Let's face it: Travelers don't flock to Switzerland for its cities. Spend most of your time getting high in the Alps. Rather than tackle a checklist of famous Swiss mountains and resorts, choose one region to savor: the Berner Oberland. Frolic and hike high above the stress and clouds of the real world. Take a vacation from your busy vacation. Recharge your touristic batteries high in the Alps, where distant avalanches, cowbells, the fluff of a down comforter, the whistle of marmots, and the crunchy footsteps of happy hikers are the dominant sounds.
At a Glance
Towns, Villages, and Resorts
▲▲▲ Gimmelwald Wonderfully rustic time-warp village — and good home-base option — overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
▲▲▲ Mürren Pleasant resort town near Gimmelwald, midway up the Schilthorn cable-car line; a good high-mountain home base for those who find Gimmelwald too small and rustic.
▲▲ Kleine Scheidegg Small resort area with breathtaking views of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks; several hotels and restaurants; and train station for pricey ride to the high-altitude Jungfraujoch.
▲▲ Lauterbrunnen Small town in the middle of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. From here, a cable car goes up to Grütschalp (with connections to Mürren and Gimmelwald), a train runs up to Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg, and the PostBus goes to Stechelberg (with connections to the Schilthornbahn lift).
▲ Interlaken Big town between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, at the "entrance" to the Berner Oberland.
Top Lifts and Trains
▲▲▲ Schilthornbahn Cable car soaring from Stechelberg in the Lauterbrunnen Valley to the 9,748-foot Schilthorn peak, with Piz Gloria revolving restaurant, James Bond exhibit, and stupendous views. Stops at Gimmelwald, Mürren, and Birg along the way.
▲▲▲ Jungfraubahn Train running from Kleine Scheidegg station and through tunnel inside Eiger and Mönch mountains to 11,333-foot Jungfraujoch saddle, with observation deck, restaurants, tip-top views, and snow activities.
Walks and Hikes
▲▲▲ Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg Easy, mostly downhill ridge hike from cable-car station at Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, with spectacular views of Eiger and more.
▲▲ Cloudy-Day Lauterbrunnen Valley Walks Easy trails and pleasant walks along valley floor, plus short trail to Staubbach Falls at upper end of town.
▲▲ North Face Trail Relatively easy, view-filled hike from top of Allmendhubel funicular to villages of Mürren and/or Gimmelwald, passing farms with food service, Sprutz Waterfall, mountain huts, and meadows.
▲▲ Schynige Platte to First Demanding ridge walk from Schynige Platte train station to gondola station at First. Fabulous views of Jungfrau-area peaks and Lake Brienz.
▲▲ Birg to Gimmelwald via Bryndli High, scenic, moderately difficult hike from Birg cable-car station below Schilthorn summit to Gimmelwald. Trail winds past knobby summit of Bryndli, with non-stop views.
▲ Sefinen Valley to Kilchbalm Easy trail from village of Gimmelwald up Sefinen Valley to dramatic Kilchbalm, a glacier-carved bowl with streams, waterfalls, and meadows.
▲ Allmendhubel to Grütschalp Fairly easy walk from Allmendhubel down to Grütschalp, with views of the Jungfrau.
▲ Gimmelwald–Tanzbödeli–Obersteinberg–Stechelberg/Gimmelwald Long, difficult, yet highly rewarding hike offering spectacular views and relative solitude (other than goats, cows, chamois, and a cheese maker).
▲ Sprutz Waterfall A moderately difficult hike from Gimmelwald up to and behind the waterfall (or a good stop on a hike down from Allmendhubel).
▲ Grütschalp to Mürren Super-easy, family-friendly stroll along the ridge with grand views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
More Sightseeing Options
▲▲ Ballenberg Open-air folk museum near Interlaken, on Lake Brienz.
▲ Trümmelbach Falls Lauterbrunnen Valley's most powerful falls, accessed via elevator ride up into the mountain and dramatic walk through several wet caves.