Mount Niesen was a hike I hadn’t heard too much about but it delivered in so many different ways! The cable car is so steep it’s exciting, the views on the panorama trail to the summit were incredible and then to be above the clouds at Niesen Kulm Berghaus enjoying the sunset was out of this world. I’ll share it all with you in this blog post including the different ways to reach the summit.
MOUNT NIESEN HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The distance from Mulenen to Niesen Kulm is 7.7km or you can do as I did and catch the cable car to Schwandegg station, which is halfway up and then hikes from Schwandegg to Niesen Kulm, which took me 1 hour and 13 minutes to complete the 4.8 kilometers with an incline of 646 meters. The recommended time is 2-3 hours if you are coasting.
Hike Duration: From Mulenen you can expect 5-6 hours according to the sign and from Schwandegg you can expect 2-3 hours. I hiked from Schwandegg at a quick pace and made it in 1 hour and 13 minutes.
Hike Difficulty: The trail is quite easy and there are no moments of serious exposure. The incline is the hardest part about this hike and if you aren’t confident, starting halfway at Schwandegg is advised because from Mulenen it is 1700m of climbing, which is a bit too much for a beginner but fine for regular hikers.
Hike Incline: From Schwandegg to Niesen Kulm: 650m From Mulenen to Niesen Kulm: 1700m
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HOW TO GET TO MOUNT NIESEN
The Mount Niesen hike begins at the Niesenbahn, which is in Mulenen. If you are driving you can park your car at the Niesenbahn and if you are coming via train, you will head to Spiez and then transfer to the Mulenen Bahnof, which is just meters away from the Niesenbahn.
Once you have arrived at Niesenbahn you have a few choices as I briefly mentioned above.
- Hike from Mulenen to Niesen Kulm, which will take about 5 hours for 1700m of incline.
- Take the cable car halfway up the mountain to Schwandegg and then hike to the summit for 650m of incline.
- Take the cable car the whole way and return via cable or hike down a half or the whole way.
There are other routes connected in the region but the majority of visitors are taking one of those three options. I chose to take the cable car to Schwandegg and hike up from there as I had already hiked down from Glecksteinhutte and Chrinnenhorn earlier that morning.
If you have the Swiss Half-Card you will receive a huge discount on your tickets. I bought mine when I arrived in Switzerland and it has saved me over a thousand dollars throughout my trip.
I’ve attached my GPX map below, which you can download here for use on your Garmin, smartwatch or another app.
THE NIESENBAHN/ NIESEN CABLE CAR
The Niesenbahn cable car is actually an interesting one because throughout summer it has several nights a week where it operates as late as 11 pm! When I found this out I specifically chose a Wednesday so that I could hike up during the afternoon and then stay up for sunset, have a bowl of soup for dinner and then take the cable car down in the dark. My plan worked perfectly, although make sure you check the train timetables to and from Spiez if you are returning late, there were only a few options when i got back down to Mulenen.
To check the timetable of the Niesenbahn so you can make your plan accordingly you can click here.
The prices of the Niesenbahn are:
- $38 return from Mulenen to Niesen Kulm
- $24 return from Mulenen to Schwandegg Return
If you have a Swiss Half-Fare Card you can use it here and only have to pay half of the ticket price.
MOUNT NIESEN WEBCAM
Often I like to hike no matter what the weather unless it is a storm. However, in the case of Mount Niesen, you may want to check the weather. If it seems cloudy down at lake-level and you think it’s not worth the hike, you may actually be missing out the view of a lifetime. It was cloudy all day in Interlaken, but I knew there was a chance the clouds were just low-level. I checked the webcam and sure enough, Niesen Kulm (the summit of Mount Niesen) was poking out of the top of the clouds. This means you would be on top of a sea of clouds, which is pretty much my favorite conditions of all time. As you can see from the photos in this blog, you can’t see the lake but it’s one cracker of a view.
To check the current status at Niesen Kulm you can check out the live webcam by clicking here.
MY EXPERIENCE HIKING MOUNT NIESEN
Sitting in Interlaken, I looked out of the window at the hostel and clouds covered the sky. It didn’t look like a good day for sunset. However, I had planned to hike up Mount Niesen so I checked the webcam and was pretty excited at what I saw. The summit was actually above a sea of clouds. I packed up my gear and off I set.
I first walked down to Interlaken West train station and caught the train to Spiez before changing trains and heading on the train to Mulenen Bahnhof. It took about 50 minutes all up from Interlaken.
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When I arrived at the Niesenbahn in Mulenen, I decided to take the cable car to Schwandegg. I’d already hiked all the way up and down Chrinnenhorn and then back to Grindelwald in the morning so didn’t fancy an additionally 1700m of incline but I’d still be getting a workout with 650m of incline from Schwandegg. The cable car was one of the steepest I’ve been on and slowly puttered it’s way up to Schwandegg.
Arriving at Schwandegg station was a little confusing as there were two trails. All of the other hikers set off on the opposite trail to me. However, I advise taking my trail! I took the panoramic route, which is less aggressive on the incline as it takes slightly longer. When you arrive at the station take the trail to Oberniese, which is on the left side of the station rather than the trail that takes you directly up the mountain. Wind around, take in the views and it’s only about half an hour extra. The sign said 3 hours although it took me 1 hour and 13 minutes in total and wasn’t too strenuous.
As I had expected the first parts of the hike were inside the clouds. I couldn’t see a thing. I was a little worried but these were the conditions I had come to expect given the weather in Interlaken. My hope was to pop out of the clouds at the top. I powered through the incline passing by uninterested cows and a few cabins. It was 45 minutes of walking looking at a wall of white, which was a relaxing time to think and enjoy the fresh air. Understandably, I took no pictures during the early part of the hike.
As I rounded a corner and begin the final ascent to Niesen Kulm the clouds cleared in front of me and just like that I was above the cloud cover. It was a sea of white, with just a few mountain peaks popping up amidst the fluff. These were dream conditions. It was still way too bright to be able to shoot the scene well but it was mesmerizing to watch the slow-motion waterfalls flow down the sides of mountains.
I know rounded out the final climb and made my way up to the Niesen Berghaus Restaurant. I didn’t go inside yet, I was still too stoked about the clouds. I explored the hills around the area and continued my exploration of Niesen.
It wasn’t long before the sun began to set and the scene becomes even more magical. I first enjoyed the scene from the official viewpoint, where you have panoramic views of the region. Mount Niesen is known as the Swiss Pyramid, and when I was up there it was a little confusing. It didn’t seem like a pyramid shape. However, when the sun shone during the sunset the shadow created by Mount Niesen was a perfect pyramid. It all made sense now.
The sunset began to take off and it was one of the most memorable nights of my Switzerland trip. I took a lot of photos but also just went a couple of hundred meters back down the hill and chilled by myself while everyone else was inside the restaurant or upon the deck. It’s a night I’ll never forget. I created a short video and have a lot of photos to show you below.
After the sunset, I headed inside to the restaurant and grabbed a beautiful bowl of vegetable soup, warmed myself up and savored the moment. I was pretty thankful to catch the cable car down instead of having to pull out the head torch and make the trek down as is common on these sunset missions. My Wednesday plan turned out to be a winner.
MY SWITZERLAND HIKING GUIDES
I spent 100 days hiking in Switzerland and created a guide for different regions around the country. You can click on one of my Switzerland hiking guides below to help you plan your trip.
THE SWITZERLAND HIKING GUIDE: 50 AWESOME HIKES IN IN SWITZERLAND: I spent 100 days in Switzerland making this huge guide with all of the hikes I personally explored.
4 AWESOME VIA FERRATA COURSES IN SWITZERLAND: Via Ferrata is a cliff-side climbing route where you are harnessed in. You have to try it at least once!
10 AWESOME HIKES NEAR LAUTERBRUNNEN: Lauterbrunnen is the most picturesque valley in Switzerland and is situated perfectly amidst many famous hiking routes.
INTERLAKEN HIKING GUIDE: 15 AWESOME HIKES IN INTERLAKEN: Interlaken is my favorite town in Switzerland and is the number one hiking base.
12 AWESOME HIKES NEAR GRINDELWALD: A great location to base if you are a keen hiker with lots of hut-to-hut hikes and epic peaks.
7 AWESOME HIKES IN MURREN: Murren is one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland and is surrounded by great hiking routes.
9 AWESOME HIKES NEAR APPENZELL: My favorite hikes around the Alpstein Region and other peaks near Appenzell.
7 AWESOME HIKES NEAR CHUR: Several beautiful lakes, and incredible gorge hike, and an epic Via Ferrata course.
MY PERSONALIZED SWITZERLAND TRAVEL TIPS
SWITZERLAND BUDGET BACKPACKING GUIDE: In this blog, I talk about the cost of travel and how to travel around Switzerland on the cheap with some tips and hacks from my experience.
20 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: MY SWITZERLAND TRAVEL TIPS: You probably didn’t even think of half of these. I didn’t either and figured many of these tips out the hard way.
MOST IMPORTANT TRANSPORT TIP: SWISS HALF CARD
OPTION 1: Switzerland trains, buses, and cable cars are EXPENSIVE! I found the best way to get around cheaply was to buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card before I arrived. It gives you 50% off every regular train, bus, and even many cable cars. It only costs $150 USD but pays itself off in just a few days with many train tickets in Switzerland costing close to $100 alone. OPTION 2: The second option is to get the Swiss Travel Pass, which gives you unlimited train, bus, and (many) cable car rides but it’s pretty expensive at around $100 USD per day so if you don’t travel each day it isn’t worth it. OPTION 3: The final option is to get the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass, which allows you to buy 8 days’ worth of transit but you can choose the night before if you want to activate the next day. That way you don’t need to travel every day to get your money’s worth, you can just activate the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass on the days where you are doing sizeable transits. My advice is to book the Swiss Half-Fare Card or the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass in advance before your trip so it’s ready to go when you arrive.