Our flight to Switzerland was early in the morning, and after catching a series to trains to Meiringen, we had plenty of time to explore the area before heading to our hotel for the night. Meiringen is a charming little city at the start of Stage 10 of the Via Alpina, where we’d begin our backpacking hike. With plenty to do here in both the summer and winter, when it becomes a ski town, we had a lovely afternoon wandering around in the sunshine. We walked through town, visited the Aareschulcht and took the gondola up to Reuti, where we stayed the night. It was a perfect first day in Switzerland!
For more on our Swiss hiking adventure, you can find our 7 day Swiss Alps Backpacking Trip Itinerary here.
As we got off the train from Zürich via Bern, Andrew informed me, with disbelief in his voice, that this was the “ugly” valley and we were set for better views the rest of the trip. We were surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks on all sides, so it was hard to believe that this could be called ugly.
Our first order of business upon arriving in Meiringen on the train was to get some waters, then to walk over and check out the Aareschlucht. To get there, we passed through the center of Meringen. It was adorable, with lots of shops and restaurants.
Meiringen is the setting where Sherlock Holmes fell to his death. The city is very proud of that fact, with a museum dedicated to Sherlock Holmes and many themed shops and hotels throughout. There’s a statue of him in this square, but I opted for a photo of this new climbing sculpture (it spoke to me since we’d be climbing soon…).
Most of the route from the center of Meiringen was along a road in the hot sun, which wasn’t much to look at. We came to a river crossing and a parking lot that led to the woods. On the edge of the trees was a playground and the Aareschlucht visitor center. We got our tickets and set out on the pathway to the schlucht.
However unassuming our approach was, the Aareschlucht immediately tipped that on its head. Following the trail around the river bend revealed a cave, which opened to the side with the option to follow a wooden walkway along the gorge suspended above the rushing water.
The walkway was a liiiittle scary. The wooden boards creaked and shifted underfoot, but after a few minutes even I got used to it. Those first few moments out there I focused on Swiss engineering, haha.
In English, it is called the Aare Gorge and it is remarkable. Over thousands of years, the river worked its way through the limestone in the gorge, creating a chasm that is quite narrow at points.
The dramatic rock face is beautiful as the wooden path twists and turns its way along the undulating sides, before opening up to its widest point at 98ft.
The water moves quickly and is a pretty turquoise color thanks to all the rock sediment in it. So cool!
The beautiful gorge was the perfect introduction to the many natural wonders we’d experience over the next seven days of hiking through the Swiss Alps.
After visiting Aare Gorge, we walked back through Meiringen to the gondola up to Hasliberg Reuti. Before embarking on our trip, Andrew bought us each a Half-Fare Travelcard, which allowed us to pay half-price for train tickets and the like. This gondola was also included. Over the course of 9 days, we definitely got our money’s worth on our half price cards.
The gondola took us up over Meiringen with its reddish roofs, walking paths and ski runs, transforming our valley views to include more of the surrounding peaks.
After a quick ride, we arrived at Hasliberg Reuti, perched at 1,082m. Once there, we checked into our hotel just across the way, the charming and lovely Hotel Reuti.
This beautiful hotel looked out over the mountains and (unbeknownst to us at the time) provided an excellent view of what we’d tackle the next day on our hike. I say unbeknownst because we covered a lot more ground visually than I was anticipating!
The room was modern, clean and comfortable and they even left us a treat – meringues! Meringues are said to have been created in Meiringen, the perfect choice for this spot.
They offered us a welcome drink, so we headed down to the restaurant early to enjoy a glass of bubbles before dinner. It was truly a drink with a view!
We had a lovely dinner watching the sunset over the Alps. Surrounded by their beauty, we were even more excited for our backpacking to get underway.
Also, this view is gorgeous in the summer – but imagine it covered in snow!
Stay tuned for our first day out on the trail: Stage 10 of the Via Alpina and Engelhornhütte.