The magnificent Bernese Oberland region, recognised for the impressive triple-peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau (the Ogre, Monk and Maiden), is a major tourist area with resorts boasting world-class winter and summer activities. It also features one of the most popular tourist excursions in Switzerland, the breathtaking cog railway to the Jungfrau Plateau. From here, the highest station in the world, staggering views and ice caverns within the glacier can be enjoyed.
Bernese Oberland © Edwin Lee
The Bernese Oberland is the most magnificent of the Alpine regions, a concentration of the very best of Swiss scenery, with towering snow-capped mountains, glaciers, pristine lakes and waterfalls, meadows of edelweiss, pastures echoing with the tinkle of cowbells, and typical wooden chalets with geranium-filled window boxes.
The gateway to the Bernese Oberland is the popular resort of Interlaken, which is also the main transport hub of the region. An extensive network of roads, mountain railways, funiculars, cable cars and hiking trails link it to the other popular resorts in the area, including the scenic ski village of Wengen, and Grindelwald, the most established skiing and hiking centre in the region. The Oberland's most glamorous resort and the place for glittering socialites to be seen is the chic town of Gstaad, popular more for its high society than for its skiing.
See our separate guides to the following Bernese Oberland holiday resorts: Gstaad
Bern, Switzerland © rarb1950
BernAccording to legend, Bern was named when its founder, Berchtold, was advised to go on a hunt and to name the town after the first beast that he caught. The bear has remained the symbol of the capital city ever since. One of the most charming cities in Europe, its Old Town centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the preservation of its cobbled medieval street plan, with many fountains, towers and a massive astronomical clock. With its relaxed atmosphere, farmers' markets and friendly people, it is easy to forget that this is the Swiss capital, an important city of politicians and international meetings. And with its interesting museums, theatres, long-standing monuments and landmarks, Bern is a popular base from which to explore the mountains and lakes of the nearby Bernese Oberland.
Glacier Express © Martha de Jong-Lantink
Glacier ExpressAdvertised as the 'slowest express train in the world', the Glacier Express is also the most panoramic, and is a breathtaking way to experience the magnificence of the Swiss Alps. The seven and a half hour journey begins daily from Zermatt. The red mountain train crosses more than 291 bridges, winds its way through 91 tunnels and seven valleys and over the 6,670ft (2,033m) Oberalp Pass to the resort of St Moritz, in a spectacular feat of mountain engineering. The train is equipped with large windows for clear viewing and the scenery, including mountain panoramas, quaint villages and wooden chalets, forests and alpine pastures, is stunning. A dining car provides lunch and the mini-bar contains tilted wine glasses to counter the lean of the carriages along the steep mountainous route. The train can be taken in either direction, and if time is short it is possible to travel along a short section of the route, but either way it is advisable to make advance bookings as the train is very popular. There are several departures a day during summer and one a day in winter.
Website: www.glacierexpress.ch; Telephone: (084) 8642 442
Interlaken © Vinoth Chandar
InterlakenInterlaken, meaning 'between the lakes', is the tourist capital of the Bernese Oberland. As a popular holiday spot it is superbly situated between the lakes of Thun and Brienz, offering a variety of water-based activities during summer, and access to an endless amount of winter sports in the surrounding mountains of the Bernese Alps and its valleys. Linked to numerous holiday resorts and villages by a series of mountain railways and cablecars, Interlaken has a myriad of slopes and trails in many different areas offering skiing, snowboarding and hiking, as well as connecting to the famous cog railway leading to the plateau of the Jungfrau Mountain. During winter, skiers can take advantage of the town's low prices, avoiding the in-season costs of higher altitude ski resorts. With its many fine hotels, nightlife and dining opportunities, numerous excursion possibilities and first class transport connections, Interlaken is an ideal all-round holiday destination for both winter and summer, for skiers and non-skiers alike.