Making our dinner in a 200-year-old farmhouse, pulling vegetables right out of the dirt, and working with traditional tools over an open fire was a real eye-opener—and a lot of fun. - S.S. - Washington


Day 1 – Wilkommen | Transfer to Interlaken | Mountaintop Excursion | Welcome Dinner

On arrival at either Zurich or Geneva airport, you’ll be transferred by Swiss Rail to Interlaken where you’ll be met on arrival and taken to our hotel in adjacent Wilderswil. After checking in we take an afternoon excursion to Harder Kulm, Interlaken’s local mountain. The ascent to the 1322-meter summit takes just ten minutes on a modern funicular. The summit restaurant looks like a mountaintop castle and offers commanding views of the glistening peaks of the Bernese Alps as well as Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. We return to our hotel for an orientation and welcome dinner. D

Day 2 – Historic Ballenberg | Cooking in a 200-year-old Kitchen

Ballenberg is Switzerland’s open-air museum rural life. Here over 100 homes and buildings from throughout Switzerland—most hundreds of years old—have been relocated and faithfully reassembled and restored. After touring Ballenberg you’ll have a unique opportunity to set up kitchen in an 18th century farmhouse—without electricity or running water—where you’ll delve into your pantry and be introduced to the simple ingredients and cooking instruments or the era. If all goes well, you’ll enjoy a traditional farm dinner of your own making shared in the farmhouse parlor. BD

Day 3 – Hands-on Rösti Cooking Class | Trümmelbach Falls | Lauterbrunnen Valley

You can’t leave Switzerland without discovering rösti, which many Swiss consider to be the national dish. You’ll hone the techniques and tricks in making perfect rösti, then experiment with your choice of traditional add-ins—cheese, onion, bacon, tomato, apple or fresh mountain herbs—for your personal version of this Swiss favorite. On an afternoon excursion we’ll stretch our legs in the beautiful glacially-cut Lauterbrunnen Valley ringed by 72 cascading waterfalls. This valley was the inspiration for JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth. We’ll visit Trümmelbach Falls, a ten-tiered underground waterfall that drains the Eiger Glacier. We return to our hotel for dinner where the showpiece will be the rösti we created in the morning. BD

Day 4 – Jungfraujoch Excursion | Lindt Heaven | Gourmetstübli Dining

A morning departure takes us into the heart of the Jungfrau on the classic railway excursion to the Jungfraujoch. On a modern cogwheel train, we ascend steeply above treeline to arrive at Kleine Scheidegg. Then we tunnel through the Eiger with two stops at observation galleries to first overlook the North Face of the Eiger, and then view the Eismeer Glacier. We arrive at the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe and overlooking the longest glacier in the Alps. Attractions at the top include the Ice Palace where you’ll explore the inside of a glacier, and Lindt Heaven, where you’ll sample the newest flavors of Lindt’s famous Lindor Truffles—including some creations not yet available to the public. This is our evening for fine dining at our hotel’s award-winning restaurant. BD

Day 5 – Pastry Cooking Class – Apple Strudel | Chocolate Show | Folklore Evening

Even though its origins are more Eastern European, no dessert is more widely associated with the Alps than Apfelstrudel. In German, the word strudel means “swirl” and you’ll see why as you wrap layers of paper-thin pastry dough around a mound of spiced apple filling. After our class we’ll take a cruise on the deep glacial lakes that straddle Interlaken on the east and west. We return in time for a chocolate demonstration from a chocolatier that has been an Interlaken favorite for 200 years. Tonight, it’s alphorns and accordions as we enjoy dinner and a live folklore show with Alpine music and traditions. BD

Day 6 – Bern’s Old City and Market | Chocolate Tour of Zurich

We depart Interlaken for a quick train ride along the shores of the Thunersee and on to Bern, Switzerland’s capital city. The Old City dates to the 12th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with fountains and over four miles of covered arcades. Along with the rich history and culture we’ll be on hand for their colorful outdoor market. Then it’s on to Zurich and a tour of its fabled Konditorei and chocolatiers. We’ll visit both the well-known shops—Lindt, Sprüngli, Teuscher and Läderach—and also some rising stars. For our farewell dinner we’re in Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse district, the premier shopping area, where we dine in a 500-year-old building that was once an armory and housed William Tell’s crossbow. BD

Day 7 – Breakfast and departure

Return to Zurich Airport for return flight or onward travel. B

The tantalizing fare of the Bernese Oberland. Photo 123RF

Activity Level

This Alpenwild trip is designed for people who are energetic, active, and filled with a spirit of adventure. We rate this trip as Easy. You should be in good physical condition and capable of walking 1 to 2 hours per day on well maintained and graded walking paths with a vertical elevation gain of up to 200 feet per day, at an elevation up to 10,000 feet above sea level.