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Switzerland is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, and while popular destinations like Geneva and Zermatt often steal the spotlight, visitors are left missing some of the most beautiful Swiss gems. Among these lesser-known wonders is Aare Gorge, also called Aareschlucht, which offers a unique blend of natural beauty and wonder that captivates visitors.
Tucked away in the heart of the Bernese Oberland region, Aare Gorge is a geological masterpiece carved by the Aare River over the past 150,000 years. As you step into this enchanting chasm, you’ll find yourself surrounded by towering limestone walls that rise up to 590 feet (180 meters) with the narrowest point just over 3 feet wide (1 meter). The gorge is a geological marvel at nearly 1 mile long (0.87 miles, 1,400 meters) with the pathway winding through the rock, showcasing a mesmerizing display of nature’s powerful sculpting abilities.
The turquoise waters of the Aare River rush through the gorge, creating an intense soundtrack echoing off the limestone walls. Carefully crafted walkways are attached to the side of the stone, bringing visitors through the gorge on a 1.1-mile (1.8-kilometer) pathway starting at the visitor’s center. At the end of the path, you either turn around and walk back or take the train to the starting point. The train is included with every admission ticket, runs once every hour, and is a short ride, less than 5 minutes. I opted to walk the gorge pathway back to take in as much of the beautiful gorge as possible.
Along with the interesting geological history of this site, Aare Gorge is the home to two underground caverns from WWII. These caverns were built at the end of 1940. The larger cavern was to be a dormitory for 185 officers and soldiers whereas the technical equipment was in the smaller cavern. There were offices, a recreation room, and dining rooms within a stationary train in the cavern tunnel. The caverns were luxurious with wooden-lined walls, heating, running water, flushing toilets, and electric lighting. For a reason unknown, these caverns were never used but remain to this day.
Aare Gorge is located in the municipality of Meiringen, within the Bernese Oberland region, and is a short 30-minute drive from Interlaken. Visitors can choose to start from the West Entrance or the East Entrance. I arrived at the West Entrance but it really does not matter which side you arrive to unless you have accessibility needs, which the West Entrance can accommodate.
Chirchen 48, 3862 Innertkirchen, Switzerland
Arriving By Train
Aare Gorge is a short 50-minute train ride from Interlaken. From Interlaken, take the PE (Panoramic Express) train to Meiringen, where you’ll transfer to the regional R71 train for a quick 2-minute ride to Aareschlucht West. From here is a 7-minute walk to Aare Gorge.
To arrive at the East Entrance, ride the regional R71 train an additional 1 stop, getting off at Unterwasser/Aareschlucht Ost MIB, where you’ll walk 0.17 miles or 270 meters.
You can visit Aareschlucht with a standalone ticket or a combination ticket that includes Aareschlucht and Reichenbachfall, a gorgeous waterfall only a few minutes away. Read more about Reichenbachfall here. Tickets are purchased in person. Parking is free at both destinations.
Aareschlucht Individual Ticket
|Children 6 – 15
|Children Under 6
Groups of 10+ people receive 1 free admission.
Aareschlucht & Reichenbachfall Combination Ticket
|Children 6 – 15
|Children Under 6
The West Entrance is open from March 29, 2024 – November 3, 2024, whereas the East Entrance is open from May 9, 2024, to November 1, 2024.
Hours of Operation
For a unique experience of Aare Gorge, evening lighting is available on Fridays and Saturdays from July 5 – August 31, 2024, from 6:30 PM – 10 PM where the gorge is open from the West Entrance only.
How long should I spend at Aare Gorge?
Plan on spending 1 to 1.5 hours here. Out and back is about 2.2 miles of walking. Take your time and enjoy the scenery! Tip – arrive early to beat the crowds! I arrived on a Thursday morning in September and only encountered a few others the entire walk.
For those with mobility issues, or parents with strollers, you will want to enter at the West Entrance because only half of the gorge is wheelchair and stroller friendly.
Is Aare Gorge kid friendly?
Yes, Aare Gorge is kid friendly! Along with children being allowed on the gorge pathway, the West Entrance also has a fantastic children’s playground.
The first hike listed below is the pathway for Aare Gorge. The second, however, is an option for visitors that would like to venture into the charming town of Meiringen, a beautiful and picturesque area.
The West Entrance has the main restaurant with hot and cold dishes, including a salad buffet, patisserie, and ice cream. The East Entrance has a bistro with a terrace overlooking the Alps. For any questions, or to make a reservation, contact Aareschlucht at email@example.com or +41 (0)33 971 32 14.
If wanting something a bit more authentic, I do recommend driving to “Terrasse” Nessental for a great meal option with the friendliest owner! More about this below.
Where to Stay
I loved my stay at “Terrasse” Nessental in Gadmen, Switzerland, only an 18-minute drive from the Aare Gorge West Entrance and 11 minutes from the East Entrance!
The host, Peter, was incredibly nice and I enjoyed both a fantastic dinner and breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. Pro tip – the Rösti aka Swiss hashbrowns in the restaurant are incredible! My one night stay cost CHF 108 ($122) for two people and included breakfast.
Nearby attractions include Reichenbach Falls, Rosenlaui Glacier Gorge, and the famous hike Triftbrücke.
Aare Gorge is a portal into Switzerland’s hidden landscapes, where nature and history converge to create an unforgettable experience. As you traverse the narrow pathways and witness the mesmerizing sight and sound of the powerful water cutting it’s way through the limestone rock, you’ll find yourself captivated!
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