Photo: Vineyards around Twann
An easy hike through vineyards and beautiful villages by Lake Biel.
This is like a mini version of the more famous Lavaux vineyards. The lake isn’t as big and the Alps are further away, but it still offers terraced vineyard, passes by/through a number of little villages (many of which I would consider to be amongst the most beautiful in Switzerland) and even crosses the French-German language border.
The only thing that takes away from this area is the road that runs along the lake. It is not an especially big or super-busy road, but it still seems a shame that you have such beautiful villages and vineyards cut off from the lake by it.
This is a spring-time favourite of mine. It is a great option in April/May when the low lying and south facing hillside will be green and in bloom earlier than most other places.
Route: Vingelz (Biel/Bienne) – Twann – Ligerz – La Neuveville.
Length: 13km, + 240m, – 310m.
For more hikes in Switzerland see my list of hikes.
Season: Year round, but nicer in late spring or early autumn.
Arrival/Departure: Bus to ‘Biel/Bienne, Rebenweg/Vignes’ / Train from La Neuveville. You can also arrive/leave by boat (a shorter walk with the first boat stop at Tüscherz skipping the first few kilometres).
Supplies: The villages all have a few options of restaurants and cafes. Being a wine region there are numerous options to try the local product – including one self-service fridge on the path where you can grab bottles of wine.
Alternate routes/shortcuts: The villages along the route have stations on the Biel/Neuchatel line and boat stops so it is easy to go as far as you like. You can also walk closer to the lake front on the Strandweg but up until Twann much of the shoreline is taken up by private houses so the view of the lake is almost constantly blocked, and you are squeezed up next to the train line and main road.
Exposure/Hazards: None. The path is wide, paved, and smooth the whole way. The main danger is sunburn being on a south facing hillside with little shade.
Most of the villages have names in both languages, but German dominates until Ligerz, then as soon as you leave Ligerz it switches to French.
This can be done in the other direction, but going towards La Neuveville means that the city of Biel/Bienne is out of sight behind you.
Notes along the route
The first few kilometres are in the forest. This is most of the shade that you get on the route, from here on you are almost constantly exposed to the sun.
After leaving the forest around Tüscherz the route follows a paved (but car free) road following the hillside through vineyards above the villages. On a clear day there is a fantastic alpine panorama, if not then just looking down over the lake and villages is worth it.
Twann is worth a detour down to walk through the village. If you don’t fancy a climb back up the lakeside path from Twann to Ligerz then the lakeside path is the best on the lake with the road in a tunnel and only a few properties in the way of the lake. You can also climb a bit further up through part of the Twannbachschlucht (2 CHF entry) going via Schernelz to Ligerz.
Ligerz is my choice for the most attractive village on the lake (not least because the road is hidden in a tunnel here so the lake isn’t blocked off by traffic). Approaching it from above via the iconic church and then dropping into the lanes of the village proper is always special.
From Ligerz the path is a bit boring – it is still through vineyards but it is low down and without much a view compared to the earlier parts of the walk. It is worth doing just for the old town of La Neuveville.