The Bernese Oberland Traverse is our signature tour, an itinerary we’ve offered since year 1, and continues to be one of our best. This is the land of fairytales, with enormous mountains, meadows filled with wildflowers, waterfalls, car-free villages and remote inns. It’s everything you hoped for in an alpine hike, and if you don’t know where to start, start here. Our tour differs from most tours of the Bernese Oberland by adding memorable detours to areas that should not be missed, such as Obersteinberg and Gasterntal. You’ll be glad you came. You may not want to leave.
This is a great inn-to-inn tour for accomplished hikers and beginners alike, with beautiful and enjoyable easier options most days, but plenty of strenuous trails over high passes if you want a big day. It’s the best hiking region of the Alps. Period.
Schwarzwaldalp – Arrive in Switzerland, and transfer by train to the quiet town of Meiringen to start the Bernese Oberland tour. In Meiringen, you might make a quick stop to pick up any last-minute supplies in town, then take a bus even further into the mountains, to a mountain inn high above town.
Waterfalls and imposing mountains rise dramatically over you in this relaxing corner of the Alps. Schwarzwaldalp is a small, traditional inn surrounded by flower-filled meadows and contented cows. You’ll have a private room and a warm welcome for your first night in the Swiss Alps.
Grindelwald – After a hearty breakfast, you’ll start hiking right from quiet meadows around Schwarzwaldalp, where you’ll hike over the Grosse Scheidegg pass and enjoy your first views of the Eiger and of the Grindelwald valley.
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, anchored by the mighty North Wall of the Eiger. Perhaps you’ll detour via the postcard-perfect Bachsee lake before winding down to the glacier village of Grindelwald to your hotel.
Wengen – Today you’ll explore the Grindelwald valley and hike to the famous Kleine Scheidegg pass under the Eiger North Face. You’ll have the option of taking the high, rocky Eiger trail directly under the North Face, or spend more time lower down, on quiet trails that we’ll point out to you through dazzling landscapes.
The entire day is dominated by great close-up views of the Eiger North Face – perhaps the most notorious mountain wall in the Swiss Alps. Descend to the quiet car-free village Wengen for a restful night.
Obersteinberg – You’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Jungfrau and surrounding mountains on the way to a memorable night in a remote mountain inn at Obersteinberg. Obersteinberg is a rustic inn and working dairy farm, and one of the most authentic Swiss experiences we know.
Your trail winds through flowery meadows and past countless waterfalls along the lush Lauterbrunnen valley floor. After a break for lunch, continue hiking to Obersteinberg, a wild and isolated corner of the Lauterbrunnen valley, for a rustic night in one of the most spectacular corners of the Bernese Oberland. When people come back for a second trip after the Bernese Oberland, we often hear, “We want more Obersteinbergs!”
Mürren – You have a couple of trail options today – the first, a panoramic climb over a high ridge with breathtaking views in every direction, the second, a beautiful wooded hike filled with waterfalls.
Both routes bring you through sleepy Gimmelwald to the car-free village of Mürren, with its unparalleled clifftop views of the surrounding mountains. Dinner included.
Mürren – There are numerous dayhike possibilities around Mürren. The Lobhorn hut is a favorite dayhike, with beautiful views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains across the valley.
Some people use this day to take the cable car above Mürren to the Schilthorn, with it’s James Bond-themed revolving restaurant and 360 degree views. Or you can take the train across the valley to Jungfraujoch, an amazing trip that tunnels through the Eiger, and brings you to a massive glacier viewpoint at 11,388 ft. Feel free also to just unwind in one of the most scenic and relaxing villages in the Alps. Dinner is on your own in Mürren tonight.
Griesalp – The trail meanders up into the deep recesses of the Sefinen valley before crossing the first of two major passes, Sefinenfurke, into the tiny hamlet of Griesalp.
A long climb past Rotstock hut brings you to the pass, a rocky notch separating two valleys, followed by a very steep descent. You’ll reach Griesalp, a collection of farms and summer homes with just a couple simple and rustic inns.
Kandersteg – You’ll need an early start for your most challenging day of the tour. Crossing the second major pass, Hohtürli, you’ll hike relentlessly uphill to the pass, where the Blümlisalp hut offers welcome refuge and a hote meal, then down past glaciers and high mountain peaks to 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 the quiet village of Kandersteg for the night.
Gasterntal – You’ll quickly escape town on a quiet path leading south towards the Klus gorge. The power of the Kander river is impressive as you climb through this narrow gorge into the hidden Gasterntal 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. Stay in a pleasant inn with great mountain and waterfall views.
Gasterntal – For your grand finale, one of our favorite hikes is a strenuous climb to the nearby Lötschen pass.
Old Roman trails lead through meadows and woods, past a couple of hanging valleys, with a short stretch across a glacier, to the small hut at the pass where the views to the south are superb! Return to the same inn at the bottom of the valley that night. A fitting way to end a great tour.
depart – Today you say good-bye to the Bernese Oberland and depart for Kandersteg and your post-tour destinations.
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