On my first trip to Europe many years ago, my boyfriend (now husband) and I did the obligatory Contiki tour. The second destination on our whirlwind tour was Lauterbrunnen, a tiny village in the heart of the Swiss Alps.
From this brief visit a real love affair with the village has developed and we have returned on numerous occasions as there are so many things to do in Lauterbrunnen. It's probably our favourite holiday destination in Europe.
Situated about an hour from the capital, Bern, the village of Lauterbrunnen and the entire Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland, offers an abundance of things to do for both the active and more passive visitor.
Although located on the valley floor at just 796 metres above sea level, its position in the heart of the Alps makes Lauterbrunnen the ideal spot for enjoying the long list of alpine activities and natural beauty in both winter and summer.
Things to do in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Explore the village
Lauterbrunnen is your quintessential Swiss alpine village, dotted with chalet-style houses and surrounded by green fields and towering, snow-capped mountains.
On arriving in the village, one of the first things you will notice are the huge rock faces surrounding the town. Nestled in a valley, the village sits surrounded by these huge cliff faces from which 72 waterfalls spill over, and each morning you wake to the soothing sounds of water rushing over the rocks. The Lauterbrunnen waterfalls are a real feature of the town and are a tourist attraction in their own right.
Stabbauch Falls, right at the end of the main street, is Europe’s highest free-falling waterfall. A hiking path leads up underneath the falls where you can get an up-close view from behind the waterfall from a specially built rock gallery.
The region’s three most well known mountains, the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, can all be seen from the village, with Lauterbrunnen the main gateway to the Jungfrau.
The Stabbauch Falls path and viewing gallery are open from June to October. They are illuminated each night during the high season.
The village’s main street is lined with hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops selling outdoor gear, souvenir shops and a supermarket and it’s easy enough to spend an hour or two browsing. (Read on for further details of the town’s shops and services.)
Away from the main street, there’s a swimming pool and a mini-golf course - two of the most popular things to do in Lauterbrunnen in summer - tennis courts, and the Talmuseum (Valley Museum) which houses historical and artistic objects from the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Surrounded as it is by such stunning scenery, it’s worth taking a stroll along one of the well marked hiking paths around town. The lovely Lutschinen Promenade ambles along beside the River Lutschine out of the village and then between alpine meadows before taking you back into town.
Other trails, including Panoramaweg, take you up onto the hillsides past chalets and farms where the views are just as impressive.
After a stroll in the crisp mountain air, there’s nothing better than rewarding yourself with a typical Swiss meal or a coffee at a sunny outdoor café looking out at the massive mountain peaks.
Another of the famous Lauterbrunnen falls is Trummelbach Falls are Europe’s largest subterranean caves, which are an easy 30-minute stroll from town.
Consisting of a series of ten glacier waterfalls, these thunderous waterfalls have carved corkscrew channels through the valley walls over millions of years.
A stepped walkway leads you over and around the enclosed, foaming cauldrons of rushing water (up to 20,000 litres a second), which throw up plenty of spray and have gradually eroded the rock into weird and wonderful shapes.
You’ll be amazed at the power and volume of water.
Trummelbach Falls are open daily from April until November. An entry fee applies.
Getting to Trummelbach Falls: Walking paths are clearly signposted from Lauterbrunnen. You can also access the falls by car (travel towards Stechelberg) or Postbus from Lauterbrunnen railway station.
Discover the hamlet of Isenfluh
The quaint and quiet village of Isenfluh sits on a plateau 400 metres above Lauterbrunnen. It’s not on the regular tourist trail but is definitely worth a visit.
Just getting to Isenfluh is exciting!
After turning off the main road two kilometres from Lauterbrunnen, the twisty mountain road passes through a 1.2 kilometres loop tunnel and then winds its way up the hillside.
This is not a drive for the faint hearted as it includes plenty of hairpin turns and sheer drops beside the road but once you reach the village you are well rewarded with incredible views.
Most visitors come to Isenfluh for the year-round hiking and tobogganing in winter. The hamlet is the starting and finishing point for numerous beautiful walks.
From Isenfluh you can hop aboard a nostalgic cable car – maximum eight people or one cow!! - for the short ride to Sulwald for more stunning alpine panoramas.
Then, why not ride a Monster Scooter back down to Isenfluh? Scooters are available to hire from June to October.
During the winter months, Isenfluh offers tobogganing, snowshoe trails and ice climbing.
After your day’s activities, you’ll be pleased to know that the Hotel Restaurant Waldrand is ready to welcome you.
Getting from Lauterbrunnen to Isenfluh: If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can reach Isenfluh by postal bus. The bus departs Lauterbrunnen railway station at least every two hours during the day. Journey time is 14 minutes.
An easy and enjoyable excursion from Lauterbrunnen is to visit Mürren. A traffic-free village which sits on a plateau 850 metres above Lauterbrunnen, Mürren is a popular winter resort but also offers plenty for the summer tourist.
Without a doubt one of the most popular things to do in Murren, Switzerland is to take the cable car to Birg and the Schilthorn (full details below) but there are plenty of other attractions, too.
The village, which has a population of around 350, is quite spread out and boasts a few hotels, eateries, souvenir shops, a small supermarket – and stunning views!
To get the best views of the Alps, take the funicular (mountain train) to Allmendhubel (1907m). Here you can take in the gorgeous alpine scenery from the Skyline Chill relaxation zone, walk the Flower Trail amongst over 150 different species of mountain flowers, and enjoy refreshments on the sunny terrace of the Panorama Restaurant.
There’s also an adventure playground, called Flower Park, especially for kids.
Numerous walking trails – for all levels of fitness – start in Mürren, too. An easy and enjoyable path meanders from Mürren to Winteregg and then down to Grütschalp.
Getting to Mürren from Lauterbrunnen: If you are wondering how to get to Murren from Lauterbrunnen, then wonder no more!
You can either take a cable car from Mürren to Grütschalp and then a train (via Winteregg) to Mürren, or you can take the direct cable car from Stechelberg, a few minutes drive past Lauterbrunnen (and home to Trummelbach Falls).
TIP: Transport between Lauterbrunnen and Murren via Grütschalp is included in the Jungfrau Travel Pass. Click here to find out more.
A large parking lot is available at the Schilthorn Cableway station at Stechelberg. Charges apply.
Take an excursion to the Schilthorn
At 2960 metres above sea level, the Schilthorn is by no means the highest mountain in the region but it is well worth a visit.
On previous visits to Lauterbrunnen I had declined all offers of visiting the Schilthorn as I’m not a cable car fan but, on my most recent visit, I was determined to overcome my fears and see what all the fuss was about.
The Schilthorn was made famous when it featured as the location for the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and today visitors can enjoy numerous Bond-themed activities.
At Bond World 007 visitors can watch scenes from the movie, and take part in lots of interactive exhibitions including being filmed ‘riding’ a bobsled down a mountain and ‘flying’ a helicopter.
The 007 Walk of Fame showcases the cast and crew of the movie on an outside walking trail, whilst the Skyline View – Piz Gloria revolving restaurant, which appeared in the movie, serves meals and snacks all day (including Bond’s preferred champagne!) with 360° views.
For me, the outdoor viewing platform is the main reason to visit the Schilthorn. On a clear day you have views as far as Mont Blanc and the Black Forest, and an unrivalled view of snow-capped mountains wherever you look. This is known as the Swiss Skyline – and for very good reason – and was without doubt, the highlight of my visit.
I can honestly say the views took my breath away and are something I will never forget.
My video below doesn't do it justice, but I hope it gives you an idea of the amazing views you can see from the Schilthorn.
Getting to the Schilthorn: The Schilthorn can be reached by two cable cars from Mürren via Birg.
Enjoy the activities at Birg
If you are making the journey to the Schilthorn, it’s worth stopping off at Birg (2677m), especially if you are the adventurous type.
Right next to the sunny outdoor terrace, Skyline Walk is a platform with a clear floor built over a vertical drop, whilst Thrill Walk is a 200-metre long cliff pathway built into the side of the rock massif. Walking on a (albeit, reinforced) wire mesh walkway with sheer drops below is not for the faint hearted.
The viewing platform at Birg faces the ‘big three’ – Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau – and offers great views both of the mountains and to the valley below.
Take the train to Wengen
Other nearby village that’s worth a visit is Wengen. Like Murren, it is a car-free village that sits on a sunny terrace above Lauterbrunnen.
Wengen is popular as a winter ski resort and in summer for its numerous hiking trails.
If you are travelling to Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen, you need to change trains at Wengen so it makes a pleasant place to stop either on your way to or from the mountain.
Read more about Wengen’s winter activities here.
Go Paragliding in Lauterbrunnen
With such stunning scenery all around, Lauterbrunnen is the perfect backdrop for those wishing to see it from above and it is a popular destination for paragliders.
Each morning (weather permitting) you’ll see dozens of colourful parachutes in the sky as they make their descent into Lauterbrunnen.
It’s not only the professionals that can enjoy paragliding in Lauterbrunnen. If you’re adventurous and are happy to jump out of a helicopter, you too can go paragliding over the Swiss Alps.
Take the train ride to the Jungfraujoch
Another popular day trip from Lauterbrunnen is the train excursion to the Jungfraujoch. At 3454 metres, the Jungfraujoch is nicknamed ‘Top of Europe’ and here you’ll find Europe’s highest railway station and post office.
The trip to the Jungfraujoch involves a train from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg (where you change trains) via Wengen, and then on to the Jungfraujoch. The journey takes around 90 minutes with the last part of the trip going through a tunnel carved through the mountain.
Once at Jungfraujoch, there’s plenty to see and do. The Ice Palace, featuring ice sculptures, Jungfrau Panorama, an iMax-style cinema and Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven are just a few of the indoor activities to keep you entertained.
At the Sphinx Observatory, an international research station, visitors can enjoy magnificent views of the Aletsch Glacier and the surrounding Alps.
Outdoors is the real attraction, though. At the Snow Fun Park, visitors can try snow tubing, sledding, skiing and snowboarding, and even fly through the air on the zipline (May to October only).
There’s also a sun terrace with an outdoor bar where you can soak up the sun’s rays and breathe in the crisp mountain air.
Getting to the Jungfraujoch: Trains depart regularly from Lauterbrunnen railway station for Jungfraujoch. Click here to check prices on day trips to Jungfraujoch.
TIP: If you are planning on doing other mountain excursions in the region in addition to visiting the Jungfraujoch, I highly recommend the Jungfrau Travel Pass. Click here to find out what's included in the pass and to check prices. This multi-day pass also includes excursions to Harder Kulm, Schynige Platte, Grindelwald First and more.
Ride the rack railway to Schnyige Platte
For garden or nature lovers, an excursion to the Alpine Garden at Schynige Platte is highly recommended.
The journey is made by open-sided cog wheel railway from Wilderswil, about 10 minutes from Lauterbrunnen, and takes around 45 minutes.
Winding its way up the side of the mountain, the train journey provides magnificent views of the Alps and of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz far below. The Alpine Garden, which is open from late May to late October each year, is a nature reserve consisting of around 600 species of alpine plants. The actual ‘garden’ has each plant identified and gives visitors the opportunity to get up close to some rare plant species, including the Swiss icon, the edelweiss.
There’s also a small museum, a daily performance by alphorn players, and an easy panorama walking trail.
Getting to Schnyige Platte: The Schnyige Platte bahn (train) departs every 40 minutes (late May to late October) from Wilderswil station. Connections are available from Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken.
Click here to check current prices and book tickets. (Also see my tip above re the Jungfrau Travel Pass or get more info here.)
Explore the town of Grindelwald
Another easy day’s outing from Lauterbrunnen is Grindelwald. I’ve written a separate post on things to do in Grindelwald and let me assure you, there is something for everyone.
Two popular activities our family have enjoyed in Grindelwald are the luge (toboggan) track at Pfingstegg and the Trottibikes.
Getting to Grindelwald: You can reach Grindewald from Lauterbrunnen either by car (about 20 minutes) or by train – change at Zweilütschinen. Journey time around 40 minutes.
TIP: Transport between Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald by train is included in the Jungfrau Travel Pass. Click here to find out more.
At some point during your stay in Lauterbrunnen you will probably visit Interlaken. One of the most popular holiday resorts in Switzerland, things to do in Interlaken are plentiful.
In fact, there’s so much to do here that I've written a separate post dedicated to Interlaken where I share what to do in Interlaken. You can read it here.
This is the place to come for more shopping amenities (there’s at least three large supermarkets in town), a casino, and to join cruises on beautiful Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
The town’s own ‘little mountain’, Harder Kulm, can be reached by funicular railway from the town centre and is a great spot for views over Lake Thun.
Getting to Interlaken: Interlaken is only 12 kilometres from Lauterbrunnen and can be reached by car or frequent train services from Lauterbrunnen.
TIP: Transport between Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken is included in the Jungfrau Travel Pass. Click here to find out more.
Hiking and mountain bike trails criss-cross the Swiss Alps and the Lauterbrunnen hiking trails provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy the incredible mountain panoramas.
If you plan on doing any hiking in Lauterbrunnen or enjoying one of the mountain excursions mentioned above, you'll need a daypack to carry your essentials like water and snacks. This post details the best travel daypacks for women.
Over 500 kilometres of well marked trails cover mountains and valleys, cross alpine pastures and meander past lakes and streams in the Jungfrau region. You’ll often find a mountain hut or guesthouse offering refreshments along the way and in many cases, the trails start or finish near a cable car station, making the return journey faster.
You can pick up detailed maps and path information from the Tourist Office in Lauterbrunnen, as well as at train and cable car stations.
"TIP: For all mountain trips (including excursions to the Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch), it is best to check the weather forecast before departure. It may be fine and sunny in the valley, but could easily be a white-out on the mountain! The cable car and railway stations have TVs showing live footage from the alps, so you can check the current weather before you go to avoid disappointment."
You can read my comprehensive guide to the Jungfrau Travel Pass by clicking here.
Why I love Lauterbrunnen
For me, the attraction of Lauterbrunnen is not only the gorgeous scenery of which I never tire, but the feeling of tranquillity and of being at one with nature, whenever I am in the region.
Whilst we have mostly been blessed with beautiful weather during our summer visits, I am certain that the feeling of peacefulness would remain throughout the seasons. If you plan on visiting during winter, this article will be helpful.
Where is Lauterbrunnen?
Lauterbrunnen is situated in the Swiss canton of Bern in an area known as the Jungfrau Region. Its location in relation to other well-known Swiss towns is as follows:
- Bern to Lauterbrunnen - 67 kilometres
- Zurich to Lauterbrunnen - 167 kilometres
- Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen - 13 kilometres
Shops and services in Lauterbrunnen
You will find the following shops and services in Lauterbrunnen:
- Self-service laundry
- Post Office
- Sports shops
- Coop Supermarket (closed on Sundays)
- Butcher (closed on Sundays)
- Chemist (closed Saturday/Sunday)
- Souvenir and electrical shops
- Internet cafes
- Petrol pump
- Supermarket/kiosk at Camping Jungfrau
*Note: the supermarket/kiosk at Camping Jungfrau is open 7 days per week
Restaurants in Lauterbrunnen
There are a variety of restaurants and cafes in Lauterbrunnen and most offer outdoor dining in summer.
Where to stay in Lauterbrunnen
There are a range of Lauterbrunnen accommodation options. From camping grounds and hostels to hotels and apartments, there is something to suit every budget.
Hotels in Lauterbrunnen
There are a total of 11 hotels in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. The following Lauterbrunnen hotels are popular with visitors.
Hotel Oberland Lauterbrunnen
Located in a prime position in the main street, the family-owned and managed Hotel Oberland is a non-smoking hotel. All 24 rooms have private bathrooms and many have a balcony. The restaurant is rated as one of the best in town.
Hotel Steinbock Lauterbrunnen
This centrally located basic hotel is a traditional Swiss-style property. Various room types are available, all with private bathroom and TV. The on-site restaurant serves Swiss specialities as well as pizza.
Hotel Silberhorn Lauterbrunnen
Just 200 metres from the railway station and off the main street, Hotel Silberhorn provides stunning views of the surrounding alpine landscape. This family-run hotel features a garden with terrace, restaurant, free parking and friendly staff.
Hotel Jungfrau Lauterbrunnen
Rooms at Hotel Jungfrau are basic but comfortable and all come with private bathroom. On-site facilities include a swimming pool, solarium, children’s play area and free use of mountain bikes.
If you are staying more than a couple of nights in Lauterbrunnen, you might enjoy the convenience of self-catering accommodation. There are quite a few apartments in Lauterbrunnen available for holiday rentals
Camping in Lauterbrunnen
On five of my visits to Lauterbrunnen I have stayed in a self-contained cabin in the Camping Jungfrau holiday park. Whilst I am not a big fan of traditional camping, Lauterbrunnen is the perfect place to experience this style of accommodation.
Camping Jungfrau holiday park is beautifully maintained and is situated at the base of the Staubbach Falls. It has its own on-site mini supermarket and restaurant.
The Valley Hostel in Lauterbrunnen is centrally located just 200 metres from the train station. Most rooms have a balcony and include W-LAN. There are laundry facilities, a luggage room and garden.
If you are considering staying at Valley Hostel Lauterbrunnen,Tripadvisor reviews are very good.
How to get to Lauterbrunnen
Getting to Lauterbrunnen by train
Regular train services operate every day between Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken with connections to other towns and cities in Europe.
- Train from Bern to Lauterbrunnen - 1h37 via Interlaken
- Train from Geneva to Lauterbrunnen - 3h49 via Bern and Interlaken
- Train from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen - 2h44 via Bern
Lauterbrunnen station can provide timetables and help with reservations or you can search on the Swiss Railways website.
Getting to Lauterbrunnen by car
For visitors arriving by car, street parking in Lauterbrunnen is very limited however a large multi-deck undercover car park is located next to the Lauterbrunnen train station.
Lauterbrunnen parking charges start from CHF3 for up to two hours with a maximum daily fee of CHF17. Reductions apply for each additional day.
Join the Switzerland Travel Planning Facebook Group
You are also welcome to join my Switzerland Travel Planning Facebook group where you can ask questions about your upcoming trip to Switzerland. Click here to join!
This article was first published in 2009 and has been updated and republished.
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