If you could design a land to be the perfect idyll for hiking, then Switzerland would be it. It’s practically the national pastime and an activity made so easy for anyone hankering for the fresh air and the great outdoors. On my recent trip to Switzerland I did several hikes of half a day or less and will be sharing the delights of these hikes with you in some future blog posts. Today I would like to share one of my absolute favourites – the Panoramaweg from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg.This hike is located in the Bernese Oberland and provides a magnificent view of the Alps throughout, especially of the big three mountains in the area: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The trailhead is easily accessible from Wengen or Grindelwald via a cable car or gondola up to Männlichen. Both Grindelwald and Wengen are served by regular trains plus Grindelwald can be reached by car so access from the local towns and villages is really good.
I chose to start the hike from Wengen where I was based. The Wengen to Männlichen cableway has added an open-air balcony to the cable cars this summer. Marketed as the Royal Ride, for an extra 5 Francs you have access to the top of the cable car and a spectacular ride up in the open air. It’s definitely worth paying a little extra for but not for those with a fear of heights!
Once you reach the top at Männlichen, there are toilets and café facilities should you wish to have a comfort stop before commencing the hike. It’s a well signposted and pretty straightforward hike of approximately 5.5km (just under 3.5 miles), graded easy and on good paths all the way. Hikes on Swiss signs are posted not in distance but in time for an average older walker. This walk can be completed in around 75 – 90 minutes but as a first timer allow plenty more time to stop and enjoy those views. Benches are thoughtfully spaced throughout the walk to enable you to do just that. Through the course of the hike you will meander gently downhill toward Kleine Scheidegg with spectacular views like these:
One of the nicest things about this hike is that it’s accessible for all the family and ideal for walking with young children. Pushchairs or strollers can access the path but it’s advisable to have one with wheels that can cope with the gravel and occasional bumpy part of the trail. I saw people of all ages on the path. It can get quite busy, but I found that it was easy to space out and have a really peaceful walk. If you find that walkers are bunched up, take a stop on a bench and enjoy the view until it thins out again. Bearing in mind that I was visiting in high season, I found that I had the path to myself for long stretches which made for a tranquil experience.
On arrival at Kleine Scheidegg there are toilets and a handful of cafes and bars with lovely outdoor terraces. From here you can take the train back down to either Wengen or Grindelwald. It is also the jumping on/off point for trains to the Jungfraujoch. You can read more about this excursion here.
Whilst you can tackle this hike in the opposite direction by starting at Kleine Scheidegg I would advise against this, at least the first time. By walking in the opposite direction, you will have the spectacular mountains behind you all the way and the views across the Jungfrau massif are integral to the beauty of this hike. I’d much rather have this in front of me than behind me: