The Berner Oberland Bahnen AG (BOB) operates the cog-trains from Interlaken-Ost to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. It is important to know that the trains split in Zweilütschinen - one half of the train goes to Lauterbrunnen, the other half to Grindelwald. Make absolutely sure you sit in the right one, it is clearly displayed on the outside of the cars.
The BOB also runs the cog-train from Wilderswil to Schynige Platte, one of the most spectacular viewing points in the Bernese Alps and starting point for the famous hike to Bussalp - Faulhorn - First (-Grindelwald).
While the trains to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen run all year round, the Schynige Platte cog-train runs in summer only.
All the rail passes are valid on the trains to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, most passes give a discount for the Schynige Platte cog-train.
The most convenient mode of transportation to get to the Bernese Alps are certainly the trains. Several international routes cross/end in the area: You can travel w/o changes from Germany (Berlin, Rhineland e.g.), France, Italy (Milan e.g.) Hubs are the railway stations of Bern, Thun, Spiez and Interlaken-Ost. From there other trains, run by BLS (Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon Railway), Brünigbahn (to Luzern), MOB (Montreux-Oberland Bernoise Railway) or BOB (Berner Oberlandbahn) take you to the mountain towns, trail heads and cable cars.
Switzerland does not only have a sufficient railway system, one of the best in the world, but also an excellent working transportation SYSTEM that includes buses, boats and even mountain railways. Changes from one mode of transportation to another work perfectly, when you're getting off the train the bus is already waiting e.g.
Tickets can be bought for the whole trip, meaning from your departure point to your final destination, even if it includes trains, buses, mountain railways and boats. For reductions check the railpasses offered by Swiss Travel System (www.swisstravelsystem.ch) These passes often include museum admission, too, and other reductions.
For once, and to my shame (or irritation), I must admit I do not follow my own advice properly. The train connections from my home city to the Bernese Alps are neither convenient nor fast, not to mention the exorbitant fares. I'd have several changes, the trip would take about 11 hours, and the round trip ticket is several hundred bucks.
The cog-wheel-train to Schynigge Platte is another highlight in the Berner Alpen .
The train to Schynige Platte starts in Wilderswil, just about 3 km from Interlaken Ost. At first you take the ordinary train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and change to the cog-wheel-train to Schynige Platte in Wilderswil.The train to Schynige Platte dates back to the year 1893 and it was electrified already in 1914. The track of the cog-wheel-train is 7500 meters long and the difference in height is more than 1400 meters.
Schynige Platte is in a height of 1967 meters above sea-level and offers various attractions like
1)Teddyland - an attaraction for the whole family
2)the Alpengarten / alpine garden with 500 different alpine flowers
3)the Schynige Platte-restaurant and alpine-hotel:
Hotel Schynige Platte, CH-3800 Interlaken
Tel. +41 (0)33 822 34 31, Fax +41 (0)33 822 34 56
The train runs ONLY IN SUMMER:
between may 27th and October 15th in 2006
for other years please check at the link below !
The last train is leaving Schynige Platte at 06.00p.m. !
The ordinary return-ticket is 52 sfr from Wilderswil
It is included in the "Regionalpass Berner Oberland"
and in the Jungfraubahnen-Pass
We went there by bus from Karlsruhe and had no problems getting around with the bus. Just the tour to the Schynigge Platte was by train. Public transportation is very well organized as well!
Have a look at this great overview of public transportation in the Bernese Oberland!
In Meiringen, just a few km east of Brienz, you may see this great funicular, that will take you to the place, where Sherlock Holmes died. The Reichenbach-funicular dates back to 1899 and recently all of the old wagons and the whole track were modernized. The track is just 714 meters long, the height-difference is 244 meters.
Trains run ever 15 minutes and the ride will take 7 minutes. At the top-station you will find several paths leading up or down again. Zwirgi is a place above the Reichenbachfall - walking up there take 20 minutes, and from there you may drive down a "monster" - see my sporting-tip !
The funicular runs daily May till beginning of October:
09.00-11.45 a.m. + 01.15-05.45p.m. every 15 minutes
In July and August between 09.00a.m. and 06.00p.m. every 15 minutes !
There are lots of free parking-spaces at the station !
From Meiringen station you way walk there within 20 minutes
Berner Alpen does not exist only of high mountains, but also of lovely alpine lakes and some of them are big enough for cruise-ships. Brienzer See and Thuner See are the largest lakes in the Berner Alpen and cruising them is a lot of fun because both of them could easily be done within a single day, especially when you always stay on the cruiseships or choose the stations carefully, where you are leaving the ships, explore lovely places like Spiez, Schloss Oberhofen or Huenibach, Thun etc. and continue by the next ship.
All of the ships have a 1st class : the total upper deck, and a 2nd class in the lower decks.
Normally on mondays and at special days during the lower season day-tickets are available for both lakes for just 20 sfr / 13 Euros for both lakes.
All of the ships on Thunersee and Brienzersee belong to the swiss railway-system and are also included in the "Regionalpass Berner Oberland" !
The Ballenberg Bahn, a lovely museum-steam-train, is another quite popular attraction in the Berner Alpen. During the summer you may still take a ride at special dates with that historical train, the rest of the time you may see it in a shed at the end of track #4 at the station Interlaken Ost.
Ballenberg-Bahn is a museum-steam-train that used to go east of Brienz on a regular schedule many years ago. When you are lucky, there will be someone there to let you inside the shed, otherwise you may see at least the old wagons in front of the shed or you return on any friday at 02.00p.m., because every friday afternoon the shed is open for visitors !!
In summer the steam-train will make special tours according to these timetables :
http://www.dampfbahnen.ch - you may use the link below !
for prices click on "Preise" - it is a pity that everything is just in german, but I guess you may understand most of these infos anyway.
Several train-rides are done each year in July, September and October between Interlaken Ost and Giswil ( that is halfway between Brienz and Luzern - with a scenic ride going through Brienz and over the Bruenig-Pass)
Be careful, I spoiled one of my jackets , when I touched the steam-train in order to make the picture of the driver's place - coal-dust is everywhere and it will be hard to clean your clothes again !!
An old-fashioned funicular is waiting for the cruise-passengers in Giessbach, taking them directely to the lovely Grandhotel Giessbach. The old funicular is just 345 meters long and takes you up 90 meters in height. This funicular dates back to the glorious time of 1879, when most of the noble tourists arrived by steam-ship and would never have thought a second about taking a little walk uphills....
Still today you will always have a connecting funicular going down to the ship-station 5 minutes prior to the arrival of the ships and afterwards again a funicular going up to the hotel . Such a funicular is always connected by a thick rope with the oncoming wagon and they will meet in the middle of the track. In case of Giessbach-funicular only that wagon will be accessible, that is going TO the ship or FROM the ship.
The one-way-ticket is 4,50 sfr / return is 6 sfr
For holders of a "Regionalpass berner Oberland"
the returnticket is 4,50 sfr.
the funicular will only be operated, when a ship is arriving or leaving,because the ship-station is a "cul the sac" a place with a dead end.
First is another highlight of the Berner Alpen, although it is neglected by most of the tourists. From First you may take a fullday-tour to Schynigge Platte and get down again by another mountain-train to Wilderswil and from there it is just 1 station to Interlaken Ost with the ordinary train.
First is a mountain with a hight of 2168 meters above sea-level and it is a perfect point to start various mountain-hikes, from easy to energetic. At first you will have to take the train from Interlaken to Grindelwald and walk about 300 meters to the station of the First-cablecar.
The cablecar to First starts in the centre of Grindelwald, close to the Sunstar-hotel and there are 3 stations where you may leave the cablecar:
1)BORT in a height of 1570m : from here you may walk to Wetterhorn within 1:50 h or take an easy trail back to Grindelwald - hiking or by trotti-bike - see my sporting-tips about these funny vehicles
2)SCHRECKFELD in a height of 1955m is a great place to hike to Grosse Scheidegg
3)FIRST, in a height of 2168m : the starting-point for hikes to Bachalpsee, Faulhorn, Schynigge Platte etc.
The First-cablecar is included in most of the prepaid train-passes.
Kleine Scheidegg is one of the most popular destinations for tourists, because the train to Kleine Scheidegg is free for holders of most train-passes and it is also quite a cheap and easy opportunity to see the alpine peaks of Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau from a short distance. The cog-wheel-train to Kleine Scheidegg existed already a long time before the first plans for the train to Jungfraujoch were made. Trains to Kl.Scheidegg will leave from Lauterbrunnen via Wengen and also from the other side, from Grindelwald. You may easily distinguish all of the different trains in that area by their colors and the trains to Kleine Scheidegg will always be yellow on top and have green stripes at the bottom.
At Kleine Scheidegg you will have to change the train on a big platform. The changing-time is long enough in order to be able to buy the ticket to Jungfraujoch, BUT of course you may buy this ticket already at any train-station in Switzerland, where you start your journey.
I came with a "Regional Pass Berner Oberland" and had the tickets untill Kl.Scheidegg included and needed to buy a seperate ticket to Jungfrau.
All stations of the train to Kleine Scheidegg will provide automatic lockers for your luggage !
The Jungfraubahn is for most of the tourists certainly the main reason to come to the Berner Alpen around Interlaken. The trainline to Jungfraujoch will start at Kleine Scheidegg and will take you to the highest train-station in Europe: The jungfraujoch / Top of Europe. The tickets for Jungfraubahn will never be included in any Eurail-, Euro-Rail-, Interrail-tickets etc. , there will be ALWAYS be a minimum extra-charge of about 50 sfr (return-ticket). Jungfraubahnen-Pass and Regional-Pass Berner Oberland will give you a reduction of 50%.
In 1894 Adolf Guyer-Zeller had the idea of building a tunnel through the mountains in order to get from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfrau. In 1896 he started to build the Jungfraubahn and it took 16 years to build it. The final costs were 15.000.000sfr and Guyer-Zeller had the clever idea to include the 2 stations inside the mountain (Eigerwand & Eismeer) simply in order to be able to earn some money already, by taking tourists there, while the rest of the track was not finished yet. The Jungfraubahn was opened in 1912 and it is still the highest train-station in Europe.
Besides the fact that you may of course also hike up to Schilthorn from Muerren, you will have the possibility to choose between 2 different kinds of transportations , in order to get to the top of Piz Gloria / Schilthorn :
1)You may take the train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and change there to the bus taking you to Stechelberg. There you change to the Schilthorn-cablecar, that starts there with the 1st of its 4 sections in Stechelberg.
2)The other possibility is to take the train to Lauterbrunnen, Get out of the train at the station and walk about 3 minutes through a tunnel to the cable-car-station. You take first the cablecar from Lauterbrunnen to Gruetschalp and change there to the train going to Winteregg and Muerren. From there you take a walk of about 15-20 minutes across the village of Muerren, before you get to the cable-car-station to Schilthorn / Piz Gloria.
For both of these possibilities you should know :
Untill Muerren you may use your ordinary train-tickets, Eurotrain-, Interrail-tickets, Jungfraubahnen-Pass, Regional-Pass Berner Oberland etc.
In my opinion a visit to Schilthorn makes sense only in perfect weather-conditions !!
Even when you travel with any of the pre-paid train-passes, you still have to pay 32 sfr extra for the last 2 segments of the cablecar (Muerren-Birg and Birg-Schilthorn).
The ordinary price Muerren-Schilthorn is about 65 sfr !!
You may also get a "Muerren-Schilthorn-Ferienpass" - for 135 sfr you may use the following means of transportation without restrictions for 6 consecutive days:
the cablecars between Stechelberg & Schilthorn, betweeen Muerren & Allmendhubel, and all the trains between Lauterbrunnen & Muerren + the postbus Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg !
Lockers for your luggage are available at the station of Schilthornbahn in Muerren !
Brienz Rothornbahn is certainly one of the most charming railways that you may find in the Berner Alpen. Not far from Interlaken you may take one of the most spectacular steam-train-rides in Switzerland : Brienzer Rothorn-Bahn (BRB) dates back to the year 1891 and many of the trains of the time of the 19th century are still in use nowadays. In the 19th century the Rothorn-Kulm used to be the highest train-station in the world.
On top of Rothorn you may enjoy local specialities in 2 restaurants , walk up to the peak of Rothorn or hike down to Soerenberg at the north-side of Rothorn or go down to Soerenberg by cablecar. On the way to the top of Rothorn there are 3 stations with passing-places for the oncoming trains of the Rothornbahn, and at the 1st such station ( Planalp) the trains get fresh water and oil and you may get out for about 5 minutes in order to take some photographs !
Try to be at the station 20 minutes before the trains are leaving !
When going up the seats at the left will offer the best views in my opinion !
The 1st and maybe 2nd train in the morning are Diesel-trains !
Don't forget rain-gear and good walking-shoes !!
The weather may change all of a sudden on top of Rothorn !
The trains run between may 21st and October 23rd in 2005
for other years : take a look at the web-page below !
An ordinary return-ticket is 62 sfr / Halbtax: 50 sfr ! , and it is 100% included
in the "Regionalpass Berner Oberland"
When arriving in the Berner Alpen by your private car, it makes a lot of sense to buy a highway-sticker, even though it costs 40 sfr for the whole year. Driving from Bern to the alps on the highway saves you a lot of time. Driving with your own car in Interlaken and its surrounding is quite tricky, because the road along the southern bank of Brienzersee is ment to be a highway, although it does not look that way and you will have a single track for several km. For using the AUTOBAHN / highway in Switzerland - you will have to pay a " vignette " - a sticker or ticket to be attached behind your windscreen.
There are only 1-year-tickets available for the price of 40 sfr / 32 Euros and be aware, that there are high penalties, when they catch you without such a sticker on your windscreen.
Buy them at newspaper stands or directely at the border.
When arriving in Switzerland ON the Autobahn from another country, there will be an exit for all those NOT WILLING to buy a vignette...
I may highly recommend to buy this sticker, simply because many of the fast roads like the road along the southern shore of Lake Brienz are included in the highway-system, although there is only 1 track in each direction and only a very few places, where you may overtake others. And still you save 30 minutes driving-time between Brienz and Interlaken. Also in other parts of Switzerland you may get on a highway without realizing immediately !!
It depends how long you stay in the Berner Alpen and what mountain-trains are essential to use during your vacation : When staying for a longer period in Interlaken it might make sense to calculate also this special offer : It will depend on the duration of your vacation and of course also on a good weather-forecast and it might make sense to buy this train-pass :
Jungfraubahnen-pass is a special pre-paid train-ticket for 6 consecutive days and it is valid for the whole area between Interlaken Ost and Grosse Scheidegg, Kleine Scheidegg,Maennlichen, Wengen,Muerren,First,Grindelwald, Busalp, Harder Kulm and Schynigge Platte.
You may use all of these trains and buses totally for free for 6 days, only for the train between Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch you pay 50 sfr extra.
For the Schilthorn you have to pay the full price !! - In case that you intend to go to Schilthorn and/or Brienzer Rothorn as well , I may recommend to buy the "Regionalpass Berner Oberland" instead of Jungfraubahnen-Pass !!
The Jungfraubahnen-pass is 190 sfr for the 6 consecutive days !