Adelboden: A Swiss Alps dream

Every once in a while, no matter how unrealistic your expectations, reality delivers.

 

As a girl I would spin my globe and dream of Greek fishing villages and Moroccan oases. Yet upon arrival I’ve found myself served a generous helping of modernization, sometimes with a side of overcrowding.

 

Eventually I realized I probably didn’t want the fantasy, anyway, because when it existed it was likely manufactured for tourists. Still, I never stop searching….

 

Enter Adelboden

 

Imagine my jubilation this weekend when I found my way to a storybook land in the Swiss Alps, greeted by vistas straight out of Heidi and The Sound of Music.

 

You must know what I mean: steep green hills dotted with wildflowers and wooden homes, jagged white peaks towering overhead. Throw a cow or two into the mix, and a little mountain stream, and I’m definitely in my happy place.

 

The view from Adelboden, Switzerland

The view from Adelboden

 

The town

 

Though it’s a large town, it is sleepy and well distributed, with plenty of green expanse between its traditionally modeled homes. Even on the main street, you won’t see competing signs advertising cheese fondue and Swiss chocolate. What you will find is one chocolate shop, one bakery, one butcher, and one cheese shop, all of the highest quality.

 

Nearby, there are over 300 kilometers (nearly 190 miles) of hiking, biking and scooter trails, plus rock climbing, World Cup ski runs, panoramic gondola rides, and more. Add in phenomenal views (the narrow, fertile valley runs straight into a large waterfall backed by snowy peaks), and the town’s quiet charm is all the more surprising. Perhaps the saving grace is Adelboden’s relative isolation: the closest train station is half an hour away.

 

Regardless of the why, the what is absolutely spectacular.

 

Main street of Adelboden, Switzerland

Main street in charming, quiet Adelboden

 

Hiking in the Bernese Oberland of the Swiss Alps

 

Want to see it for yourself? Come with us as we traverse over 2100 meters (1.3 miles) of elevation in this storybook Alpine scenery, traveling by foot, bus, and gondola…

 

Stage 1: Adelboden to Berglager (+138 meters)

 

Our mission: to reach the top of the waterfall shown in the first photo, via the hills on the right (rather than the valley). We purchase a day pass which covers gondola and bus, and walk to a gondola station at the bottom of the hill.

 

(For an interactive map of our route, head here.)

 

Adelboden, seen from gondola

Goodbye, Adelboden!

 

Hello, fields of wildflowers!

 

Stage 2: Berglager to Chuenisbargli (+239 meters)

 

Near Chuenigsbargli - Adelboden

After disembarking, Ben strikes out on our chosen “trail,” looking for markers on trees and rocks.

 

40 minutes later we’re at the zenith of Chuenigsbargli, start of a World Cup ski run

I stop to admire the panorama…

 

…(view of Adelboden from Chuenisbargli)…

…and to try out special effects on our new camera.

 

Stage 3: Weltcup Trail (down the Chuenigsbargli World Cup ski slope) (-440 meters)

 

Since you’ll share the fields with livestock, the trails are interrupted with fences and gates (no two the same).

 

At first we think we hear wind chimes, but then we realize. Listen and see for yourself:

 

 

 Stage 4: Across to Unter dem Birg (+115 meters)

 

We round a bend, and see our target waterfall in the distance

Engstlige River in Switzerland

We’re definitely getting closer

 

The trail crosses a (luckily almost dry) stream, which Ben prepares to traverse

 

Stage 5: Up to Engstligenalp (+559 meters)

To reach the top of the waterfall, another gondola awaits. This time, it’s a nearly vertical lift!

 

Gondola to Engstligenalp

I definitely want to see the view, but can that little cable really get me to the top safely?

 

After a near panic attack, looking back at the gondola hut below

The base of the Alps, and the river that becomes a waterfall. In winter, they have an igloo restaurant up here.

 

 

Careful when the wind blows on these high mountain trails! (Adelboden in the distance.)

 

Stage 6: Engstligenalp to Adelboden (-611 meters)

 

After the return gondola trip, a bus takes us back to Adelboden, where…

 

…we promptly head to the hotel pool to relax after a long afternoon of hiking

 

And yes, we’ll treat ourselves to some (unadvertised) cheese fondue for dinner. We’ve earned it!


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As always, head to our photo gallery to see more…

 

Where is Adelboden?

Adelboden (pronounced AH-del-bow-den) is in the Bernese Oberland (Bernese Highlands) of Switzerland, 65 kilometers (about 40 miles) south of the city of Bern. The nearest train stop is Frutigen.

Comments

  1. Kristen says:

    You’ve done it again! Somehow each of your adventures is told in an amusing and informative way. It must be your joie de vivre, or being with the love of your life:)

    The photo captions are always fun to read and the special effects options on your camera did the trick. I found myself smiling as I read this.

  2. Thanks for sharing that. Now you’ve got me smiling, too 🙂

  3. Even without your witty prose, the pictures would say it all. Breathtaking! Guess you can’t have an aversion to heights to traverse this terrain.

  4. I love the views that height offers, but am becoming more fearful the older I get! I guess it’s good that I’m taking advantage of these opportunities while I still can. (I almost had a panic attack in that final gondola ride!)

  5. I never had a panic attack (and vertigo) until I climbed the stairwell in the Gaudi Cathedral in Barcelona. There were no handrails, the stairwell wasn’t very wide and it was circular. Once I looked down, I was a “goner.” I backed up against the wall and couldn’t move until your dad rescued me and held my hand to descend. Maybe it is an “age” thing. I was 45.

  6. Oh – which I’ve never done! I’ll consider that fair warning.

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