A Visit to the St Beatus Caves in Interlaken, Switzerland

(Last Updated On: November 22, 2017)

Our visit to the limestone caves of Dinant City in Belgium had ensorcelled us to an extent that when we learned of the St Beatus Caves in Interlaken region of Switzerland we had to visit it. Interlaken region of Switzerland holds within it plenitude of quintessential Swiss villages, picturesque locations, and natural attractions and St Beatus Caves is no exception.

How to Get to St Beatus Caves from Interlaken

There is a good frequency of public transport (bus 21 towards Thun) from Interlaken Ost (East) with a stop at Interlaken West to the caves. If you are visiting from Bern or Zurich, Bern to Interlaken Ost is less than an hour and Zurich to Interlaken Ost is close to 2 hours by train. You can also opt to take a boat (Lake Thun Cruises) from Interlaken West station to caves though it would require a bit of walking when compared to the bus that would drop you right at the foot of the hill the caves sit on.

We drove past the busy streets of Interlaken packed with tourists and charming old town which we were to visit later that day. The vistas were soon replaced by lush countryside and pasturelands dotted with grazing cows. The most spectacular leg of the journey is the breathtaking vistas of turquoise waters of Lake Thun at the foot of the Alps.

In Less than half an hour the bus dropped us at the caves. The first glimpse of the caves was mesmerizing. The entrance to the caves was atop a cliff and the entrance itself looked like clinging from the rock face. The cave entrance can be reached through a zigzagged maze of wooden boardwalk ascending the hill.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

The waterfalls gushing from behind the lush vegetation hanging from the hill and cascading through the pathway several times and the entrance perched above all of this bedecked with vivid colors of geraniums was an awe-inspiring vista. Everything seemed so surreal it took us a while to take in the views and to start our hike up to the caves.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

Along the hike, we came to a museum which we decided to visit on the way back. The hike up the hill was laden with lovely views all along the way of the surrounding and of the blue Thun Lake below which keeps you going.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

Initially, the climb did look exhaustive as we had a kid along with us. But the vistas all along and several stops to take pictures made for it and we were on top in no time. It would take you at least 10 minutes to reach the top without any stops.

A beautiful wooden sculpture on the way up.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

The zigzagged maze of the wooden boardwalk from the main road to reach the top as we look back from the cave entrance.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

 

At the entrance are a ticket counter and the St. Beatus Panoramic Restaurant which is said to be built into the walls of the former Augustinian Monastery. The views of the Lake Thun and the snow-capped Alps from the restaurant terrace is incredible and devouring some delicious pizza and french fries with this view is an experience to relish.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

There is also a small play area for kids with several types of play equipment where kids can try rope climbing and fake bungee more like swinging over the terrace under guided supervision.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

St Beatus Caves Legend and History

Like every historical place, there is a legend associated with the St Beatus Caves too. The story dates back to 6th century and goes like this – there once lived a fierce dragon in these limestone caves which was expelled by a monk St Beatus from Ireland who sought hermitage in these caves.

As for the history, the excavation of caves started in 1903 as per the instructions of Hermann Hartmann (Former director of Bernese Oberland Tourism office) and was open to the public in 1904. You will find a memorial to Hermann Hartmann at the cave entrance. The Captain’s Grotto section of the cave is said to have been discovered way back in 1848 by Johannes Knechtenhofer who was captain of the first steamboat on Lake Thun along with his fellow sailors.

St Beatus Caves Tour

The guided tours run every 45 minutes so you can either buy your tickets and have something to eat or buy your tickets later. Another great way to explore the caves is to buy your tickets, join in the guided tour if you can make yourself available at tour time or download the St Beatus caves app and take a self-guided tour which can be done anytime. Read more information about your visit and the opening times for the caves here.

The tour of the fascinating history of caves starts at the St Beatus Cell. There is a small cave recreated as a hermitage of St Beatus. At the entrance of the caves is a grave of St. Beatus which is said to contain human bones and dates back to middle ages.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

The labyrinth of well-lit pathways in the caves walks you through the stellar geographical formations of stalactites and stalagmites in different shapes and sizes. The tour takes approximately 75 mins along a km long well-lit pathway. There are numerous stops with extraordinary limestone formations, underground lakes and small caves peppered with stalactites and stalagmites. Stalactites are limestone formations hanging from the ceiling and the stalagmites are ones growing from the ground and each of them is equally spectacular. We had already experienced this in the Belgian city of Dinant but the caves of Dinant weren’t as magnificent as the St Beatus Caves.

After a couple of minutes walk through the tunnel we were greeted with a lovely pool with gushing water. You will find the crossings over the underground waterfalls and streams several times during the tour. As we walked closer we could spot the stalactites and stalagmites on the rock face at the back of the pool.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

You could also find several varieties of plants growing here in the caves which are generally mosses, algae, and fern which can grow under limited sunlight. The radiation from the lamps of the caves is sufficient for these plants to thrive.

At every point, the rock formations would leave us awestruck. It is an astounding phenomenon to behold, the rocks shaped like claws of a dinosaur or the jagged rock formation on the ceiling or the Stalactites which look more like solid spaghetti hanging from the ceiling each of them stunning enough to challenge our imagination. It’s even more astounding to know that these rimstones grow only 3 cm every 100 years.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

Three sisters grotto and the Mirror Grotto was our favorite. We loved how the stalactites and stalagmites illuminated in golden light reflected in the still pool of the cave it is mesmerizing and we would stop a little more and marvel at those views. It looks like there is another rimestones grotto.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

It’s interesting that the largest of the rimstone stalagmite is named as the Kohinoor which means ‘Mountain of Light’ and refers to the largest diamond displayed in the British crown jewels.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

At several points, we found underground streams, waterfalls and even water dripping from the limestone ridges. The St Beatus Caves are said to be closed one or two days every season due to flooding.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

The Erosion channel stretching to approximately 400 m has amazing rock formations.

St Beatus Caves Interlaken Switzerland

St Beatus Caves Museum

On the way back we stopped by the museum, the entrance to the museum is free if you have a ticket to the caves. The museum is small and holds exhibits on minerals and crystals found in the caves which can be explored on an audio guided tour available in French, English and German languages. There are interactive displays and shows on history and geographical phenomenon behind the cave formation. The cave is small but loaded with information. It is also an alternative option if due to some reason you cannot hike all the way up to the caves as you can get all the information on the caves in the museum.

Tips for your Visit

Though the pathways in the caves are well-lit you will find steps and uneven surfaces which makes the paths unaccessible through strollers hence you will have to leave the stroller at the entrance of the caves.

The temperature in the cave is a constant 8 to 10 deg Celsius and hence warm clothing is recommended.

The pathways have stairs with several twists and turn and may be wet and slippery at times it is recommended to wear good shoes.

Photography is allowed inside the caves but without a tripod.

BnB option is available and is located next to the museum.

St Beatus Caves should definitely be on your list if you are planning to visit Switzerland. The otherworldly rock formations are astounding and worth a visit if you are looking for things to do in Interlaken region of Switzerland.

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26 thoughts on “A Visit to the St Beatus Caves in Interlaken, Switzerland

  • November 24, 2017 at 8:40 pm
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    OMG…what a truly fabulous natural attraction this is! Not only are the caves themselves so interesting, the stories behind this place are equally fascinating together with such an incredible view! Switzerland has so much to offer for nature lovers. I can’t wait for the opportunity to see this for myself one day.

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:22 am
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      Very true Switzerland has no dearth of picturesque and pristine natural locations. You are going to love it even more in person.

      Reply
  • November 24, 2017 at 10:12 pm
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    I’ve always wanted to visit the Beatus Caves, but still never gotten around to it. It’s great you brought your kid too, did they enjoy it?! You’re spot on about those rock formations in the caves, they’re incredible, more in person I’m sure!

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    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:08 am
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      Yes Chhavi had fun too, it was a kind of treasure hunt for her with numerous stops and amazing rock formations 🙂

      Reply
  • November 25, 2017 at 5:48 am
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    This sounds like an amazing trip. I love driving through the countryside and watching the cows grazing. The view of Lake Thun from the terrace of the restaurant are so amazing. I would definitely be stopping there for my lunch! Of course the caves look fascinating too. We haven’t made it to Switzerland but we need to change that soon.

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:10 am
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      Switzerland has many such picturesque locations and gorgeous lakes around the countryside. You are definitely gonna enjoy explore the beautiful land.

      Reply
  • November 25, 2017 at 9:22 am
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    Wow!! You’ve lined up a perfect itinerary form end to end. These caves remind me of the ones in Vietnam. They look quite similar, but then how different can the interiors be, right? 😉 I am particularly intrigued by the wooden boardwalk. Hope to visit them someday. Mission 2020. Cheers!!

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:11 am
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      We have visited limestone caves too before but yes as you said each one has something different and unique to offer. Would love to explore the one in Vietnam

      Reply
  • November 25, 2017 at 4:53 pm
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    Interlaken is my first foreign destination, so have special memories attached to it. You have described perfect way to reach St. beatus caves from Interlaken. Also where to stop in between and take pictures are helpful tips. I love that sculpture, maple leaves on wooden zigzag broadway. The legendary story behind the caves is interesting as it dates back to 6th century. Loved your photos.

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:12 am
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      Thanks, Yukti. Interlaken is a wonderful place and the fact that it’s your first trip abroad definitely makes it even more special. Glad you liked the pictures 🙂

      Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 5:11 am
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    These caves look quite mysterious and fascinating. The location is splendid and the views are simply breathtaking. Love the mesmerizing Lake Thun and the picturesque snow-capped Alps. Switzerland is on my bucket list and I’m definitely going to visit these caves on my visit. Thanks for sharing this lovely post! 🙂

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:20 am
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      The caves and views of the lakes are awe-inspiring. You should definitely plan a visit to these caves on your visit to Switzerland

      Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 11:03 am
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    I visited St Beatus caves when I was a child. I still remember sitting in the panoramic restaurant mesmerised by the sunlight glinting off the water of Lake Thun below. This is where I first learnt about cave systems. You have great photos, what a wonderful trip down memory lane!

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:13 am
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      Wow, that must long long back its amazing how things don’t change much in Switzerland it has always been a wonderful destination with loads of surreal locations and still continues to be 🙂

      Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 12:37 pm
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    I’ve been to Interlaken but didn’t take in the St Beatus Caves – it’s such a stunning region though and one I would without a doubt go back to at some stage. The waterfalls along the hike to the ntrance set quite the stage! Glad that the scenery is a welcome distraction from the hike.

    The rock formations throughout the caves look stunning – and I’m sure the visit would be all the more fascinating knowing the legend of the dragon who once inhabited the space! Thanks for the tip on not being allow to take a tripod in for photograohy – makes sense as I assume the caves are a fragile environment.

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:15 am
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      We too had been postponing a visit to St Beatus Caves for long but glad that we finally made to it. It is an amazing place to visit and anyone visiting Interlaken should definitely visit it.

      Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm
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    Being claustrophobic, I haven’t visited caves so far. But St beautiful looks quite interesting to me, especially the picturesque landscaped on its way. Thanks for sharing as I was not aware of it.

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:23 am
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      Ah! You are definitely missing a lot. Hope you get to plan to visit them soon

      Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 9:44 pm
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    I’ve only been to Basel in Switzerland. A ex-boss recently went to Interlaken and he called me from there to recommend me to visit the place soon. Now with your post about the Beatus Caves, I’m all the more convinced to plan my trip there!

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:16 am
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      Good to know! You should definitely visit it next time you are around Interlaken

      Reply
  • November 27, 2017 at 3:03 am
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    The St. Beatus caves look really intriguing. Yet another lesser known gem of the beautiful country of Switzerland. We were at Interlaken on our last trip but we missed this lovely place. The stalagmites really look spectacular and give the cave a mystical atmosphere.Will include this in our itinerary when we get to Switzerland next.

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:17 am
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      St Beatus Caves is a fascinating place indeed and definitely worth a visit. You should definitely visit it next time you are visiting Interlaken.

      Reply
  • November 27, 2017 at 5:04 am
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    This is the first time I am reading about St Beatus caves. Will definitely keep this in mind when I am visiting Switzerland. It is interesting to read the story about the legend behind the caves and it is nice to see how they have recreated it. Good tip about the strollers.

    Reply
    • mm
      November 27, 2017 at 9:19 am
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      St Beatus caves are popular cave system in Switzerland and they haven’t been recreated they have only been made accessible to the public.

      Reply
  • November 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm
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    I love visiting such offbeat places, they have so many stories to tell. I have been to Interlaken couple of years ago, sadly I wasnt aware of this cave back then so missed out on the place. But as I’m a huge fan of Swiss Alps I am planning a trip to this beautiful country, will make sure I plan a visit to St Beatus Caves.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2017 at 8:04 am
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    I had visited Interlaken from Zurich in 2012 but I missed visiting these caves there. Now that I have done an underground cave walking tour in South AFrica last year, I know how much fun it is to explore them. There is an enigma about these rock formations. Cave tours are fun.

    Reply

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