ABOVE: The Niesen is a massive pyramid that rises above
Lake Thun and nearby grain fields.
Bernese Alps are dotted with mountain railways, cable cars, and funiculars. Some, like the
Jungfraujoch Railway and the Schilthorn cable car, are mentioned in every
guidebook; others, like the Stockhornbahn, are
unknown to most English-speaking tourists.
The Niesenbahn, a funicular on a 2,262m (7,749-ft)
mountain overlooking Lake Thun, falls into the latter category even though it's been in
operation since 1910. But make no mistake: the mountain offers spectacular views in all
directions. Best of all, tickets are at least 50% cheaper than more famous excursions.
The funicular is called the Niesenbahn, and
it's open from early May through mid-November. Funiculars depart at regular
intervals from the valley station between 8:00 a.m. until 5:10 p.m year-round,
with additional evening departures on Wednesdays and Sundays at certain times of
the year. The funicular takes 28
minutes to reach the summit.
Options include fares to either of the two
intermediate stations and a "Wanderbillet" that lets you hike between any two
stations on the way up or down. If you're ambitious, you can walk downhill from the summit
to Frutigen (a popular resort in the Lötschberg region) in about four hours.
A mountain inn built in 1856, the Berghaus Niesen Kulm, offers snacks, meals, 35
dormitory beds, and seven hotel rooms. The hotel is now smoke-free. For
information on accommodations and meals, see the Niesenbahn's Web site (link on
Advance tickets and reservations
To order funicular tickets, book an Abendfahrt,
or reserve an overnight hotel package ahead of time, use the Niesenbahn's online booking form.
More information and Web links
Continued on page 2