(Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland) The Jungfrau from above Kleine Scheidegg
VIA ALPINA: BERNESE OBERLAND (GUIDED)   7 stages . 8 nights . Swiss Bernese Oberland   Booking

Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland (Alpine Pass Route Central)
Guided trekking holiday

+ Our guided group crosses tough Alpine cols
+ Substantial climbs rewarded by long views
+ We stay in comfy hotels and see Swiss daily life

Latest news November 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.

The Via Alpina (formerly the Alpine Pass Route) crosses Switzerland from East to West, from Sargans to Montreux. We take 7 days to cover the central stages of the route. Through the Bernese Oberland we pass the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch.

As the name suggests, the theme is Alpine passes! On all but two days � those to Meiringen and to M�rren � our stages start in the valley and climb steadily to a col, typically either broad and grassy or narrow and rocky. Our night�s accommodation lies in the village on the far side, down through meadows and forests. This is Swiss Alpine trekking at its most pure. These are solid mountain days requiring fitness and confidence. The reward is the sense of traveling through the mountains that we seek for all our treks, combined with grand old Swiss hotels in notable high resorts for example the car-free M�rren on its high shelf.

We take the normal routing of the Via Alpina as well as giving some options for easier or more scenic paths.

Trek in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs).

We book your accommodation in a comfortable mix of Swiss hotels and auberges. Life in the Swiss villages happens smoothly and to a reliable pattern, making for a relaxing experience.


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland guided walking holiday


Alpine Exploratory
VABg Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland (Guided)
19 July to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Scheduled guided trips
7 stages
(8 nights)

Please see private trips
Singles 240
Main VAB
Please see private trips
Private guided trips
5 stages
(6 nights)

Please ask
Singles 190
Singles 200
7 stages
(8 nights)

Please ask
Singles 240
Singles 260
Baggage transfer
All stops except huts
Baggage transfer


Here is our normal schedule of 7 stages.

Arrival day: Arrival in Engelberg
Your trip begins on arrival in Engelberg, a small Swiss town at the end of the train from Lucerne but with an outdoorsy feel. The group goes out to dine in town.
Hotel in Engelberg

Stage 1: Engelberg to Engstlenalp
Red3 grade, 11km with 1260m ascent, 430m descent
Setting off from Engelberg, the Jochpass is the first col, relatively modest at 2,207m and with ski infrastructure on either side. Nevertheless, the mountains are building up and we descend to the delightful meadow of Engstlenalp. We are still a day from Meiringen in the next valley system. (The bus runs to Meiringen and it is also possible to walk beyond Engstlenalp to the cable car on the next stage.)
Auberge at Engstlenalp

Stage 2: Engstlenalp to Meiringen
Red3 grade, 20km with 650m ascent, 1890m descent
Our main route is a hilly, at times narrow traverse via Tannalp to Planplatten, from where we begin the solid descent to Meiringen. On the way is the Balmeregghorn, a grassy hill with long views over meadows and the deep Gental. (At Planplatten a series of three cable cars can be taken to Meiringen to save some or all of the descent.)
Hotel in Meiringen

Stage 3: Meiringen to Grindelwald
Red3 grade, 22km with 1410m ascent, 1030m descent
The passes continue with the easy-angled Grosse Scheidegg. A small road goes over the pass and down to Grindelwald. We climb and descend through woods and meadows. This feels like a more gentle day than others, despite the distance, because after the first ascent by the Reichenbach falls (as per Sherlock Holmes) the gradients are generally modest.
Hotel in Grindelwald

Stage 4: Grindelwald to Wengen
Red3 grade, 18.5km with 1170m ascent, 930m descent
The Kleine Scheidegg is today's pass, unique on the Via Alpina in hosting a railway station. (The Jungfraujoch railway can be joined here as an excursion.) We walk under the North Face of the Eiger. Roll gently down to Wengen on its high shelf. Together with Grindelwald and Murren, Wengen makes up the trio of famous Bernese Oberland resorts.
Hotel in Wengen

Stage 5: Wengen to Murren
Red2 grade, 8.5km with 860m ascent, 490m descent
Today is a modest stage, steeply down to Lauterbrunnen then steeply up. Our aim is the mountainside village of Murren, car-free and a curious delight. It feels as if suspended in mid-air. (The Grutschalp cable car and sweet old train can be used to bypass the stiff climb, thus skipping this stage and either missing Wengen or reaching Griesalp in a day.)
Hotel in Murren

Stage 6: Murren to Griesalp
Black3 grade, 17km with 1100m ascent, 1330m descent
The first of the three toughest stages comes with the long climb to the Sefinafurgga (2,612m), the second-highest col of the whole Via Alpina. (The highest comes tomorrow.) The ascent is exceptionally scenic with views over Murren and back to the Kleine Scheidegg. The Sefinafurgga is narrow, loose and rocky, and the descent to tiny Griesalp is quick down meadows.
Auberge in Griesalp

Stage 7: Griesalp to Kandersteg
Black4 grade, 16km with 1440m ascent, 1670m descent
The rocky Höhturli (2,778m) col is not even the highlight of this exceptional day in the mountains. Perhaps the highlight is the Blumlisalphutte (2,834m) just above the col, in classic Swiss Alpine Club style, or the glacial views and features on the descent. We walk on a lateral moraine with waterfalls opposite. Today has the most consistently mountainous setting of all the Via Alpina stages.
Hotel in Kandersteg

Departure day: Departure from Kandersteg
After a last breakfast we depart from Kandersteg. Trains make it easy to reach Bern for a city stop or Geneva and Zurich Airports. In the other direction, Milan is a surprisingly easy trip. We love to advise on onward travel.

Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.

Baggage transfer

Let us move your bags between stops. Please contact us for a price.

Why Alpine Exploratory for your guided Via Alpina ?

We trek the ideal route
Our groups always aim to trek continuously. Nothing is worth cutting out! Occasionally a cable car or bus can be helpful, but the most satisfaction comes from walking from start to finish. Our route is the main Via Alpina in this subsection from Engelberg to Kandersteg with scenic options that your leader can offer.

Expert knowledge of the route
The same careful research that goes into our self-guided Via Alpina informs our guided treks too. We place particular emphasis on interpretation of the path's difficulties. Our leaders understand how different trekkers approach different challenges, and how much the group will enjoy each route option.

Flexible, personal planning
As per our general ethos, even on our scheduled guided trips we like to be flexible. Single rooms are no problem on the valley nights. If you'd like extra nights in Engelberg or Kandersteg, please just ask us.

Small groups expertly led
Alpine Exploratory follows best practice in the mountains. Our leaders are all International Mountain Leaders and we keep to a maximum group size of 8 clients. The aim is a small, tightly knit group with an engaging leader, completing the Via Alpina with safety, proficiency and fun.

About us - more about what makes us tick

Options (for private trips)

If you join us as a private group instead of joining our scheduled treks, then we can adjust your Via Alpina in various ways.

+ Shorten the trek to 5 days by combining stages
+ Add a rest day to take the train to the Jungfraujoch
+ Make it basic in huts or up the comfort with our best hotels

Of course, on a private trip you can come on the dates that suit you. Except for the composition of the group and the dates, everything else is the same as on our scheduled Via Alpina.

Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland (Self-guided) - all the options

The route

Our approach to the Via Alpine: Bernese Oberland
Our trip gives a complete journey on foot from Engelberg to Kandersteg, along the Via Alpina. On completion you will have walked the central, high, section and passed by the most notable peaks including the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch. On the trek itself, no transport is taken except for any that you would like to add in, to skip certain sections of valley walking or to descend by cable car.

The Via Alpina’s terrain comprises the full range of Alpine walking, a typical day starting with wide tracks through forests, tarmac country lanes, then up to zig-zagging hillside paths and steep, rocky mountain paths. The two highest cols, the Sefinafurgga (2,612m) and the Höhturli (2,778m) involve loose paths over scree and shale, plus wooden steps built into the hillside, on both approach and descent. The Via Alpina has no via ferrata or climbing sections and is a trek throughout.

How to get there

Your holiday starts in the mountain town of Engleberg and ends in another outdoorsy town, Kandersteg. Zurich and Basel are the most convenient airports, with good quick trains to both Engelberg and Kandersteg stations; Geneva airport also works, as does Milan for the return from Kandersteg.

Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland
Guided or self-guided? Guided
Trip code: VABg
Route: The Via Alpina (Walking guide)
(Prefer a Self-guided or full VAS trip?)
Group size: 4 to 8 people
Length: 7 days' trekking
Start: Engelberg in Switzerland
End: Kandersteg in Switzerland
Typical walk: 16km, 1,130m ascent
Total distance: 111.5km or 69.5 miles
Highest altitude: 2,834m
Grade: Black3 (Walking grades)

Dates Summer 2020

Scheduled trips 2020
Please join our guided trip:

VASg2 25 July to 2 August 2020
Guided by Keith Miller
Book (Spaces)
Leaders at Alpine Exploratory

Private trips 2020
Please join us any time in our season from
19 July to 18 September 2020

Research Summer 2020

Steph Ward at Alpine ExploratoryAllan Gibbs at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the Via Alpina was led by:
Allan Gibbs in July
Steph Ward in July

Recces 2020

Murren from above
Murren from above (Photo gallery)

Alpine Exploratory's service

8 nights, staying in:
3- and 4-star hotels (6)
Auberges (2)

Accommodation and itinerary
Breakfasts and 2 evening meals
Guided trekking with your IML

The UIMLA logo An IML leads your trek

The IML is the award needed to lead treks on the Via Alpina

The IML award

Descending to Griesalp
Descending to Griesalp (Photo gallery)

The Via Alpina in the Alps

Map of the Via Alpina within the Alps

Our city information included in your info pack:
Geneva, Bern, Lucerne, Basel, Zurich

City breaks after trekking

Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our background page on the
    Via Alpina

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Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.
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