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Self-guided Bernese Oberland Traverse (Inn-to-inn hiking tour)
Hiking hut-to-hut on the Bernese Oberland tour
Length: 11 days
Hike Rating: Strenuous
Dates:   June-September
Budget Tour Cost:  $2190 per person
$200 single supplement
Standard Tour Cost:  $2890 per person
$300 single supplement

Swiss tour reservation

I consider this to be our signature tour, a superb trip that covers the most scenic and challenging sections of the Alpine Pass Route across the Bernese Oberland region. Our tour differs from most tours of the Bernese Oberland by adding a couple of memorable detours to areas that should not be missed, such as Obersteinberg and Gasterntal, and a layover day in Mürren to allow more time in the best hiking region of the Alps. The Bernese Oberland tour is a beautiful collection of supreme alpine scenery, remote inns, and quiet trails. On this inn-to-inn tour, you'll hike to a new location almost every day, crossing many passes, and will stay in a combination of 3-star village hotels and traditional country inns. The standard tour includes luggage transfers and stays in a mix of 3-star village hotels and remote mountain inns, while the budget version stays almost every night in simpler guesthouses and mountain inns. On either version, luggage can be transported separately from village to village, so you will have it with you most nights, and only need to carry a large daypack. This is a great inn-to-inn tour for experts and beginners alike, with plenty of strenuous trails along with great easier options most days.

Your typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast at our hotel - a feast of freshly baked bread and croissants, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, eggs, coffee and juice - which gives you the energy needed for the day ahead. a hearty breakfast before the hikeBefore setting out on your hike, visit a bakery and market for lunch supplies, or bring some money for a stop in one of the alpine restaurants along your route. Soon, you'll be out on the trail for 6-8 hours, with many hiking options to choose from.

You should finish your hike around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax, perhaps settle into the pool, or just gaze upon the outside panorama from your room balcony. After that, you'll enjoy dinner at your hotel restaurant most nights. These are multi-course feasts, often centered on local specialties like bratwurst, rösti, or cheese fondue. Our hotels all serve fabulous food, and dinners will be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious.

You'll have many hikes to choose from, but here are some of our favorites:

Day 1 Arrive in Switzerland, and transfer by train to the quiet town of Meiringen to start the Bernese Oberland tour. Waterfalls and imposing mountains watch over you in this relaxing corner of the Alps. Alternately, you can spend your first night in a quiet mountain inn above Meiringen. (Meiringen or Schwarzwaldalp)
Day 2 After a hearty breakfast, a start from the quiet meadows around Schwarzwaldalp, where you'll hike over the Grosse Scheidegg pass and enjoy your first views of the Eiger and of the Grindelwald valley. With 10,000 vertical feet separating valley from peak, Grindelwald sits at the base of one of the most impressive vertical mountain walls in the world, anchored by the mighty North Wall of the Eiger. Perhaps you'll detour via the postcard-perfect Bachsee lake before winding down to the glacier village of Grindelwald to your hotel. (Grindelwald)
Hiking below the Eiger in the Bernese Oberland Day 3 Today you'll explore the Grindelwald valley and hike to the famous Kleine Scheidegg pass. The entire day is dominated by great close-up views of the Eiger North Face - perhaps the most notorious climb in the Swiss Alps. Descend to the quiet car-free village Wengen for a restful night. (Wengen)
Day 4 You'll enjoy spectacular views of the Jungfrau and surrounding mountains on the way down from Wengen. Your trail winds through flowery meadows and dense woods to the lush Lauterbrunnen valley floor. After a break for lunch, continue hiking to Obersteinberg, a wild and isolated corner of the Lauterbrunnen valley, for a memorable night in a remote mountain inn in one of the most spectacular corners of the Bernese Oberland. (Obersteinberg)
Day 5 You have a couple of trail options today - the first, a panoramic climb over a high ridge with breathtaking views in every direction, the second, a beautiful wooded hike filled with waterfalls. Both brings you through sleepy Gimmelwald to the car-free village of Mürren, with its unparalleled cliffside views of the surrounding mountains. This marks the end of Part A of the tour. (Mürren)
Day 6 There are numerous dayhike possibilities around Mürren. One beautiful trail leads up to the local peak, Birg, for superb all-around views, and past a small glacial tarn. Or feel free to just unwind in one of the most scenic and relaxing villages in the Alps. Begin Part B of the Bernese Oberland Traverse. (Mürren)
Day 7 The trail meanders back into the deep recesses of the Sefinen valley before crossing the first of two major passes, Sefinenfurke, into the tiny hamlet of Griesalp. A moderate but long climb past Rotstock hut and over the pass, followed by a very steep descent, is rewarded by a welcome at your rustic and pretty inn. (Griesalp)
Day 8 You'll need an early start for your most challenging day of the tour. Obersteinberg is a favorite stop on the Bernese Oberland tourCrossing the second major pass, Hohtürli, you'll hike past glaciers and high mountain peaks to the jewel-like Oeschinen lake - an emerald-green lake surrounded by cliffs which has to be seen to be believed. Stay in the quiet village of Kandersteg for the night. Dinner on your own in Kandersteg tonight. (Kandersteg)
Day 9 You'll quickly escape town on a quiet path leading south towards the Klus gorge. The power of the Kander river is impressive as you climb through this narrow gorge into the hidden Gasterntal valley. This is a picture-perfect hideaway - a small, U-shaped valley, carpeted with wildflowers and guarded by savage cliffs. Waterfalls bursting from the sides of cliffs add to the scenery. Stay in a pleasant inn with great mountain and waterfall views. (Gastern valley)
Day 10 For your grand finale, one of our favorite hikes is a strenuous climb to the nearby Lötschen pass. Old Roman trails lead through meadows and woods, past a couple of hanging valleys, with a short stretch across a glacier, to the small hut at the pass where the views to the south are superb! Return to the same inn at the bottom of the valley that night. A fitting way to end a great tour. (Gastern valley)
Day 11 Today you say good-bye to the Bernese Oberland and depart for Kandersteg and your post-tour destinations.

Swiss tour reservation

Arrive: Plan to arrive the day your tour begins at the latest (flights from the US would depart the day before). The closest airport is Zurich, where there is a train station at the airport that will take you to Meiringen.
Depart: Plan departure for the day after your tour finishes at the earliest. Plan on one night at a hotel in your departure city if you have a morning flight (we can set this up if you like).

Prefer a guided tour? Check out our guided Bernese Oberland Traverse or similar Bernese Oberland Highlights tours, or ask about a private guide for your family or group. If you'd prefer a village-based tour for easier hikes, check out our Murren and Grindelwald-based Jungfrau tour.

Read Herb Terns' account of his Obersteinberg hike on an Alpinehikers self-guided tour in 2011.



Self-guided Bernese Oberland, Parts A and B

Hiking hut-to-hut on the Bernese Oberland tour Length: 6 days, 5 nights
Hike Rating: Moderate-Strenuous

For those without the time to devote to the full Bernese Oberland Tour, we can also arrange half the tour as a self-guided tour. Part A starts in Meiringen, and crosses two moderate passes on the way to Mürren. It's a beautiful route, passing many of Switzerland's most famous mountains and waterfalls, and is a good choice for early-season hikes, families, and people of varying abilities. Part B picks up in Mürren, with two strenuous passes on the way to the Gastern valley near Kandersteg. This stretch is more challenging, and generally shouldn't be hiked until July. For strong hikers, it offers quieter trails and more off-the-beaten-path destinations. Either half is a wonderful tour. Please ask if you have questions about which is right for you. We can also arrange a beautiful 5 night tour, from Wengen to Kandersteg, for the same price.

Dates:   June-September
Budget Tour Cost:  $1490 per person
$150 single supplement
Standard Tour Cost:  $1890 per person
$200 single supplement


Self-guided Bernese Oberland Traverse, 8 day

Length: 8 days, 7 nights
Hike Rating: Strenuous,   5-8 hours/day,   2500'-4500' elevation gain/loss

Our favorite 8-day stretch of the Bernese Oberland Traverse is simply nights 2-8 of the full tour, starting in Grindelwald and finishing in Kandersteg. If you don't have time for the full 11-day tour, this is a great option.

Dates:   June-September
Budget Tour Cost:  $1790 per person
$150 single supplement
Standard Tour Cost:  $2290 per person
$250 single supplement



Self-guided Bernese Oberland Traverse, details:

Find quiet corners of the Bernese Oberland Our self-guided prices are per person, based on two people sharing a standard double room, and include:
Budget tour: 10 nights prepaid mountain inns and simple hotels, private room with shared bathroom, 10 breakfasts, 2 dinners (in Obersteinberg and Griesalp), 2nd class Swiss Transfer Ticket rail pass for 2 free days of rail travel.
Standard tour: 6 nights village hotels with private room and bathrooom, 4 nights mountain inns, private room with shared bathroom, 10 breakfasts, 8 dinners (dinner not included in Meiringen or Kandersteg), 2nd class Swiss Transfer Ticket rail pass, luggage transfers between villages (1 bag/person).

All self-guided tours include hiking maps, detailed route descriptions (including longer, shorter, and rainy day options), train schedules, sightseeing suggestions, and lots of useful information to help ensure a successful trip. You'll also have a local contact to call if you have any questions or problems during your trip.

The standard tours include dinner all nights except in Meiringen and Kandersteg (nights 1 and 8 of the full tour). On the 8-day tour, Grindelwald to Kandersteg, we include dinner all nights except for your 2nd night in Murren. Standard tours include luggage transfers between villages. You will not have your luggage while at the mountain inns on nights 4 and 7 of the full tour. Pricing assumes 1 bag per person transferred between inns, but additional bags can be added for an extra cost. The budget tours include dinner only at Obersteinberg and Griesalp (nights 4 and 7 of the full tour), and while luggage transfers are not included in the budget tour, you can easily do this yourself by train (about $12 per bag per transfer).

Not included are lunches, drinks with dinners, extras (such as laundry, phone calls from the room, etc), or transportation to and from trailheads.

If you'd like to lengthen or shorten this tour, add destinations, or create a customized tour of Switzerland from scratch, let us know. We have extensive experience all over Switzerland, and will be happy to work with you to build the hiking vacation that best suits your needs.

Learn more about custom and self-guided tours


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