With 141 mountain railways facilities, the canton of Bern is the perfect place for exciting mountain travel amid stunning landscapes. The gondolas, funiculars and chair lifts as well as Switzerland’s only "Senkeltram" (sinking tram) all transport visitors in comfort to their destinations so that they can enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery and the numerous hiking and adventure opportunities available.
The Rolls Royce
The new gondola lift on the Metschstand at Lenk was opened a year ago. It now takes a mere 10 minutes to climb the approx. one thousand-metre difference in height from the Rothenbach valley station to the 2,097-metre high mountain station – and in style too. Relaxing on comfortable leather seats, passengers in the cabins of the Stand-Xpress can take in the views of the Wildstrubel Massif and the magnificent Bernese Alps through large panoramic windows. Visitors have the option of taking the gondola up the mountain before whizzing downhill to the middle station on a mountain cart.
Summer season: 5 July to 12 August / 20 September to 14 October
Set in the heart of the Grimselworld, the Gelmerbahn runs from Handegg and up to the Gelmersee. On this one-kilometre route, this "steepest funicular in Europe" climbs 450 height metres. The terrain is so steep here that it sometimes reaches an incline of 106 percent. And just to make doubly sure that you fully experience the delicious tingling sensation of a really scary ride, you don’t sit in a closed and protected area but in open carriages. Even so, the upward ride is still fairly comfortable. But later on, when coming downhill, as the terrain suddenly disappears beneath you and you feel like you are hurtling into a void even the most self-assured will feel the hair on the back of the neck start to stand on end.
grimselwelt.ch Summer season: 24 May to 21 October
The sides of the open carriages are adorned with rustic-style motifs with the words "Heimwehfluh – Interlaken" written in old-style German script, while from the open windows of the seating compartments there is the fluttering of fabric curtains in the wind. Indeed, time seems to have stood still on this little train. In fact since 1906, this delightful funicular has been transporting the people of Interlaken in virtually the same manner from the town centre directly up their local mountain while bearing the fitting name of Heimwehfluh (nostalgia). And when the passengers reach the top, they always admire the magnificent view of Lake Thun and the expanse of the Bernese Oberland.
interlaken.ch Summer season: April to October
The only "Senkeltram" in the canton is actually a lift in Bern that starts next to the stately Cathedral. At the "top station", the entrance to the Matte lift is set high above the Aare and, with its fanciful architecture, is vaguely reminiscent of a bathing pavilion. A short descent takes one 31.5 metres down to the Matten district with its narrow alleyways and densely clustered houses. From here it is only a few steps to the beautiful green Aare.
A ride on the Vinifuni from Ligerz to Prêles feels like being in a picture book – the funicular glides as if effortlessly through the carpet of vineyards that stretches endlessly on the slopes between the picturesque wine-producing village on Lake Biel and Prêles, 822 metres above sea level and at the edge of the Montagne de Diesse. To return to the lakeshore, one can either take the funicular to the middle station and walk from there through the vineyards, or walk down from above through the wild and romantic Twannbach Gorge to Twann. Either way, at the top you should first make a point of admiring the scenic outlook over Lake Biel with its St. Peter’s Island – and if the weather permits – the distant Bernese Alps with their snow-covered peaks.