The southern end of canton Berne includes some of the tallest and most famous peaks in Switzerland including the Jungfrau and the Eiger, known as the Berner Oberland.
Towns and villages
- 1 Brienz — at the eastern tip of Lake Brienz.
- 2 Gstaad
- 3 Kandersteg
- 4 Meiringen — central town in the Hasli Valley; site of Sherlock Holmes' death; historically important transportation route
- 5 Spiez — a picture postcard town surrounded by stunning scenery
- 6 Thun — the biggest city in the region. A good choice if you want to stroll through a city and visit some cultural sights after spending time in the mountains
- 7 Interlaken - "between the lakes"- is where you take the BOB mountain railway to the Jungfrau resorts.
- Jungfrau Region describes the resorts up the two Lütschine valleys, with winter skiing and summer hiking.
- 8 Grindelwald is the resort in the Black Lütschine valley. Come this way to reach Jungfraujoch.
- 9 Kleine Scheidegg at the foot of the Eiger is on the saddle between the forks.
- 10 Lauterbrunnen in the sheer-sided White Lütschine valley has scores of great waterfalls.
- 11 Mürren is a larger but charming resort on the slopes towards the Schilthorn.
- Gimmelwald is a tiny picturesque hamlet halfway up to Mürren.
- 12 Wengen is the resort on the opposite side of the valley.
- 1 Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch is a protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared between the Bernese Highlands and Valais. You get a good view from Jungfraujoch.
- 2 Grimsel Pass at 2164 m is a fine example of Swiss mountain roads. It too is on the boundary between the Bernese Highlands and Valais, which is the watershed between the Rhine catchment towards the North Sea and the Rhône through Lake Geneva towards the Med. The road and resort are open June-Sept. Cycle across if you're hard enough; it's sometimes used by the Tour de Suisse.
This is probably the finest area of the Swiss Alps. Most people will come into Interlaken, sitting between two lakes, the Thunersee and the Brienzersee. From Interlaken, twin valleys go to either the resort town of Grindelwald, or the Lauterbrunnen, which has cable car connections to several stunningly located and isolated towns. Several glaciers are in this area.
In addition to those observed in the whole of Switzerland, St. Berchtold day on 2 January is observed in the canton of Berne.
While Switzerland has four main languages, this region speaks mostly Swiss-German, though the official language is German, and everyone can speak it. English is also spoken to a somewhat lesser extent.
Two main train lines run through this region. One comes from Basel, Berne via Thun and Spiez to Interlaken, whereas the other one comes from Zurich and Berne also via Thun and Spiez on the way to Valais. If you are coming from the airport in Zurich, you have to change in Berne to go to Interlaken. A couple international trains (ICE and EC from Germany and one TGV Lyria from Paris) also go to Interlaken.
See and do
- Brienz Rothornbahn, the railway ascending from Brienz, is the last steam-powered mountain line in Switzerland. "Es stampft und dampft, es quietscht und qualmt" they promise; Goethe couldn't have said it any better.
- Trümmelbach Falls are 3 km south of Lauterbrunnen. This sheer-sided valley has scores of spectacular waterfalls, which inspired the young Tolkien to invent Rivendell. But these falls are inside the mountain, where the boulder-laden torrent from the glaciers has carved chutes and corkscrews.
- Schilthorn (2970 m) is the peak above Mürren, with the revolving restaurant of Piz Gloria, and kitsch memories of George Lazenby playing 007 none too well. The cable-car ascends from Stechelberg near Lauterbrunnen, via Gimmelwald and Mürren, but feel free to make the 5-6 hour ascent on foot.
- Eiger (3967 m), Mönch (4110 m) and Jungfrau (4158 m) are the magnificent peaks towering over Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg.
- Jungfraujoch is Europe's highest railway station, on the saddle between the Mönch and Jungfrau. There are views over the Aletsch glacier and you can explore a short way outside but must have a guide to go further.
- Aare Gorge is 1.4 km long, 180 m deep and barely a metre across at its narrowest. There's a walkway through it, emerging 2 km east of Meiringen.
- Reichenbach Falls are a cascade 1 km south of Meiringen. The top cascade or Grand Reichenbach Fall is 110 m, the scene of Sherlock Holmes' mortal struggle with Moriaty in Conan Doyle's The Final Problem.
- Oeschinensee is a scenic lake 3 km east of Kandersteg. Take a boat or toboggan ride, or hike up Hohtürli Pass.
- Lake Cruises The clarity of the blue water and stunning mountain scenery make cruising on either the Thunersee or Brienzersee a great option.
- Lauberhorn is the premier ski race, held in January. The run is from the Lauberhorn summit at 2317 m, over 4.27 km (a one km descent) into Wengen.
- Eiger Ultra is a 101 km ultra-marathon held in July. It starts in Grindelwald and circles through Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg.
- Jungfrau Marathon ascends from Interlaken via Lauterbrunnen and Wengen to finish at Kleine Scheidegg. It's held in September.
- It's an easy train trip to the Swiss cities of Berne, Basel, or Zurich.
- Take the train from Brienz to Lucerne maybe stopping along the way in one of the scenic towns of Central Switzerland.
- Take the train south to Valais.