palace, watch the current exhibitions that change from time to time, and hike around Jungfraujoch (just keep in mind that there is always snow).
“Without surprise, you won’t be the only one at Jungfraujoch. Therefore, to experience the place at the fullest by beating the crowd, I highly recommend taking the earliest train possible!“
Entrance fees + train fees (from Grindelwald):
CHF 220.00 per adult (return)
open daily all year round
from 7:45 am to 5:30 pm
To summarize, the Bernese Oberland region is full of wonders and for all tastes! From glistening lakes to the most impressive mountainous summits, the area is one of the most diverse in Switzerland.
That is to say, I hope I have inspired you to visit the Bernese Oberland region someday soon and that you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Anyway, if you want to get more travel inspiration for your trip to Switzerland, check out all my posts related to Switzerland.
Finally, feel free to contact me, if you have any questions. It would be a great pleasure to share with you!
Sending you lots of love,