While the village of Grindelwald is pleasant, tucked into a green glacial valley and surrounded on all sides by towering mountains, it is best used as a gateway to explore the Bernese Oberland. From here it’s possible to get up close and personal to the north face of Mount Eiger, or continue on the railway to reach the Jungfraujoch, a land of snow and ice known as the “Top of Europe”. During winter, Grindelwald is also a great ski destination.
Of all the castles in Switzerland, of which there are many, the Chateau Chillon is arguably the most beautiful. Its location couldn’t be better as it’s nestled on a small outcrop on Lac Léman with the French and Swiss Alps looming around. Boasting the title of the most visited historical site in the entire country; once you are there, standing on the ramparts and looking out across the lake, it is not hard to understand why.
Chateau Chillon, Avenue de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux, Switzerland, +41 21 966 89 10
Near to Chateau Chillon is the resort town of Montreux, with an enviable position on the banks of Lac Léman. The highlight here is the annual Montreux Jazz Festival, the biggest of its kind in the world. Held between June and July, the Festival brings together some of names from the jazz scene. Outside of the festival season there’s still plenty to see! You’ll find beautiful trails leading into the surrounding country and a long flower-lined promenade that stretches all the way along to the nearby town of Vevey.
Interlaken prides itself for being the home of adventure in Switzerland for good reason. Built between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and with mountains all around, it’s an ideal place for hiking, skiing and much more. For leisure seekers, a boat cruise on the crystal-clear waters of the two nearby lakes is a good choice. Or for those looking for an adrenaline rush you can take advantage and dive headfirst from a helicopter or get a little wet while canyoning. It takes under an hour to get to Interlaken by train from Bern.
One hour from Bern takes you to Switzerland’s home of cheese. La Maison du Gruyères is an obvious must see as this is where the famous Les Gruyères, which is often used in fondue and raclette, is made. On a tour of the factory you’ll see the master cheese makers at work. Up hill from the factory is the old town and castle. Wandering through the cobbled streets is the perfect way to work off all that cheese.
Sitting on the banks of Lake Thun, is the medieval city of Thun – an hour’s drive of Bern. The main sight here is the Oberhofen castle, built by the Dukes of Zähringen around the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, that towers over the city. Inside is a museum featuring historical pieces from the region, dating back 900 years to when the castle was first built.