Last updated: 14. 9. 2022
When my husband planned a trip to Lake Biel, I was expecting a relaxing walk from the town of Erlach on St. Peter’s Island (St. Petersinsel). You may be wondering, what is this nonsense “going to walk on the island”? The explanation is quite simple: since the second half of the 19th century the island is connected to the mainland by a man-made spit of land, so it is actually a peninsula, but that hasn´t changed its name.
So I was really excited that I would enjoy again almost summer weather, admire the view of boats, sailboats, and steamers cruising Lake Biel, but the reality was far from my ideas …
Erlach – St. Peter’s Island
Although the trail to the island is officially stated as a tourist trail suitable for wheelchair users, the footpath in the first half makes a slight A-shape and it is quite difficult to maneuver there with a buggy, let alone a wheelchair.
Expected views also nothing much – unless you are a botanist and take pleasure in the views of ten-foot reeds. To make the trail more varied you could use a short wooden trail through marshes to the “view” – from which you do not see too much (well, someone who is not such a half-pint like me maybe sees something over the omnipresent reeds, I guess). This gloomy weather did not help too much.
You could enjoy a better view of the distant lake shores from a small lookout tower (turning to it can be easily missed because it is not labeled). We bumped into it just because we heard voices somewhere from the left and our curiosity hurried us up to see what was hidden there.
Restaurant & Klosterhotel St. Petersinsel
The other half of the trail to the former monastery, which was built on the island around 1127 (now a hotel with a restaurant), led through the forest. On our first visit to St. Petersinsel, we didn’t even make it to the hotel at the end of the island because we were so fed up with the millions of flies and mosquitoes that we took it straight to the dock and figured out how to get off the island (the thought of going back the same way made us swoon). So we returned by steamer (see below). On our second visit, when we opted for the opposite approach, i.e. a boat trip first, and then a walk back to Erlach, we were already headed for the former monastery. The archaeological findings at this site date back to the Bronze Age. The findings prove the existence of a Roman temple quarter. Sarcophagi point to an early medieval mining culture. A massive basilica was unsuccessfully built here in the 11th century. In September and October 1765, Jean-Jacques Rousseau stayed here after his escape from Môtiers.
From the hotel, a path leads up a gentle hill to a pavilion overlooking the lake.
Boat cruise on Lake Biel
On our first visit, we were going from St. Petersinsel, Nord to Erlach, on our second visit in the opposite direction. The cruise takes 25 minutes with a stopover in La Neuveville. BSG timetables can be found here. Tickets can be purchased either from the staff on board or via the SBB app. A 50% discount applies to Half-fare Card, kid travel for free with Junior Card. The ticket costs CHF 10.10.
On the shore of Lake Biel, there is a beautiful grassy beach with all the facilities – buffet and restaurant, playground, barbecue. Here you can enjoy a perfect afternoon.
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