33 Best Sights in Berner Oberland, Switzerland

Brienzer-Rothorn Bahn

Fodor's choice

Switzerland's last steam-driven cogwheel train runs from the waterfront of Brienz up to the summit of Brienzer-Rothorn, 7,700 feet above the town. The ride takes an hour and rolls under huge craggy peaks and through verdant meadows to afford stunning views of the lake. (The town will be so far below, you'll need pictures to remember the whole excursion wasn't fake.) A restaurant up top serves decent soups and sandwiches on a terrace that makes the most of the views. Trains depart about once an hour, but to avoid long waits at peak times, purchase your timed ticket online in advance.

Eiger Express

Fodor's choice

This state-of-the-art cable car whisks you up from Grindelwald Terminal to the Eigergletscher station (at 7,367 feet) in just 15 minutes, and from there, you can catch the Jungfraubahn train up to the summit in about half an hour. The Eiger Express shaves nearly 50 minutes off the time it used to take to reach the Jungfraujoch terminus. Catch a train from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald Terminal (one stop before the regular Grindelwald station stop) to begin your journey.

Freilichtmuseum der Schweiz Ballenberg

Fodor's choice

More than 100 typical houses from virtually every part of Switzerland (along with 200 native livestock species) are on display in this magnificent outdoor exhibit down a small road just east of Brienz. Dotting the meadows are 19th-century barns, pastel-shuttered houses, antique lace-making shops, traditional haberdasheries, and plenty of carefully reconstructed chalets. Even the gardens and farm animals are true to type. Spinning, forging, and lace-making are demonstrated using original tools. The settlement, between the villages of Hofstetten and Brienzwiler, ranges over many acres, and you can easily spend at least a half day here. Via public transport, take the train to Brienz or Brünig and then a short bus ride to Ballenberg.

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Harder Kulm

Fodor's choice

This 4,337-foot peak and its scenic overlook can be reached via an eight-minute funicular ride, making it a good bet when you don't have time for a longer excursion. From the top you'll enjoy views south over the city, the lakes, and the whole panorama of snowy peaks. The chalet-style restaurant offers sumptuous traditional dishes on a sunny terrace. The funicular station is north of River Aare, across Beaurivagebrücke.

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Peak Walk by Tissot

Fodor's choice

The only suspension bridge in the world that connects two mountain peaks, the Peak Walk by Tissot—part of the Glacier 3000 Snow Park—is open year-round. The 170-m (558-foot) bridge connects the smaller View Point peak with the Scex Rouge peak, which is 5 m (16 feet) higher, providing astounding views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks, as well as the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. To reach Glacier 3000, take the cable car up from Col du Pillon, about a 20-minute bus ride from Gstaad.


Fodor's choice

Mürren boasts some of the longest downhill runs because it is at the foot of the Schilthorn (9,748 feet) mountain, famed for its role in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The peak of this icy megalith is accessed by a four-stage cable car ride from Stechelberg (near the spectacular Mürrenbach Falls) or a two-stage cable car ride from Mürren, past bare-rock cliffs and stunning slopes. At each level you step off the cable car, walk across the station, and wait briefly for the next cable car. At the top is the much-photographed revolving restaurant Piz Gloria, where you can see clips of the film. There's also an interactive, multimedia exhibition that is a must-see for James Bond fans called Bond World. Attractions include a flight simulator inside a helicopter and a 35-seat theater showing 007's Alpine adventures.

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Schloss Thun

Fodor's choice

From the charming medieval Rathausplatz, a covered stairway leads up to the great Schloss Thun, its broad donjon (inner tower) surrounded by four stout turrets. Built in 1186 by Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, it houses the fine Schlossmuseum Thun (Thun Castle Museum) and provides magnificent views from its towers. The Knights' Hall has a grand fireplace, an intimidating assortment of medieval weapons, and tapestries, one from the tent of Charles the Bold. The hall is often the imposing venue for concerts. Other floors display local Steffisburg and Heimberg ceramics, 19th-century uniforms and arms, and Swiss household objects, including charming Victorian toys.

Schynige Platte

Fodor's choice

For a most splendid overview of the region, head to this 6,454-foot plateau for a picnic, or wander down any of its numerous footpaths, or visit its Alpine Botanical Garden, where more than 600 varieties of mountain flowers grow. A cogwheel train dating from 1893 takes you on the round-trip journey, though you may opt to walk either up or (more comfortably) down. If you are only going in one direction, make sure to specify your direction of travel when you buy your ticket. Trains run from approximately 7:25 am to 4:45 pm. To get there, take the four-minute ride on the Bernese Oberland Railway from Interlaken East to Wilderswil; from there, the cogwheel train takes about 50 minutes to reach the plateau.


Fodor's choice

A series of 10 glacier waterfalls hidden deep inside rock walls make up the spectacular Trümmelbachfälle, which you can access by a tunnel lift. Approach the departure point via a pretty creek-side walkway and brace yourself for some steep stair climbing. Be sure to bring along a light jacket—the spray can seem less than refreshing in the cool Alpine air. Children under age four aren't allowed access to the falls. You can reach Trümmelbachfälle by a five-minute post bus from Lauterbrunnen.


You can explore the imposing Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht, as it's known in German) via a sturdy walkway. On hot summer days, the rush of river water below you has a welcome cooling effect.

Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen-Mürren

To reach Mürren from Lauterbrunnen take the aerial cable car across the street from the Lauterbrunnen train station. You then connect to the cogwheel rail from Grütschalp, which runs along the cliff and affords some magnificent views. The whole trip takes about 30 minutes and drops you at the Mürren rail station, at the opposite end of town from the cable car stop and a nice walk away. There are departures every 15 to 30 minutes. As you ascend, point your binoculars at the gleaming dome on the Jungfraujoch across the valley: you can almost hear the winds howling off the Aletsch Glacier.

Casino Interlaken

The Casino Interlaken has American roulette, as well as more than 100 slot machines. Las Vegas it's not, but it's congenial and pleasant.

Fuchs Holzschnitzkurse

At Brienz you may want to try your hand at wood carving. From May to October, you can learn to carve the typical Brienzer cow during a two-hour lesson at the atelier of Paul and Mario Fuchs. Their workshop is in Hofstetten, between Brienz and Ballenberg.


From the edge of Iseltwald, an idyllic forest walk of about 1½ hours brings you to the falls of the Giessbach, which tumble in several stages down rocky cliffs to the lake. They are easy to find, being right next to the 19th-century extravaganza that is the Grandhotel Giessbach. You can also get to the falls via the Brienzersee steamer, which departs from Brienz or Interlaken Ost.


Travel down into the valley below Grindelwald, and visit the Gletscherschlucht. You can either drive or take the bus to the hotel of the same name. From there you can walk a trail along the river and over bridges about 1 km (½ mile) into the gorge. Although you can't see the glacier itself while walking along the edges of the spectacular gorge it sculpted, you'll get a powerful sense of its slow-motion, inexorable force.


After a lovely 25-minute gondola ride on one of Europe's longest lifts, the peak called First (7,112 feet above sea level) is the launchpad for various adventures. For example, you can stroll along a rock walkway and peer over the mountain's edge on the First Cliff Walk, soar along the First Flyer zipline in summer, and sled down the world's longest toboggan run in winter. First is also the starting point for an easy 3-km (2-mile) walk to Lake Bachalp (Bachalpsee).

Dorfstr. 187, Grindelwald, 3818, Switzerland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Gondola SF64 round-trip, SF74 for gondola ride plus one activity, SF58 for one-day hiking and sledding pass, Closed late Oct.–mid-Dec.


An old-fashioned funicular railway chugs to the top of this 2,194-foot mountain, where you get views of both lakes as well as a peek at the Jungfrau, the Eiger, and the Mönch. There's the usual terrace restaurant at the top, along with a children's playground and a model-train show with music and lights. On the way down you can opt for a ride on the 985-foot-long bobsled run. The funicular station is a five-minute walk from the Interlaken West station down Rugenparkstrasse, with departures every 15 minutes between 10 and 5.

Interlaken, Switzerland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: SF16 for return by cable car or toboggan; SF23 including model railway, Closed Nov.–Mar.


The tree- and flower-lined walkways on the city's main promenade cut through the edge of the broad green parklands, which are called the Höhematte. This 35-acre park once provided pasture ground for herds of the Augustinian monastery that dominated medieval Interlaken. Cows still graze in fenced-off areas.

Höheweg, Interlaken, Switzerland

Museum der Landschaft Saanen

On Saanen's main street, upstairs from the Heimatwerk handicrafts shop, the Museum der Landschaft Saanen traces the history of the area through tools, costumes, furniture, and decorative pieces.


The trip up the 6,397-foot Niederhorn lets you sit back and soak in the glory of the entire region. From the summit, you can appreciate not only the Jungfrau's splendor but also the rugged terrain surrounding the Gemmi Pass to the west and Grosse Scheidegg to the east. The journey can begin with a funicular from the lakeside stop called Beatenbucht (get here via boat or PostBus from Thun). If you'd rather, you can catch a gondola in the hamlet of Beatenberg (accessible by PostBus from Interlaken). You'll change to a cable car at Vorsass, where you'll find a lovely restaurant, on your way to the Niederhorn. Keep your eyes peeled for chamois and Alpine ibex along the ridge. In winter, you can go skiing, snowboarding, walking, or sledding.


Meiringen's one showstopper is the Reichenbachfälle, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and his archenemy, Professor Moriarty, plunged into the "cauldron of swirling water and seething foam in that bottomless abyss above Meiringen." This was the climax of the "last" Holmes story, "The Final Problem" (the uproar over the detective's untimely end was such that the author was forced to resurrect his hero for further fictional adventures). The falls, 2,730 feet up a mountain a little way outside of town, can be visited via a funicular. Buy your funicular ticket online or from the driver (cash only).

Hausenstr. 34, Meiringen, 3860, Switzerland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: SF12; SF18 including Aare Gorge, Closed mid-Oct.–Apr.

Saanen Church

The first recorded mention of the Saanen Church, the oldest building in the region, was in 1228, and it is no doubt older than that. Just off Saanen's main street, the church is open daily for visits unless a service is being held. This Romanesque structure was renovated in the 20th century to reveal portions of medieval frescoes on the interior walls.

Schloss Hünegg

Hilterfingen's castle, Schloss Hünegg, was built in 1861 and furnished over the years with a bent toward art nouveau. The stunning interiors have remained unchanged since 1900. Outside is idyllic parkland.

Schloss Oberhofen

Even Walt Disney would have a hard time topping Schloss Oberhofen for sheer fairy-tale splendor. The jewel of the village, this delightful hodgepodge of towers and spires sits on the waterfront. Begun during the 12th century, it was repeatedly altered over a span of 700 years. Inside, a museum has a display of the lifestyles of Bernese nobility, along with salons done up in the plushest 19th-century style, plus a Turkish "smoking room," a display of magical medieval stained glass, and a 13th-century chapel with noted Romanesque frescoes. In the Seetürmchen is a lovely, candlelit chamber where all eyes are drawn to an extraordinary carved-wood mermaid chandelier. Those in the know touch the mermaid's belly for good luck. Surrounding the castle is a lovely landscaped park that includes a children's play area.

Schlossg., Oberhofen, 3653, Switzerland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Museum SF10; park free, Museum closed Mon. and Nov.–mid-May. Park closed mid-Dec.–early Apr.

Schloss Spiez

The town's enormous waterfront castle, Schloss Spiez, was home to the family Strättligen and, in the 13th century, its great troubadour, Heinrich. The structure spans four architectural epochs, starting with the 11th-century tower. Its halls contain beautiful period furnishings, some dating back to Gothic times. The early Norman church on the grounds is more than 1,000 years old. You can visit the castle museum, which explores the castle's history; climb up the castle tower for a panoramic view; see the historic castle church; and taste wine at the Winery Spiez in the castle cellar. There's also a café on-site. Though the castle itself is only open seasonally, you can stroll through the gardens year-round.

Schlossstr. 16, Spiez, 3700, Switzerland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: SF10 for castle museum, SF15 for special exhibitions, Closed Mon. morning and Nov.–Apr. (except castle gardens)


A monastery, founded in 1133, once stood on this site. All that remains are a 14th-century chancel and a wing of the cloister. The rest was incorporated into a private castle in 1745.

Schweizer Holzbildhauerei

To learn about the history of traditional Swiss woodworking, stop by the Schweizer Holzbildhauerei, where you can also buy locally carved pieces.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Buffs of the famous detective will like the Sherlock Holmes Museum in the center of town. Housed in a small chapel, it contains a replica of the fictional sleuth's front room at 221B Baker Street.

Bahnhofstr. 26, Meiringen, 3860, Switzerland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: SF5, Closed weekdays Nov.–Apr. (except from Christmas–New Year\'s and occasional Thursdays, see website for details)

St. Beatus-Höhlen

For a dose of nature blended with history, check out the St. Beatus caves. Their legend goes back to the 6th century, when the missionary St. Beatus arrived on the Thunersee to find the local population terrorized by a dragon that lived in the lake and surrounding grottoes. Exorcised by Beatus, the fleeing dragon fell to his death on the rocks. Today you can see the stalagmites, stalactites, and pools inside, as well as a colorful rendering of Ponzo, the dragon. The on-site cave museum offers scientific and historical information about caves around the world. Though you can explore the caves on your own, 75-minute guided tours leave every 45 minutes throughout the day. Take a jacket, because it's cold inside the caves. You can reach them by taking Bus 21 from either Interlaken train station or by crossing by boat from the Interlaken West station to Sundlaunen, then hiking 20 minutes to the caves.


Magnificent waterfalls adorn the length of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the most famous being the 974-foot Staubbachfälle, which are illuminated at night and visible from town. These falls draw you like a magnet through the village of Lauterbrunnen itself, past a bevy of roadside cafés and the town center (marked by a church and the small Valley and Legend Museum). Just opposite the falls is a centuries-old graveyard.