The stunning views that we encountered during our exploration of the mountains and fountains in Bern, were just a starter for the nature escape we had planned next. Because we love food, we wanted to explore the culinary culture in the Bern region, which is mainly focused on chocolate and Emmentaler cheese. We were looking for an activity that would allow us to enjoy both the Swiss outdoors and the food at the same time. The Toblerone factory, unfortunately, doesn’t organize visits. And even if they did, a visit would have been indoors and then our clan of Belgian chocolate snobs wouldn’t have been able to enjoy nature. So cheese it was! We were determined to find the ultimate way to explore Emmental.
Explore Emmental by e-bike
Eventually, we came across the Emmentaler Käseroute or cheese trail. This was exactly what we’d been looking forl! We would learn all about this famous Swiss cheese while enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way. There is a one-day and a two-day tour; we chose the first option.
On the Emmentaler Käseroute website, there is a link to several bike rental companies. A few days prior to our departure to Switzerland, we had reserved a pair of e-bikes and a trailer. We paid 125,50 CHF which comes down to about €115 or $130. Right before the trip we downloaded the app, which interactively outlines the entire trip. Each time you near a point of interest on the trail, you get an alert. And not just any alert, it’s a… cowbell tone! That way you can read all about every step in the cheese-making process while you explore Emmental. There’s also a built-in quiz for the little ones.
Not so easy peasy cheesy
The trail is about 35 km or 22 mi, leaving from Burgdorf station, and seemed very manageable with 2 e-bikes. However, I have to admit that it ended up to be quite challenging for us. It started out quite idyllically but after some time the combination of the girls’ trailer, the steep mountains and the, by times, dangerous curvy roads without bike lanes made it quite hard and rather unsafe. I’m sure that we would have felt differently if we hadn’t been in parent-mode though.
Anyway, we decided to continue our exploration of the area but to leave the trail and go freestyle. The landscapes became more impressive by the mile.
We stopped by a local shop, bought some food and found the most perfect afternoon-picnicking spot in the riverbeds of the Emme. The girls had a blast playing around in the crystal clear river water while we had a rest. We could have easily stayed here all afternoon… And we almost did! 🙂
Did we cheat?
So there you have it… we hadn’t been able to resist the call of nature and therefore neglected the culinary part of this activity. But we did set the record straight later on! After all, we were only halfway in our discovery of the Swiss cheese. So, when we returned our bikes in the late afternoon, we continued the trail right where we left off. By car, this time. We wouldn’t call it cheating, would you? 🙂 Anyway, we headed to the Emmentaler Show Dairy to follow up on our intent to learn more about the Emmentaler cheese. This was such an authentic experience! Both the old cheese-making practice as the current one were explained and showcased in great detail. They even offer the opportunity to make fresh cheese yourself (this package requires prior booking).
And there was a nice treat for the kids too: a cheese-themed play area!
By the time the girls had finished playing, we asked the receptionist for the best local restaurant. That’s how we ended up in Gasthof Zum Hirschen in Kaltacker. We indulged in the authentic regional cuisine while enjoying some incredible mountain views and dozens of hot air balloons.
Although the journey didn’t exactly go as planned, we dit get to discover both the culinary as the outdoor side of the stunning Bern region. So, mission accomplished. The biking route is not as effortless as it might seem because the hills do get pretty steep. But any slightly experienced cyclist should manage just fine – that is, without a trailer loaded with two, by times bickering, girls. 🙂
Traveling with kids is so very rewarding but hey, they’re still children. Some days they’re two peas in a pod and other times, well, you slightly adapt your plans to keep the peace. At the end of the day, we all had a great time in the Emmental. And making memories as a family is what it’s all about.
Have you had the chance to explore Switzerland’s beautiful nature? Or do you just love cheese so much that this post makes you want to explore Emmental? Let us know in the comments!