Europe Travel News

Hiking in the Bernese Oberland

Crisp air, dramatic mountain views and quaint villages to call home every night: Hiking doesn't get much better than the kind offered by the Swiss Alps. Of all the places to go, one the best regions for hiking in Switzerland is the Bernese Oberland.

This area of the country is the highlands, nestled in the Bernese Alps, with the option of little interruption from civilization. One of the Oberland's greatest advantages is that it offers plenty of escapes from big cities or bustling resort towns. Should travelers prefer to hole up somewhere rustic and rural while they experience the Alps, then this region may be the place for them. 

Towns to see
There are plenty of small towns to see in the region, many of which serve as excellent starting points for outdoor adventures. Some, such as Grindelwald, sit under the shadow of stunning peaks. Others, like Hilterfingen and Iseltwald look out onto the calm, blue waters of Alpine lakes. While there are fancy resorts to enjoy, the charm of this region generally comes from those places that are unimposing and modest in the face of their surroundings. 

Brienz is a quintessential Oberland town, known for its woodcarving and artisan shops. Set on the water, it's a pretty place for strolling lakeside and looking across the vista. Its 17th century domestic architecture only adds to that romance of the village.

Meanwhile, there is Gimmelwald, a small village treasure often confused with the much swankier Grindelwald. There, travelers will find rural Switzerland, home to just a handful of B&Bs and hotels, according to travel expert Rick Steves. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Gimmelwald is that it leads easily to nearby escapes, whether up in a gondola for breakfast on a summit or hiking down to Birg. 

Where to walk
Hiking runs the gambit in this region of Switzerland. Many places that travelers choose to stay will likely have nearby trails for casual adventures. Given the area, it's never too hard to find amazing views of the mountains and valleys. 

Difficulty of those footpaths ranges from the short and easy to the long, steep and difficult. One of the more rewarding hikes, according to Rick Steves, is also one of the more challenging, and involves traversing through Gimmelwald, Tanzbodell, Obersteinberg and back to Gimmelwald. For something less exhausting, there are places like the North Face Trail from Allmendhubel, which leads through farms and meadows. 

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