Though lesser known to international tourists, Meiringen has lots to offer visitors to Switzerland. Despite being off the beaten track somewhat, the area has spectacular scenery and is an ideal destination for families as there is plenty to keep younger guests occupied.
Meiringen is a municipality in the canton of Bern. It forms part of the Haslital area, which in turn belongs to the Jungfrau Region. This area is also home to more familiar resort towns such as Interlaken and Grindelwald.
Things to do in Meiringen, Switzerland include marvelling at natural wonders like waterfalls and gorges, enjoying the picturesque landscapes while taking to the trails and slopes on foot, skis or by mountain bike, and exploring the Sherlock Holmes and outdoor museums.
If you feel like discovering one of Switzerland’s best kept secrets, this guide is here to help you plan your holiday in the Meiringen area.
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Before you travel to the Jungfrau Region
These two passes offer free and discounted transport on trains, buses, boats, cable cars and funiculars in the region. The Regional Pass Berner Oberland also offers free and discounted admission to a number of other attractions.
Read more about the passes and what they cover on the links below:
Where is Meiringen?
Meiringen is located within the Haslital area, which can be found in the very heart of Switzerland between the Grosse, Scheidegg, Brünig, Susten and Grimsel passes. The region offers a balance of family friendly, sporting and cultural pursuits during both the summer and winter seasons, many of which are accessed via the Meiringen-Hasliberg cable car.
In summer, hiking is one of the most popular activities in the Haslital area. The region boasts several hundred kilometres of both biking routes and hiking trails.
In Meiringen, visitors can also immerse themselves in the Hasli dwarves’ whimsical world, where children will be delighted to spot the ‘real’ characters going about their business.
The colder season is for many a time to enjoy winter sports on the elevated Hasliberg plateau. At almost 2,250 metres above sea level, Planplatten is the highest peak. There are 15 ski lifts in the area, plus snowshoe trails, cross-country skiing routes and three long tobogganing tracks.
Visitors can also explore the region’s winter walking trails.
Top things to do in Meiringen and surrounds
If you’d like to know more about what to do in Meiringen, read on to discover the highlights of this photogenic and welcoming area.
Sherlock Holmes Museum and statue
As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character’s demise occurred at nearby Reichenbach Falls, Meiringen has a museum and statue devoted to fiction’s most famous detective.
Meiringen is in fact home to a faithful reproduction of the Baker Street house’s parlour – the only one in the world – which was created in accordance with descriptions found in the series of books.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum in Meiringen has been operating since the 100th anniversary of the detective’s ‘death’. Its collection includes a carefully curated selection of authentic exhibits, including some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s belongings, as well as relics representing the Victorian era – and of course Sherlock Holmes himself.
There is also a life-sized Sherlock Holmes statue in Conan Doyle Place outside the museum. On the sculpture there are 60 ‘clues’, all taken from the detective stories, and this puzzle can be solved inside the museum.
At around 120 metres high, mighty Reichenbach Falls was the scene of Sherlock Holmes’ fabricated death.
The Falls are also home to a restored funicular railway, complete with wooden carriages that now transport visitors to almost 850 metres above sea level. The funicular was originally used for a more functional purpose, as a route to and from the electricity works.
Reichenbach Falls has three viewing platforms for those photo opportunities and ‘wow’ moments.
For the active, there are various trails leading hikers via Aare or Rosenlaui Glacier Gorges or historic Rosenlaui to the scenic Haslital valley.
The Aare Gorge has been formed over a prolonged period of time, when the force of the Aare River – Switzerland’s longest – forged a deep groove in the limestone rock.
In some parts, the gorge is around 200 metres deep, yet it is very slender – it’s just over one metre wide at various points.
It’s now possible to hike through the whole gorge via a series of tunnels and walkways traversing the rock. This is a fairly easy trek, and can be completed in under an hour.
At 2,250 metres above sea level, the Alpen Tower above Meiringen offers visitors the chance to enjoy 360° panoramas over 401 peaks and the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz. The tower is also home to a hugely popular panorama restaurant.
The Alpen Tower is also the starting point for various hiking trails, and there is also a kids’ adventure playground at the site.
The Meiringen-Hasliberg cableway transports passengers to Alpen Tower via Reuti, Bidmi and Magisalp. More info here >>
Rosenlaui Valley and Glacier Gorge
As at Aare Gorge, visitors to the Rosenlaui Glacier Gorge can witness the power of water, where nature has forged a deep groove between that slate and chalk rock faces.
Seeing this area is to enjoy some uniquely Swiss sights, such as alpine meadows, rugged cliffs, traditional wooden huts, intimate grottoes and thundering waters.
A hike is required to view the gorge, and a safe path has been created for this very purpose. This leads past swirling, bubbling and refreshing waters as well as the smooth, glossy chalk surfaces that form narrow tunnels in some places.
The attractions of the nearby Grimsel region include the Gelmerbahn funicular to Gelmersee, Trift Bridge and Glacier, and the historic Hotel Grimsel Hospiz.
Gelmerbahn is the steepest open funicular in Europe with a gradient of 106%. Formerly used to carry building materials, it now takes visitors from the valley station at Handegg to over 1,850 metres above sea level.
This trip is a memorable experience in itself, but many also plan a hike around Gelmersee Lake or up to the Gelmerhütte shelter in the mountains whilst in the area.
The Gelmerbahn operates from the end of May until late October each year.
Trift Glacier and suspension bridge
Poised 100 metres above the waters of the Trift Glacier, the 170 metre long Trift suspension bridge is surely one of the most breathtaking pedestrian walkways on the planet.
Built in 2009, in the style of the Nepalese high wire bridges, the Trift Bridge is considered to be one of the highest and longest suspension bridges in the Alps.
Reaching the bridge takes a bit of effort. First, there’s a cable car ride which brings you to the area close to the bridge, and then it’s a 1.5 hour hike to the bridge itself. The views of the turquoise glacial waters and the retreating glacier are well worth the effort.
The Trift Suspension Bridge is open from June to October.
Hotel Grimsel Hospiz
The Hotel Grimsel Hospiz is perched at over 2,500 metres above sea level, with a dramatic backdrop created by the rugged alpine peaks that surround it.
This building is mentioned in documents dating back as far as the 12th century, and was the first ever European hotel to have electric heating installed. Now, its wine cellar, deep in the rocks, is one of the main draws, and over 300 wines are stored here.
Overlooking the Grimsel Reservoir, this historic hotel once served as the home for construction workers and miners from the hydropower station for which the reservoir was built.
The Hospiz now attracts both overnight guests and day trippers who can enjoy a meal or drink on the sunny terrace with panoramic views.
Ballenberg Open Air Museum
Ballenberg Open Air Museum is a treat for all the family, especially on a sunny day. Here visitors of all ages can explore history, gastronomy, culture and nature.
Ever since the 1970s, any old Swiss buildings such as bakehouses, stables, barns or farm houses are taken to Ballenberg rather than being demolished. This means there are now over 100 historic structures from all over rural Switzerland at the site.
Ballenberg also offers a petting zoo, daily handicraft demonstrations, gardens, historic toy exhibits, forest trails and special events where people can learn about local customs and culture.
The Open Air Museum is open from mid-April until the end of October.
Alpbach Gorge Cliff Walk
The cliff walk at Alpbach Gorge commences at the Hasliberg-Meiringen cable car station. From here, an upward trail directs hikers through the gorge. It’s not for the faint-hearted due to the elevation and challenging terrain.
Taking climbing equipment is recommended, and the gorge is only passable during drier, warmer weather. If you do visit during summer and are feeling sure-footed, the hike provides a rush of adrenaline as well as those spectacular views.
If you are visiting the area with children and are wondering what to do in Meiringen to keep them occupied, look no further. Popular family friendly activities include the marble run, dwarf trails, monster scooters and scooter bikes.
Dwarves are said to have been present in the Hasliberg region for many, many years, with the oldest Hasli dwarf known as Muggestutz. On the region’s dwarf trails, children can relive Muggestutz’s adventures.
One trail runs between Mägisalp and Bidmi and meanders gently downhill across alpine meadows and through pine forests. The trail is 5 kilometres along (allow two hours) and can be reached from either Meiringen or Hasliberg Reuti.
The other dwarf trail, from Käserstatt to Lischen, passes an alpine stream and crosses high alpine moors. There are dwarf houses to visit, a swing bridge, and hands-on activity stations to enjoy. The starting point for this 3 kilometre trail (allow 1.5 hours) is Hasliberg Twing.
The trails are open from mid-June until late October.
The route is also delightful for adults, as it passes through fragrant pine forests and across flower-filled meadows. It takes around two hours to complete the 5 kilometre route.
The marble run in Meiringen is open between late May and late October, and consists of 11 thrilling wooden tracks made from local timber. Kids (of all ages!) can have fun rolling wooden ‘marbles’ along the various tracks which are stationed along a three kilometre scenic trail.
‘Marbles’ can be purchased for a small additional fee.
The Hasliberg Marble Trail (Kugelweg in German) runs between Bidmi and Reuti and can be reached by the Meiringen-Hasliberg Reuti cable car.
Scooter bikes and Monster scooters
For anyone who can ride a bike, the Monster Scooter bike route provides a scenic downhill thrill. Covering four kilometres, the ride takes around 15 to 20 minutes.
Small and large Monster Scooters can be hired during summer, whenever the Twing-Käserstatt cable car is in operation.
Mountain biking, skiing, hiking and the arduous local via ferrata are some of the most popular pastimes in the Meiringen area.
There are hiking trails for all abilities to be found on the Hasliberg plateau. These include the Dwarf Trails (mentioned above), as well as routes that afford hikers magnificent views of the Wetterhorn, Engelhorn, Mönch and Eiger mountains.
The most popular routes begin at Alpen Tower or Käserstatt or Bidmi stations. They range from an easy 70 minute hike via creeks and lakes to a five-and-a-half hour peak to peak trek.
Mount Hasliberg provides the ideal setting for numerous mountain bike trails, and cycles can be transported with their riders via gondola.
Several companies in Meiringen offer bike rental, or a guided tour can be taken with Haslibike. The two hour, moderately difficult Käserstatt Loop from Twing station is the region’s most famous route.
Sixty kilometres of slopes traverse the Meiringen-Hasliberg ski resort. The area’s amenities and opportunities include a kids’ learning area, a ski racing centre, snow sports school and night skiing experiences. There are also cross-country tracks.
There is also a thriving aprés ski scene, with a range of bars and restaurants that vary from the cosy or convivial to lively late-night venues.
There is a renowned via Ferrata route in the Meiringen area. These climbing routes require considerable skill and endurance, as they involve using a harness to climb up the metal rungs permanently embedded in the face of the mountain.
The Meiringen route takes two days, and as it’s very challenging it is for serious, experienced and very fit climbers only, to undertake during good weather.
Participants should reserve a space at the hut before departing and take an ice axe and crampons if leaving during early summer, when some snowfields remain.
Sampling a meringue in Meiringen is a must. As the name indicates, this melt-in-the-mouth sweet treat originated here. Apparently it was first made in around 1600 by an Italian chef, who named his sugar and egg white masterpiece after where it was first made.
The Frutal tea room is one of the best places to sample meringues while visiting their birthplace.
Engstlenalp cheese dairy
Swiss cheese is sold and eaten all over the world, so seeing how it’s made is a must for many who come to the country.
Engstlenalp cheese dairy is one of the most well-equipped dairies in Bern canton. Visitors can take a tour of the alpine farm here, as well as sampling freshly made cheeses.
How to get to Meiringen
Getting to Meiringen is all part of the fun of visiting this beautiful area. Those who travel on the Luzern-Interlaken Express will pass magnificent scenery including numerous lakes before they stop at Meiringen station, while the drive from Lucerne involves approaching via the incredibly beautiful Brunig Pass.
Taking the car from Bern, Lucerne or Zurich is the quickest way to travel, but taking the train can be more relaxing and allows you to take full advantage of those incredible alpine vistas while you travel.
Travel times between Meiringen and Zurich, Lucerne and Bern
- Lucerne to Meiringen – Travel time by car 0:45h / Travel time by train 1:10h
- Bern to Meiringen– Travel time by car 1:05h / Travel time by train 1:45h
- Zurich to Meiringen – Travel time by car 1:15h / Travel time by train 2:35h
Where to stay in Meiringen
If you want to find a good hotel in Meiringen, here are our top recommendations. Both include complimentary use of the local fitness centre. The top self-catering apartment choices are also covered below.
The Victoria Hotel in Meiringen is a four star property located around 100 metres from the main train station. Some rooms offer spectacular views over the Rosenlaui glacier or Englehorn peaks.
The Hotel Victoria Meiringen has a smaller bistro as well as the main restaurant which is widely regarded as the best restaurant in Meiringen. At the former, snacks, drinks and meals are served, while the latter specialises in French dishes with Asian twists. There is a large outdoor terrace for dining al fresco during summer.
This hotel in Meiringen has three stars and is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the train station. The Meiringen-Hasliberg ski area is under a kilometre away, and there are two restaurants including an Italian style pizzeria.
Some rooms have a private balcony, and all come complete with a lounge area, WiFi, flatscreen cable TV and an en-suite with hairdryer. There are also ski storage facilities and lift passes can be purchased from the front desk.
A great alternative to hotels or camping in Meiringen is to book a self-catering holiday apartment. There is a great range to choose from including these six Meiringen apartments that are located in a resort-style complex. The apartments vary in size, and all offer comfortable, stylish accommodation with one or two bedrooms.
The names alone are incredibly appealing, and include ‘Not So Elementary’, ‘Moriarty’s Place’ and ‘Mystery in the Mountains’. Whichever you book, these modern holiday homes offer smart, light-filled spaces equipped with every creature comfort you could wish for.
There are also spectacular mountain views from the floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor terraces.
Hopefully this guide has helped you plan the perfect family, solo, couples’ or group holiday in the breathtakingly beautiful Meiringen area.
Whether you visit during summer or winter, there is always lots to do – as well as some of Switzerland’s most spectacular scenery to enjoy – as you revel in the fresh mountain air and crystal clear waters of the region.
Find out more about the other destinations in the Jungfrau Region > here.
Top image © Jungfrau Region Tourism