So, you want to visit the Bernese Oberland? We help you plan a trip there!
We talk about the must-see places to add to your bucket list, the best location to turn into a base, and share knowledgeable tips about the weather, seasons, and your options to get there.
🗺️ Where is the Bernese Oberland?
The Bernese Oberland is part of the canton of Bern, a province in Switzerland. This area is located at the southernmost part of the country.
This area is called that way because it is located at a higher altitude compared to the rest of the canton.
Oberland means higher lands and in English, Bernese Oberland translates to Bernese Highlands.
The area has some of the most popular tourist places in Switzerland, and it’s one of the most visited cantons in Switzerland.
Bern is the capital of the region, and it’s also the Swiss capital, but it’s not part of the Bernese Oberland. Nonetheless, the city has a lot to offer. Plan a trip and collect some ideas with my guide to the top things to do when in Bern.
💡 Top Places to Visit
If you love the mountains, the Swiss flair and of course Swiss cheese and chocolate, then visiting the Bernese Oberland should be on your to-do list!
Here are some of the most popular and most beautiful places to visit in the Bernese highlands.
Grindelwald is located at the food of the Eiger mountain. You can’t miss this wall of a mountain! It’s one of the most prominent and hardest mountains to climb in the world.
The town is famous due to its wooden chalets, which are spread out in the village. It’s a pretty sight with the green fields in the summer, but also an iconic sight in winter.
Grindelwald is for all those looking to explore some hiking trails in the Swiss alps. A popular tour is to take the cable car to the First mountain peak. From the viewing platform, you get to see the alps and Eiger mountain.
Grindelwald is also the gateway to the Jungfraujoch, a glacier saddle connecting the Jungfrau and Mönch mountains. It’s known as the top of Europe, and it has the highest train station in Europe. Snow and an ice palace world await you there!
Enjoy a classic skiing trip with your family in winter. The slopes are some of the best in the area and visiting in winter is worth every penny.
Located in the neighboring valley of Grindelwald is the Lauterbrunnen valley. The main village there is the name giver, Lauterbrunnen.
This village is known all over the world thanks to its cliff backdrop and a waterfall. The natural beauty inspired the Lord of the Rings filmmakers.
The Staubbach waterfall is one of many falls in the valley, but its unique position with the church and little Swiss chalets, makes it a very picture-perfect sight.
Two villages can only be accessed by mountain train from Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and Mürren. So, the villages serve as a gateway to the extended areas of the Lauterbrunnen valley.
Mürren is situated about 1000 feet (ca. 305 meters) on the cliff above Lauterbrunnen and at the base of the Schilthorn mountain.
It’s a charming car-free village made famous by a James Bond movie. From Mürren, you get a spectacular view of the three most important mountains in the area, the Mönch, Eiger and the Jungfrau.
Various difficulty levels of walking trails and hikes lead away from the village. The flower trail is the highlight for all children and families.
You can also walk down or take a 5-minute cable car, just a station down, to another quaint village, known as Gimmelwald.
Take the cable car further up to Birg where you will find a cliff thrill walk and the last station takes you to the James Bond world, the Piz Gloria. From there you get spectacular panoramic views of the alps.
Wengen in the Swiss alps, is the second town that can only be accessed by mountain railways, and it’s one of the top places that you shouldn’t miss.
Situated on the other side of the Lauterbrunnen valley, high up above Lauterbrunnen and opposite to Mürren, Wengen has its charms.
A small town with resorts owned by locals and a busy town center with stores await you in Wengen.
Wengen is famous thanks to the FIS skiing world cup held every winter in this premium Swiss ski resort. The ski resort is connected with Grindelwald with the Männlichen cable car.
The famous Eiger trail is accessible from Wengen and a trip with the iconic cogwheel train to the Kleine Scheidegg should be on your bucket list when in Wengen.
Interlaken is a popular vacation town located between lake Thun and lake Brienz. The turquoise blue waters of both lakes make this town a romantic destination for couples.
No matter if you are planning to visit during winter or summer, Interlaken is a beautiful spot to be if you love outdoor activities and sports. Plan an adventurous day trip, and chill at one of the lakes in the evening.
Interlaken is also the gateway to the Lauterbrunnen valley and the Grindelwald valley. If you intend to spend a few days to a week in the region, then making Interlaken as a base is a great option.
From here you can also visit other nearby cute villages and interesting landmarks such as Spiez and the town castle or the St. Beatus Caves.
More Top Places
- Gstaad – an upscale resort town. Located a bit away from all the other destinations in the Bernese Oberland.
- Kandersteg – a small resort town with the Naturpark Blausee lake nearby.
- Adelboden – another famous ski resort. Furthermore, a popular family hiking area.
🚗 Getting There
You can get to the Bernese Oberland by car or train.
Fly either into Zürich or Basel, although Zürich has the bigger airport and better connections.
The best way to get around Switzerland is by train. The country has heavily invested into their train network and the state owned SBB train is known to be efficient and punctual. Most places can be easily accessed by train.
From the metros take a train to Interlaken. From Interlaken, you can get to all the mentioned towns and villages in this guide, so Interlaken makes for a great overseeable base.
You can get unlimited train tickets with the Swiss Travel Pass, so it’s well worth getting it if you intend to spend more time in Switzerland.
You can also get discounts to mountain train tickets, such as the yellow and green cogwheel train to Wengen, with the Swiss Travel Pass.
The most convenient way to travel is still by car. You can hire rentals at the airports and drive down to the Bernese Oberland.
We recommend using only highways to get around in Switzerland because small roads have often 30 km/h limits and speeding cameras are everywhere. You can get fined with just a km/h too much, and they will send you your fine, regardless of your current location.
For the Swiss highway you will need a Vignette highway sticker. A yearly ticket (they only have the one) will cost you about CHF 40.
The country has highways everywhere and getting around this way is rather quick. For example, it only takes one hour between Basel to Bern.
The road from Zürich, over Lucerne can be scenic at some spots, and you can take a stop in Lucerne which is an upscale city.
The drive from Basel to Interlaken is 2h 20 mins long and the drive from Zürich is about 2 hours long.
Here is a 360 video from our drive at the Brienzer lake.
🌨️ Weather and When to Visit?
All seasons have their perks, and it boils down to your expectations.
Spring (March to June) – Not that busy, cool, mountain flowers blooming everywhere, cheaper off season rates.
Summer (June to September) – Peak season, about 70 Fahrenheit (ca. 21 °C) in the shade, more expensive, great weather for hiking, all attractions can be visited.
Fall/Autumn (September to December) – beautiful foliage colors, picture-perfect landscapes, cooler temperatures, cheaper off season rates.
Winter (December to March) – Peak season, most expensive time of the year, winter sports, Christmas with snow, it gets cold.
The higher you climb, the cooler it gets. For example, when we visited the Schilthorn peak in August, we wore winter jackets because at an elevation of 7400 feet (ca. 2,256 m), it gets freezing, and it’s windy there.
Plan according to the places that you want to visit. You can buy warm clothes in Grindelwald, Interlaken or Bern.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland and also the capital of the canton of Bern. The Bernese Oberland is part of the canton of Bern. These are two different places. Bern is a city and the Bernese Oberland is an area in the alps.
Even if you go all budget, a minimum of CHF 250 per day per Person is required to sleep, eat, and get around.
If you want to see most places mentioned in this guide, then making Interlaken your base is the way to go. Bern is another option, but it’s an hour away and should be only on your list if you intend to visit Bern as well (that’s what we did). If you want to just hang out in the Lauterbrunnen valley for 2–3 days, then staying in Mürren or Wengen is a good idea. Rooms are pricier in the Bernese Oberland than in Bern but waking up in the Bernese Oberland comes with its perks.