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Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland is one of our favorite places to visit in the world! We are sharing the Top Things To Do In Lauterbrunnen Switzerland and the surrounding area.
Lauterbrunnen Switzerland feels like a slice of heaven. It has some of the most breathtaking views and scenery your eyes will ever feast upon. There is an abundance of excursions and activities that will have you yearning for more. Lauterbrunnen is in the Jungfrau region and the valley is located at the foot of the Bernese Alps and surrounded by the Swiss Alps. These are our top things to do when visiting Lauterbrunnen Switzerland.
Click on the below interactive map.
Why the Lauterbrunnen Valley?
Simply…it’s breathtaking. We’ve yet to discover a more majestic and exhilarating scenery. The area is sprinkled with numerous quintessential alpine villages like Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, and Gimmelwald. The Bernese Alps stand guard over the villages like sentinels of old. Interlaken is one of the bigger towns. Lauterbrunnen Switzerland is definitely a bucket list place.
Peaks like the Eiger, Monch, Schilthorn, and Jungfrau tower the landscape from their 4,000-meter perches. Beautiful waterfalls are in abundance and the valley is known as “The Valley of 72 Waterfalls.”
Getting around the valley is a snap. The Swiss trains, cable cars, gondolas, and cogwheels eagerly wait to take you to your destinations. Bike riding is a favorite for getting around too! We found the Swiss rail system among the most organized, reliable, and user-friendly in the world.
When you’re traveling in the valley either on the Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald side, you feel like you’re within a gigantic crevasse surrounded by enormous granite walls with plush green meadows under your feet while alpine villages beacon you to make your way up the mountains. It is truly amazing.
Finding the Right Homebase
Finding the right home base and planning daily excursions is the best method to stay organized and to ensure your sensory pallet is quenched.
We enjoyed the valley so much that we returned just two years after our initial exploration. On our first trip, we chose Lauterbrunnen as our home base and on this past trip, we chose Grindelwald. Choose Grindelwald if you want mountains outside your balcony (as you can almost touch them). The image above was taken from our hotel balcony in Grindelwald.
If you want valleys and mountain views, choose Lauterbrunnen, because it sits in the valley surrounded by mountains. Both places are incredible and I can’t choose one over the other. The image above was taken from our balcony at Hotel Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen.
Interlaken is another option. Interlaken is a larger town with a population of about 5,500 compared to the smaller and more traditional alpine villages of Grindelwald (3,800) and Lauterbrunnen (2,500).
Interlaken definitely has a more city feel than the smaller alpine towns. But, all three are superb jumping-off points for all excursions. The Swiss rail system always seems to be within walking distance and will easily whisk you to where you crave to be.
Irregardless of your choice of home base, Lauterbrunnen is an excellent choice but you must spend time in all three towns; Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, and Grindelwald.
Best Things to Do in Lauterbrunnen?
It is an alpine village with all the charm. Take a stroll along main street and you will find many quaint shops, eateries, and activity centers all while your eyes continually gaze upward toward the mountains. On our first visit when we stayed at the Silberhorn Hotel, the gondola was a one-minute walk from the hotel. Such a great location.
Up for a bike ride? We rented e-bikes at the Imboden Bike Rentals on the main road (3822 Fuhren, more about that later).
While you’re walking the main street of Lauterbrunnen, it’s now a good time to visit Staubbach Falls. It is a short 10-minute walk to the base of the falls. It is the third-highest waterfall at 297m and arguably the most famous.
The falls are visible from the road and many other vantages, but a walk to the base and onto the grotto behind the falls is well worth the short journey. The balcony view from our room at the Silberhorn Hotel included a grand view of the falls.
Trümmelbach Falls are Europe’s largest subterranean falls. Ten waterfalls cascade down the ravine. The falls are powerful as they carry 20,000 liters of water per second down to the valley. You get an up close and personal experience inside the falls as you navigate the stairs, pathways, tunnels, lifts, and platforms within the falls.
Plan about 1-2 hours to fully explore this natural wonder. We visited the falls during our first visit to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The falls are generally open from April to November. Admission is 14 CHF for adults and 6 CHF for children The falls are approximately 1.8 miles from Lauterbrunnen. You can walk, bike, or take the public bus to the falls. Trummelbach Falls is a must-see!
Travel Tip: Explore downtown Lauterbrunnen, Staubbach Falls and Trümmelbach Falls on the same day while exploring the valley floor.
Go to Interlaken
Jump on the Swiss rail and in 20 minutes you’ll be at Interlaken. Interlaken is the gateway to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. It lies between Lake Brienz and Lake Thurn. It’s in a superb location to further explore the Lauterbrunnen Valley and all the valley has to offer. It definitely is more of a city vibe than the traditional alpine villages of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald, and Murren. But it still has old-world charm found in some areas with lots to do.
Sky diving, tandem paragliding, river rafting, zip lining, bungee jumping, hot air balloons and mountain biking are just a few of the activities begging your attention. Interlaken reminds me a lot of Queenstown New Zealand which is the adrenaline capital of the Kiwi State. But If you prefer to maintain a normal pulse rate, the hiking, sightseeing and bicycle tours are also invigorating.
To get to know an area, one of our favorite things to do first is book a guided bicycle tour. We have found the tour guides to be very knowledgeable and informative about the local scene, customs, highlights, history and especially food. It’s always about the food, right? Often times what we see and experience on a bicycle tour leads us to new things we had not anticipated. Interlaken was no exception.
On this trip, we booked a three-hour e-bike tour with Flying Wheels. We rode along the turquoise waters of the Aara River and visited Lakes Thun and Brienz. We visited a dairy farm and sampled the fresh milk out of a vending machine! Customers bring containers and get their very own fresh milk.
The best part was navigating through a cow pasture that was full of cows wearing their cowbell necklaces. I could reach out and touch the cows as I passed them. Lots of fun.
During our trip, we rode across the old wooden bridge that spans the Lutschine River in Wilderswil. Another super photo opportunity. Lastly, our exploration took us to the historic old town of Utterseen where our guide, George, shared his insights of the village’s rich history.
Go to Grindelwald
Grindelwald is a must-do. It served as our home base on our second journey to Switzerland and the Lauterbrunnen Valley. From Lauterbrunnen, it’s about a 30-minute train ride along the Lutschine River. Sit on the right side of the train for the most spectacular views. The north face of the well-known mountains Eiger and Monch tower the landscape and offer different personalities as the sun and clouds make their way around. Just beautiful!
Start your day early and head to the high mountain playground at Grindelwald-First. Get off the train and head towards town and you’ll arrive in less than 10 minutes.
Arrive as early as 9 am to ensure you can participate in all the activities you desire and avoid long lines and wear layers. This will be at least a half-day to 3/4 day excursion. You can purchase up to four activities with the gondola ride included. Activities to purchase include the First Flight, First Glider, First Mountain Cart, and the First Trottibike. Adult prices range from $74 chf for one activity to $120 chf for all four and children 6-15 are $43 to $85.
First Cliff Walk: This is a free activity. It is a metal hanging walkway attached to the side of the mountain that offers spectacular views. The walkway ends at a viewing platform that juts out 45m over the mountainside. It’s a great photo op with amazing scenery.
First Flight: A seated zip line over 800m long and up to 84 kph. The ride was fun but the wait was over an hour and the line wasn’t very long. Although a great ride, I wouldn’t do it again.
First Glider: Four passengers float across the landscape for 800m up to 72 kph.
First Mountain Cart: A seated coasting trike ride that weaves down the mountainside for 3 kilometers on a gravel and asphalt path. I enjoyed this ride immensely! There are no pedals on this trike. You need to scoot along for a bit until you get going downhill. I have ridden this twice. It’s a favorite and less prone to injury than the Trottibike.
First Trottibike: A standing coasting scooter with handbrakes. The ride takes you through pastures and farmlands as you wind your way down the mountain. There are many picture-taking opportunities. My favorite is with the cows.
It’s a 30-minute ride down that ends at the Grindelwald First entrance. I loved riding the Trottibike! The views are amazing as you wind down the mountain. On our second visit to Grindelwald-First, I made sure to ride the Trottibike again!
The best part is indulging in all the views of the mountains and the valley below. Each turn offers a unique perspective that will overload your senses. The scenery is absolutely spectacular.
Click for details on Grindlewald-First website
Explore the High Mountain Villages of Gimmelwald and Murren
From Lauterbrunnen go up the mountain. These two villages are quintessential high mountain villages with all the Swiss charm you could ever ask for. The villages are perched on a cliff and traffic-free. This is a half to three-quarter-day adventure with sightseeing, pictures, lunch, and possibly extending your day to Mount Schilthorn. These villages are a must-do!
You can reach the villages either by a cable car from the Lauterbrunnen Village or travel three miles from the Lauterbrunnen Valley to the Stechelberg gondola.
We rented e-bikes in Lauterbrunnen and rode the three miles to Stechelberg, wheeled our bikes onto the gondola, and took the trip up.
It’s normally a 10-minute e-bike ride to Gimmelwald except we stopped every couple of minutes to take pictures and just enjoy the scenery and then another 1.3 miles to Murren. It’s a paved path, but it switchbacks up the mountain. The e-bikes made it a breeze.
Not to worry, you can continue on to Murren via the gondola at Gimmelwald and avoid the walk or bike ride. But if you want to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery this is a fabulous time.
The hillsides are sprinkled with farms, cow pastures plenty and hay fields. Accommodations and restaurants are sparse but with proper planning, a slice of heaven can be yours.
No trip to Gimmelwald is complete without a stop at The Honesty Shop and The Amazing Window Store. The Honesty Shop is an unattended store that offers souvenirs and snacks. You just select what you’d like and leave the money. It is about the size of a bedroom.
The Amazing Window Store offers goods in a window cabinet. Again, payment is on the honor system.
Traveling on to Murren affords more options for both. The bike path is 8 feet wide, asphalt, and in perfect condition. There are benches along the way that beg for your attention. The sights and sounds bring a sense of peace and comfort as you admire your surroundings.
The joy of the bike ride was the highlight. This was an e-bike ride. You can ride a regular bike if you are an athlete and an experienced rider. But for me, an e-bike was the only way. You are going UPHILL almost the entire way. But it is amazingly easy because I was on an e-bike. Riding down was amazing as it seems you can see the views even better than going up.
As we wound ourselves up the mountainside, each switchback offered a new panorama. The views were constant and extraordinary. We made stop after stop for pictures and gazing. We were awestruck by the beauty. Unbelievable. Another “Best Day Ever.”
Murren is the jumping-off point to the Schilthorn and Piz Gloria made famous by the James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. It’s only a 17-minute gondola ride from Murren with a short transfer to Birg. At Piz Gloria, you’ll find the 360-degree revolving restaurant. They serve a James Bond brunch daily until 2 pm. There’s a walk of fame that pays tribute to the cast of the movie. There are plenty of other tributes and fun things to do related to the 007 movie.
Again, it’s all about the views. While there, enjoy the spectacular scenery from the big terrace platform of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains and of more than 200 other summits. The above picture was taken the first week of October. So it was definitely a coat-wearing day.
If you have time, take a detour in Birg and experience the Thrill Walk and Skyline Walk. The Thrill Walk is a steel walkway that clings to the mountain face. It features a crawl-through tunnel, glass-bottomed floor, and a cable walk with metal netting as a safety barrier. The Skyline Walk is a glass observation deck suspended over the vertical abyss. Both activities are free.
If you start your journey earlier than later you can explore Gimmelwald, Murren, and the Schilthorn all in a day.
Visit the Schilthorn site for more details.
Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
Jungfraujoch is home to the highest railway station in Europe. Jungfraujoch stands 3,454 meters above sea level or 11,332 feet. The Eiger Express in Grindelwald is the most direct route to the Top of Europe. The ride takes 45 minutes and offers some of the most spectacular views of the Eiger. There are lots to do at the top including, dining, shopping and viewing the ice palace, sculptures, and visiting the Sphinx Observatory. The image above is enjoying the ice caves.
This is definitely one of the top things to do in Lauterbrunnen Switzerland. The day we were there in early October there was a blizzard at the very top. We stood outside for one minute enjoying the blizzard and strong winds.
It is highly recommended to purchase your Eiger Express tickets in advance and reserve a time and seat. That way you will have a guaranteed slot and your transfers will be seamless. The Swiss Travel Pass is not accepted for this excursion. Allow at least 5 hours for this adventure. One and a half hours for travel and two-three hours at the top if you plan on eating. Dress for cold weather and in layers.
Visit the Jungfraujoch site for more details.
Schynige Platte sits above Interlaken and offers spectacular views of Lakes Brienz and Thurn and the surrounding Jungfrau region. It’s a great destination for a panoramic hike or lunch on a sun terrace, but it’s the historic railway that seals the deal. The railway first opened in 1893. The steam locomotives were replaced with electric trains in 1914. It’s a 52-minute journey in the 109-year-old wooden carriages.
To get there from Lauterbrunnen, you make your way to the Wilderswil Station and then board the train for the journey up the mountain. The old electric trains depart every 40 minutes. If you arrive between 11 am and 2 pm, you’ll be greeted by Alphorn musicians in front of the hotel. A Swiss Travel pass with get you a 50% discount. Booking in advance is encouraged.
Book tickets for the Schynige Platte.
Distances to Lauterbrunnen
Geneva: 140 miles/2 hr 36 mins drive/3 hrs 13 mins by train $40 CHF/$44 US
Bern: 43 miles /58 mins drive/1 hr 20 mins by train approx $18 CHF/$20 US
Zurich: 80 miles/1 hr 49 mins drive/2hrs 20 mins by train approx $39 CHF/$43 US
Interlaken: 8 miles/16 mins drive/20 mins by train/approx 4 CHF/$4.50 US
MORE TIPS ON THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SWITZERLAND:
ONE OF OUR FAVORITE BIKE RIDES EVER. RIDING IN THE CABLE CAR UP TO THE MOUNTAINS WITH JAW-DROPPING VIEWS.
WHICH TOUR COMPANY WE USED FOR A GUIDED BIKE TOUR IN INTERLAKEN
BEST TRAVEL GUIDES FOR OTHER SPOTS IN EUROPE:
We love the Lauterbrunnen area and valley so much that we returned two years after our first visit. The views and vistas are indescribable, breathtaking, inspiring, and any positive adjective you can conjure. We recommend four days in the Lauterbrunnen area to maximize your experiences. Buy tickets in advance as much as possible and plan an itinerary. I hope you like our Top Things To Do In Lauterbrunnen Switzerland. Make sure to visit all of our posts on this area of Switzerland.