Hello everyone! Last weekend I, once again went to Jungfrau region, where Thuner Lake, Interlaken city and Brienzer Lake are surrounded by countless nigh mountains, among which the most famous ones are Eiger, Mönch and Jungfraujoch. I’ve been there quite a few times (for example, Oberhofen Castle, Jungfraujoch, Piz Gloria (Schilthorn), Schynige Platte, Männlichen), but every time this place welcomes me like an old friend and yet brings me surprises.
This time I decided to go to Niederhorn and St. Beatus Caves because the summer season is finishing on the 13th November, and from then on the cable car between Beatenberg and Niederhorn only works from 14th November to 23rd December every Saturday, Sunday and Monday. From Thuesday to Friday the cable cars are not operating. The funicular train between Beatenbucht and Beatenberg is also cancelled due to motor revision until 2nd December 2016. Also, if you want to visit the St. Beatus Caves, I’m afraid you will have to wait for next year as it is open from Saturday 19th March to Sunday 13th November 2016. However, you can still climb up to the St. Beatus Caves Museum, the panoramic restaurant or the entrance to the cave because the view is really amazing.
The reason why I included the two attractions, Niederhorn and St. Beatus Caves, in a one-day trip is that there is a bus No. 21 which goes along the Thuner Lake between Thun and Interlaken (Ost and West) and it connects these two attractions conveniently. Basically you just need to arrive from your city in Thun or Interlaken and then you can take this No.21 bus to go to the two attractions. Since I don’t have special clothes or equipments for snow hiking, I didn’t plan too much time on Niederhorn, but if you want to go snow hiking for like 3 or even more hours, maybe planning the caves for another day is a better idea, so that you don’t need to hurry and urge yourself to leave.
1. Cruise on Lake Thun (Thunersee)
Maybe a better idea is that if you wanna go to Niederhorn, you can also take a ship from Thun or Interlaken to Beatenbucht and then take a funicular train to Beatenberg and from there taking the cable car to Niederhorn. However, be aware that the ship is not frequent so if you really want a cruise on lake Thun, I suggest you should check the ship schedule and plan your journey in advance. I’ve attached the timetable (from 7.11.2016 to 31.3.2017) from the official website and look carefully what the letter D (from 25.12.2016 to 2.1.2017) or E (from 18 to 31 March 2017) means because I didn’t see that some schedules are only valid during certain periods of time and I had to cancel the lake cruise because I don’t want to wait for 1.5 hours by the lake…
The good news is if you decide to take the ship and you have a GA card or Swiss Pass you can take it for free. Also, if it happens to be your birthday, you can take the ship in 1st class for free! Don’t forget to bring your ID with you. However, if you don’t have them, please click here to check the ticket prices. (The page is in German and I’m not sure but it seems you can only buy day tickets…)
If you are interested in on board dining, concert or some other special events, or just some more general information about cruise on Lake Thun please click here.
2. Funicular train between Beatenbucht and Beatenberg.
After you arrive at Beatenbucht either by bus or by ship, you will be at the foot of Beatenberg, and from here you can take a funicular train to reach Beatenberg station. This is a quite unique experience because besides the windows of the sides, the roof of the train is also made of glass, which gives you a really amazing view of your surroundings, Lake Thun and the mountains beyond. Also, at Beatenberg station, the vantage point gives a perfect view of Lake Thun and the mountains across it.
As I mentioned above, the funicular train between Beatenbucht and Beatenberg is cancelled due to motor revision till 2nd December 2016. It is suggested to travel to Beatenberg via PostAuto Line 101 from Interlaken West, and if you are particularly interested in the funicular train between Beatenbucht and Beatenberg, please click here to check the schedule after 2nd December 2016.
The price for the funicular car between Beatenbucht and Beatenberg is:
- One way: 8.20 CHF, with half-price card: 4.10 CHF, child (6-16 years old): 4.10 CHF.
- Return: 16.40CHF, with half-price card: 8.20 CHF, child (6-16 years old): 8.20 CHF.
With GA to Swiss pass this part of journey is free of charge.
For more info about the ticket prices please click here.
3. Cable car from Beatenberg to Niederhorn
As I mentioned above, the cable car between Beatenberg and Niederhorn only works from 14th November to 23rd December every Saturday, Sunday and Monday. From Thuesday to Friday the cable cars are not operating. Please click here for more info about cable car operating hours and check again after 23rd December 2016 for the cable car timetable in winter season.
The price for the cable car between Beatenberg and Niederhorn is:
- One way: 29 CHF, with half-price card: 14.50 CHF, child (6-16 years old): 14.50 CHF.
- Return: 39 CHF, with half-price card: 19.50 CHF, child (6-16 years old): 19.50 CHF.
For the price of other types of tickets, such as hiking tickets, round trips, ski pass, sled rental, family package, children’s birthday, yearly pass, dogs or the price for breakfast, brunch or overnight stay in Berghaus Niederhorn for either winter or summer season, please click here.
On the way in the cable car between Beatenberg and Niederhorn, there is actually is middle stop, Vorsass, which is mainly for hikes or skiers. However, when I was there, this stop was right in the clouds so I did’t get off, but I’ll mention it again soon when I talk about the activities on Niederhorn in the next section.
There are so many things to do either in summer or in winter on Niederhorn. For example, in winter you can go sledging, winter-hiking, skiing and snowboarding, snow shoeing, snowscooting, hang-gliding and so on. In summer you can come here and go hiking, alpine-orienteering, wild animal observation, trotti-biking, hang-gliding and so on. Both in summer and winter, with the company of moon and darkness, there are activities you can participate in in the evenings.
Below I’ll attach a map from the official website of Niederhorn to show the snow hiking routes and if you feel confused facing such a huge mountain covered in snow, I believe this map can give you some ideas concerning where to go or what trail to take.
The popular routes are:
- From Niederhorn – Vorsass (1 h 15 min). Winter hiking trail with view on to the 3 peaks. Starting point Niederhorn station. Finishing point Middle station Vorsass.
- From Vorsass – Bodenalp – Beatenberg Station (1 h 30 min). Easy route also for non-experienced hikers. Starting point Middle station Vorsass. Finishing point Beatenberg station.
- From Niederhorn – Hohwald – Waldegg (3 hrs). The longest and most attractive winter hiking trail on the Niederhorn. Starting point Niederhorn station. Finishing point Car park Waldegg.
- From Beatenberg station – Riedboden – Bodenalp – Rischeren – Waldegg (3 hrs). The quiet trail starting and ending in the village of Beatenberg. Starting point Beatenberg station. Finishing point Car park Waldegg.
If you wanna know more about the four winter hiking trails above such as distance, difference in altitude, the route map, the general description of the route, restaurants, prices etc. please click here.
If you want to take some other routes please take a look at the map above and plan your trip in advance.
- For more info about various activities in winter such as sledging, starlit sledging, winter-hiking, skiing and snowboarding, snow shoeing, snowscoot, hang-gliders, alpine evenings please click here.
- For more info about various activities in summer such as hiking, alpine-orienteering, wild animal observation, trotti-biking, evening journeys, hang-gliders, alpine evenings please click here.
As you can see, the fun in Niederhorn actually starts in Beatenberg already. The website is very user-friendly so I would suggest that check the website of Niederhorn (www.niederhorn.ch) before you go and have fun there without any trouble or inconvenience.
I didn’t actually take the winter-hiking trails because I was just wearing normal sports shoes and normal pants. The snow was so thick already that at some places, my whole leg could be covered. If you plan to go hiking I suggest you make yourself prepared, for example, at least snow-hiking shoes, water-resistant pants and a spare pair of socks are necessary. Even though I didn’t take a specific route and finish it I did spend 2-3 hours walking around, taking some photos and relaxing. This is my very first experience of standing above the clouds and it’s just amazing. I still remember I went to Piz Gloria (Schilthorn) and was expecting to be above the clouds but when I arrived, I was right in the clouds… You can guess what I could see… However, this time, it’s really breathtaking.
After I went down my shoes and socks were all wet…, which again proves you must be well equipped, let alone going snow-hiking.
5. St. Beatus Caves
Release the dragon! Hunted by St Beat, a 6th century monk, the story goes that the mythological creature took shelter in this this extraordinary geological site – St Beatus Caves, next to the the lakes of Interlaken.
According to legend, Saint Beatus was a Scottish or Irish monk who was sent to evangelize the Helvetii. After finding success in the Jura Mountains, he moved into the Beatenberg area where he defeated a dragon and established a hermitage in the cave overlooking Thun Lake.
You should always bear in mind that St. Beatus Caves are not only made up of the caves, the museum, the playground, the panoramic restaurant, and in particular, the walking path from the bus stop to the entrance of the caves, are no less amazing than the caves themselves.
In order to visit this place, you have to take bus No. 21 and get off at the stop, Beatushöhlen. Unfortunately, you can not take a bus directly from Beatenberg to Beatushöhlen because the bus leaving from there (bus No.101) goes to Interlaken West and you have to either go down from Beatenberg to Beatenbucht and then take bus No.21 to Beatushöhlen or you can take bus No. 101 from Beatenberg to Interlaken West and from there take bus No. 21 to Beatushöhlen.
In this area, you only need to buy tickets if you are going into the caves or to the museum. For me, the walk from the bus stop to the entrance of the caves is actually as beautiful as the caves. you can walk up free of charge. The St. Beatus Caves museum is on the way to the caves and so is the playground.
All the pictures shown above are taken on the way from the bus stop to the entrance of the caves and is totally free of charge. If you are not particularly interested in geology or caves, or you don’t have enough time to visit the caves, I recommend you to take this path because it gives a wonderful view of Lake Thun and the mountains across it.
5.1 Opening hours
The St. Beatus Caves are open daily from 9.45am to 5pm from Saturday 19th March until Sunday 13th November 2016.
The St. Beatus panoramic restaurant is open daily from 9.45am to 5pm. (Hot food served until 4pm, pizzas and light meals until 5pm)
The St. Beatus Caves Museum is open daily from 11.30am to 5.30pm. (The old woman at the ticket office is super friendly and is one of the nicest I’ve seen in Switzerland)
5.2 Ticket prices
5.2.1 For the caves and the museum
For individual visitors (This ticket includes the token to go into the caves and the entry to the museum):
- Adult: CHF 18. (CHF 16 with a Berner-Oberland Visitors Card)
- Child (6 – 16yrs included): CHF 10. (CHF 9 with a Berner-Oberland Visitors Card)
For more info concerning the ticket prices of family pass, dogs, groups, students, teachers, and private tours please click here.
5.2.2 For the museum only
- Adults: CHF 6
- Child (6 – 16yrs included): CHF 3
There are guided tours in german as well as english departing approximately every 45 minutes. Since 2015 it has been possible to explore the caves without a guide. I suggest that you allow at least 1.5 hours in the caves and if you are a fan of photography, I’m afraid you should plan more time for your visit as the light is really weak in the caves and unless you have a fancy camera, it’s not very easy to take perfect photos in it. Also, the rules state that you can not use tripod in the caves, although when I was there one person was still using it and it proved that it does affect other people going through considering the path in the caves is very narrow. The temperature in the caves remain 8-10 degrees so remember to bring suitable clothes when you plan your visit.
5.3 Inside the caves
There are in total 24 info points which describe and explain to you the specific geological phenomenon. Follow the arrows when two separate routes appear and you won’t miss any of the info points or get lost.
5.4 St. Beatus Caves Museum
If you feel the info points in the caves are not enough for your curiosity, then the museum will tell you more about the legend of St. Beatus (how he expelled the dragon living in the caves), how engineers and geologists explored and keep exploring the caves, the mineral stones, what the creatures and plants living here are like, scuba diving in the caves, how long and how deep the caves actually are beyond the developed parts and so on…
In the museum there are 11 themed sections. Don’t forget to rent an audio guide at the reception desk (free of charge) and listen to the 25 audio guides while you explore the museum. Do pay attention to the sighs close to the objects because you can touch some of the objects but the others are for your eyes only. There is also a cinema in this museum showing the documentary of people from various countries exploring the caves. I would suggest 1 hour in this museum if you are interested and want to listen to the audio guides because the museum is comparatively small. If you just want to walk and look around in it, 10-20 minutes would be enough.
After the St. Beatus Caves Museum I took the bus and went to Interlaken and finished my one day trip. To be honest, I think this day trip is a bit intense and if you want to visit them in a more relaxed way, I suggest you stay one night in Thun or Interlaken and visit these two attractions on two separate days. Do check the bus schedule and then decide how much time you wanna spend in the museum because I don’t think you wanna spend half or even one hour by the lake on a winter night.
I wish you a wonderful journey to Niederhorn this winter and a good time in St. Beatus Caves next year. 🙂
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