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Top Five Things to do in Switzerland's Bernese Oberland

8 February 2023

The heart of Switzerland is alive with adventure in the scenic region known as the Bernese Oberland. Bern bounds this centrally located part of the country to the north and River Rhône to the south, with over 800 lakes, countless snowy mountain peaks, and quintessential alpine villages creating a picturesque haven between the two borders. It is where outdoor expeditions span the seasons, and time seems to stall, taking on a leisurely pace in a region where you must slow down to enjoy the views and smell the wildflowers. Travelers are spoiled for choice when finding things to do here - especially in the Jungfrau region of the Bernese Alps, which welcomes millions of tourists yearly. Join them in exploration and find plenty of inspiration for your rail vacation by discovering the top things to do in Switzerland's Bernese Oberland.

Cogwheel Railway

1. Ride to Jungfraujoch - The Top of Europe

One of the crowning jewels of the Jungfrau Region, Mount Jungfrau impresses visitors with its fantastic vantage point over the Bernese Alps and beyond. While it is possible to hike to the summit, climbing the mountain aboard the Jungfrau Railway is the experience of a lifetime. The journey is accomplished via a series of train rides, beginning in Interlaken and traveling through locations like Lauterbrunnen and Wengen or Grindelwald, depending on your chosen route. After passing through these locations, all courses switch trains at Kleine Scheidegg for the final climb via cogwheel.

Venturing up the mountain from the Kleine Scheidegg train station begins outside but quickly plunges into the face of Mount Eiger. The train continues through a carved mountain tunnel through Mountains Eiger and Mönch, finally arriving at the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch. The station is the highest in Europe and offers views you could only imagine.

During your time at the top, look over the surrounding mountain ranges, glaciers, and alpine towns from the Sphinx Observation Deck. Also outside, hiking over to Glacier Plateau is a beloved photo spot that offers fantastic views of Jungfrau, while Snow Fun Park is a wonderful place to try mountaintop winter sports. The Ice Palace, Alpine Sensation, and the Jungfrau Panorama are among the most popular attractions within the station. Restaurants, shops, and the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Experience round out the offerings at the top.

Cable Car To The Summit Of The Schilthorn

2. Climb the Schilthorn to Visit Piz Gloria

The Bernese Oberland in Switzerland is home to many breathtaking mountain peaks, yet one is popular not only for its beauty but also for its claim to fame as the 007 Mountain. The 9,744-foot summit of the Schilthorn was used as the setting for "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Climb to the top via a series of cable cars, beginning in the village of Mürren. The climb presents spectacular views over 200 of the region's peaks and over the lakes, glaciers, and sweeping valleys that punctuate that landscape.

At the top, Piz Gloria sits as one of the top attractions in this part of the country. This 400-seat restaurant is the world's first revolving mountaintop restaurant. Several scenes from the James Bond film were shot here, and much like the movie, the restaurant serves a mean martini, shaken, not stirred, of course. Enjoy views of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau from the restaurant or the two outdoor viewing platforms. Also at the top, wander along the Thrill Walk, visit the 007 Walk of Fame, or Touristorama.

Spiez Castle On Lake Thun

3. Tour Spiez Castle Overlooking Lake Thun

Vivid blue water joins rolling green vineyards to make awe-inspiring scenes on the shores of Lake Thun in the Bernese Oberland. This beautiful scene is only made more special with the addition of an ancient castle steeped in history perched upon the lakeshore: Spiez Castle. This fortress was first constructed in 933, yet it was built as it stands today in the 13th century. Its setting on the picturesque Spiez Bay - often called Europe's Most Beautiful Bay - makes it more impressive.

Spiez Castle is accessible by land or after cruising across Lake Thun. Its surrounding gardens and Romanesque Chapel complement the main structure, and the onsite museum unveils centuries of history as demonstrated by the three families who have owned it. Artifacts and fascinating exhibits tell their story. Climbing the tower stairs rewards you with the most incredible views over Lake Thun and is an epic addition to any visit.

Allmendhubel Funicular

4. Explore Local Railways and Cable Cars in the Swiss Alps

Regardless of the season, the Swiss Alps' dramatic mountain peaks and wide-sweeping meadows provide a superb backdrop for adventures. These beautiful landscapes come to a head in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to soak in its beauty and gaze upon gorgeous landscapes you cannot see anywhere else in the world. Your options are nearly limitless and range from cable cars to cog railways and funicular railways to scenic train routes that explore long distances. During your time in this dreamy region, set out on lines like:

  • Harder Funicular Railway
  • Allmendhubel Funicular
  • Schynige Platte Railway
  • Grindelwald-First Cable Car
  • Eiger Express Tricable Car

While the GoldenPass Line does not explicitly explore the Bernese Oberland, it is important to note that passengers can join the train in Interlaken. Magical views of the local scenery abound while the train travels south toward Montreux or north toward Lucerne.

Observation Deck In Interlaken

5. Day Trip to Popular Alpine Villages

Tucked into valleys, perched on mountainsides, and lining the shores of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, the small towns and quaint villages of the Bernese Oberland are some of the most beautiful in Switzerland. It is easy to explore, no matter your preferred mode of transportation. Explore destinations like:
Interlaken - Unmistakably the region's hub, Interlaken has a picture-perfect location nestled between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, with the peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains looming in the backdrop. Interlaken is the perfect place to cruise, explore historic buildings, or indulge in excellent culinary and shopping opportunities. Its resort town roots make it a destination for travelers of all types.

  • Lauterbrunnen - Sheer cliffs topped with snow-clad mountains and gorgeous coniferous forests cradle the tiny town of Lauterbrunnen. This destination is known for its waterfalls, including Staubbach Falls, the largest free-falling waterfall on the continent. Enjoy numerous hiking trails through the fairy tale landscapes and views that epitomize the idea of the Swiss countryside. Visiting Lauterbrunnen in the Lauterbrunnen Valley puts you within easy reach of Trummelbach Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site-protected underground waterfall.
  • Wengen -Imagine all the delights of a typical Swiss village and amplify them in Wengen. This village is perched at a higher elevation than others in the region and offers a spectacular view over the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Traditional wooden chalets meet timbered houses to create a storybook atmosphere. Best of all, Wengen is entirely car-free, so wandering through its pretty streets on foot is always welcome. Whether you spend time exploring its amenities or hiking the nearby trails, this region is idyllic in every way.
  • Grindelwald - An outdoor enthusiast's dream location awaits in the Bernese Oberland's Grindelwald. The town has a picturesque location on the face of Mount Eiger and has become an impressive resort destination over the years. Skiing, snowboarding, and hiking opportunities abound in this town, with one of the most popular hiking trails being the Eiger Trail.

The range of activities available in Switzerland's Bernese Oberland inspires endless adventures. Travelers who crave leisurely sightseeing in delightful villages are just as accommodated as those that desire mountaintop hikes and thrill-seeking escapades. See for yourself when you join one of Vacations By Rail's thoughtfully composed Swiss train journeys. Our packages include escorted and independent offerings, providing plenty of things to do while surrounded by natural beauty. Contact a Rail Specialist to find your next adventure in the Alps.