This tour is the ideal walking introduction to the Swiss Alps, offering you each day a range of walks often with differing grades and distances, so you can decide the nature of the walking, whether it be a high mountain trek along a Bergweg mountain path, or a valley stroll on a Wanderweg lower level trail. There are many opportunities for spending time sightseeing and utilizing the extensive mountain transport system to shorten walks, leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy good fayre in the valley towns and mountain villages. You travel to the two most spectacular and classical postcard regions of the Swiss Alps. The peaks of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau overlook the valley towns of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen while the celebrated mountain town of Zermatt lies just below the towering Matterhorn. Our programme of walks allows you time to take the mountain railway to the Jungfraujoch the highest railway station in Europe at nearly 12,000 feet. The flower-strewn alpine meadows in summer around Wengen and Murren and upon the Schynige-Platte walk are an unforgettable experience.
We grade this tour as ‘Moderate’; anyone used to hill walking with a daily height gain/loss of up to 3,300 feet (1000 metres) should find the tour within their capability. Most days are a lot easier than this. Day Stages: Average duration of walking per day is 6 hours. Many of the walks can be shortened if desired by the use of cable cars and local postbuses.
This pleasant little town is an ideal starting point for walking in the Bernese region. The town is functional and utilitarian, rather than historical due to a disastrous fire in 1875 and there remains little except for the old church with archaeological remains lying underneath and a mediaeval watchtower in the 'upper' part of the town. Meiringen is known for the spectacular Reichenbach Falls into which Sherlock Holmes and his foe Moriarty, the master criminal, fell locked in each other’s arms. A funicular railway may be used to take you to the top of the falls; otherwise, it is 30 minutes’ walk out of town. You can visit the 'Sherlock Holmes Museum’, which is housed in the old Anglican Church in the 'open area' by the Park Hotel, which is itself, a national monument. Settle into hotel and explore the resort town in the evening.
Accommodation: Hotel Baer - is centrally located near shops and the station. It has modern facilities. It is possible to upgrade to the 4* Hotel Alpbach for an additional cost.
There are three possibilities for today's adventure.
Option 1: Begin the walk to Grindelwald, up to the spectacular Reichenbach Falls en route. Be prepared to be overawed by the towering Wetterhorn and yet to be soothed by the lush green valley of Grindelwald as it yawns before you. This scenery is then contrasted by the glacial activity prevalent around Grindelwald.
Option 2: Take the train to Brienz, followed by a cruise on the Brienzsee. For those waterfall lovers, Brienz is an alluring place. If the shimmering green sea of the Brienzersee does not catch your eye, then the magnificent Giessbachfall waterfall will not fail to demand your attention.
Option 3: Take the train to Widerswil, then the mountain train to Schynige Platte, and walk to Grindelwald via the Faulhorn. The long descent from Faulhorn to Grindelwald is made easier by using the Firstbahn 'gondola' cable car. This can also be done from Grindelwald.
Accommodation: Hotel Lauberhorn - Spend two nights staying at a cosy 2 star chalet-hotel with a spectacular view of the Eiger and the surrounding peaks. All rooms facing south have balcony, shower and WC. The hotel is a short walk from train stations and the Firstbahn gondola station. It is possible to upgrade to the 3* Hotel Hirschen for an additional fee.
A day of choice in and around Grindelwald
Option 1: A trip on the Jungfrau railway (highest in Europe and 3rd highest in the world) is well worthwhile even though expensive (approx. 184 CHF 2nd Class). A magnificent view from the Jungfraujoch station (3454m) if it is clear - so check the weather forecast. An impressive and daring start to the day is offered to clients who wish to walk from the train to a lookout cut into the very centre of the Eiger north face. Both glaciers and mountains make for fantastic viewing.
Option 2: A gondola (mini-cable car) (approx. 30 CHF) trip up to First gives access to a delightful walk to the Faulhorn Peak (2681m), a tremendous viewpoint in clear weather.
Option 3: Choose to walk the ridge route from First to Faulhorn then to Bussalp, or to do the complete ridge to Schynige Platte.
Option 4: Cable car / walk to Mannlichen summit, with views all round to the Eiger, Jungfrau and Wetterhorn (7 hours).
Option 5: The two glaciers' trip offering spectacular views of moraine, crevasses and glacier (6 hours). A must for the avid geologist!
There are numerous other fine day walks at all altitudes around Grindelwald. For those desiring a rest from the walking, there is still plenty on offer including boat trips or train rides.
Ascend to Kleine Scheidegg, descend to Lauterbrunnen via the car free boutique town of Wengen. You will walk beneath the North Face of the Eiger and get some fantastic views once again over the Bernese peaks. You can make the day slightly harder by taking The Eiger Trail from Alpiglen to Kleine Scheidegg and make it easier by taking the train to Alpiglen, and then once again down from Wengen.
Accommodation: Hotel Silberhorn - Two nights at this 3 star star hotel which is only two minutes' walk from the train station. The rooms are tastefully furnished and decorated. The hotel has various rooms so you can upgrade (subject to availability).
This valley boasts spectacular watefalls and is a popular tourist attraction. From here you can visit Murren, the highest village in the Bernese Oberland and take the cable car up to the Schilthorn, where you can witness the famous 360 degree panorama extending from the Jura to the Black Forest. From Murren you can walk back by a scenic route via Gimmelwald down to Stechelberg, from where there is an hourly bus back along the valley to Lauterbrunnen. You also have another opportunity to take the train to the Jungfraujoch, if you haven't done so already. There are again plenty of walks to choose from and all routes are well signposted.
After breakfast in Lauterbrunnen, take the early train to Zermatt (with your luggage) to allow yourself a good afternoon’s walking or relaxing. Zermatt is the quintessential Swiss tourist town, the mountain-lover's magnet. The town is almost completely surrounded by the high mountains of the Pennine Alps among which is Monte Rosa (4634m) Switzerland's highest peak. You can wander some of the many paths that abound around Zermatt. Many of these are reachable by cable car or gondola.
Accommodation: Hotel Capricorn - Two nights in our 3 star hotel in a typical Swiss chalet type building. This hotel is very comfortable, informal and family run. It has a pleasant terrace garden and a sauna as well as spacious rooms with private facilities. The excellent restaurant has views out to the Matterhorn and a nice bar.
Various inspiring walks await you today - the only difficulty is deciding which to choose. Zermatt is traffic-free and is dominated by the imposing, distinctive shape of the Matterhorn. All around Zermatt there is a wonderful panorama of mountain peaks. Examples of walks below with more options included in our route notes.
Option 1: A walk in the shadow of the Matterhorn 9 km/5.5 miles, 3-4 h
Option 2: Views of Monte Rosa 10 km /6.2 miles, 4 h
Option 3: The Trift valley leading to Trift 5 km /3 miles, 3 h and onto the Mettelhorn 13 km/8 miles, 8 h
Option 4: Schwarzsee to Hornlihutte, with optional return via Stafelalp 14 km/8.6 miles, 6 h
For a less energetic day one can take the exciting cable car ride to the top of the Kleine Matterhorn (3820m). This is one of the highest cable cars in the Alps. There are many more walks and activities to choose from to fill your day.
Depart from Zermatt after breakfast.
This is a superb walk through the most beautiful scenery. We have done several walks and this would have to be the best. It has a variety of options and you can do as little or as much walking as the mood takes you. The Gornergrat railway option is a must, and was a highlight for us, together with the Schynigge Platte to Grindewald walk.
C. Turnbull, Sydney, Australia, 12 Sep 2016
Per Person, Twin Share