When I moved to Meiringen from Interlaken in June 2016, the previous tenant of my house told me that while Interlaken is touristy, Meiringen is for climbers and Sherlock fans. She was a perceptive woman. As a town with a population of less than 5,000 in the middle of Switzerland, it’s hardly bustling. There is a military air base that houses two fighter squadrons, but stay open-minded. Most of the noise comes from the waterfalls, cowbells, or village alphorn practice.
Meiringen is an ideal place to find some peace, and if you like the outdoors, it’s a good base for summer – you can head into the mountains on either side of the valley and easily get to other Berner Oberland highlights by train. If you find yourself in Meiringen, pack your hiking boots and an apfelschorle and head out on a Haslital adventure.
1. Look for mythical creatures in the Aare Gorge
I continue to find it strange that this is so close to my house. At 1,400 metres long, up to 200 metres deep, and an indirect product of glaciation 10,000 years ago, the Aare Gorge is a good place to go if your ego needs putting in its place. The myth is that a tatzelwurm, or a snake with sharp teeth and evil eyes, lives in the gorge (there’s also frightening cake version in the Meiringen bakery), but I think it’d also be a great home for dinosaurs too. During World War II, the military converted a cave in the rocks into a ridiculously well-equipped hiding place in an act of Swissness (at one point Switzerland had 15,000 hidden fortresses). The gorge is open from mid-April to the end of October, but check the website first.
2. Walk up to the Reichenbach Falls
Sherlock Holmes fans come on a pilgrimage to Meiringen every year. There’s also a Sherlock hotel, Sherlock lounge, and Sherlock museum. If you visit, you have to give in and do something Sherlock-related. It’s just how it works.
3. Hike on Hasliberg
The locals spend their winter weekends skiing on Hasliberg, but it’s popular in summer too. You can get a cable car from Meiringen to the top and then walk (or bike) down. For a map of the hiking routes, go over to the Bergbahnen Meiringen-Hasliberg website.
4. Head up to the moors at Chaltenbrunnen
A few hours above and beyond the Reichenbach Falls, you eventually get to the Hochmoor. The landscape is reddish, moody and feels entirely different from a hike on Hasliberg on the other side of the Meiringen valley.
5. Wander up to Alpbachschlucht
If you want to see how good Swiss families are at climbing up narrow paths, go up to Alpbachschluct.
6. Hike over the side of the valley to get to Grindelwald
If you want to stretch your legs a bit more, Meiringen-Grindelwald is one stage of the Via Alpina hiking route across Switzerland.
7… And climb another mountain from there to get to Lauterbrunnen
8. So, there isn’t a lake in Meiringen
But in one direction you have Lungern…
And in the other, Lake Brienz. So there’s no reason to whine.
9. And finally, if you’re lucky, you might even see the Meiringen Goat Market!