UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch, Canton of Lucerne, Switzerland

The UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch, located at the foot of the Swiss Alps, covers the extensive 395 km² valley of the Little Emme River between Bern and Lucerne in the canton of Lucerne, Switzerland. Also known as UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch.

Since 2001, after the Swiss National Park, it became the second UNESCO biosphere reserve in the country, but the first to meet the UNESCO Seville criteria of 1995.

The region is characterized by having the most extensive and numerous moor landscapes in Switzerland, as well as a rich variety of nationally and internationally relevant plants and animals, making it deserving of being the first biosphere reserve in Switzerland.

Within its 400 square kilometers, it unfolds a mystical environment that invites peace, inspiration, and rest, with its pristine moor landscapes, charming alpine meadows, and the mighty Schrattenfluh. Unique experiences in contact with nature can be had here.

In addition to being a refuge for calm and rest amidst untouched nature, Entlebuch offers a wide range of recreational activities. From energy trails or storytelling paths, Kneipp-style health facilities, to the Mooraculum children’s park, as well as various hiking and cycling routes or guided tours, the variety of options is vast.

Traditional cultural activities such as charcoal making in Romoos or the descent from the Entlebuch Alps are also part of the area’s cultural attractions.

History of the Entlebuch Biosphere (UBE)

The history of the Entlebuch biosphere reserve in Switzerland is as fascinating as its landscape. Since its designation in 2001, it has stood out as the second UNESCO biosphere reserve in the country, after the Swiss National Park, but the first to meet the UNESCO Seville criteria of 1995. Remarkably, Entlebuch became the world’s first biosphere reserve established through a referendum, reflecting strong participation and cooperation from the local community.

UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch, Canton of Lucerne, Switzerland

Furthermore, since 2008, the reserve has been recognized as a regional natural park of national importance according to Swiss park regulations. Theo Schnider, one of the co-founders of the reserve, led the Biosphere until 2022 and was succeeded by the former director of the Goldau Nature and Animal Park.

Within the reserve is the Brienzer Rothorn, the highest and most prominent peak at 2,348 meters high and 338 meters prominence. This peak is just one of the 96 named peaks in the reserve, constituting a significant attraction for visitors and climbers.

Human history in the region dates back thousands of years. The first known human settlement in the area dates from the Neolithic period, and by 300 BC, a fortified settlement had been established near present-day Bern. During the Roman occupation, this place was transformed into a vicus and positioned strategically along Roman trade routes, though it was abandoned after the fall of the Roman Empire.

During the High Middle Ages, the region saw a renaissance of settlements, including the construction of a castle in Burgundy. Bern, founded in the 12th century and joining the Swiss Confederation in 1353, expanded significantly over the centuries.

A great fire in the 14th century devastated many early settlements, leading to reconstruction with sandstone, which is now a distinctive feature of Bern’s old town. Today, Bern is the fourth largest city in Switzerland and acts as the de facto capital of the country.

The small villages dotting the Entlebuch reserve, many of which have only a few thousand inhabitants, underscore the community’s commitment to preserving the region’s unique natural landscapes, culminating in the creation of the UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2001 to preserve and protect its valuable moors.

Recommended Excursions and Activities

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What to See and Do in the Entlebuch Biosphere of Switzerland

In the Entlebuch Biosphere of Switzerland, you can enjoy natural landscapes perfect for hiking, cycling, and wildlife observation. It’s also possible to climb peaks, explore mountains, and, of course, experience the local culture in nearby towns, along with curious visits to traditional cheese dairies or participating in outdoor activities.

Deer Safari in Switzerland

In Switzerland, you can start your day with an exciting excursion to observe deer in their natural habitat. Guided by ranger Daniel Schmid and his dog, participants venture into the forest until they reach open areas where deer sightings are more likely. Although spotting these animals is not guaranteed, the experience includes valuable information about these impressive animals and the journey itself is worthwhile for the karst landscape that can be appreciated.

Deer Safari in Switzerland

Rossweid Swamp Adventure

On the Sonnentauweg trail of the Mooraculum adventure park in Rossweid (Sörenberg), children become swamp explorers through 17 adventure stations. The route, free of monotonous speeches, allows families to explore Switzerland’s largest moor using all their senses. The colorful flora and unique atmosphere make this a memorable experience, culminating in a children’s adventure park that offers games and a raft.

Circular Gastronomic Route

While the children have fun in the playground, adults can enjoy snacks on the terrace of the Rossweid restaurant. The gastronomic route starts here and offers dishes made with local ingredients from Entlebuch. After a light walk, the Hotel Rischli serves the second course: a cream schnitzel accompanied by local sides, following the philosophy of promoting regional products.

Faszination Moor

Faszination Moor in the Entlebuch Biosphere of Switzerland

The "Faszination Moor" excursion allows you to explore the flora and fauna of the moors during any season, highlighting the carnivorous sundew. The Biosphere Academy guides this public excursion, which includes tracking wild animals and visiting the karst caves of Schrattenflue, providing a deep understanding of this special ecosystem.

Mooraculum Park with Children

Mooraculum Park offers an environment where families can explore the mystical world of the moors. Children can play in specially designed ponds while parents enjoy the terrace of the Rossweid restaurant. The Sonnentauweg trail, suitable for strollers, offers an educational experience with interactive stations along the way.

Circular Moor-Rundweg Route

This 4.5-kilometer route delves into the mysterious moor of the UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere, ideal for families with older children and nature lovers. With 17 interactive stations, participants discover everything about the moors, from their formation to the survival strategies of their flora and fauna.

Horseback Rides with Hans Stucki

Horseback riding in the Entlebuch Biosphere

Hans Stucki offers horseback rides through the Entlebuch Biosphere reserve, showing visitors the "Wild West" of Lucerne. These rides, ideal for individuals, couples, families, and groups, offer a unique way to experience nature.

Two-Day Ibex Observation Excursion

The "Steinbock Trek" is a two-day adventure that offers impressive views and the opportunity to observe ibexes in their natural environment. The hike includes an overnight stay at the Eisee lodge, with stunning panoramic views as a backdrop.

Gold Prospecting in the Napf Region

This activity allows participants to search for gold in the streams, learning prospecting techniques with an expert guide. The experience ends with the possibility of taking home the found gold, all while enjoying the great outdoors.

Flowtrail Marbachegg

The Marbachegg flow trail offers an exciting mountain biking route for experienced cyclists. With features like gaps, waves, and jumps, and a design that allows for almost brake-free descents, this trail is perfect for improving cycling skills. Additionally, the mountain guesthouse terrace in Marbachegg is ideal for resting and enjoying local meals with views of the natural surroundings.

Heiligkreuz Church

Heiligkreuz Church

The Heiligkreuz Church, located in the Entlebuch Biosphere, is a well-known pilgrimage destination that attracts visitors for its history and enriching surroundings. According to legend, an ox released in Alsace to test the authenticity of a fragment of Jesus’s cross walked to Entlebuch and lay down where the church’s altar is now located. Today, especially on Good Friday, large groups of people continue to pilgrimage here, following the 14 stations from Schüpfheim or Hasle. In the surroundings of Heiligkreuz, educational routes have been established that explore mythical and magical themes, and an ancient white maple near the church is known for its revitalizing properties.

Marbach Mountain Dairy

The innovative Marbach Mountain Dairy is renowned for producing cheese specialties, including products made with buffalo milk, a novelty in Switzerland introduced by the Jaun family. This dairy is not only a pioneer in making buffalo mozzarella in the country but also allows visitors to learn about the dairy’s history and the cheese-making process through museum-like exhibits. From the visitor gallery, one can observe the operations of the modern factory.

Zyberliland Adventure Park

The Zyberliland Adventure Park offers a fun and educational environment for the whole family. While exploring the Bärgmandli-Tritt trail, both children and adults can follow the footsteps of the enigmatic mountain dwarves, known as Bärgmandli. The park features numerous play areas where children can interact with nature and participate in various activities, such as conquering a castle, redirecting the course of the Mühlibach stream, and enjoying the giant marble run Zyberlibahn.

Bärgmandli Themed Trail

In Romoos, near Napf, the Bärgmandli themed trail revives the legend of the helpful mountain dwarves who once populated the region, feeding on the local plum trees. Fortunately, some farmers have started replanting these trees, encouraging the return of the Bärgmandli. Along the trail, you can find marks and traces of these mysterious beings, and children can enjoy exciting play areas designed around their story.

Hydrotherapy at Schwandalpweiher

In the idyllic Waldemmental valley, the hydrotherapy facilities of the Flühli Wasser cooperative offer a rejuvenating experience. Visitors can walk barefoot over different natural surfaces, stimulating blood circulation, and finish with arm baths and alternating hot and cold showers. This site, initially a reservoir for a power plant, has been transformed into a health center following the method of Sebastian Kneipp.

Cheese Making in the Schlacht Alps

The experience in the Schlacht Alps offers an immersion in alpine cheese making. Visitors can actively participate in the cheese-making process, from heating the milk to extracting the cheese from the vat. At the end of the experience, in addition to gaining valuable knowledge, participants can purchase up to 10 kg of Schlacht alpine cheese, which requires an additional three months of maturation in the Alps.

Freestyle Skiing Line in Sörenberg

Freestyle Skiing Line in Sörenberg

The freestyle slope in Sörenberg is ideal for all skill levels in winter sports. From beginners to professionals, visitors can enjoy a variety of obstacles such as boxes, rails, and jumps. The ski resort features facilities that allow quick access to the top to start, easily accessible from the parking lot via the Rossweid aerial cableway and the Schönisei ski lift. The slope is divided into two lines: the SMALL line, with simpler jumps and boxes, perfect for beginners, and the MEDIUM line, with a variety of elements for more experienced riders. Additionally, being surrounded by trees, even in foggy conditions, you can enjoy good visibility. Don’t miss the events and competitions held here every winter.

Hiking in Marbach

The hiking route begins at the Marbachegg cable car and leads through the village to the Lourdes grotto. After exploring this oasis of tranquility, continue along the Steiglenbach to the Marbach Mountain Dairy. Here you can enjoy a cheese snack and learn about its production. Then, the path continues along the Schonbach to the Hotel Sporting, where you can enjoy an authentic lunch. Afterwards, you can choose to return by cable car or walk to the sunny terrace of Marbach to enjoy a dessert with coffee or tea and stunning views.

Main Hiking Trails

In Swiss Entlebuch, there are different trails that traverse this UNESCO biosphere, making the visit to the protected area very interesting as you follow the marked and delineated paths, with sections adapted for all difficulty levels. Among these hiking trails, the following stand out:

Hiking Trails in Entlebuch, Switzerland

Glaubenberg-Fürstein Circular Trail

The Glaubenberg-Fürstein trail, 8 km long with a 596 m elevation, begins with a gradual climb to the Sewenegg summit, continuing towards the Fürstein summit. During the descent, hikers enjoy alpine meadows and scattered small wooded areas, offering panoramic views over extensive valleys and moor landscapes.

Mittaggüpfi Circular Route

The Mittaggüpfi Rundweg is a 7 km trail that ascends 770 m, taking walkers through wooded areas to the Mittaggüpfi summit. From here, hikers can enjoy distant views of Lake Lucerne while traversing the ridge path, which features technical sections equipped with ropes to facilitate climbing.

Schimbrig – Hengst Trail

The Schimbrig – Hengst circular trail covers 18 km with an elevation of 597 m. It starts with a stretch along a gravel path that is also accessible for bicycles. The trail takes hikers and cyclists through the former tourist center of Schimbrigbad, now turned into an alpine pasture. From this point, you can appreciate the surrounding green slopes.

Mountains and Peaks of Interest in Entlebuch

Peak Name Height Prominence (Elevation)
Brienzer Rothorn 2,348 m 1,338 m
Schongüsch 2,319 m 75 m
Tannhorn 2,221 m 194 m
Briefehörnli 2,165 m 102 m
Balmi 2,141 m 55 m
Brätterstock 2,115 m 34 m
Hengst 2,092 m 772 m
Hächle 2,091 m 167 m
Hächlen 2,089 m 30 m
Fürstein 2,040 m 481 m
Hagleren 1,948 m 360 m
Schafmatt 1,979 m 250 m
Schimbrig 1,817 m 350 m
Beichle 1,769 m 478 m
Schlierengrat 1,740 m 198 m
Farneren 1,572 m 313 m
Wachthubel 1,414 m 445 m

Towns near the Entlebuch Biosphere


Lucerne, located northeast of the park, is the most populous city in central Switzerland with over 80,000 inhabitants. It is notable for hosting the Kapellbrücke, the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe. Situated on the shores of Lake Lucerne, the city is a central hub for access to the rest of the country due to its central location. From the top of Mount Pilatus, accessible by a short gondola ride, you can enjoy spectacular views of the lake, the city, and the surrounding alpine peaks.


West of the reserve is Bern, the de facto capital of Switzerland and its fourth-largest city with a population of 135,000. Its exceptionally well-preserved old town is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is also a major cultural center, home to the Kunstmuseum (Museum of Art), Bern’s Rose Garden, and the Cathedral of St. Vincent, among other sites of interest. Additionally, its central position facilitates access to other regions of the country.

Geography of the Entlebuch Biosphere

The UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch is strategically located in the heart of Switzerland, between the cities of Bern and Lucerne, serving as an impressive gateway to the Swiss Alps. This natural park extends over 397 square kilometers in the canton of Lucerne, offering direct access to the alpine foothills and surrounding landscapes.

To the south of the biosphere begin the Bernese Alps. Although the towering peaks of this mountain range do not dominate the Entlebuch landscape, the region does not lack spectacular views. Here, the rugged karst formations and rock walls, such as those of Schratteflue, add a dramatic character to the area, standing out against the gentle green valleys around them.

The moors, covering more than a quarter of the biosphere, are essential for the region’s biodiversity. These ecosystems, along with winding streams and lush alpine pastures interspersed with forests, create a mosaic of habitats that support a rich variety of flora and fauna. The presence of these moors is one of the key reasons for the designation of Entlebuch as a biosphere reserve.

In addition to its rich biodiversity, the Entlebuch Biosphere is located in a position that facilitates access to other parks and nature reserves in Switzerland. To the west are the Gantrisch Nature Park and the Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park. To the southwest is the Diemtigtal Nature Park, while to the northwest are the Chasseral, Doubs, and Thal Nature Parks. This proximity to other nature parks expands the opportunities for ecotourism and exploration of Switzerland’s natural landscapes, making Entlebuch a central hub for nature and outdoor enthusiasts.

Geology of Entlebuch

The geology of the UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere reveals a fascinating journey through time, marked by crucial events that have shaped the current landscape of this region at the boundary between the Swiss Plateau and the Alps, specifically in the Swiss Prealps.

The Swiss Plateau, which currently covers about 30% of the country’s territory, began to form around 60 million years ago. This vast expanse is notably flat compared to the mountainous regions that surround it, providing a distinctive contrast with the more abrupt elevations of the Alps.

The Alps, on the other hand, have an older formation history, dating back approximately 65 million years during the Alpine orogeny. This tectonic event not only gave rise to the Alps but also to other significant mountain ranges in Europe, South Asia, and North Africa, including the Pyrenees, the Himalayas, the Karakoram, the Caucasus, the Atlas, the Carpathians, and the Hindu Kush. This tectonic activity involved the collision of continental plates, pushing seabed material upwards, thus forming the mountains.

Over millions of years, mineral sediments were deposited on the sea floor. With the retreat of the seas about 15 million years ago, these sediments were compacted and transformed into sedimentary rocks such as sandstones, dolomites, and limestones, which characterize many areas of the Prealps and the Alps today.

The last major glaciation also left its mark on the Entlebuch region, playing a crucial role in shaping the alpine landscape. The glaciers, advancing and retreating, transported enormous rocks and sculpted the terrain, creating U-shaped valleys and leaving behind steep rock walls typical of alpine landscapes.

Within the Entlebuch Biosphere, some of the most significant peaks include Brienzer Rothorn, Schratteflue, Schongütsch, Tannhorn, Hengst, and Briefehörnli. These peaks are not only geologically important but also offer spectacular landscapes that attract geologists and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The geological diversity of Entlebuch underscores its importance as a place of study and conservation and contributes to its natural richness and biodiversity.

Biodiversity in the UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere

The UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere, with its rich diversity of ecosystems, is a clear example of how human communities and biodiversity can coexist sustainably. The region, home to about 17,000 people, effectively manages the interaction between environmental conservation and the responsible use of its natural resources, ensuring the protection of its natural heritage while supporting the needs of its inhabitants.

The fauna of Entlebuch is varied and fascinating. Among the most notable mammals are weasels, known for their agility and hunting skills, and beavers, which are master dam builders and play a crucial role in the creation and maintenance of aquatic ecosystems. Chamois, with their impressive ability to climb steep terrain, are also common residents of the region, especially in mountainous areas. Additionally, the reserve and surrounding areas, such as the Gantrisch Nature Park, are habitats for more elusive species like horseshoe bats and alpine hares, which are adapted to alpine conditions.

As for the flora, Entlebuch is equally diverse. The wetlands and moor areas are dominated by plants like rushes and buckthorn shrubs, while the region’s forests are mainly composed of broadleaf species, including European beeches and white firs. These forests provide a crucial habitat for numerous species of fauna and flora and play an important role in maintaining the region’s ecological balance.

The karst landscapes of Entlebuch, with their unique geological features, host a rich variety of alpine grasses and wildflowers that bloom profusely during the summer months. These formations are not only essential for the conservation of plant biodiversity but also provide stunning visual spectacles that attract naturalists and tourists.

Thus, the Entlebuch Biosphere proves to be a model of how protected areas can function as zones of sustainable coexistence, where rich biodiversity is preserved while maintaining the social and economic fabric of local communities. This interaction between man and nature in Entlebuch is a testament to the possibilities of conservation in the 21st century.

How to Get There and Move Around in the UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere

Entlebuch is part of the Lucerne-Lake region, being accessible by public transport from the city of Lucerne.

Public Transport and Car Sharing

The Entlebuch Biosphere has half-hourly rail connections with the national train network. PostBus services synchronize with train arrival times to ensure a seamless journey. Additionally, the luggage service throughout Switzerland makes train travel even more convenient, with door-to-door or station-to-station options.

During the warmer months, arriving via Brienzer Rothorn is a recommended option. A steam train from the village of Brienz in the Bernese Oberland transports visitors to the highest peak in Lucerne, at 2,350 meters above sea level. From there, you can enjoy panoramic views before descending by cable car to Sörenberg, the tourist center of the UNESCO Biosphere.


The Entlebuch Biosphere has five main access points. From Wolhusen to the north, follow the main road 10, which traverses the biosphere from north to south and exits after the village of Wiggen in the southwest.

Scenic drive enthusiasts can travel from Thun via the Schallenberg Pass or from the Obwalden Länderen via the summer passes of Glaubenbielen or Glaubenberg to Entlebuch.


For cyclists, the SchweizMobil foundation organizes the eighth stage of the panoramic cycle route from Glaubenbielen Pass to Sörenberg, and the ninth stage from Sörenberg to Habkern in the Bernese Oberland.

The alpine panoramic route of Veloland Schweiz passes through Sörenberg. The fourth stage crosses the Glaubenbielen Pass to Sörenberg, while the fifth stage goes from Sörenberg via Kemmeriboden-Bad and the Schallenberg Pass to Thun.

Best Time to Visit

The climate in Entlebuch, Switzerland, features comfortable and humid summers and cold, snowy winters, with partly cloudy skies throughout the year. Temperatures typically range from -5 °C to 22 °C, rarely dropping below -10 °C or rising above 27 °C.

The best time to visit Entlebuch and enjoy warm-weather activities is from early July to late August.

The best time to enjoy winter hiking in the UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere is from December to March. During this period, the region transforms into a winter paradise, with snow-covered landscapes and fresh mountain air.