With its gently rolling hills, wooden farmhouses with balconies bursting with vibrant geraniums and a reputation for producing the ‘national’ cheese (you can say this here, but we wouldn’t advise it anywhere else that makes cheese in the country!), the Emmental region (so-called thanks to the Emme River, which gently weaves its way through the idyllic landscape) is known for its visual and gustatory appeal, and its also a lovely place to simply ‘get lost’ for a few hours, or even a few days.
Driving from Bern, stop off in the town of Burgdorf, with its redoubtable hilltop 12th-century castle. The best place to come to grips (and taste a sample) of the region’s raison d’être is to then take Route 23 (southeast, then northeast) head to Affoltern im Emmental’s Emmentaler Schaukäserei (Emmental Show Dairy), where you can see how the famous holey cheese is produced (using milk from grass-fed cows and an ageing process that lasts 120 days) and taste the good stuff. There’s also a restaurant with local dishes on the menu, a kids’ playground and even a petting zoo.
Other pretty spots to see include postcard-ready Langnau im Emmental, then Trubschachen, should you decide to overnight in the region, the Gerber family’s well-rpiced apartment on their organic farm at Trub (visit the website www.artbygerber.ch, German only).