Every once in a while you may be lucky enough to find yourself in a place so beautiful you can’t help but ask if it’s actually real (hey, isn’t that why we travel anyway?).
Last spring, I had the privilege of visiting that very place — Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland is the dreamiest European city I have every seen and I’m confident you will think so too.
Lauterbrunnen feels like a living fairy tale village. A breathtaking valley full of blushing trees and spring blooms, protected by monolithic granite cliffs adorned with roaring waterfalls that reduce to a whisper before hitting the valley floor.
Mesmerized by the striking beauty, I am now convinced that Lauterbrunnen is the closest you can get to heaven on earth.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but let me tell you — photos will never do this village justice. It’s the most beautiful town in Switzerland (and that’s saying a lot!).
Read on to learn everything you need about visiting Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.
Visiting Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Where is Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland?
Lauterbrunnen Valley is located in the very heart of Central Switzerland, known as Jungfrau Region. The village is tucked into a U-shaped glaciated valley at the base of the dramatic world-famous Swiss Alps.
A charming river runs through the valley and the 72 waterfalls peppered through are credited for giving the valley its name — Lauterbrunnen (which roughly translates to “many springs”).
Did you know? Lauterbrunnen is nicknamed the Land of 72 Waterfalls.
Getting to Lauterbrunnen
There are three ways to get to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland: Planes, trains and automobiles. We rented a car for our grand tour of Europe and found driving into Lauterbrunnen quite easy.
What’s more, there’s a large public parking lot just off the main road that isn’t expensive to use, so we parked the car there for the day and explored the village on foot.
Since Lauterbrunnen isn’t very large, you do not need a car to get around the village.
Airports near Lauterbrunnen
The closest airport to Lauterbrunnen is Bern Airport (26 miles/ 42 kilometers away) followed by Zurich Airport (66 miles/ 107 kilometers). Getting to Lauterbrunnen from Bern is fairly simple.
- Bern Airport doesn’t have a train station, so you would need to take a shuttle (runs every 30 minutes) to the Bern station. The trip from Bern Airport to Lauterbrunnen takes approximately 2 hours.
- Zurich Airport to Lauterbrunnen takes 3 hours by train.
Trains to Lauterbrunnen
- Lauterbrunnen is seven miles from Interlaken Ost (a transportation hub). The quickest route from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen takes 20 minutes and runs $4-$10. This route is popular enough to justify running 32 trains per day, with departures every 30 minutes
- Upon arriving at the train station, keep your eyes peeled for signs that read “City.” Those signs will lead you directly to the core of the village, about a five-minute walk from the station.
Helpful Tip: If you’re planning to get a rental car while visiting Europe, allow me to share a helpful tip. Credit cards are NOT required to book rental cars through Hertz. We booked our car 6 months in advance of our trip and paid $500 for 8 days. We considered swapping our vehicle closer to the trip date but the price had doubled! Book early, save money.
Where to stay in Lauterbrunnen
Even though Lauterbrunnen is a small Swiss village, you will benefit from staying overnight to soak in as much of the magic as possible. Thankfully, there are 11 hotels in Lauterbrunnen and one hostel to choose from.
- Hotel Silberhorn Phenomenal views, great amenities and free breakfast.
- Hotel Oberland Great hotel resatuarant and reasonable rates.
- Valley Hostel Beloved and well-reviewed hostel with phenomenal views but rooms fill up quicly.
Other great Lauterbrunnen hotel options include: Hotel Staubbach and Hotel Waldrand.
Tips for Visiting Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
The locals are reserved
It appears that Lauterbrunnen was a sleepy town before it became popular and the locals are still adjusting to the change. We made a concentrated effort to be very considerate, quiet and kind during our visit, but it was still hard to feel welcomed. This isn’t a compliant because it’s completely understandable, just a heads up.
Lauterbrunnen is small
One thing I didn’t realize before arriving was just how small the Lauterbrunnen is. If you’re planning to stay for a while, I’d say one day is enough time to explore, heck — it might even take you two hours. For scale, the current population of Lauterbrunnen is less than 2,500 residents.
It’s the quintessential Swiss town
Lauterbrunnen is exactly what most folks picture when they think of Switzerland. Think jaw-dropping views of the world-famous Swiss Alps, surrounded by roaring waterfalls and valleys full of charming inns. Simply put, Lauterbrunnen feels perfect.
Arriving to Lauterbrunnen
We made the amateur mistake of arriving at nighttime and missed the splendor of this striking landscape. I suggest coming during the daytime, not in the dark of night so that you can soak in the splendor upon arrival. You’ll be pinching yourself before you doze off to sleep — just imagine the adventures that await you tomorrow.
“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly, in a corner of nature.”
– Claude Monet
Best Things to Do in Lauterbrunnen
#1. Take in the scenery by hiking
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Lauterbrunnen, hiking should be at the top of your list! I promise you’ve never had an opportunity to exercise in such a breathtaking place while vacationing!
In a hundred different ways, Lauterbrunnen is a hiker’s paradise and the jaw-dropping views of this charming Swiss village are hard to forget, they’ll be seared in your memory for a lifetime. Thankfully, the valley is peppered with great hiking options for novice and advanced hikers alike.
My favorite hike is the Lauterbrunnen — Muren Trail, an easy 4-mile hike from one dreamy Swiss village to the next. You’ll pass dreamy pastures full of happy cows and dramatic alpine views, it’s easily one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done in my life, an unforgettable experience.
I strongly encourage you to hike every trail you have time for because my biggest regret during our visit was not allocating more time for hiking in Lauterbrunnen.
I plan to return for a four-day trip just to hike around aimlessly through the various villages surrounding Lauterbrunnen, a place this beautiful is best explored by foot (you won’t want to rush the experience).
#2. Visit the largest free-falling waterfall in Europe (Staubbach Falls)
It’s not surprising that a Swiss village known for waterfalls would have some of the best waterfall hikes in the country. Of all the mesmerizing waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen Valley none is more popular than Staubbach Falls (the largest free-falling waterfall in Europe). Thankfully reaching the waterfall from the heart of the village requires little effort, a breezy 5-minute stroll!
You’ll notice walking sticks at the base of the waterfall (courtesty of the town), grab a stick before begining the short (.2 mile) ascent up a paved trail to Staubbach Falls where you can go directly behind the refreshing curtain of water (such a cool experience!).
Note: Staubbach Falls is only open from June – October.
#3. Visit Wengen for incredble alpine views
All board! Hop on a scenic cogwheel train towards Wengen, a brief 15-minute ride from Lauterbrunnen. Trust me, no visit to Lauterbrunnen is complete without a visit to the charming neighboring town of Wengen (pronounced Vengen).
Wengen is a quaint little car-free village that sits at a higher elevation than Lauterbrunnen and offers some of the best panoramic views of Lauterbrunnen Valley (most famous photos of Lauterbrunnen Valley are taken from the vantage in Wengen).
Tip: There are two ways to get to Wengen from Lauterbrunnen – via trail or foot. We did a mix of both by taking the train up and hiking down. The views are hard to beat and best taken in by foot.
#4. Visit Murren for (more) jaw-dropping views
One of my favorite things about Lauterbrunnen is the proximity to a plethora of breathtaking Swiss villages. Murren in no exception!
Much like Wengen, it sits high above Lauterbrunnen Valley and offers jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Swiss Alps engulfing the glaciated valley below.
Murren, like Wengen, is car-free. You can reach it by train or cableway only. This helpful page has more information about visiting Murren.
#5. Visit the highest altitude structure in Europe
No trip to Lauterbrunnen is complete without a visit to the Sphinx Observatory, an astronomical observatory completed in 1937 and officially dubbed the highest altitude structure in Europe.
Sitting pretty at 11,716 feet above sea level, this is the the second highest observation deck in Switzerland and one of the highest observatories in the world.
The best part? Reaching the summit requires minimal effort. Simply hop on an speedy elevator from the Jungfraujoch railway station (the highest railway station in Europe), and ascend directly to the mountain top in style.
On a clear day you will be be rewarded with panoramic views that cross borders — you can see France, Germany and Italy!
The observatory is closed to the public, but the views from the observation deck are yours for the taking. Visiting the Sphinx Observatory is one of the best things to do in Luaterbrunnen, but it comes with a price tag. You can review the various tour packages here.
Getting to Sphinx Observatory from Lauterbrunnen takes about 2 hours via train/cable car.
The Sphinx Observatory is a UNESCO World heritage site.
#5. Explore Trümmelbach Falls (UNESCO World heritage site)
Another popular waterfall in the “valley of 72 waterfalls” worth exploration is Trümmelbach Falls — the largest underground glacier waterfall in the world and a UNESCO World heritage site.
Unlike Staubbach Falls , Trummelbach Falls is a collection of 10 thundering waterfalls (fed by the Jangfrau galcier) that have carved a slot canyon into a mountain where water rushes through with impressive force (20,000 liters of water per second).
There are 10 viewpoints along the way and visitors are encouraged to pop off an explore the dramatic chutes as water disappears into an early darkness.
To reach the top of Trümmelbach Falls doesn’t necessarily require a hike because it’s pretty much just a series of steps that take you to the top.
Note: There’s an entrance fee of 11chf ($12) per person but the experience is worth every penny! Make sure to bring a light waterproof jacket because it gets chilly and wet at the various viewpoints along the trail.
Getting to Trümmelbach Falls from Lauterbrunnen
Take a scenic 2.2-mile hike (one way) from Lauterbrunnen to Trümmelbach Falls and pass through picture-perfect pastures that offer striking views of the famous Alps, not to mention numerous waterfalls. The hike starts off the main street where yellow trail sign reads “Trummelbach Hotel & Stechelberg.”
Follow the main road until you reach Buchen (1.5-miles) and take a left when you see a sign pointing toward Trummelbach Falls.
Alternatively, you can reach Trümmelbach Falls from Lauterbrunnen via 8-minute bus ride. Head to the Lauterbrunnen Bahnhof bus stop (north end of train station) and hop on the #141 bus toward Stechelberg. One of the stops along the route is Trümmelbach Falls.
Note: Children under 4 are NOT allowed on this hike.
Image courtesy of myswitzerland
#7. Get your heart pumping in the mecca for adrenaline sports
Did you know that Lauterbrunnen is a world-renowned destination for adrenaline sports?
Well, now you know! 😉
Lauterbrunnen is a mecca for wing-suit flying (considered the world’s most dangerous sport) and paragliding. We saw so many para-gliders during our two days in the village and can only imagine the aerial views this adrenaline sport provides! You can sign up here.
So if you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Lauterbrunnen look no further than this. Or if you’re more like me, you can live vicariously through the extreme adventure-enthusiasts by “people-watching” them from below.
#8. Grab a drink at the only pub in town
Cap your day by grabbing a drink at the only pub in town. Yep, you read that right.
The decision-averse can rejoice because Horner Pub is the only option available, so if you’re looking for a way to relax after a day spent doing fun things in Lauterbrunnen, this is the (only) place to go.
#9. Take in the views from Piz Gloria (featured in a James Bond film)
Piz Gloria is a revolving restaurant atop the summit of Schilthorn mountain and is one of the most popular things to do in Lauterbrunnen because it was featured in James Bond: On Her Majesties Secret Service as a mountain-top hideout featured.
The restaurant played a prominent role in the film and embraces the fame to this day! You can check out the James Bond exhibition on the lower floor. For tickets and more information, click here.
#10. Rent a bike
One of the best ways to explore Lauterbrunnen is by bike. We rented bikes from Imboden Bikes during our visit and it ended up being our favorite thing to do in Lauterbrunnen.
The prices are reasonable and I highly suggest getting the e-bike instead of the traditional model (all the scenery without too much effort).
Here’s a price sheet for bike rentals in Lauterbrunnen.
Best time to visit Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen in summer: Perhaps the best time to visit Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland is between May – September when the temperatures are mild and chances of rainfall is minimal. Lauterbrunnen is a hikers paradise – it’s best to take advantage of the nice weather!
Lauterbrunnen in winter: If you’re into winter sports, brace yourself. You will NEVER want to leave Lauterbrunnen after visiting in winter. Think skiing, snowboarding, toboggan runs and far too many cross-country skiing trails to count. There’s a reason winter sport enthusiasts flock to this area every year!
Lauterbrunnen in spring: Even though spring isn’t as lively as summer or winter in Lauterbrunnen, I can’t imagine a better time to visit! We visited in early May and the flowers were in full bloom – the entire valley was alive with vivid color, plus there weren’t very many tourists.
Honestly, there’s never a bad time to visit this little slice of heaven (imagine the village covered in snow!).
“On earth, there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”
Camping in Lauterbrunnen
Switzerland is notorious for being expensive so imagine our surprise when we learned that camping options on the outskirts of the village run $10 per night. If you’re in a camping mood, this might be a great option!
Camping Jungfrau is a well reviewed campground a stone’s throw from the village. It’s a mere 15-minute walk from the train station and steps from Stuabbach Falls. In addition to offering camping options for caravans, motor-homes and tents, they offer bungalows, cabins, private rooms and group housing.
Best restaurants in Lauterbrunnen
In terms of good restaurant options, Lauterbrunnen is limited. It makes sense though, this is a sleepy (and small Swiss village), it wasn’t created to feed tourists en mass. During our visit, the following Lauterbrunnen restaurants stuck out.
Airtime Cafe: I HIGHLY recommend visiting Airtime Cafe. We grabbed breakfast here during our two days in Lauterbrunnen. The baked goods and coffee are so, so good! In fact, this is the best cappuccino I’ve had in my life – it’s that good!
Note on prices: Switzerland is notorious for being expensive. We paid 10 euros for an americano and cappuccino alone – which is unheard of in other European countries. But alas – Switzerland is so beautiful, and the experience is priceless.
Hotel Oberland Restaurant: Rarely does a hotel restaurant impress me enough to mention as a decent food option, but the restaurant at Hotel Oberland is a great option for traditional german fare – delicious!
Is Lauterbrunnen Car-Free?
This is a fair question because many little Swiss towns are car-free. We are happy to report that cars are allowed in Lauterbrunnen and driving in the village is easy.
There’s a main road that goes through the town center and leads to a huge public parking lot with a lot of availability. We paid around 1 euro per hour to park. If helpful, there’s a gas station in the village as well.
I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. As with all beautiful things, photos will never do this slice of heaven the justice it deserves.
I can say with confidence that few places have touched me the way Lauterbrunnen has. It really feels like heaven on earth.
So, if you need me, I’ll be here. Frolicking through green pastures with a paintbrush in hand. This place calls my name time and time again, I cannot wait to go back already.
Fun fact about Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
J. R. R. Tolkien hiked from Interlaken to the Lauterbrunnen Valley while on a school trip to the Continent in 1911. The landscape of the valley later provided the concept and pictorial model for his sketches and watercolours of the fictitious valley of Rivendell, the dwelling place of Elrond Half-elven and his people. (Source)
Things to do in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s the best things to do in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland:
- Take a hike
- Staubbach Falls
- Visit Wengen
- Visit Murren
- Hike to Trummelbach Falls
- Get your heart pumping
- Check out Piz Gloria
I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. The landscape is truly breathtaking – towering granite walls adorned with waterfalls so high they reduce to a whisper before reaching the valley floor. There’s no place in the world quite like it, which is precisely why you need to see it for yourself!
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Until next time,
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