This guide provides you with the best excursion tips in the Emmental region. From the Emmental show dairy to secret hikes, you’ll find it all in this guide.
Text and pictures Marc Gottwald
The Emmental in the canton of Bern is best known for its cheese. But the region has much more to offer than just cheese. From romantic villages to unique hikes and magical mountains.
The Emmental is located right next to the Entlebuch. And yes, the region is very diverse and caters to all tastes. In this guide, I would like to tell you about my favorite places, hikes and activities. Here we go.
Emmental History Summary
But before we get to the excursion tips in the Emmental, we should take a brief look at the history. This is important to understand the landscape development of this region.
Historians estimate that the settlement of the Emmental began in the 9th century. Remote valleys were inhabited 100 to 200 years later. In the region, there are many scattered settlements and small hamlets with churches. These are mostly mentioned as far back as 1275, which is evidence of a great age.
Forestry and agriculture were practiced. Especially on the hills, the trees were cleared for agriculture, which we can see perfectly in the later example of Rämisgummen or Wachthubel.
Over time, the Emmental developed into an exporter of linen products, alpine cheese, wood and horses. But with the construction of the railway lines and roads from the 19th century onwards, industry and commerce also came to the Emmental.
Let’s have a look on some of the best destinations.
Trub in the Emmental
Trub has been voted the most beautiful place in Switzerland in 2019. That’s why it is already worth a visit. With the church and the traditional old houses, a lot of value is placed on tradition here. The small museum of the Trub wrestling club already shows this. Admission is free and you can learn a lot about wrestling and the club.
A short walk to the lookout point is especially worthwhile. You can photograph the village from above. But there is also a bench waiting for you, which is the perfect place to relax.
Trub has even been the setting for films. For example, the Swiss movie „Der Verdingsbub“ was done here.
Although Trub seems very small, in terms of area it is one of the largest villages in the canton of Bern. This has to do with the fact that there are a few valleys that all belong to the municipal area. The most famous point is probably the bowl. But other vantage points are also great insider tips.
Kambly factory shop Trubschachen – a must place to visit in the Emmental
If you are in the Emmental, you have to combine your trip with the Kambly factory store in Trubschachen. Because this place is a paradise for everyone who loves sweets. Here you can taste as many biscuits as you like from more than 50 varieties.
The prices are also more than 50% cheaper compared to the retail. Depending on the expiry date, there are special offers where you really pay almost nothing for the biscuits. Not only sweet but also salty people get their money’s worth. Kambly has various savory biscuits on offer, such as the well-known fish biscuits or the flute with tomatoes, Emmental cheese, etc.
So the Kambly factory shop is a great destination and an argument to visit the Emmental.
Schangnau is another pearl in the Emmental, but once belonged to Wolhusen in the Entlebuch. The wooden houses, the flower-filled gardens and the village church combined with the view of the Hohgant creates a dreamlike picture. From here you can start perfect hikes in all directions. My tip is the hike to the Wachthubel (see next point).
About 8000 years ago there was still a glacier in the area of Schangnau, named the Emme Glacier. Today, however, this glacier no longer exists. After its retreat, a mountain lake formed at first. Because over time sediments were deposited and the lake turned into a bog. However, most of it was drained some time ago so that agriculture could be practiced. This means that the flat areas where cows graze today were once raised bogs. Nevertheless, there is still a well-known moor in the Emmental: the Steinmösli nature reserve (see below).
By the way, as an insider tip, you can find beautiful daffodils in spring. But not only that. On the Wachthubel and Rämisgummen, thousands of crocuses are in bloom.
Do you love crocuses? Then the hike to the Wachthubel is a great insider tip in spring. Thousands of crocuses await you on the Wachthubel. The unique view over the Entlebuch and Emmental rounds off the hike perfectly. The crocuses blossom from early to mid-April, depending on the warmth and weather. We did the hike there on 4.4.21 and were still a few days too early. But that spring it has been cold for a long time.
For the approx. 3.5h hike, you start in Schangnau. There is free parking at the church. The goal for today is a good 500 meters in altitude. As it is a circular hike, we first walk through the village and the first kilometer along the road. After that, there are always hiking trails through the meadows as shortcuts. And don’t worry, the roads are really not very busy.
The beautiful gardens with daffodils and other flowers catch your eyes immediately. But soon we turn into the forest. Particularly striking are the many gravel stones in combination with sand, silt (fine sand) and clay. These were deposited by ice-age rivers in front of the former glacier forefield.
Stunning views of the Emmental are waiting
After some time in the forest, you are very close to the Wachthubel. Because there are almost no trees left now, most of them have been cleared for farmland. Why are we not above the tree line? The reason is that there are still a few large trees. We can assume that the rest have been cleared.
Arriving on the Hohgant, thousands of crocuses sprout from the ground. They are purple or white and, with the view over the Hohgant in the Emmental and the Entlebuch, simply gorgeous. Unfortunately, as mentioned, we were here a little too early this year. Nevertheless, the Wachthubel is one of the most beautiful places of power in the Emmental and well worth a hike.
Even a bench invites you to linger and enjoy. On the way back, we walk a lot through the forest. The paths are steep in parts. With a little luck we found some beautiful daffodils in white and yellow. This makes the hike a flower hike. The great thing is that on this day it was directly Easter. But the hike is also ideal in later spring and autumn. In summer it can get very hot, depending on the day.
Emmental Show Dairy
Emmental cheese is known all over the world. That’s why it’s great to be able to look behind the scenes of cheese production. Cheese was made to preserve milk and to have enough dairy products available even in winter.
Today, cheese is such a great tradition in Switzerland that it is almost impossible to imagine summer without it. In the Emmentaler show dairy you can see live several times a day how Emmentaler AOP is made. You can even make your own cheese on guided tours and courses. Furthermore, there are public courses, which are only in German (translation is provided in writing in English, Italian, Spanish and French). But private courses can also be booked.
The show dairy is in Affoltern in Emmental and is open Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. There is also a restaurant that even offers brunches on Sundays.
Another walk in the Emmental can be taken on the Rämisgummen. The mountain, which borders the Entlebuch, is a little better known than the Hohgant. Since you can drive up, there are accordingly many more people.
But the view is also phenomenal. And if you want, you can also start a hike from Schongau or Trubschachen to the Rämisgummen. Hungry people can get something to eat at the Restaurant Erika about 15 minutes from the crocus meadow.
By the way, do you know the ideal conditions for crocuses to grow? It is a moist soil at a sunny location. That’s why the flowers often sprout from the meadow right after the snow melts (mostly) in April.
However, the Rämisgummen mountain is always a tip, even after the crocus blossom. Because from here you have a view over the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau or the Brienzer Rothorn on good days. In summer, pasture farming is practiced.
Steinmösli raised bog
The Steinmösli raised wetland is one of the most beautiful nature reserves in the Emmental. Although peat was extracted here for a long time. The NGO Pro Natura Schweiz has been the owner since 2011. This is because six important raised wetland plants are found here, as well as rare species such as the Moorbärlapp. Even up to 25 different dragonfly species live here, according to Pro Natura.
But the traces of peat extraction are still present today. Peat was being extracted in this area of the Emmental until 1996. The moor was drained for the extraction. To reverse this, dams were built to prevent the water from draining away. Otherwise the moor would have dried up completely. For this reason, many moors in Switzerland are still drying out today, even though they have been officially protected since 1987.
You can travel to Schangnau by public transport and walk to the moor. It is also possible to get there by car.
The Emmental in the canton of Bern is the perfect place to find peace and quiet or to go on great hikes. Especially in spring, when the daffodils and crocuses are in bloom, the region is a highlight. But the Emmental is also charming in summer, autumn and winter and is worth a visit at any time of year. And it’s very close located from the famous Bernese Highlands.