Hike Bannalp


Bannalp is one of these small quaint mountain top areas that offers the perfect combo of just about everything you can ask for when you hike in Switzerland.


And when I say everything, I really mean super sick views! The photos above are what it looks like on a sunny day. The lake water is an amazing shade of glacier green.

This is a hidden gem, for me at least, because I have been living 15 minutes away for a total of over 5 years of my life (do I get a little break because they weren’t all consecutive?). You drive through one of my favorite enchanted swiss valleys on the way there, a short 7 minutes from the main highway connecting North and South. It is the route to Engleberg, a quintessentially-Swiss mountain village tucked into the alps. Oberrickenbach is even smaller and more authentic because its still a secret to tourist. Just before you start to make the climb in altitued and swerve around all those nausea inducing switchbacks, you take a left in Wolfenschiessen (translated as wolf shooting) and make the climb into the little tiny (farmer town) of Oberrickenbach. By the way on your way out, do not pass the Gasthaus Post Restaurant (Dorfstrasse 4 6387 Oberrickenbach) with out stopping for fondue. It really is the best place to share a pot of flavored cheese with a friend, or many!

PROPER DIRECTiONS anreise_klein

There are 3 gondolas up to the top of the cliff that forms a wall at the end of the valley, theres really no way to miss them because the road just ends. Take your pick of trails and decide which is a most strategic landing spot and then off you go. Warning: The gondolas up to Bannalp are private, translation: they do not offer a halbtax discount. I think its kind of expensive, but if you have a few hours to spend hiking take a one way and hike down- it saves a little money and is good for you!


A few weeks ago we picked one such route and promised a friend with kids who was going with us that this was a “gentle decent” and that her double knee replacement should be no worries. That was before we accidentally left the map at the bottom of the gondola station and decided we could figure it out. I had been there for a short hike before and there aren’t a whole lot of choices so I felt pretty confident.


We did the circle around the lake for a warm up and took some beautiful photos of the moody clouds that were so inconsiderately blocking our views, when Sparticus serendipitously ran across  a discarded map along the trail, and confidently proceeded to guide the way.

I wonder if you can tell where this story is headed yet? (Yes I blame him). We found our self headed down hill, as in a pretty steep downward mountain trail that was wet and extremely EXTREMELY muddy.

I have never seen a swiss trail in such bad shape. There were workers on it trying to make repairs while we struggled to stay upright and dry. There were a few times when I had to tell my self to “pick up those feet soldier” because I was going to sink in the mud if not, and more than once I felt like I was stepping out of my shoes that were cemented into the mud- squish squash squish squash.



The boys loved it and scampered ahead of us, occasionally slipping in the mud to see how dirty they could get. It didn’t take long (about 2 minutes in) for me to start voicing my concerns about the direction and our guide. He was not appreciative about this line of questioning and threw the map back in my direction landing in the wet mud. But determined- I fished it out and of course- I WAS RIGHT. We were not on the path we had planned and instead on a treacherous steep path that weaved around the shady side of the mountain range.


Too far gone, we pressed on, and on, and on. We were mostly happy little hikers because the weather was cool, and we had no rain and lots of friends to keep us entertained. AND THE VIEWS!!!




At least hiking through the shady muddy wet forest did provide for some moss love.


I have to make a few confessions, I have not been working out at the gym (or elsewhere ) in months. Work and home life are consuming. I was incredibly sore after that hike. I can not say that it’s only from being out of shape. I think that the trail was in such bad shape, my muscles must have had to compensate more than normal to just keep from sliding down the mountain. My friend who did the hike with us also complained about the pain for days after, thats my story and I am sticking to it!





No pain no gain. I will be back after snow season to check out the “right trail”.

The perfect 7-day Itinerary for a week in Central Switzerland.

Last fall (I keep telling you it’s the best time to visit) my Sister-in-law and nieces came for a visit and had the best time- here is what we did!

Except for arrival day these are in no particular order because each one can be done in one day traveling to-and from Ennetbuergen. Obviously the days you visit Lauterbrunen and Hike would be enjoyed more in Sunshine weather, so try to plan accordingly.  Also a list of alternative ideas are at the bottom.

Arrival Day (Thursday):

When arriving from a long flight most people have the inclination to sleep -(I always need a nap) be careful  no to nap to long and stay up till evening if possible – this will help you re-set your clocks. If you can just walk around the village-

 ennetburgen church

  • Check out the church – yes its okay to go inside, and even take photos, just be reverent and respectful.
  • The graveyard behind the church is lovely
  • The seeplatzli park on the lake front is a must do even if you don’t have small children its lovely to sit at the benches overlooking the lake and watch the swans.
  • Stop at the only place in town to find Gelato.
  • Take a boat trip (check for schedules) from the “ship stop” in Ennetburgen just past the Gelato place and make sure to sit on the outside balconies for fresh air.
  • Take a walk up on the top of the Burgenstock (click here for suggestions).

top of burgentock viewsmap

Day 2 (Friday):


Spend a day (or a day and a night and another day) in Alsacs- Colmar and  Riquewihr, France Click here to see 40 of the last storybook towns.

Day 3 (Saturday):


If you don’t stay in France try checking out Engelberg…… Lots to do!

Day 4 (Sunday):

touring lucerne tour in lucerne
Tour Lucerne-

  • Visit the local LDS church for services in German and with English translation. Service begin at 9:00am.
  • Although Sunday isn’t a market day and the shops are closed- it can be a perfect day to walk around the city for a tour. I give a really good tour that takes about 2 hours. For walking tours in English or German meet at the train station but book in advance and check the schedule for seasonal availability. For market days you’ll have to visit before noon  on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Shops stay open a little later on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Day 5 (Monday):


Interlaken area is a must do, and the most popular tourist area in Switzerland. Lucky for us it’s only about an hour by car or 1 and a half by train. I always recommend the train because the ride takes you through beautiful mountanin scenery, that is best enjoyed on a train where you are free to walk around an take photos from the windows.

trummelback copy

  • My favorite place in the Bernard Oberland has to be Lauterbrunen. This picturesque valley was the inspiration for Rivendale -Tolkins magical land of the elves in the Lord of the Rings Trillogy. It’s a great place to bring a picnic and take a walk to – Trümmelbach Falls.
  • From Lauterbrunen catch a mountain train to Murren or Wengen.

swiss flag murren

Day 6 (Tuesday):

trotti bikes


Day 7 (Wednesday):

Head to the french region- its a lot to pack into one day so get an early start!

Chateau-de-Chillon-Castle-Montreux- copy

  • Visit the chocolate factory in Broc . We like to visit the Chocolate factory first then head to Montreux to tour the castle.
  • The Castle Chillion in Montreux-  it is beautifully situated directly on the lake. My favorite part was the dungeon! There are lots of lake front restaurants in Montreux but you’ll be on a bit of a tight schedule to fit all three of these attractions into one day so I recommend bringing a picnic an enjoying it by the castle.
  • Then head to Gruyere (one of the 40 storybook towns left in Europe). Click here to see what there is to do . I have been to the cheese factory- home to a little museum exhibit,  but the real pleasure is just to walking around this walled village soaking up the beautiful views. My children played on the ramparts of the city walls for over an hour, using their imaginations to travel back in time. Watch the sunset and have dinner under the stars.


Some alternative ideas:

  1. Alpamare– This is a really fun waterside park- go in any weather. Buy tickets online so you don’t have to wait in lines- plus it’s a little cheaper!
  2. Stein am Rhein– I haven’t been yet, but I want to go and it has come recommended often.
  3. Basel Zoo- Basel market is great too- make a day of it and hit both places, they aren’t far from each other and the trams in Basel are fun and easy to use.
  4. A day in the Italian Canton  of Ticino:
  • We love the beach in Ascona (its free).
  • Locarno is fun to walk the promenade.