Visiting Aare Gorge

On the last weekend in October, we went on a slightly longer trip, although we still stayed in the canton of Bern. Our destination was a rock gorge through which the river Aare flows. Aareschlucht, the jewel of the Berner Oberland, is the perfect place for an easy walk that even the little ones can manage.

Updated: 24 June 2024

How to get to Aare Gorge

Aare Gorge is located east of Interlaken, beyond Lake Brienzersee, near the village of Meiringen. It has two entrances, east and west. Each has free parking (the one at the west entrance is much larger) and a train stop nearby.

By car: take the A8 motorway towards Interlaken, then on to Brienz and Meiringen. Follow the signs for Aareschlucht (turn left at the junction after the roundabout).

By public transport: Take the train to Meiringen, then change to the Zentralbahn regional train to Aareschlucht West (or Aareschlucht Ost) station. From the station, it is still about 500 meters from the entrance to the Aareschlucht.

Opening hours and entrance fees

Aareschlucht is open from the beginning of April on 1 November from 08.30 – 17.30. From mid-June to mid-September, the opening hours are extended until 18:30. On Fridays and Saturdays from 5 July to 31 August 2024, Aareschlucht is lit from 18.30 to 22.00. Keep an eye on the website for the latest information.

Admission is CHF 12 for an adult (16 years and over), CHF 7.50 for children 6 – 15 years. It is possible to buy a combi ticket to the nearby Reichenbach Falls (see below). This costs 20 CHF for an adult and 14 CHF for a child.

Visiting Aare Gorge

It was in 1887 that the town council received permission from the canton of Bern to build access roads in the limestone rocks. The task was entrusted to a certain Johann von Bergen, who set up a company where 12 local ‘personalities’ joined together to finance this risky venture of building paths and walkways in a ravine whose narrowest point is only one meter wide. The gorge was inaugurated in 1888 and welcomed 12,000 visitors that year. *)

The Aareschlucht is 1,400 meters long, just one meter wide at its narrowest point (Kleine Enge), and 40 meters wide at its widest point. The cliffs rise to almost 200 meters, and water flows through the gorge in 11 minutes at normal flow.

Vising Aare Gorge with a stroller?

It was a good decision to visit just before the end of the visitor season when only a handful of tourists go there. I can’t imagine having to meet and avoid other stroller-wielding families on the narrow paths stuck to the rock. In some places, even one barely gets through, plus they must be carried upstairs in about three sections. Also, parents with twin strollers are out of luck because the sidewalks are very narrow. Therefore, taking more minor children in a baby carrier is ideal.

Despite these minor pitfalls, visitors are in for an extraordinary experience. Along the way, visitors can see a waterfall gushing from the rock and traces of natural and chemical erosion. The most exciting information for me was about two caves built in the rocks during the Second World War. The larger one could hold up to 185 officers and soldiers, while the smaller one was intended to be used as a repository for technical equipment. The caves are said to be fully equipped with, for example, running water, flush toilets, heating, and electric lighting. It is unknown why, but the facility was never used, yet it still exists, hidden in the cliffs, unfortunately inaccessible to visitors.

Aare Gorge for kids

In contrast to our first visit nine years ago, there is now a children’s trail in Aareschlucht. Along the trail on the rock walls, you will find “family members” of the Tatzelwurm family. At the entrance to Aareschlucht, be sure to take a card to write answers to the questions. When you leave the Aareschlucht, drop it in the wooden chest, and with a bit of luck, you will win a children’s picture book, Citronella und Tatzi, in a draw at the end of the year.

There is also a children’s playground in front of the west entrance, a nice reward for children after a walk. Parents can relax on the restaurant terrace.

Summary

The walk through the rock gorge is not very long – 1.4 km from one entrance to the other, so even an untrained hiker can manage it :). It takes about 45 minutes. However, if even that less than a mile is too much for you (or your offspring), you can hop on a train or Postbus at the end to get back to the parking lot in front of the main entrance. I recommend returning the same way, though, as you may discover interesting things you may not have noticed before! Or the weather may change a bit (like the sun coming out), and suddenly, the impressions are completely different 🙂 .

I recommend sturdy footwear and equipment for light rain. Even if it did not rain at the moment of your visit, the rocks could be dripping with water, and the surfaces of the paths and footbridges could be very slippery. You don’t necessarily need a raincoat, just a jacket with a hood or a cap/hat.

Reichenbach Falls – for Sherlock Holmes fans

Close to the western entrance of the Aareschlucht (about 15 minutes by brisk walk or a few minutes by car) is the lower station of the historic funicular that takes you to the Reichenbach Falls. The funicular runs every quarter of an hour. A separate ticket for an adult costs 12 francs. Still, as I wrote in the introduction, buying a bargain combi ticket (Aareschlucht + Reichanbachbahn) is possible because the two activities are so close together that it’s worth visiting them on the same day.

If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, you’ll know this is where the fateful clash between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty occurs. However, the top of the waterfall where he was thrown down is still a 30-minute walk away and higher up. But we’ll go here another time.

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Author

Hana Hurábová

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