One of the many wonderful things to do in Switzerland is to ride a cable car, funicular or mountain railway to the top of a mountain peak. There are tons and tons of choices for mountain excursions right across the country, and nowhere more so than in the Jungfrau Region.
But having such a huge choice of excursions can also cause a bit of a dilemma. Which ones do you choose and how will you afford them? It’s no secret that Switzerland is an expensive country and a cable car or mountain train ride can easily set you back 100 Swiss francs per adult.
That’s where transport – or rail – passes come in. With just one ticket, you can ride on mountain railways, cable cars and funiculars as well as the regular public transport system within a certain area.
On previous episodes of the podcast we’ve chatted about the Swiss Travel Pass and the Jungfrau Travel Pass and today it’s time to discover all the benefits of the Berner Oberland Pass (previously called the Regional Pass Berner Oberland).
My guest is Jana Amacher, who you might remember from episode 8. When that episode was recorded, Jana worked for Jungfrau Region Tourism and she gave us a great insight into the highlights of the region and the different towns and villages.
These days, Jana works for BLS, a regional railway company, and she’s the manager of the Regional Pass Berner Oberland. She’s going to tell us about the many inclusions of the Regional Pass – which include some famous and less-well known attractions, give us a suggested 3 day itinerary for the Jungfrau Region and tell us how much money can be saved by purchasing the Pass.
As always, I’d like to acknowledge the support of Switzerland Tourism who are the sponsors of the podcast. On their website myswitzerland.com you’ll find lots of helpful articles about the Jungfrau Region – and the rest of Switzerland – so make sure you check it out.
And remember, if you need the perfect shot, you need Switzerland.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- Jana’s background and career in the tourism industry
- What is the Berner Oberland Pass?
- How is the Berner Oberland Pass different to the Jungfrau Travel Pass?
- Durations and classes available
- How to qualify for reduced prices when purchasing the pass
- Using the pass
- Supplements payable for Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn excursions
- How much you can save using the Berner Oberland Pass
- Jana’s suggested 3-day itinerary
Regional-Pass Berner Oberland excursions and places mentioned in this episode
>> Jungfraujoch Top of Europe – one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist destinations, Jungfraujoch is home to Europe’s highest railway station. It can be reached by train or train and cable car. This excursion costs CHF 99 per adult with the Berner Oberland Pass.
>> Schilthorn – the location of the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, the summit of Schilthorn at 2,970 metres above sea level, offers incredible 360 degree views. It can be reached by cable car or train and cable car. This excursion costs CHF 43 with the Regional-Pass.
>> Mt. First – connected to Grindelwald by cableway, Mt. First is home to a range of adventure activities and a Cliff Walk. It’s also the starting point for many hikes including the hike to Bachalpsee, which is known as the ‘blue jewel of the Alps’. The Grindelwald-First cable car is free with the Regional-Pass.
>> Schynige Platte – reached by cogwheel railway from Wilderswil (free with the Regional-Pass), Schynige Platte boats an alpine botanical garden, nature cinema, restaurant, playground and a small museum.
>> Harder Kulm – a ten minute funicular ride takes visitors to the summit of Interlaken’s home mountain where they can enjoy views of the Alps and Lakes Thun and Brienz from the Two Lakes Bridge. Travel on the funicular is included with the Berner Oberland Pass.
>> Brienz Rothorn – this steam train ride (free with the Regional-Pass) transports passengers from Brienz to the top of the Brienzer Rothorn. There’s a restaurant, numerous hiking trails and stunning views. Read more about the Brienz Rothorn Bahn.
>> Mt. Niesen – luckily visitors don’t need to climb the world’s longest staircase (10,000+ stairs) to reach the summit of Mt. Niesen. Instead they can board the funicular (free with the Regional-Pass) for the ride to the top. As well as a playground, restaurant, and of course hiking trails, there are 360 degree views that will take your breathe away.
>> Reichenbach Falls – situated in Meiringen, Reichenbach Falls were the scene of fictional character Sherlock Holmes’ death. A funicular transports visitors to a lookout for great views of the falls. The funicular ride is discounted for holders of the Regional-Pass.
>> Oeschinensee – this turquoise lake is often called the prettiest lake in the Alps. It can be reached by a cable car from Kandersteg (included with the Regional-Pass).
>> Gelmersee – The Gelmerbahn, the world’s steepest funicular (106 degree gradient), takes passengers on an enjoyable ride to Gelmersee. Discounted ticket prices apply to holders of the Berner Oberland Pass.
>> Lauensee – a lake above Gstaad which can be reached by bus (fare fully included with Regional-Pass).
These are just some of the included and discounted excursions and attractions available for holders of the Berner Oberland Pass.
Jana’s suggested 3-day Bernese Oberland itinerary
Day 1: Travel by cogwheel train for free to Schynige Platte, hike to First (about 6 hours), visit Bachalpsee, enjoy the First adventure activities like Cliff Walk and then take the gondola back to Grindelwald. The cogwheel train and gondola are both included in the Regional-Pass, as is travel on regular trains within the Bernese Oberland.
Day 2: Take a train to Lauterbrunnen and visit Staubbach Falls, then take a train to Wengen with great views to Lauterbrunnen and the valley. From Wengen, travel to Männlichen with the Royal Ride (balcony on the gondola), enjoy the Royal Walk (about 20 minutes), have lunch at Berggasthaus Männlichen, then take the gondola to Grindelwald Terminal.
From there, take the bus to Pfingstegg, go to Pfingstegg with zip line and toboggan run. If there is still time visit the Glacier Gorge Grindelwald and enjoy climibing on the spider web (on some evenings it will be illuminated).
Day 3: Take a train from Interlaken to Meiringen, then a cable car to Alpentower for views of 401 mountain peaks. A great brunch buffet is available at Alpentower. Do some hiking or take the gondola back to Meiringen, visit Frutal Meiringen to enjoy some Meringues (the birthplace of them is Meiringen).
Then take a postal bus from Meiringen to Grosse Scheidegg. On the way, make a stop at Glacier Gorge Rosenlaui (this takes 1 hour then you can take the next bus), continue on to Chalet Schwarzwaldalp where there is an old sawmill, before continuing on to Grindelwald by bus and then returning to your start point by train.
Jana also suggests taking the funicular to Harder Kulm one evening to enjoy dinner overlooking Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
SAVINGS TO BE MADE: The regular cost of the transport for this itinerary is CHF 450 per adult. With a 3-day Berner Oberland Pass you would save CHF 200 per adult.
If you plan to use your Berner Oberland Pass mostly for mountain railways, 2nd class pass is fine. Should you be planning longer train rides in the region, especially the scenic train rides such as the Luzern-Interlaken Express or the GoldenPass Line, then a 1st class pass is recommended.
Try and book a seat on the right hand side of the train if you are travelling from Interlaken to Luzern on the Luzern-Interlaken Express. On the return trip, try to sit on the left.
>> My step-by-step guide to choosing the best Swiss rail pass for your trip
> > Buy your Berner Oberland Pass here
>> View and download a map showing the area covered by the Berner Oberland Pass > here
More helpful articles:
- My detailed guide to the Berner Oberland Pass
- Interlaken and Jungfrau Region Travel Guide
In episode 8 of the podcast, I chatted to Jana about the top things to do in the Jungfrau Region.
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This episode is sponsored by Switzerland Tourism
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