Sneezing - the pyramid

Niesen - The Pyramid of the Alps on Lake Thun

The Niesen reaches an altitude of 2362 m above sea level and is considered the local mountain of Spiez and Thun. Because of its striking shape, it is also called the "Pyramid of the Alps". Between April and November the Niesenbahn runs from Mülenen to the summit. The Niesen lies between the Simmental and the Kandertal and is considered a hiker's paradise.

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Because of its perfect pyramid shape, the Niesen is recognizable from far away.

7 Highlights on the Niesen

  • From April to November the 2362 m high Niesen becomes a hiker's paradise
  • The Niesenbahn is one of the longest funicular railroads in Europe. It travels upwards for almost 3500 m and overcomes 1643 meters in altitude.
  • The 11,674 steps of the Niesenbahn are conquered every year in June by 220 runners of the Niesen Stair Run. It is the longest staircase in the world.
  • Cultural evenings on the Niesen are very popular and open-air concerts are also held here regularly.
  • The Niesen is a summer leisure destination. The cable car and restaurant are closed during the winter months.
  • The Niesendörfli is an adventure playground at the summit, suitable for the whole family.
  • From May to October is the best time for paragliding. On the north side of the Niesen is the starting point

The Niesen is the local mountain of Thun. It is sometimes also called Wimmiser, derived from the municipality of Wimmis. The Kulm with its viewing platform allows a view in all directions. With the Niesenbahn it can be reached in only 30 min from Mülenen.

Niesenbahn (Photo: Niesenbahn)Niesenbahn (Photo: Niesenbahn)
Niesenbahn (Photo: Niesenbahn)Niesenbahn (Photo: Niesenbahn)

Sights on the Niesen

The most important sight on the Niesen is the viewing platform on the Kulm. From here you can enjoy the view 360 degrees because of the pyramid shape. A special experience is a ride on the train, where stories are told

The Niesen is also considered a "weather indicator" in the region, readable by the type of clouds:

  • If the Niesen wears a hat, the weather will be good
  • If the Niesen wears a collar, the weather brings discomfort

Viewing platform and information trail at Niesen Kulm

The viewing platform is reached in about five minutes on an easily passable path on the Kulm. Along the way, twelve information boards show and explain interesting details about the Niesen, the Berghaus and the funicular railroad.

These twelve information boards can be seen:

  • Geology of the Niesen
  • History of the Niesen
  • Legends around the Niesen
  • Flora and fauna on the Niesen
  • Spas around the Niesen
  • The Niesen in art
  • Beginnings of the Niesenbahn
  • The construction of the Niesenbahn
  • Brochures of the Niesenbahn
  • Timetables and prices of the Niesenbahn
  • Berghaus before the opening of the Niesenbahn
  • Berghaus after the opening of the Niesenbahn

The 360-degree panorama at Niesen Kulm shows Lake Thun with Interlaken in the valley and behind it Lake Brienz in the northeast, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and behind them the Bernina Group in the east and southeast. There are also many mountain peaks of the Bernese Alps visible. To the south you can see the Weisshorn group and a bit more to the west the view goes even to Mont Blanc.

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Viewing platform (Photo: Niesenbahn)Viewing platform (Photo: Niesenbahn)
Viewing platform (Photo: Niesenbahn)Viewing platform (Photo: Niesenbahn)

Adventure trips to the Niesen: Storytelling rides on the Niesen

The Niesen Railway offers storytelling tours especially for families. The meeting point is already down at the valley station. After the stories, children can use the Niesendörfli playground at the summit or play together at the Schwandegg. A cozy get-together with a snack, coffee or dinner rounds off these experiences.

Niesenfuchs and Mühlstein

For the little ones between the ages of five and eight, stories are told about the Niesen Fox or the Millstone. The stories are told by Sandra Eng, Pamela Kaltenmark and Barbara Rubin at the middle station. Each child receives a Niesen cap and after playing together, a snack is served. Including the train ride, everything takes 2.5 hours. The Niesenbahn publishes the dates on the page Mühlstein and Niesenfuchs. There you will also find information about the time schedule, dates, costs and booking possibilities. The stories are available for purchase as children's books. The ISDN numbers, prices and further information are provided on the pages Children's Book Mühlstein and Children's Book Niesenfuchs.

Gamekeeper stories

For the older ones there are exciting stories about animals, told by a former gamekeeper of the canton of Bern. During the "Gschichtefahrt" Peter Juesy tells exciting stories about bear bones in the Spiggengrund, a lost chamois buck at the Blüemlisalp or hunting crimes in the region. The first short story is already available at the meeting point at the valley station. Train ride, coffee & croissants in the Berghaus are included in the price.

Dates, time schedule and booking possibilities are published on the page Gamekeeper Stories. Since these trips start very early (duration: 2.5 hours including rides), the return trip can also be extended individually. Also the combination with a brunch in the mountain restaurant is possible.

Niesen Thriller

The Niesen crime novel is written by Esther Pauchard, an author of crime novels from Thun. The thriller is available at the Berghaus in two sections before and after dinner. Pamela Kaltenmark alias Kassandra Bergen tells what she "experienced" together with Kerstin Lindner during a trip to the Niesen. Including the ascent, the Niesen Krimi lasts 3:15 hours, the descent can be delayed individually. Dates, exact schedule and prices as well as booking options can be found on the page Niesen Krimi.

Gschichtefahrte (Photo: Niesenbahn)Gschichtefahrte (Photo: Niesenbahn)
Gschichtefahrte (Photo: Niesenbahn)Gschichtefahrte (Photo: Niesenbahn)

Ride up the Niesen with the funicular railway

The Niesen is a mountain that is very popular between mid-April and mid-November. **The funicular and restaurant are closed outside this period.

One of the longest funicular railways in the world runs up the Niesen in two sections. The first section starts in Mülenen and ends at the Schwandegg middle station. In the second section, the railway travels to the Niesen Kulm mountain station.

The valley station in Mülenen is in the immediate vicinity of the BLS regional railway station. The Niesenbahnen car park is on the other side to the north of the valley station.

From Mülenen to Schwandegg, the funicular climbs 976 metres in altitude over a length of 2111 m. On the stretch from Schwandegg to Niesen Kulm, the funicular has to climb 667 metres in altitude over a distance of 1388 metres.

The maximum gradient that the railway has to overcome is 68% on the higher section. The funicular railway was inaugurated in 1906.

Departure times on the Niesen (CHF) from April 23 to November 13, 2022

mountain tripsfirst tripturnaroundlast trip normal triplast trip evening trip
Mülenen from08:00 h30 min17:00 h19:30 h
Schwandegg from08:15 h30 min17:15 h19:45 h
Niesen on08:30 h30 min17:30 h20:00 h

Departure times from Niesen (CHF) from April 23 to November 13, 2022

mountain journeysfirst journeyturnaroundlast journey normal journeylast journey evening journey (according to irregular rotation)
Niesen from08:15 h30 min17:45 h22:55 h
Schwandegg from08:30 h30 min18:00 h23:10 h
Mülenen on08:45 h30 min18:15 h23:25 h
Niesenbahn (Photo: Niesenbahn)Niesenbahn (Photo: Niesenbahn)
Niesenbahn (Photo: Niesenbahn)Niesenbahn (Photo: Niesenbahn)

Prices at the Niesen

The Niesenbahn does not run in winter. Outside the railroad season, the Berghaus Niesen Kulm is also closed.

Prices of the Niesenbahn (CHF) from 23 April to 13 November 2022

Adults one-way tripAdults one-way trip with discountAdults returnAdults return with discount
Mülenen - Niesen Kulm38,0019,0059,0029,50
Mülenen - Schwandegg24,0012,0038,0019,00
Schwandegg - Niesen Kulm22.0011.0035.0017.50

Reductions include the 1/2 Abonnement, GA, Swiss Travel Pass and children from 6 - 16 years From 15:30 onwards, the round trip costs only CHF 29.50 for adults and CHF 14.75 for children (6-16 years), even without reductions.

The hiking ticket costs 48 CHF, with discount 24 CHF. Thereby 3 routes are taken by train, the fourth (freely selectable) route is hiked.

Prices Yoga on the Niesen (CHF)

per person
Yoga with overnight stay in a double room with WC/shower on the floor226,00
Yoga with overnight stay in a double room with WC/shower in the room246,00
Surcharge for single occupancy of a double room40,00
NiesenNiesen
Niesen shadow (Photo: Niesenbahn)Niesen shadow (Photo: Niesenbahn)

Activities at the Niesen

As an excursion destination, the Niesen is very popular and has a wide range of activities, especially hiking.

Among the most popular activities are:

  • Hiking
  • Paragliding
  • Yoga on the Niesen
  • Visiting Niesendörfli (children's playground)

Hikes

The Niesen provides a view of a beautiful panorama almost everywhere. The choice of the actual route depends on the condition of the hiker. The overview page shows some hiking routes and possible combinations. The following hikes are particularly popular.

Panoramic hike to the Niesen

A panoramic hike from Mülenen to the Kulm of the Niesen is a difficult hike of about four to five hours, depending on your condition. 1.650 meters in altitude have to be mastered.

If that seems too difficult, you can shorten the route wonderfully and take the mountain railroad to the middle station in Schwandegg or board the train there. The upper part of the climb is the more beautiful of the two partial stages. Here, too, there is a choice between a steeper and shorter variant or a longer but moderate path, which means an additional hour of hiking time. The best time for hiking is between June and October.

Roundtrip Schwandegg - Niesen Kulm - Schwandegg

The trail leads from the middle station of the Niesenbahn to the Niesen Kulm and back on the other side. It is initially marked as hiking trail no. 5. The mixture of alpine meadows, stony and also steep sections is varied. The trail has almost constant panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.

It zigzags up through the eastern flank of the Niesen. The descent then goes over the north side on gently sloping paths and past the paraglider launch site towards the Niesen ridge. From a sharp hairpin bend, take hiking trail no. 6 via Cheesbödi and the Oberniese Alp back to Schwandegg.

  • 8 kilometers length
  • just under 4 hours hike
  • 770 vertical meters ascent and descent

The trails can also be walked in the opposite direction. The Niesenbahn also offers hiking tickets with three of four train rides, so that even just one station can be completed on foot.

Hike from the mountain station via Oberniese to Schwandegg

A hike from Kulm to the middle station via Oberniese and Unterniese has a distance of plenty of five kilometers. It can be done in less than two hours, as it is almost exclusively downhill. And if you like, you can use the barbecue area "Tristhubel" above Schwandegg.

In addition to table and benches, the barbecue site is equipped with a grill, firewood and waste garbage cans. Cold water and toilets can be reached in three minutes at the middle station.

Alternative hikes to and from Niesen

Hikes to the northwest of the mountain Niesen like to Diemtigtal or from the north from Wimmis are alternative hiking trails where you don't have to do without the beautiful panorama.

Hike to Diemtigtal

The hike starts with the drive up to the Kulm. From there, the mountain trail leads over the Obere Stalde in a northwesterly direction to the village of Oey. You pass alpine pastures, through stone dumps and forests you reach the nature park Diemtigtal. The hiking trail is signposted.

Hike from Wimmis ("Enjoying the Niesen")

The starting point Wimmis is a village with beautiful wooden houses from the seventeenth and eighteenth century. From Spiez you can get to Wimmis by regional train Zweisimmen in 6-7 minutes. From the Wimmis train station, the path leads in the direction of Oberdorf and below the castle hill to the clearing Gatafel. The partly narrow path winds its way to Stueffistein with a beautiful view. The ascent to Schafboden is particularly steep. Overall, the mountain hike is very demanding with 1,700 meters of ascent and requires a good physical condition.

Mountain hiking (Photo: Niesenbahn)Mountain hiking (Photo: Niesenbahn)
Mountain hiking (Photo: Niesenbahn)Mountain hiking (Photo: Niesenbahn)

Paragliding on the Niesen

The launch site for paragliders on the Niesen is located on the north side in the direction of the Niesen ridge. A flight to Spiez is particularly popular. With more than 1700 meters of altitude and the panorama it is unique. It takes between 20 and 30 min. The best season is from May to the end of October. The starting conditions are better at the Niesen in the morning. Therefore, Niesen flyers have to get up a little earlier. When the wind blows from the north, paragliding flights are not possible.

The approach is by Niesenbahn, the paragliders are transported together with the pilot in a limited number per trip. Everyone is responsible for reloading their own paraglider at the middle station. Further information can be found on the paragliding info page of the Niesen Bahn.

Paragliding flights from the Niesen are also offered as tandem flights by surrounding paragliding schools.

Yoga on the Niesen

Fabienne Egli from Wild Moon Yoga will be conducting "Vinyasa Yoga - dynamic & powerful" on the Niesen in early September. The yoga classes will be held on Thursday evening: 18:00 to 19:30 and on Friday morning: 6:30h to 8:00. Participants have the possibility to book one of the 11 double or twin rooms in the Berghaus for an overnight stay.

The price for yoga on the Niesen includes:

  • three hours of yoga
  • Niesenbahn ascent and descent
  • Dinner (3-course menu or buffet)
  • Overnight stay in a double room
  • Niesen brunch

Visit Niesendörfli

The Niesendörfli is an adventure playground for the whole family. It is located at the summit of the Niesen. The playground also offers a beautiful view of the surrounding area. In the Dörfli, children have the opportunity to live out their imagination while playing. The playground equipment is largely designed from wood

Niesen village (Photo: Niesenbahn)Niesen village (Photo: Niesenbahn)
Niesen village (Photo: Niesenbahn)Niesen village (Photo: Niesenbahn)

Events on the Niesen

In addition to the famous stair run, various cultural events are offered. In addition, there are culinary or culinary-accompanied events in the Berghaus Niesen Kulm. On the store page of the Niesenbahn you can book these events.

Annual stair run on the Niesen

The stair run is a special attraction on the Niesen. The run takes place every year in June. Only athletically trained people without health problems are allowed to participate. The number of participants is limited to 220 people every year. If you are interested in this challenge, you can register on the page of the Niesen Stair Run. As soon as more than 220 people want to participate, the decision will be made by lot. The staircase runs directly next to the rails of the Niesenbahn.

Facts about the stair run:

  • 11,674 steps
  • 693 m.a.s.l. Start in Mülenen
  • 2336 m.a.s.l. Finish mountain station Niesen Kulm
  • 66% maximum gradient in part 1
  • 68% maximum gradient in part 2
  • The best times of the stair climbers on the Niesen are about one hour.

Since 2019, the Niesen Stair Run is part of the Oberland Cup. This Cup includes the following runs, which are held consecutively:

  • Blüemlisalp run
  • Niesen Stair Run
  • Evening run Wengen
  • Vogellisi mountain run

For all non-participants and outside the competition it is forbidden to enter the stairs of the Niesenbahn.

Staircase run upper section (Photo: Niesenbahn)Staircase run upper section (Photo: Niesenbahn)
Staircase run (Photo: Niesenbahn)Staircase run (Photo: Niesenbahn)

up to culture - Culture on the Niesen

On the Niesen, cultural events are offered again and again throughout the season

Some examples:

  • Arlette Wismer: She and her ensemble play Swiss folk music under the motto of the Four Seasons. Their repertoire includes not only traditional but also modern tunes. The musical instruments are violin, accordion and double bass.
  • 1st August celebration on the Niesen for the national holiday with summit bonfire from 21:00 hrs
  • Novel readings, for example with Arno Camenisch on "Der Schatten im Dorf".
  • Concerts with James Gruntz, who reinterprets songs together with a DUO partner
  • Songwriter summit meeting with Lorenz Sommer (formerly known as Tschou Zäme) and Stefan Heimoz
  • "DARUM" with the comedian Claudio Zuccolini
  • Open air concerts of changing artists under the motto Seaside Sessions on the terrace of the Berghaus Niesen Kulm, they take place from 18:00 to 23:00.
  • Niesen-Jasset in November: Culinary ride with the mountain railroad

Events at the Berghaus Niesen Kulm

Events are planned in the Berghaus or on its terrace from June to November, most of which are accompanied by culinary delights. These include the cultural events (up to culture) and the culinary endings of the "Gschichtefahrte uf e Niese". Direct culinary events take place regularly at the Berghaus Niesen Kulm.

Mountain house Niesen Kulm

The Berghaus was already built in 1856 on the Niesen Kulm. At that time there was no railroad to take the guests up. In 2002 the restaurant pavilion was added and the Berghaus was rebuilt.

Today the restaurant has 200 seats inside and 180 seats on the outdoor terrace. In the Berghaus there are eleven rustic double rooms (without TV and possibly with shared bathroom) for overnight stays at Kulm. Some rooms of the restaurant are separable for celebrations and events.

During the season, the restaurant is open daily until 4:30 p.m. and offers various specials that are coordinated with the travel times of the Niesenbahn:

  • Niesen Brunch from the beginning of June until the end of November daily from 8:30-11:00 a.m
  • Lunch daily from 12:00 p.m., food and drink menus can be viewed online
  • Culinary evening trips to the Niesen
  • Niesen Buffet à discrétion: Wednesdays (from July until the beginning of November)
  • Ächt Schwyzerisch à discrétion: Fridays (from April to mid-November) with monthly changing themes
  • Fondue Rustique (meat fondue) à discrétion: Saturdays (end of April to mid-November)
  • Full moon dinner: with 5-course surprise menu, candlelight
  • Sunrise arrangement: overnight stay with dinner and brunch
  • Group offers for celebrations, meetings or simply being together

Rail travel (except for lunch) is already included in the prices.

Kiosks with snacks and gift articles are available at the valley station Mülenen and at the Berghaus Niesen Kulm.

Berghaus Kulm (Photo: Niesenbahn)Berghaus Kulm (Photo: Niesenbahn)
Kulm Berghaus (Photo: Niesenbahn)Kulm Berghaus (Photo: Niesenbahn)

Niesen: Location and approach

The Niesen belongs to the Bernese Oberland. It is located south of Lake Thun and is reached via a funicular railroad from Mülenen.

Approach by public transport

The journey to Mülenen station is by public transport from Bern by IC or EC train to Spiez. From there it continues by regional train in a total of just under 50 min. The BLS regional train travels the route from Bern without stopping in 38 min, but only stops in Mülenen on request. The station is about 200 m away from the valley station. The journey from Thun takes about 16 min

Arrival by car

By car you reach Mülenen via Spiez in the direction of Frutigen. From Spiez it is about 5 min by car. Via the Lötschberg tunnel from the Valais you reach Mülenen just after Reichenbach. The station of the mountain railroad is then on the left side of the road. From Thun you need about 20 min by car, from Bern 40 min.

Parking spaces

A total of three parking lots north of the valley station offer space for 140 cars. The parking spaces are subject to a fee. You can reserve the parking space in advance via the ParkApp.

  • Minimum rate for 5 hours: CHF 5.-, full day: CHF 8.-
  • Season parking card for CHF 60.- per vehicle

Climate and weather at Niesen

In the period from April to September the sun shines on average 6 to 8 hours a day. Temperatures reach up to 22 °C at Kulm at 2362 m above sea level in high summer

In May, more than 20 rainy days have been measured on average. Also in June, July and August you have to expect frequent rain showers. For hikes on the Niesen, rain protection and ankle-high mountain boots are therefore always a must.

Paragliding flights cannot be carried out if there is a north wind. However, experience shows that there is little wind in the early morning hours. Therefore, paragliding flights are best scheduled in the early morning hours.