The Bernese Oberland in Switzerland is home to a wide variety of fun, summertime, outdoor activities that will almost certainly quench your insatiable thirst for adventure. Last year, we sent Jenny Jones and Hersha Patel out there to report back on the area’s offering and, well, it’s fair to say they enjoyed themselves. Here’s what they got up to during their visit, and why you should follow suit and get yourself out there this summer.
From Interlaken to Jungfraujoch, via Schynige Platte, Grindelwald, Wengen and Lauterbrunnen, it’s no exaggeration to say our three days in the Bernese Oberland were bursting, at that critical place where the production itinerary was stapled together, with some of the very best destinations imaginable. The same could be said of the sheer stack of ‘fun activities’ we managed to work our way through within just a 72-hour window. Kayaking, whitewater rafting, scenic train riding, nature-embracing, mountain-admiring and glacier exploring; yes, our time in the Bernese Oberland really really was absolutely chockablock with experiences we’ll never, ever, forget.
Kayaking On Lake Brienz
Water so still, so calm, it feels like you’re paddling across the surface of a photograph? Yes, it doesn’t get much more dreamy than this. After waking up in Interlaken, Hersha and Jenny took some kayaks out on Lake Brienz and soaked up the genuinely stunning views on offer. You don’t need us to tell you that Switzerland is home to some of the most breathtaking lakes on the planet. Be sure to go for a paddle when you’re in this neck of the woods.
To make the most of the heart-melting lake-based goodness on offer at Interlaken, and really there’s no excuse not to, consider getting yourself on a guided kayak tour. We’re big fans of the Hightide Kayak School for that activity (shoutout to our main guy there Dave Storey), and would recommend them to any visitor looking to really embrace the outdoors in the region this summer. Whatever your kayaking level, you’re unlikely to have any problems here by the way. Interlaken’s water is tranquil, and easily paddled by both kayaking amateurs and experts alike.
Visiting Interlaken at a colder, more wintry, time of year? Don’t let that stop you from kayaking here. In fact, there’s a case to be made that says the winter kayaking in Interlaken is even better than the summer kayaking offering. No, really. It’s true. Anyway, that’s probably enough about kayaking in Interlaken. It’s time to discuss another of our trip’s water sports…
Speaking of ‘going for a paddle’, if you’re looking to take things up a notch on the water (and get a little more extreme in Switzerland this summer) why not try a whitewater rafting experience? Hersha P and Jenny J got properly stuck in during their visit to the Bernese Oberland, and we’re happy to report that they both lived to tell the tale. Get the adrenaline flowing, go full Sandra Bullock in Bird Box (minus the monsters, and the blindfold), get paddling on some rapids with your crew.
River rafting in Interlaken is an opportunity not to be missed. Book yourself an experience, and grab with both paddle-wielding hands your big chance to get up close and personal with the wild mountain streams of the Bernese Oberland. With the help of an experienced river guide, you and your crew will safely steer your raft through some genuinely chaotic rapids. Splash, splash, splash, splash, splash, splash, splash, splash, and splash some more. There’ll be a lot of splashing.
The Bernese Oberland has two white-water rivers that honestly look like they’ve been handcrafted for river rafting by some whitewater-loving higher power. For the brave among you, Lütschine is where it’s at. It’s a glorious mix of wild rapids and action dialled all the way up to 11. Does it get bumpy? In short, yes… yes it does. Simme, on the other hand, offers a more gentle adventure for families and friendship groups. Whichever route you decide to take, you’ll have yourself a team-bonding blast that’s for sure. River rafting is, it’s important to note, only available from May to mid September. Make sure you plan ahead.
Take a Train
Taking the train is a much more environmentally-friendly and ‘Swisstainable’ way of travelling round Switzerland and, what’s more, it will serve up views that will forever make the 8:43am train out of Basildon feel comparatively disappointing. The highly old school Schynige Platte train will get you up above Interlaken, and serve up the best kind of ‘pinch me, I must be dreaming’ views. Ask Jenny and Hersha for their thoughts on this particular train, and they’ll tell you how much they loved getting next level looks at three iconic Swiss mountains while riding it (the Mönch, the Eiger, and the Jungfrau).
While we’re on the subject of taking a train in this corner of Switzerland, make sure you pay a visit to the Jungfraujoch railway station like Hersha and Jenny. Sitting at a truly incredible 3,454 metres above sea level, it’s the final port of call for the famous Jungfrau Railway and Europe’s highest train station (yes, it’s considerably higher than Basildon’s train station). The views on offer up here really are something else. Check it out.
The physical and mental benefits of being surrounded nature are already well documented. Get yourself to the Bernese Oberland, go for a hike under the sun, and enjoy getting up close with some of Switzerland’s seriously nice flowers. Yellow gentians, anyone? Rhodiola rosea? The iconic edelweiss mountain flower? How about all of the above, and more? Swiss nature is, quite frankly, the good stuff.
The Alpengarten (‘Alpine Garden’) is a must experience for anyone visiting the Bern Oberland in summer. There are about 750 different varieties of flowers grown here, and thanks to our guide Paul, who’s worked in the garden for 25 years, we managed to get some expert knowledge on loads of them.
Some days while on holiday in the Bernese Oberland, you won’t be able to resist getting fully stuck into the adrenaline-pumping mountain activities on offer. On different days, however, there’s something to be said for just taking it easy and surrounding yourself with beautiful flowers in amongst breathtaking alpine terrain. Find some time this summer, and be sure to get this zen experience on your list.
The Waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen Valley
Lauterbrunnen’s valley has an astonishing, barely believable, 72 waterfalls. As if that wasn’t enough (honestly, we love waterfalls at Mpora… it’s a bit of an obsession), the valley also serves up some of the region’s most memorable alpine views. That’s no mean feat in a region with quite as many magnificent views as the Bernese Oberland. If you’re worried you won’t have time to tick off all 72 waterfalls by the way, we can point you in the right direction. Staubach Waterfall is the one waterfall here you absolutely do not want to miss. Photograph it from as many angles as you possibly can. It’s out of this world.
Look At The Mountains… Look At The Views
Come to the Bernese Oberland, get yourself on the region’s viewing platforms (there’s even one on top of a gondola, it’s called the Royal Ride Wengen), and stare longingly at the mountains. Take photographs, pretend your Jack and Rose in Titanic (just like Hersha and Jenny did) and give yourself the luxury of a moment’s quiet contemplation in amongst some of the world’s most epic terrain. On clear days in the Bernese Oberland, you can see for miles… and miles… and miles. If you’ve ever wanted to bag yourself a shot of the Eiger’s iconic north face, you can tick that one off the bucket list here.
Go Inside An Actual Glacier
We’ve already mentioned the Jungfrau Railway in this article but it’s so good, and gets you to such a good place, that we’re more than happy to mention it again. Take it from Wengen all the way up to Jungfraujoch (Europe’s highest train station at 3,454 metres), remembering to bag yourself some photographs as you go. The view of the Mönch you’re confronted with when you get off the train is priceless, and if it’s clear day you’ll be able to see all the way to Marseille in France in one direction and all the way to Germany’s Black Forest in the other direction. The view of Jungfrau from up here is, it’s worth pointing out, extraordinary as well.
There’s something really, really, (n)ice about exploring glaciers and we didn’t want to write about our adventure here without shining a light on it. Ice above, ice to the sides, ice below; ice everywhere you look, you in the middle of it all, surrounded by, yes, ice. If you want to feel like you’re on some alien world, without leaving the also otherworldly mountains of Switzerland, you can do that by doing some glacier exploration up around Jungfrau just like Jenny and Hersha did. If you’re anything like those two, you won’t be able to resist the urge to slide down icy corridors. Childish, sure, but undeniably fun as well.
Once you’re done with the incredible mountain views and super fun glacier exploring up here, continue your adventure in Switzerland by heading on down to Grindelwald.
More information on Interlaken: interlaken.ch
More information on the Jungfrau Region: jungfrauregion.swiss