There is no dearth of beautiful places to visit in Switzerland which is aptly known as the paradise on earth. From surreal landscapes to shimmering lakes like Lake Brienz, Lake Thun, Blausee or Lake Geneva, fairytale villages, the Swiss vineyards, and beautiful Swiss cities there is plenty of reasons why Switzerland is a dream trip for many of us. One of the most romantic places in Switzerland is the Bernese Oberland which is the highlands of the Swiss capital Bern, it is teeming with a plenitude of picturesque landscapes and breathtaking locations epitomizing the natural wonders of this fabled land. Aare Gorge is one such non-touristy gem in the cradle of Hasli Valley in the Bernese Oberland region. A day trip to Aare Gorge and Reichenbach Falls was our first ever outing in Switzerland so each of the vistas we saw seemed poetic enough to leave us spellbound.
The Hasley Valley
We were based out of Geneva hence it would take us about 4 hours of the train journey to reach Aare Gorge. Our first leg of the journey was from Geneva to Bern, from Bern we changed to a train towards Interlaken. From Interlaken Ost, we boarded a train to the beautiful village of Meiringen. From Meiringen train station a small train took us to the ‘Aareschlucht West’ station. From here it is another 10 minutes walk to the gorge entrance. It may seem a bit hectic but for us, the comfort of the trains and the scenic vistas all along makes up for it.
But it would make it much easier and convenient if you are based out of Bern or Interlaken. Aare Gorge is one of the many awesome day trips from Interlaken so choosing Interlaken as the base would be the best decision.
It was raining heavily and we decided to take shelter at the station for some time. The train passed the station leaving us in awe with the postcard-perfect view of the landscape in front of us. The rail tracks were running parallel to the dancing currents of the pastel green Aare river filled to the brim due to the rains.
The other side of the river was a surreal panorama of lush green meadows dotted with chalets at the foot of rugged rocky cliffs. Above the cliffs the mist covered verdant forests were playing hide and seek as if in an attempt to rouse us from the reverie.
We stood there awestruck for several minutes then walked to the back of the station looking for more. It looked like a small village set up with pretty chalets and large backyards. The chalets were overflowing with bright colored flowers washed fresh with the rains. The green carpet of lawns exuded a freshness of rain dews. There were apple trees in the lawn which were overflowing with fresh red apples. The emanating petrichor infused a sense of rejuvenation.
The magic had already begun!
After spending some half an hour exploring the surreal views we finally decided to walk to the gorge. We crossed a bridge over the river to the other side and followed the signs to the Aare Gorge. The entrance has a large parking, a souvenir shop, and a restaurant. There is also a small play area for the kids.
We spent some time in the entrance parking to ensure that Chhavi had some time out of the stroller which she utilized happily running around. We bought our tickets and a lovely lady pointed us towards the entrance door.
Aare Gorge or Aareschlucht Gorge
Aare Gorge is alpine river gorge that carves through a ridge forming magnificent gorge with towering cliffs in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. The elevated wooden walkway which spans for about 1.4 km between the two ends of the gorge makes exploring the gorge and the breathtaking vistas it offers easy and convenient. It was very important for us as it ensured that Chhavi does not have to get down from the stroller while we were on the walkway.
The rocks illuminated with colorful spotlights are stunningly spectacular. The walkway would sometimes cross over the gorge which is scary enough to send chills down your spine but is much more exhilarating to see the river gushing below our feet.
It is amazing to behold the natural wonderland which was carved by the Aare River over millennia winding its way through the Hasley Valley forming the limestone formations resulting in a gorge which is 1400 meters long and up to 200 meters deep.
The gorge was full of spectacular vistas. At one point we could even touch the opposite wall of the canyon. You will also find a waterfall and a dried out glacier bed along the walk in the gorge.
Walking into the gorge is like entering deep into a wonderland with changing landscapes surrounded by soaring rocky walls which have an abundance of views to sweep the floor off your feet.
Most of the times we passed through the dark illuminated tunnels carved out of the mountains.
There are benches at frequent intervals just in case you want to take a break for a while and enjoy the view.
There are two entrances to the Aare Gorge, the one we entered through is the west end entrance, the other is on the east end. We started from the West end entrance and exited from the east entrance. There are train stations at both the ends. The train stations are a short walk about 10 minutes walk from the entrances. The west entrance and the walkway is stroller friendly and wheelchair accessible up to half the way where you will start finding a couple of steps here and there, then few steps which you will find at the east entrance. Once you exit, the route to the Innertkirchen station has many more stairs so it may not be recommended if you want to take a wheelchair or a stroller.
The east entrance also had a ticket counter for the enthusiasts interested in entering from the Innertkirchen side.
The mighty river had managed to sculpt a heart in the middle of the gushing river currents and we were in our hearts taking back these wonderland images to frame memories.
Aare Gorge is open only in the summer months. The spotlighting is done on specific days in a week in summer. Check for the open times, illumination time and the prices here. If you planning to visit the Reichenbach Falls on the same day it is possible to get a combined ticket to Aare Gorge and Reichenbach Falls.
From the Innertkirchen entrance, we had to walk downhill to a rope bridge to cross the Aare river to Aareschlucht Ost Station or the Innertkirchen Station. The distant lowland countryside was breathtaking. We boarded the train to continue our journey to Reichenbach falls also in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland and very near to Aare gorge.
We got down to the Reichenbach Falls station. The funicular station was a 10 min walk through the expanse of lush countryside dotted with brown chalets. Once at the station we bought the tickets and waited for the funicular. The funicular is small with a capacity of 12 to 15 people. The Reichenbach funicular ascends the mountain through the dense forest area to the viewing platform with a small room right to the face of the roaring waterfalls.
Interestingly the viewing platform is the place where Sherlock Holmes fought his foe Professor Moriarty in ‘The Final Problem’ before plunging to their deaths in the falls.
Enthusiasts can climb up a few more steps and hike the forest for a panoramic view of the falls and the surrounding which we skipped as it had started pouring heavily.
If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan then you cannot miss a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum located in the village of Meiringen. The museum was opened in 1991 on the 100th death anniversary of Sherlock Holmes. You can find numerous artifacts and objects related to the famous detective – Sherlock Holmes. You will also find the recreated Victorian home of Sherlock Holmes which is presently located in London.
It was a wonderful day full of breathtaking views and landscapes. Were you amazed at our account of Aare Gorge and Reichenbach falls trip? Share with us your experiences on visiting such wonderlands created by nature in comments.
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