Schynige Platte – Top of Swiss Tradition

The Schynige Platte is a small mountain ridge and a viewpoint in the Bernese Oberland and belongs to the Schwarzhorn group. It is one of the first mountains I visited when I arrived in Switzerland about 5 years and I can still clearly remember its botanical garden, where I saw the Edelweiss for the first time ever in my life. This summer, while visiting the Jungfrau region, I decided to visit it again and I realized it’s also the starting point of various panorama hikes with amazing views.

1. How to get there (Schynige Platte Railway)

2. What to do on the Schynige Platte

2.1 Hiking

2.1.1 Natural Cinema circular trail

2.1.2 Alpine Garden circular trail

2.1.3 Daube Vantage Point circular trail

2.1.4 Oberberghorn circular trail

2.1.5 Loucherhorn circular trail

2.1.6 Breitlauenen – Schynige Platte trail

2.1.7 The Classic: Schynige Platte – Faulhorn – First trail

2.2 The Alpine Garden

2.3 Schynige Platte Mountain Hotel

1. How to get there (Schynige Platte Railway)

Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau seen through the windows of the Schynige Platte train
Schynige Platte train arriving at the summit station
Lake Thun seen on the way up to Schynige Platte

The Schynige Platte Railway made its maiden journey on 13th June 1893 and has now operated for more than 125 years between Wilderswil near Interlaken and the Schynige Platte. The mountain railway initially ran on steam, but was electrified in 1914. The track and rolling stock are largely still in the original condition from the founding period of the railway. The newest locomotives are over 100 years old, but still perform their duties perfectly. The carriages are fitted with wooden benches and exude the charm of the Belle-époque era. Spectacular views over Lake Thun and Lake Brienz open up alternately, while to the south, the summits of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau shape the panorama in exquisite harmony.

Practical info:

  • The Schynige Platte Railway operates from late-June to middle-October and runs every half an hour or an hour every day. For information about the current timetable please click here.
  • Normally the train ride (round trip) between Wilderswil and Schynige Platte costs 64 CHF, but there are many discounts and offers. Please click here to calculate your own ticket price depending on when you travel and what passes/cards (GA, Halbtax, Interlaken Visitor Card etc.) you have.
  • The trip takes 52 minutes, which seems quite long, but trust me, it won’t feel long at all once you’re enchanted by the lakes of Thun and Brienz and the mountainscape.
  • Halfway there is the Breitlauenen intermediate station (1542 meters above sea level), the crossing point of the ascending and descending trains. The view down to Lake Thun and Lake Brienz is superb. You can also hike from here to the summit of Schynige Platte. The station buffet serves hot and cold drinks and in the morning, freshly baked cakes.
  • The carriage is divided into several sections and maximal 8 people can be seated in each section. On both sides, the windows can be pulled down so passengers can enjoy the dreamlike sceneries without any obstacles. However, do ask the passengers close to you if they are comfortable with it or not.
  • It doesn’t really matter on which side of the train you seat because the scenery alternates. However, on your way up, if you want to have a great view of the High Alps (Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau), you should sit close to the door.
  • Sometimes you might be lucky to catch the train with an open carriage.

2. What to do on the Schynige Platte

Whether you want to be active and hike, learn about culture and tradition, read about and admire the most typical alpine flowers, be astonished by the High Alps, test and boost your photography skills, spend some quality time with your family or simply relax and breathe in some fresh mountain air, Schynige Platte is an ideal option for you. In the following sections, I’ll introduce what you can do on the Schynige Platte.

2.1 Hiking

On the Schynige Platte, there are in general 7 hiking trails (you can see the routes on the Schynige Platte brochure or on the info board at the summit station). Some of them are circular while the rest lead to other destinations. Depending on how fit you are and how much effort you want to make, you can choose to take one of them or combine a few of them together. For me personally I combined the Alpine Garden circular trail, Natural Cinema circular trail and the Oberberghorn circular trail and I’ll talk about them in detail in this section.

2.1.1 Natural Cinema circular trail

(Distance: 1 km, hiking time: 25 mins, ascent: 40 m, descent: 40 m)

This is probably the easiest trail on the Schynige Platte and yet it has a lot of highlights.

The first highlight is the Alpine Garden, which I’ll talk about in detail in another section.
Another highlight on the trail is the two oversized picture frames providing popular photo opportunities and showing the fantastic panorama as natural canvases. By the way, there are many viewpoints on the way.
Close to one of the huge frames, you can play some cow bells.
Before going towards the Berghotel and then back to the summit station, you should have an amazing view of Lake Thun and the pyramid-shaped Niesen. If you are lucky, you might see a Schynige Platte train going up or down, adding a bit of red to a world dominated by green and blue.

2.1.2 Alpine Garden circular trail

I’ll talk about this trail in detail in another section.

2.1.3 Daube Vantage Point circular trail

(Distance: 2.5 km, hiking time: 50 mins, ascent: 150 m, descent: 150 m)

I did the Oberberghorn circular hike which includes half of the Daube Vantage Point circular hike and in my opinion, 100% of the view of the latter. Therefore, if you don’t mind hiking for an extra half an hour, I strongly recommend you to take the Oberberghorn circular trail. In the next section, I’ll show you both trails.

2.1.4 Oberberghorn circular trail

(Distance: 3.06 km, hiking time: 1 h 15 mins, ascent: 179 m, descent: 179 m)

Because I took this trail, I’ll introduce it in detail here.

Practical information:

  • The general direction of the trail: Schynige Platte summit station – Berghotel (mountain hotel) – Daube viewpoint – Oberberghorn (you can decide if you want to walk to the summit of the Oberberghorn) – Alpine Garden – Schynige Platte summit station. Of course, you can also hike in the opposite direction if you want to.
  • The trail is categorised as easy.
  • I hiked on a sunny day in August and I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
  • Sun screen, sunglasses and water are a must.
  • Please note, the trail doesn’t include the section to the summit of the Oberberghorn, and if you want to hike to the summit, it takes extra 25 – 30 mins to go up and down. This section is a mountain trail and because it’s rather short, I categorise it as easy. However, certain parts are quite slippery (and a bit steep), so good hiking shoes and walking sticks are strongly recommended if you want to hike to the top.
  • Is it worth hiking to the top? Well, the higher you go, the further you see. The view from the summit is absolutely stunning. What’s more, in order to reach the top, you need to climb a few flights of stairs, which are fixed into the rocks. This climb adds some thrill to the “plain” basic hike (I’ll show you some pictures soon).

What to expect on the trail

On the way from the mountain hotel to the Daube viewpoint there’s some ascent and on your right you can see the Jungfrau and Mönch mountains and on your left you can see Lake Thun and the Niesen mountain.
From the Daube viewpoint, you can clearly see the turquoise Lake Brienz
the town of Interlaken, the blue Lake Thun and the pyramid-shaped Niesen.
From the Daube viewpoint to the foot of the Oberberghorn, you’ll be walking on the mountain ridge. On the left you can always see the lakes of Thun and Brienz, Interlaken and Niesen and on the right you’ll be accompanied by Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and Männlichen.
If you want some adventure and thrill, I recommend you to visit the top of the Oberberghorn. The wooden stairs and bridge will lead you to a platform with unparalleled views.
From the top, you can not only see Niesen, Lake Thun, Interlaken and Lake Brienz, but also Loucherhorn, Faulhorn, Sägishorn and the trails leading to them.
Take a look at the trail on the ridge. Can you imagine that’s the way you took to come here?
On your way back from the Oberberghorn to the summit station, you’ll always be escorted by the High Alps – Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Mittaghorn, Breithirn and so on.
Before reaching the summit station, you’ll pass the famous Alpine Garden, where the alpine flowers in bloom provide a display of riotous colours and lovely scents. I’ll talk more about the garden later.

2.1.5 Loucherhorn circular trail

(Distance: 6.1 km, hiking time: 2 h 30 mins, ascent: 350 m, descent: 350 m)

This trail, which goes from the summit station to the foot of the Loucherhorn through flower-filled alpine meadows, offers views far down to the lakes as well as a sensational panorama of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Part of it overlaps with the Oberberghorn circular trail.

2.1.6 Breitlauenen – Schynige Platte trail

(Distance: 2.68 km, hiking time: 1 h 30 mins, ascent: 441 m, descent: 0 m)

Instead of taking the Schynige Platte Bahn from the intermediate station Breitlauenen to the Schynige Platte, you can also hike to the summit station. The trail is categorised as easy although there are some short exposed passages (which are secured by guard rails). For more information about the trail please click here.

2.1.7 The Classic: Schynige Platte – Faulhorn – First trail

(Distance: 16.19 km, hiking time: 6 h 10 mins, ascent: 825 m, descent: 639 m, difficulty level: medium mountain trail (white-red-white))

Schynige Platte is the starting point of one of Switzerland’s most beautiful high-alpine trails. The hike through wonderfully varied sceneries leads via the summit of the Faulhorn (2681 m) to Lake Bachalpsee and on to First. Please note, this is not a circular trail and is quite long. Make sure you can catch the last cable car going down to Grindelwald. For more information about the trail please click here.

2.2 The Alpine Garden

In 1928, over 8000 m² of alpine pasture was fenced in for the Botanical Alpine Garden, ending centuries of use as farming land. The diverse, condensed topography in a variety of exposure levels, creates a large variety of ecological conditions and thus also plant communities.

The Schynige Platte Alpine Garden is a very special botanical garden. As the first of only a few in the whole of the Alps, it displays plants in their natural environment and, as far as possible, all plants found above the treeline in Switzerland. Over the summer around 690 species, approximately two-thirds of all Swiss alpine flora, can be admired. Walking along easy paths in a compact area (1 km with approximately 40 m height difference) and without having to climb several summits, you can view the alpine plants and learn their names from the labels.

The main path of the Alpine Garden. ©alpengarten.ch

Practical info:

  • The garden is open when the Schynige Platte Railway is in operation (normally from late-June to mid-October) and its admission is included in the train ticket.
  • The garden actually has a few entrances (exits) but the main one is located right next to the summit station. The circular tour takes from 30 minutes to 4 hours (main path 420 m, with side paths approximately 1 km) depending on your interest in the alpine flora.
  • The side paths can be a bit confusing sometimes so I recommend you to take a picture of the map of the garden at the entrance for future reference.
  • Depending on the season, there are quite different blossoms to admire. Guided tours are available on request (duration: 1 hour, cost: 80 CHF, max. 20 people). For more information please click here.

What you can expect:

The superstar of the botanical garden is Edelweiss, which is a scarce, short-lived flower found in remote mountain areas and has been used as a symbol for alpinism. It’s also a national symbol of Austria and Switzerland.
Gentiana lutea, the great yellow gentian, is a species of gentian native to the mountains of central and southern Europe.
Eryngium alpinum (alpine sea holly, alpine eryngo or queen of the Alps) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the family Apiaceae.
Carlina acaulis, the stemless carline thistle, dwarf carline thistle, or silver thistle, is a perennial dicotyledonous flowering plant in the family Asteraceae.
In this picture, you can see the highest mountain pasture of the Alp Iselten, which has been farmed for 1,000 years. About 100 animals spend their summer here. the cows produce 1,600 litres of milk a day which is made into mountain cheese in these huts. This high-quality natural product is stored and ripened in the storehouse until the cows are taken down from the mountain at the end of the summer.
From here, you can also see dynamic piles of limestone scree of the Oberberghorn and the Loucherhorn.
From here, you can see that the Sägishorn is a typical fold mountain, which was created where two or more of Earth’s tectonic plates were pushed together. To the right of the Sägishorn is the peak of the Faulhorn.

2.3 Schynige Platte Mountain Hotel

The mountain hotel has a long tradition. There was a small inn on the Schynige Platte even before the railway was constructed and today’s guesthouse was built in 1899. The tradition-steeped guesthouse and spacious sun terrаce offer magnificent views of the snow-clad peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

The private sun terrace reserved for guests of the hotel.

The hotel гooms still bear witness to their late-19th-century origin and radiate romantic Belle Époque charm. The interiors are characterized by plenty of wood and rustic furnishings. You won’t find telephones or televisions in these rooms; instead, the windows afford stunning, far-reaching views of the High Alps. The spectacular sunset and sunrise over the mountain peaks are the true highlights of staying at the mountain hotel. By the way, from now on, you’ll be able to sleep under a starry sky whatever the weather. The use of a special painting technique now makes it possible for the planets, stars and even the Milky Way to glow in the dark.

Each room has a different theme, but all the themes are related to Swiss traditions.

If you don’t plan to stay here overnight, I still recommend you to try some traditional Swiss dishes or simply a cup of coffee and a piece of cake at the mountain hotel restaurant, which was extensively renovated in 2011. I had a coffee break here with some ice cream and luckily I got a table outside with unobstructed views of the High Alps, the Lauterbrunnen Valley and Grindelwald.

Amazing view of the giant trio Eiger (the famous murderous North Wall), Mönch and Jungfrau and of Männlichen
Amazing view of Grindelwald, Burglauenen, Lütschental, Wetterhorn (3701 m), Gr. Schreckhorn (4078 m), Lauteraarhorn (4042 m) and etc.
Amazing view of the Mittaghorn (3897 m), Grosshorn (3762 m), Lauterbrunnen valley, Breithorn (3782 m) and etc.
By the way, here’s one of the reasons why Schynige Platte is called the Top of Tradition. The alphorn is without doubt Switzerland’s most traditional musical instrument. On the Schynige Platte, you can listen to its deep, warm tones up close. Alphorn players perform every day from 11:00 to 14:00 close to the summit station.

For families with children, there are barbecue spots with supplies of wood below the summit station and next to the hotel, there’s a big playground with a slide.

Schynige Platte – Top of Swiss Tradition was last modified: October 9th, 2020 by Dong

1 Comment

  1. Rasa says: Reply

    Thank you! Amazing place! Amazing pictures! ❤️

Leave a Reply to Rasa Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.