The Bernese Oberland is our home away from home in Switzerland, the tour that started it all through the heart of the Alps. Also called the Alpine Pass Route, the Bernese Oberland Traverse has been named the “World’s best hike” by Backpacker magazine, and we have to admit… it’s a fantastic choice! We absolutely love this deluxe version of our itinerary.
Our tour is a luxurious collection of unbeatable alpine scenery, quiet trails, traditional villages and deluxe 4-star hotels. This is still an adventurous trip. You’ll hike to 5 different locations over 8 nights, crossing numerous passes, and staying in the finest hotels in the tiny alpine villages you’ll arrive. Extra nights in Grindelwald, Mürren and Kandersteg allow you to explore hidden valleys where you find the magic in this region. When you hike to Griesalp, you’ll have one night in a cozy mountain inn, in a private room with hot showers just down the hall. As with all of our deluxe tours, you’ll have your luggage every night, so you can hike with the freedom of a small daypack.
Our typical day starts with a continental buffet breakfast at our inn – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, hot coffee and fresh juice – which gives us the energy needed for a full day of inn-to-inn hiking.
Soon you’ll be out on the trail for 6-8 hours, where often you’ll get to choose between an easier or more strenuous hike to fit your desired level.
You should finish your hike around 4-5 pm, giving you time to wash up and relax. On 4 of your evenings, we’ve included dinner at your hotel. These are multi-course feasts, featuring local specialties, but with many lighter and continental dishes as well. Your hotels all serve fabulous food, and can cater to vegetarians, gluten-free or other dietary requirements. We typically leave 3 nights free – one night each in Grindelwald, Mürren and Kandersteg – so you can explore on your own, and we’ll give you some of our favorite local restaurant suggestions. Dinners will be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious.
If you like comfort but don’t need luxury, consider joining us for the classic version of this tour, our Self Guided Bernese Oberland Traverse from Meiringen to Gasterntal. That is a 10-night trip with 3-star hotels and many more mountain inns, and is also offered as half-tours from Meiringen to Mürren and from Mürren to Gasterntal.
Grindelwald – Arrive in Switzerland, and transfer by train to the Grindelwald, at the base of the famous Eiger North Face. It’s a scenic trip, passing through farms and along lakes as the mountain giants of the Bernese Oberland get closer and closer.
Although it’s the largest mountain village in the region, Grindelwald is still quite small. After checking into your deluxe 4-star hotel, you might enjoy a stroll through the village or a drink taking in the views from a scenic restaurant terrace. We’ll leave dinner off on this first night so you can get to bed early or have dinner on your own either at your hotel or another nearby restaurant.
Grindelwald – After a hearty breakfast, you’ll take a short bus ride up to the Grosse Scheidegg Pass and enjoy sweeping views of the Eiger, Wetterhorn and Schreckhorn mountains and of the Grindelwald Valley. Your trail will be a looping traverse high above the valley with nearly constant views.
With 10,000 vertical feet separating valley from peak, Grindelwald sits at the base of one of the most impressive vertical mountain walls in the world. For a shorter day you can stop at the First gondola and ride back down to town. If you’d like a longer hike, our route notes will send you on an optional detour via the postcard-perfect Bachsee Lake before winding back down toward the valley floor through quiet meadows. Dinner included at your hotel.
Wengen – Today starts with a short train ride out of Grindewald to a mellow mountain inn near the top of tree line. This morning is dominated by great close-up views of the Eiger North Face – perhaps the most notorious mountain wall in the Swiss Alps.
Hike up to the famous Kleine Scheidegg Pass under the Eiger North Face, where the Mönch and Jungfrau mountains also come into view. After a break for lunch, we’ll steer you onto quiet side-trails for the descent. Pass through one of our favorites alps (a mountain meadow), with incredible waterfall and glacier views. Afterwards, a long woodsy traverse brings you to the car-free village of Wengen for a restful night.
Mürren – Your trail from Wengen starts downhill to Lauterbrunnen and then leads past countless waterfalls along the lush Lauterbrunnen Valley floor. After a break for lunch, hike up a steep trail through a quiet, wooded valley into one of the most spectacular corners of the Alps.
The trail winds up through sleepy Gimmelwald to Mürren, a postcard-perfect car-free village perched on the edge of a cliff with unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains. Stay in the impeccable 4-star Hotel Eiger. Dinner included at your hotel.
Mürren – There are numerous dayhike possibilities around Mürren. One beautiful trail leads up to the Lobhorn hut and nearby Sulsee mountain lake, for superb all-around views. The hike passes through a quiet farming valley and leads to some of the more classic Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau views (from a more northerly aspect). Lobhorn is a great place to buy lunch and relax at one of their outdoor tables. If it’s a hot day, wander back to the lakes for a refreshing swim before hiking back to Mürren.
For an easier day, shorter hikes traverse the meadows above town, with numerous mountain restaurants along the way inviting you to stop and linger. Or feel free to just unwind in one of the most scenic and relaxing villages in the Alps. Your hotel has a delightful pool and spa, and the Schilthorn cable car is a memorable daytrip to a scenic peak. Dinner will be on your own tonight, and we will give you some of our favorite suggestions.
Griesalp – Today’s trail leads up and back into the deep recesses of the Sefinen Valley. A steep climb is followed by a long, flatter stretch along a sunny, south-facing trail to the Rotstock hut, where you can stop for drinks and perhaps an early lunch. Crane your neck to see the revolving restaurant atop the Schilthorn high above you.
Leaving Rotstock, the trail again climbs, taking you across the first of two major passes, Sefinenfurke, and down into the tiny hamlet of Griesalp. The descent is steep and rocky at first, aided by stairs and a cable to hold onto, but quickly reaches solid trail after the first few minutes. Your long walk into Griesalp is rewarded by many beautiful waterfalls along the way and a friendly welcome at our rustic but pretty inn. You’ll have a private room and hot showers, and your luggage will meet you at the inn.
Kandersteg – You’ll want to get an early start for the most challenging day of your tour. Crossing the second major pass, Hohtürli, you’ll hike past glaciers and high mountain peaks to the Blumlisalp hut at the top of the pass, the perfect stop for lunch. On your long descent to Kandersteg, you’ll pass the jewel-like Oeschinen Lake – an emerald-green lake surrounded by cliffs which has to be seen to be believed.
For bad weather, or if you simply don’t feel like tackling the pass, you can take a bus around to Kandersteg and enjoy a mellow dayhike up to the lake instead. Stay in a deluxe 4-star hotel on the edge of Kandersteg. Dinner included at your hotel.
Kandersteg – For the grand finale, our route notes will lead you up on a quiet path through Klus Gorge and into the hidden Gasterntal Valley, one of our favorite Bernese Oberland secrets. The power of the Kander River is impressive as you climb through this narrow gorge and emerge into the valley.
This is a picture-perfect hideaway – a small, U-shaped valley, carpeted with wildflowers and guarded by savage cliffs. Waterfalls bursting from the sides of cliffs add to the scenery. You can stop at a mountain inn for lunch and explore the back of the valley – this can be a very big finale hike if you like (and we’ll tell you how to do that. Return by van to Kandersteg for your final celebratory night. Dinner will be on your own and you can eat at your hotel, at their rustic Ruedihus lodge, or another restaurant in town.
depart – Today say good-bye to the Bernese Oberland, and depart for your post-tour destinations.
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