As we approach, snow-capped mountains loom before me. I’m finding it hard to comprehend their sheer size. The landscape is like no other I have ever seen. I am in awe; I am speechless. Tears prick my eyes with the emotion of witnessing the stunning beauty that lay before me.
This was my reaction driving into the Lauterbrunnen valley the first time. My kids were thoroughly disgusted at my emotional display, but what can I say? I was moved.
Lauterbrunnen, the valley of the 72 waterfalls, is nestled at the foot of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains.
Located 13 km’s from Interlaken in the Jungfrau region, the beauty of the Lauterbrunnen valley is indescribable. It is one of the most stunning places I have visited.
A deep valley cut into steep mountains rising on each side, and the landscape is dramatic. From the vertical cliffs to the 72 waterfalls cascading down, alpine meadows dotted with chalets; Lauterbrunnen is something to see.
Switzerland is not cheap, but it is worth flexing the budget.
When I visited, we were on a very tight budget, particularly travelling with two children. But it was one of the highlights of our 2 ½ months European trip, and I would highly recommend a stay.
Look for budget accommodation options, and if you choose self-contained accommodation, you can cater for yourself.
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Where to Stay
There is a variety of accommodation available in Lauterbrunnen. I have listed a range that I think would suit most tastes and budgets but by no means is this an exhaustive list. So do your research and see what treasures you find.
Hotels, B&B’s & Inns
There are quite a few hotels to choose from in Lauterbrunnen. We have listed a variety of them from budget to luxurious.
Hotel Silberhorn – conveniently located near the train station. A three-star hotel with an excellent selection of Room types. This hotel has top billing on TripAdvisor.
Hotel Oberland – A family-run hotel conveniently located 5 minutes from the train station and near the Staubbach Falls.
Hotel Staubbach – A simple hotel/B&B located near the edge of the village near the Staubbach Falls.
I stayed at Camping Jungfrau and I loved it.
Offering traditional camping for travellers arriving in caravans, motorhomes and tents and also provide a range of Bungalows, onsite Mobile Homes and Caravans. And on top of that, there is a Hostel, Holiday Lodge for Groups of up to 60 people and a Chalet for groups up to 100 in the Summer months and a slight variation on availability for the winter months.
The holiday park also has the standard shop/kiosk and Restaurant as well as other facilities like a laundry.
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Things to Do
There are so many places to visit and see both in and near Lauterbrunnen and for a day trip. We have listed the most popular as well as the ones I have experienced.
Schilthorn is famous for the James Bond Film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that was shot there, a visit to the Piz Gloria Revolving Restaurant located at 2970 m will afford you stunning views of mountain peaks and glaciers.
This waterfall plunges 300 metres to the valley below and is located just outside the village and across the road from Camping Jungfrau.
The sound of its cascading water lulled me to sleep each night.
Visit the quaint traditional village of Murren only accessible by cable car from Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg and is a stop on the way to Schilthorn.
Murren is a car-free village and is the highest village in the Bernese Oberland.
To get to Murren take the cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp and then a train to Murren. The whole trip should take less than 30 minutes.
And once you have explored Murren you can take another cable car down to the village of Stechelberg.
From Stechelberg you can walk the valley back to Lauterbrunnen which will take you about an hour. Although if you have had enough walking there is a bus that runs every 30 minutes.
I would recommend walking and stopping at Trummelbach Falls on the way. It’s a great way to spend the day.
Trummelbach Falls is unique with ten glacial waterfalls hammering down inside the mountain unloading 20 000 litres of water per second. The noise is deafening. Accessible to the public by an internal lift, viewing platforms and walkways.
Depending on the season and the weather, opening times vary. It is best to check opening times before visiting.
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side, so we rode Trotti Bikes (scooter) down the mountain instead. Wasn’t that an interesting experience!
Grindelwald is spectacular, the quintessential alpine village, and I would highly recommend a visit, or even stay a few nights if your itinerary allows.
I would love to go back to ride the First Flyer!
Top of Europe
Located at 3454 metres above sea level you will find the Top of Europe. It is a world like you have never seen, gazing down over the Aletsch glacier, and surrounded by soaring peaks.
A trip to the Top of Europe on the Jungfrau railway will take you from Lauterbrunnen on a cogwheel train to Kleine Scheidegg. Then you will climb through the mountain via the 7 km long Eiger tunnel to the top, stopping at intervals to disembark and view your location from within the mountain via viewing windows.
The high altitude building at Jungfraujoch houses an Ice Palace, Restaurant and viewing platforms.
And if you want to experience a winter wonderland, even in summer, head outside as we did for some tobogganing.
Highly recommended and dress warmly even in summer.
Going to the Top of Europe is expensive, CHF 189.60 so you will need to weigh up whether the experience will be worth blowing the budget for.
More to See
There are plenty more places to visit in this region. I am a great believer in planning, but for the large part of this trip, we just decided day to day where we wanted to explore. Each village is beautiful and unique.
Most people come to this region to hike. The trails are extensive, and the views are to die for.
And of course, there is always Base Jumping. We sat and watched this for over an hour. I was enthralled by their bravery (some would say stupidity) and the absolute rush and freedom they must experience. Good luck to them. Maybe just watch them as we did.
Good luck to them. Maybe just watch them as we did.
But should non-hikers visit? Absolutely. But you should be prepared to walk. A lot. You may not want to hit the hiking trails but to see what is on offer you need to get out and walk.
For its sheer natural beauty alone this place is worthwhile visiting. Lauterbrunnen offered so many things to do. Personally, I could have sat on my verandah sipping wine and eating cheese and staring at the awe-inspiring view for the week and all would have been right in the world (not very original I know, but each to their own, right?)
Switzerland is Expensive
There is no way around that.
Eating out will eat at your budget (pun intended). At the time I visited I was travelling through Europe with a family, so we were on a tight budget.
This is how we still indulged in eating well, without destroying it:
- As I mentioned, we had a kitchenette. Self-catering is a budget saver.
- I cooked (which I love). Our favourite lunchtime meal (close your ears if fat and cholesterol are an issue for you) – Toasted sandwiches with cheese and cold meat. Fried in butter until they were crispy and filled with melted goodness that oozed out. I am pleased to say my diet is somewhat healthier now but I do have rather fond memories of those fried sandwiches.
- I bought fresh local produce from the supermarket (Coop) and cooked delicious, simple meals.
- Buy wine and cheese from the supermarket. The wine is good and much cheaper.
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Getting to Lauterbrunnen
By car, Lauterbrunnen is easily accessible in summer. Check the Passes for winter accessibility.
Trains run from Basel to Interlaken Ost and from there to Lauterbrunnen. From Zurich and Geneva, you will have to change trains in Bern. Trains run every 30 minutes.
Fly into Zurich, Basel/Mulhouse or Bern and then catch a train or drive to Lauterbrunnen.
Enjoy Switzerland. I look forward to going back someday and exploring more.