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 mountainsides 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 Easy, view-filled hike from top of Allmendhubel funicular to villages of Mürren and 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 (ride gondola down to Grindelwald, take train back to Wilderswil). 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 (from Mürren take the funicular to Allmendhubel, hike to Grütschalp, then train back to Mürren).
▲ 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).
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.