Our visit to Schynige Platte Alpengarten (alpine garden) was definitely THE highlight of our Swiss vacation this summer (2016). I won’t be exaggerating if I say that it was the best part of my vacation. There are days when nice things are just planned for you to happen. And that you are completely unaware about it turns out to be cherry on top.
We did not make any particular itinerary for our Swiss vacation in and around Interlaken area. Rightly so, because even the most casual sight from our chalet window was so breathtakingly beautiful! Everyday, we would just leave our humble chalet unplan/ned and hop on to any train. Or just wander aimlessly!
View this post on Instagram
Swiss bells at Schynige Platte, Interlaken. Visit www.ghumr.com to read about Priyanka's Swiss visit #ghumrshots #backpacking #switzerland #switzerland🇨🇭 #switzerlandpictures #europe #travel #travelphotography #travelpics #latergram #travelogue #schynigeplatte #interlaken #myswitzerland #swiss
Schynige Platte – a beautiful surprise!
On second day of our trip in Switzerland, we saw a Swiss Mountain Railway train parked right at the Wilderswil station in Interlaken. The station-master explained that it was vintage cog railway running from Wilderswil to the historic Schynige Platte. Schynige Platte is high mountain area and is located in the Bernese Oberland of the Swiss Alps at about 2000 meters altitude. It’s altitude is perfect – not too far up that it freezes everything cold, but close enough to the beautiful blue sky. And it offers unique experience through its alpine garden. There, one can silently admire all elements of mother nature and while completely immersing himself in it. That was the best part for me that you don’t just ‘see’ but ‘feel’ beauty around you, you can go out and smell flowers, touch plants and feel the wind.
Schynige Platte is located inside a triangle with Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen & Wilderswil as three coordinates. Geographically the location is quite optimal with views of lake Thun on one side & lake Brienz on the other which you can enjoy on your way up from Wilderswil. If you start from Grindelwald, you can two options — (i) take a train to Wilderwil & then take the Schynige Platte railway from there (ii) hike/bike down the 15 Km distance.
Vintage railway, beautiful views
The approximately 50 mins train journey to Schynige Platte takes you to 1400 meters higher above Wilderswil. If you choose a good weather day, you are in for a buffet of spectacular visual treats as the cog rail winds slowly up the mountains. The ride is extremely scenic with views of villages around Interlaken, saddled between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. As the train scales higher altitudes, visitors are enthralled with towering views of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The train ride with its wooden benches in the red carriages and rolling stock gives it a vintage feel.
Schynige Platte railway time-table, tickets & fare
The round-trip fare from Wilderwil to Schynige Platte is CHF 65, however with the ‘Interlaken Guest Card’ (given to us by our hosts at Chalet Garfi), we ended up paying a reduced fare of CHF 40 per person. Alternately, there are few other ways of saving money on ticket fare through various offers most notably Jungfrau Pass.
Trains leave Wilderswil station almost every hour (with the last train at 5 PM), so you don’t need to plan too much around. If you want to buy the tickets in advance, those are also available online here.
Schynige Platte top – restaurants with views, hiking with flowers
Once you reach the top, there are several ways to spend your time. There is a hotel and mountain resort to relax while enjoying impressive views of Jungfrau. The Alpine Garden awaits you to explore the high altitude flora of Switzerland. Schynige Platte is the starting point for well-known walks. Even for amateur hikers, there are several mountain trails of varying lengths to choose from.
I enjoyed my time soaking myself in the unique beauty of alpine botanical garden. The garden entrance is right near the northern end of Schynige Platte railway station. The Schynige Platte Alpine Garden is in fact scientific botanical garden. It is almost one of the oldest and one of the few alpine gardens. In 1928, around 8000 square feet around Schynige Platte was fenced. The garden became functional since 1932. At the entrance, shop run by the garden society sells guides to the garden and other related merchandise, and an adjacent exhibition contains information on the geology, botany and zoology of the Schynige Platte.
Alpine Garden – a postcard scenery at every step
The Alpine Garden contains the largest possible number of species and subspecies of Alpine flora from Switzerland and its immediate bordering regions. The diversity of plants and flowers we saw here was extremely refreshing. There is purple, yellow, orange and several other colors and all on a canvas of an extremely soothing green. There are winding trails within the alpine garden which present the floral diversity on one side and beautiful views of the valley on the other side. Walking along easy paths in a compact area (1 km with approximately 40 m height difference) and without having to climb several summits, I spent time observing the Alpine plants in tranquillity. My husband took ample pictures while learning the names from the labels.
I spent about an hour just gazing at the amazing Jungfrau views while sitting on one of the benches. There was a farm meadow visible with cows lazily grazing green grass. It was calm with silence only pierced by the ringing of distant cow bells from the meadow. It added to the surreal feel of the place. Suddenly, the cloud covering mountains behind meadow opened up to exhilarating beauty. The distant mountains soaking in the afternoon sun completely filled my view. Some experiences just make you feel alive and aware of nature around us. Schynige Platte was one such experience I will always cherish!