Meiringen is a town in the Bernese Highlands (Oberland) of Switzerland. with a population in 2020 of 4666. It's a winter sports and mountain hiking resort, best known for the Reichenbach Falls, scene of the fictional death of Sherlock Holmes and his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty.
Meiringen is in the upper valley of the River Aare, the Haslital, at the point where several side valleys join. Each valley leads to a mountain pass so the village was at a confluence of routes and grew up as a market town and stop-off for travellers. In the 19th century it was a poor sort of place and many emigrated, but from 1880 Alpine tourism took off; the roads were improved and the railway arrived in 1888. One eminent tourist was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) who at age 16 had spent a year at the Jesuit school in Feldkirch in Austria, where he took up skiing. Early skiers had to slog up the mountain just to make a single run back, but the railways meant you could ride up and ski down: Henry Lunn and his son Arnold founded Lunn Poly travel company with this in mind. In 1892 Doyle was already famous for his Sherlock Holmes stories when he visited Meiringen, but had had enough of the character and sought to kill off Sherlock to be free for other work. Lunn suggested "Push him over Reichenbach Falls" and this was done in 1892 in "The Final Problem". The arch-criminal Moriarty lures Holmes to the falls: Holmes knows it's a trap but wants to finish Moriarty. They struggle and plunge together.
But the public wouldn't have it, so by-and-by Holmes had to be resurrected. "The Hound of the Baskervilles" appeared in 1903 but set before his death, then in 1903 Holmes made a definitive return in "The Empty Room". His unconvincing escape was that he threw Moriarty in a ju-jitsu move then scrambled up the cliff to hide from accomplices, and lay low for years to make them think he was dead. There's long been a readership fascinated by these stories, and seeking to follow the steps of their hero. Meiringen is not a high altitude or snow-sure destination so it needs to boost tourism in other ways, and has played up the literary connection.
Trains from Interlaken Ost run every 30 min and take 30 min via Brienz. Alternate trains continue north from Meiringen to Brünig-Hasliberg, Lungern, Kaiserstuhl, Giswil, Sachseln, Sarnen and Lucerne (another 70 min).
1 Meiringen railway station is central in the village. It has left-luggage facilities and Swiss airline check-in.
From Meiringen a train trundles 5 km up the Aare valley every 30 min to Meiringen Alpbach, Aareschlucht West, Innertkirchen Unterwasser and Innertkirchen Grimselstor (7 min). It was opened in 1926 to support construction of the hydroelectric power station, and remained owned by the power company until 2021 when it was hived off to Zentralbahn. The line is the same 1000 mm gauge as the Interlaken-Lucerne line but electrically incompatible, with no through-trains.
There have long been plans to extend the railway from Innertkirchen by building the Grimsel Tunnel to Oberwald. The completion target of 2026 seems highly optimistic.
In summer a bus crosses the Susten pass from Andermatt twice daily, taking 2 hours. Bus 164 to Schwartzwaldalp in summer connects with Bus 128 from Grindelwald, climbing over Grosse Scheidegg pass from the Jungfrau region.
By road from Interlaken take A8 south of the lake, or the slow road north of the lake via Brienz, then Route 6 into town. A8 turns north to Lucerne. Route 6 continues to Innertkirchen, where Route 11 forks for the Susten pass to Andermatt. Stay on Route 6 for the hairpin Grimsel pass towards Valais.
Meiringen village is small enough to walk around. Bus 174 circles it every 30 min.
Bus 164 runs south up the hill to Rosenlaui glacier gorge and Schwarzwaldalp Hotel.
2 Meiringen gondola station is the base for the mountain lifts. The 80-person gondola ascends to Reuti, where you change to a smaller gondola to Bidmi, and so on up into Haslital[dead link] ski area. In winter the lifts operate mid-Dec through March, daily 08:00-17:00. The Meiringen base station is a bottleneck and with snow chains you may be able to drive further up. The lifts are also open for hiking in summer.
- 1 Sherlock Holmes museum, Bahnhofstrasse 26, ☏ +41 33 972 6008. Nov-Apr Sa Su 13:30-17:00, May-Oct daily 13:30-18:00. Small museum in a former English church dedicated to all things Sherlock Holmes, recreating the living room of Baker Street 221B as it's described in the books. They also have a combi ticket for the funicular to the falls. Adult Fr. 5, child Fr. 3.
- 2 Museum Landschaft Hasli, Kapellen 1, ☏ +41 33 971 2501. Jun - mid Oct daily 15:00-18:00. Local history museum depicting life in the valley. Free.
- Michaelskirche near the gondola station is from the 15th century.
- 3 Model Railway (Modellbahn), Zeughausstrasse 19, ☏ +41 79 311 2116. Mid March - May, Nov Su 14:15-17:00, Jun-Oct Th F 18:30-21:00, Su 14:15-17:00. This is a model of the metre-gauge Albula railway in Graubünden, originally set up in Interlaken but dismantled in 2010 when its accommodation was lost. Most of it was recreated here in 2015. Adult Fr. 12, child Fr. 6.
- 4 Restiturm is the partly-restored tower of a 13th century castle. You can ascend the ladders within for views from the battlements, free 24 hours.
- 5 Reichenbach Falls. May-Sept daily 09:00-17:30. Where Sherlock Holmes would have died if he'd ever existed, until the author decided he didn't die after all. The funicular runs in summer from Willigen (200 m south of Alpbach station) to the base of the falls. You can also walk up (say 20 min) any time free, but it's only worth coming when the falls are flowing - in winter they freeze. The upper falls are a drop of 110 m then six smaller cascades take the stream another 140 m to the valley floor. The path at the top has eroded and now stops well short of the final struggle scene. Funicular adult return Fr. 12, child Fr. 8.
- 6 Aare Gorge, ☏ +41 33 971 4048. Apr-Oct daily 08:30-18:00. The gorge was cut by meltwater after the last Ice Age slicing through the limestone bedrock. In 1887 a 1.4 km walkway was built through it; the cliffs are 50 m high and in places the gorge is pinched to 1 m width. Both entrances have stations on the railway to Innnertkirche, combi rail + gorge tickets available. In the first six weeks of the season only the lower west entrance is open so you have to retrace your steps - this is by Aareschlucht West station 1 km east of the village. Thereafter the upper east gate opens (marked on map) and you can walk through either way. Fridays in July and Aug the west section is lit from 18:30 to 22:00; you have to enter and exit west. The west section is also suitable for strollers and light wheelchairs. Dogs welcome on a short leash. Adult Fr. 10, child Fr. 6.50.
- Hasliberg ski area is reached by the gondola as above. The top of the area is at 2433 m, the base station is at 1061 m and you can't always ski right down, so it's a limited area and not snow-sure. It's good for families teaching youngsters to ski or snowboard, but competent skiers will soon exhaust its delights. In 2022 / 23 an adult one-day ski pass is Fr. 62.
- Glatthard Sport, Bahnhofstrasse 3, outlets also in Reuti and at Bidmi gondola station, ☏ +41 33 972 52 72, email@example.com. ski equipment sales and rental.
- Pollux Sport AG, Rudenz 32, ☏ +41 33 971 43 18, firstname.lastname@example.org. Ski equipment sales & rental.
- 1 Migros, Bahnhofstrasse 1 (facing the railway station), ☏ +41 58 567 51 80. open M–F 08:00–19:00, Sa 08:00–18:00. The village supermarket.
- Meringues: Meiringen claims to have been their birthplace around 1700. This doesn't stand up and an English cookbook of 1604 states the recipe, but they figure prominently on local menus.
- Budget and fast food places around the station are Istanbul (daily 11:00-23:00), Zäni (M 10:00-16:00, Tu Su 10:00-21:00, W-Sa 09:00-22:30), Pizzeria Bahnhöfli within Meiringen Hotel (daily 07:00-22:00), and Reyna Bistro (daily 09:00-00:30).
- Victoria Restaurant, within Victoria Hotel, Bahnhofplatz 9, ☏ +41 33 972 1040. Daily 07:00–23:30. Excellent restaurant worth the higher prices, and has vegan choices.
Restaurants, cafes and hotels serve beer, wine and spirits.
- The Green Harp, Bahnhofstrasse 30 (basement of the Parkhotel du Sauvage), ☏ +41 33 972 18 81. open from 5pm 7 days a week. Irish-themed bar with live music, full menu. Fondue available with prior booking.
- Hotel Meiringen, Bahnhofplatz 1 (facing station), ☏ +41 33 972 1212, email@example.com. Pleasant welcoming place, very central. B&B double Fr. 200.
- Hotel Victoria Meiringen, Bahnhofplatz 9 (facing station), ☏ +41 33 972 1040. Cosy friendly place, good restaurant. B&B double Fr. 220.
- Hotel Rebstock Haslital opposite the Victoria wasn't open in 2022.
- 1 Hotel Dakota, Amthausgasse 2 (one block back from station), ☏ +41 33 733 3003. Good value mid-range hotel. B&B double Fr. 180.
- 2 Parkhotel du Sauvage, Bahnhofstrasse 30 (behind museum), ☏ +41 33 972 1880. Historic hotel in town centre. B&B double Fr. 170.
- 3 Das Hotel Sherlock Holmes, Alpbachallee 3 (off Alpbachstrasse), ☏ +41 33 972 9889. This is modern and not redolent of Sherlock. B&B double Fr. 180.
As of Dec 2022, Meiringen and its approach roads have 4G from Salt and 5G from Sunrise and Swisscom.
- Interlaken is a good base for exploring the Jungfrau region: ski resorts such as Mürren and Wengen lie above.
- Go on to Lucerne, enjoying the scenic train ride and maybe stopping by at Sarnen on the way there.
- Drive southwards over the Grimsel pass, which is inside the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO world heritage site and go on to explore the Valais.
- During the summer months you can take the postbus to Andermatt, a route which offers stunning views on the way towards the Susten pass.