Free Roam: Autumn in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland

Free Roam: Autumn in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland

Autumn in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland region offers natural wellness via glassy lakes and scenic hikes – minus the crowds. All aboard for an autumnal journey through the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland region.

In partnership withSwitzerland Tourism

Switzerland and you no doubt imagine a diorama of
silvery mountains marbled with snow. But in autumn those peaks
adopt an entirely new splendour, lain with a carpet of crunchy
leaves and draped in a ruddy-hued appliqué. One of our favourite
places to experience so-called “off-season” Switzerland? The
Bernese Oberland region.

This majestic landscape sings in autumn, when summer’s
wildflowers are slowly kissing goodbye to the mountain passes, the
climate is ideal for brisk hikes and seasonal festivals spring into
life. Fewer tourists mean it’s easier to wangle a table at the
region’s best restaurants too.

It would be easy to assume that navigating these lesser-visited
parts – buying tickets, finding connections, getting off at the
right stop without forgetting your luggage – would be a feat as
challenging as summiting the towering Jungfrau. Not so.

Switzerland is home to the world’s most dense public transport
network, a fact that may sound jarring with nature, but in reality
manifests as eco-friendly train, bus and boat services that cast a
web across the Bernese Oberland and beyond.

Thanks to the Swiss Travel System’s all-in-one ticket, the Swiss Travel Pass, and synchronised
timetables, joining the dots between the transport system’s 22,000
stops is a doddle – so much so that this is the way locals get
around too. You’ll no doubt rub shoulders with a few Alpöhi en
route. Ask them where to find the best fondue in town.

Tracing Switzerland’s railway lines, cableways and hairpin turns
is the best way to get a real sense of this captivating country.
Travelling south by train, a diverse showreel flickers through
panoramic windows: Alpine passes give way to glacial falls, meadows
of grazing cows and the unexpectedly Mediterranean lakes.

Step back in time on the Giessbachbahn, which has rattled past
woodland and waterfalls by Lake Brienz since 1879, or marvel at
technological innovation on the Gelmer funicular – one of Europe’s
steepest. With the Swiss Travel Pass as your companion, you can
also get a free fix of 20th-century art in Bern’s Zentrum Paul

We’re shaking off city stresses and embarking on an adventure
that’ll take us from wellness-oriented Gstaad to the cyan lakes of
Interlaken and the magnificent Jungfrau. Join us for the ride.


50 minutes by train from Bern

Few antidotes are as effective at washing away urban fatigue
than the sound of water lapping against a reed-cushioned lakeside.
So-called for its position between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz,
Interlaken is ideal for city dwellers in need of a breather.

A hike in the wildlife-rich Bernese Oberland is best wrapped up
with sundowners at the palatial Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. You could
skirt Lake Brienz before finding a perch on the terrace of Boutique Hotel Bellevue in the sleepy village of
Iseltwald. Alternatively, make tracks to Interlaken proper, where
the gourmet restaurant La Terrasse offers a taste of French-Swiss
fare. Round off your meal with a rooftop digestif at Hotel
, gazing at the glistening lakes below. This is the
good life, Bernese style.


Two hours by train from Bern

This town does wellness well. There’s a reason that many
glamorous high-fliers roost in Gstaad’s fairy-tale chalets – beyond
them lie Instagram-ready vistas threaded with paths of cyclists and
ramblers past. Fill a backpack with Gstaad’s most redolent cheeses,
grab an e-bike and weave among fir trees and meadows to Lake
Lauenen for an al fresco picnic.

For dinner, we’ve got our eye on traditional Swiss fare. Make
tracks to Saagi Stübli, a wooden bunker known for reeling in and
dishing up some of the town’s best local produce. From here it’s
just a short bus ride to design-hotel HUUS – just the
place to have mountain-wearied muscles pummelled into obeisance or
whipped back into shape for another day on the hillside.

Jungfrau Region

1 hour 20 minutes from Bern to Lauterbrunnen

This “young woman” mountain region is Mother Nature and then
some. Among the gushing waterfalls and thorny peaks (once trodden
by J.R.R. Tolkien) is a network of minute villages connected by one
of the world’s most beguiling railways.

Use Hotel Aspen in Grindelwald as a base from which to explore
the must-see mountain passes of Schynige Platte, reachable via the
Bernese Oberland Railway, Harder Kulm or Kleine Scheidegg, or skim
dramatic cliff-edges en route to the lofty Sphinx Observatory.
Hankering for a hike? Trek to Lake Bachalpsee or seek out remote
Lake Oberhornsee, followed by a candlelit dinner at historic
guesthouse Obersteinberg Berggasthaus.

The Lowdown

For more information, visit

Find out more about the various rail passes here:

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