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….
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.
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.
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.)
Stage 2: Berglager to Chuenisbargli (+239 meters)
Stage 3: Weltcup Trail (down the Chuenigsbargli World Cup ski slope) (-440 meters)
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)
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!
Stage 6: Engstligenalp to Adelboden (-611 meters)
After the return gondola trip, a bus takes us back to Adelboden, where…
And yes, we’ll treat ourselves to some (unadvertised) cheese fondue for dinner. We’ve earned it!
As always, head to our photo gallery to see more…
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.