Lauterbrunnen Switzerland is a magical village located in the Jungfrau Region, a UNESCO world heritage site, about 15 minutes from Interlaken and 25 minutes from the village of Grindelwald. The nearest airport is Bern so if you’re flying in, you will want to take the train from Bern to Lucerne and then on to Lauterbrunnen.
This special town sits in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and is protected by beautiful snow-capped Swiss Alps and mountainous cliffs looming right above it. You’ll probably recognize this village by its iconic (and gigantic) Staubbach Falls and the Lauterbrunnen church that sits in front of it. This shot is what characterizes this town.
Lauterbrunnen is best known for its myriad of hiking trails, skiing during the winter months, numerous waterfalls scattered throughout the valley, and its intricate network of cable cars that not only provide tourists with transportation from Lauterbrunnen to the mountain resorts above but also carry supplies to those remote locations. Because of its location in the mountains, Lauterbrunnen is more of a countryside village rather than an urban city. Expect to find only a handful of restaurants, a few cafes and little to no shopping. This holiday vacation is all about enjoying nature, exercise and the scenery around you.
Good restaurants with great views are expensive. Expect to pay upwards of 30CHF for a delicious meal. You can find restaurants in Lauterbrunnen itself but there are also a few in Murren and Wengen. The best part about these restaurants are the stunning views of the Alps so I would say it’s worth the price if you’ve got a great view. If you’re staying in Lauterbrunnen, you’ll also have access to a few cafes like Flavours and Airtime Cafe. These cafes are great if you’re on a budget or you want a quick bite. Airtime has good cappuccinos and great chai lattes and they offer delicious savory pies while Flavours offers yogurt parfaits and sandwiches on their menu. Both also have outdoor seating so they’re a fun place to sit and relax.
There are a handful of hotels in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Oberland Hotel and Hotel Silberhorn are both beautiful options for lodging in Lauterbrunnen; however, they are pricey by European standards. If you look through their websites, you’ll see why they command such prices. They have the most gorgeous views of the mountains and are clean and modern. Both Murren and Wengen have more hotel options but prices are only slightly cheaper. Views from most of the hotels are equally stunning. But as a note, Murren and Wengen are both car free and a little less convenient for those arriving by to Lauterbrunnen by car (you can only access these villages via the cable car). You can opt for Airbnb which lends better prices for families than a hotel would and of course, most backpackers opt to stay at hostels in this area.
Lauterbrunnen boasts 72 waterfalls which can all be seen scattered throughout the town and valley. Staubbach Falls, the second largest waterfall, is the iconic fall that can be seen in all of the photos from Lauterbrunnen as it looms high in the distance and can be seen from every spot in the village. Trummelback Falls is the largest; however, it’s entirely unique in that the falls are mostly hidden by the mountains and the only access to them is via stairs and a tunnel lift. These falls are the largest concealed falls in all of Europe and are fascinating to visit. Note that there is an entrance fee to these falls.
My favorite summer activity in this area. I have fond memories of hiking in Switzerland. Hiking trails are well marked and most are moderate in difficulty levels; the hike to the Schilthorn is probably considered strenuous as it’s both long and a bit difficult.
Murren to Gimmelwald – I would recommend the hike from Murren to Gimmelwald and not just because I have great memories of it. Gimmelwald is composed of a handful of houses and lots of sheep, goats and cows. We trekked down the road and came across the sweetest moments: cows mooing in the distance, goats climbing on sheds, elderly couples sitting outside their homes enjoying their day and honesty shops, unmanned shops where you can buy whatever you want, leave your money by the door and take off on your adventure. We popped our head into a tiny honesty shop owned by a local farmer that was offering sausages and alpine cheese for sale. We grabbed them from the refrigerator, left our money in the jar by the door and headed back out. They had a sign indoors stating that if they weren’t inside, then that meant they were out in the fields working. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of nostalgia I have when I remember this moment as its sort of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Gimmelwald is truly a must see in this region as it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. At the end of the hike, you can reward yourself with a cappuccino or beer from the Biergarten belonging to the Pension Gimmelwald. It’s on the hiking trail route and is a fun place to rest after your hike.
Pictures of Gimmelwald Switzerland
Grutschalp to Murren – You can also hike from Grutschalp to Murren. This is an easy hike that’s very doable for families. You will pass waterfalls, forests and more views of the mountains.
Gimmelwald to Stechelberg – This trail is easy to moderate and weaves through more grassy knolls and flowered fields. The end point is Stechelberg, another small village a few minutes from Lauterbrunnen. We picked up a piece of Schwarzwalder cake to enjoy while waiting for the bus that would take us back to Lauterbrunnen. You can hike back to Lauterbrunnen if you prefer but we just opted to take the bus as we were ready to head back.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Lauterbrunnen expensive?
It depends on your definition of expensive. If you compare Lauterbrunnen to Rome, then yes, it’s very expensive. If you compare Lauterbrunnen to Geneva or other Swiss cities, then I would say it’s about the same price. Coffees will run around 4-5CHF while lattes will run around 5-7CHF. Sandwiches are around 10CHF and full meals average 30CHF. Of course, you can find menu items that fall outside of these ranges but this just gives you an idea. Lodging at an AirBnb is pretty reasonable, however, hotels tend to run in the 150-200CHF range.
Is Lauterbrunnen worth visiting?
100% yes. This is a village that is the definition of Swiss mountain charm. There are so many activities to do and hiking adventures to go on, that it is definitely worth adding to your Switzerland bucket list.
Where is the Lauterbrunnen train station?
Located in town, the train station serves visitors taking the train in from Interlaken. Everyone who doesn’t arrive by car will access Lauterbrunnen via the train system.
When to visit Lauterbrunnen?
It all depends on the activities you are looking to do. If you want to hike, do the Via Ferrata and enjoy warm, sunny weather, then plan your trip for summer (July-September). If you want to hike and skip the Via Ferrata, June is a great time to visit as it isn’t very touristy and the weather is perfectly cool. Winter is a great option for those who want to ski and enjoy this winter wonderland in the snow.
Is Lauterbrunnen car free?
No – we drove our car into town and parked it. Murren and Wengen are both car free so I would recommend using Lauterbrunnen as your base if you plan on seeing the entire Lauterbrunnen Valley area and have a car with you.
Murren is a tiny ski resort village a cable car away from Lauterbrunnen. It sits high on the mountain. This is where you would sign up for the Via Ferrata and where you would do all your skiing. During off season, the town is pretty sparse. Murren is a great starting point for several hiking trails.
One of the more unique excursions is the Via Ferrata. Via Ferratas, originally an Italian creation, are a man-made network of metal rungs and wires that are carved and attached into the mountains to form a path from one point to another. It’s half climbing, half hiking but always over the edge of a cliff. Via Ferratas are more for thrill seekers, though they are 100% safe as you are attached the cables with ropes and most companies will require helmets and gloves. Note that they do close during winter and part of spring because avalanches are a concern during these months.
The Schilthorn is a summit in the Bernese Oberland region; there you’ll find a revolving restaurant with views over the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Interestingly enough, this restaurant, called Piz Gloria, made its way into the popular James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There are a few ways to get to the Schilthorn: you can take the cable car up or you can opt to hike. Note that the hike is closed during winter and part of spring (similar to the Via Ferrata) due to avalanches as well.
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For other Switzerland travel guides see Things to do in Geneva Switzerland.