When people think of the geography of Switzerland, they tend to think of the country’s vast mountain ranges, the Alps. But with lots of mountains come lots of valleys and the places you find in Switzerland’s valleys are just as compelling. A great example is the small town of Meiringen, south of Lucerne, by far one of the top places to go in Switzerland.
Positioned in a vibrant green valley, it’s true that Meiringen does share the same look as many typical Swiss towns. What sets Meiringen apart instead, is its cultural ties and nearby natural beauties. Visiting Meiringen, you may not spend too much time in the town itself, but it is difficult to separate it from the attractions that lie on its doorstep.
Things To See in Meiringen Switzerland
Meiringen and the Aare Gorge
Found in the canton of Bern, Meiringen is very much a small resort town. With favoured destinations like Grindelwald, Interlaken and Lungern not far away, the stiff competition means that Meiringen is often overlooked.
Much of what makes the town interesting relates to its majestic natural surroundings. Sitting in a textbook idyllic Swiss valley, the town is sandwiched between mountains that conceal icy, glacial waters.
Indeed, the Aare river that flows out of these mountains past Meiringen, feeds several of Switzerland’s most impressive lakes with its aqua-colored, glacier water. Besides the river, the snow-capped mountains that can be seen from the town’s streets make sure you never forget exactly where you are.
The Sherlock Connection
The town of Meiringen also has an interesting connection to possibly fiction’s greatest detective – Sherlock Holmes. You may be puzzled when you come across a commemorative plaque and even a museum dedicated to the fictional master of deduction. But it all makes sense when the connection between the two is revealed.
In one of the series’ most iconic moments, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty struggle with one another atop a waterfall. The waterfall in question? The Reichenbach Falls, which just so happen to overlook Meiringen. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the character, was impressed by the waterfalls during a holiday in Switzerland and decided to make them the scene of Holmes’ suspected death in his story “The Final Problem”.
Located near the centre of town by a statue to the detective, the Sherlock Holmes Museum is held inside the aptly named English Church. The church itself was built for the many English holidaymakers to Meiringen, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The museum hosts exhibits that authentically examine the character, the author and their era, as well as a reconstruction of the interior from 221B Baker Street based off the stories. Surely a must for any die-hard fan of Sherlock Holmes.
Now, the Reichenbach Falls aren’t just significant because of their fictional connection. They’re also exceptionally scenic and benefit from some superb views. Across the river from town, the falls are actually a fair way up the mountainside south of Meiringen. To get up close, you need to take the favourite transportation of the Swiss, a funicular.
Once at the base of the series of falls, you can follow trails that lead you up along its various stages. Prepare for a bit of spray as the falls can be quite high and the cloud of vapour can drift on occasion.
The various viewpoints by the waterfalls also offer stunning views back across the valley to Meiringen. From them, you can see that the Reichenbach Falls aren’t the only ones found in this valley of Switzerland.
With a small suspension bridge over them and a typical timber house up above, you can understand what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle appreciated in the scene. The house above the falls is the Gasthaus Zwirgi, an option for lunch or just a nice place to take a break with a beer or coffee.
Aare Gorge 400
Follow the Aare river upstream out of Meiringen and you’re lead to quite the awe-inspiring sight, the Aare Gorge. For millennia, melting glacier water has etched its way into the mountains here, eventually carving out this narrow, limestone gorge.
Known in German as the Aareschluct, the gorge worms its way through the limestone rock of the mountains, spanning 200 metres. Visiting the Aare Gorge, you’re able to follow the trail that clings to the walls of the gorge and occasionally deviates into tunnels through the mountainside. For those with claustrophobia, know that the tunnels aren’t too long or confined and are fairly infrequent.
Walk up along the gorge, you’re truly able to appreciate the brilliant colour of the glacier water as it contrasts against the gentle limestone. Here and there, small waterfalls feed into the river, building upon the already striking beauty found in the gorge.
It’s worth noting, that there is also another gorge found nearby Meiringen in the Gletscherschlucht, or Gletscher Gorge. It is less accessible however and requires you follow the Rychenbach river upstream from the Reichenbach falls for quite a way.
Meiringen – Hasliberg Ski Resort
A popular outdoor destination in Switzerland like Meiringen wouldn’t be complete without somewhere to ski. Directly north of town lies Hasliberg and the extensive Meiringen – Hasliberg Ski Resort.
Right in the centre of Meiringen, you can hop aboard a gondola and before you know it, you enter a network of gondolas. This broad network presents you with plenty of different ski runs, as well as cross country skiing routes and snow shoe trails.
Of course, all of this becomes pristine hiking and mountain biking territory during summer. There’s said to be over 300 km of trails scattered about the area surrounding Meiringen.
Home of the Meringue
Meiringen’s other claim to fame is quite a big one, especially for those with a sweet tooth. You see, Meiringen is believed to be the birthplace of the meringue and they hold that honour quite tightly. Even just the similarity of the two words Meiringen and meringue make it a believable claim, right?
Anyway, as the home of the meringue, it’s hardly surprising that you’ll find meringue dishes being served in most cafes and restaurants in town. While they can be eaten on their own, it’s also possible to get this delicious dessert served with ice cream, cream and strawberries for a real sugar overload! But what the hell, when in Meiringen, right?
Visiting Meiringen and Getting There
Meiringen can be reached by car in roughly an hour from either Lucerne or Bern, while Interlaken is only half that. This means that a day trip to Meiringen from any of these is quite an easy prospect. A visit could even be combined with neighbouring destinations like Grindelwald, Interlaken or Engelberg.
Unsurprisingly, getting there on public transport is going to take a bit longer. Trains from Lucerne take around 70 minutes, while Bern is almost 2 hours away. Interlaken however, is just as quick by train as by car. It’s worth mentioning that train tickets can be quite expensive in Switzerland, as are many things there.