There are those places you have an idealised vision of in your head, based on popular imagery, and when you travel to those places they look exactly like in your head. That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago when I visited one of the most picturesque regions of Switzerland (and this country isn’t short of them): Iseltwald and the Bernese Oberland.
Think majestic mountains, crystal-clear blue lakes, lush green fields and small villages made of wooden built chalets: welcome to the Bernese Oberland, poster-perfect Switzerland!
The Bernese Oberland is in the southern end of the canton of Bern, Switzerland, and Iseltwald is a village located on the southern shore of Lake Brienz within the Bernese Oberland.
When you arrive by car to Iseltwald you have to leave your car on a parking at the entrance of the village. Iseltwald is not a pedestrian village however only locals are allowed to circulate by car. Once parked, you start walking down a small path winding through deep green fields and pretty little flower orchards until reaching the actual village.
Iseltwald is one of the daintiest tiny villages I’ve ever seen. It’s your typical Swiss mountain village: wooden built chalets surrounded by manicured flower gardens, a few cute restaurants, a crystal-clear lake and simply jaw-droppingly gorgeous landscapes! The glorious sunny weather we had during our walk only added additional perfection to the entire day.
Iseltwald is the ideal destination if you enjoy the outdoors: hiking, lake swimming, boating, kayaking, paragliding, there is something for everyone. To make the most of our day we decided to go on a short boat cruise to another of the region’s landmark: the Grand Hotel Giessbach and its grandiose waterfalls.
There are multiple ways to go from Iseltwald to Giessbach: by boat, by car or – if you are very brave – by foot. As the weather was so gorgeous we opted for the boat.
After boarding a grand white and red painted period-style steamboat, and a 15-20 minutes mini-cruise, you reach the hamlet of Giessbach, also on the shores of Lake Brienz.
Giessbach is home to two national historical landmarks: the Grand Hotel Giessbach and its neighbouring waterfall.
If the “Belle Epoque” era is your favourite, you’ll love the Grand Hotel Giessbach! The actual main building was built in the late 19th century and by the 1910s, the Grandhotel Giessbach had become the meeting point for global royalty and high society.
After a short ride on the historical red-painted funicular, you reach the hotel’s lovely garden terrace. Stepping into the hotel really feels like stepping back in time, or being in one of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novel: period-furniture, antiques pendant luminaires, brocart fabric on the walls, even the color palette is the same than the original 19th century one.
The other landmark in Giessbach is its waterfall, tumbling in 14 stages, over a length of 500 meters and out of the high valleys of the Faulhorn area down to Lake Brienz.
Following a narrow path along the watercourse you can climb up the 14 stages (if you are very brave) or just stop at one of the first sections where the path will take you behind the cascade and where you’ll have a full-on view of the hotel.
So, if you want to discover poster-perfect Switzerland visit Iseltwald and the Bernese Oberland. You won’t be disappointed!