One day in Lauterbrunnen will be filled with bucolic Swiss beauty: views of waterfalls, breathtakingly steep snow-capped mountains and quaint wooden chalets.
Lauterbrunnen is a village at the base of a stunningly beautiful u-shaped valley, the Lauterbrunnen Valley. In this post, I will focus on how to get to Lauterbrunnen and what do to while you’re there.
I stayed in Lauterbrunnen for a couple of days, but I know some people might not have that much time in their itinerary. Switzerland is pretty expensive to visit, after all. If all you have is one day in Lauterbrunnen, I am confident that will be a day well spent – and one filled with gorgeous scenery.
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How To Get To Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen lies at the foot of the Bernese Alps in southwestern Switzerland, in the Bernese Oberland region.
It is reachable by road and rail – with the latter being an especially easy way to get to Lauterbrunnen.
Zürich To Lauterbrunnen
Zürich has a busy international airport, so it is a common entry point for visitors to Switzerland. Use Skyscanner to find flight deals.
If you were to hire a car and drive from Zürich to Lauterbrunnen, it would take around 2-2.5 hours according to GoogleMaps. However, to go from Zürich to Lauterbrunnen, the train is a really easy and not-too-expensive option (and the option I chose).
You can book train tickets on SBB.ch, which is available in English. Prices are in Swiss Francs (CHF). The main train station in Zürich is Zürich HB and the train station in Lauterbrunnen is simply Lauterbrunnen.
There are a couple of different train routes from Zürich to Lauterbrunnen, but the most common is via Bern and Interlaken and takes 2 hours 23 minutes. However, if you wanted to stop at Lucerne along the way, you could request that route on the first page of the website where it says ‘add via+’.
Tickets can either be ‘Supersaver’ which is fixed for a specific train, or ‘Point-to-point’, which means you have the whole day to make that journey, and you don’t have to use a specific train. In my experience, point-to-point tickets are not much more than supersaver tickets, and having the flexibility is quite handy – so I went with these options when I went from Zürich to Lauterbrunnen.
You can also save money by having a rail pass (which I’ll cover shortly).
Lucerne To Lauterbrunnen
If you don’t want to go directly from Zürich to Lauterbrunnen, stopping at Lucerne (or Luzern, as it is spelt in Swiss-German) might be on your itinerary. From Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen, a car journey would take approximately 1.5 hours.
To take a train from Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen, enter Luzern and Lauterbrunnen into SBB.ch and go from there, using the same information as I’ve mentioned for Zürich. The route requires a change at Interlaken (although at the time of writing there was also a rail replacement bus between Brünig-Hasliberg and Interlaken).
Swiss Rail Passes
There are a number of rail passes which could save you money on train travel in Switzerland. Seat61 has a good overview of them all, but I found that there was no easy way to decide which is best. In order to make the right decision for me, I had to do a detailed comparison of the prices for the journeys I wanted to make with columns for the prices with each option.
In the end, for me and the journeys I was planning to take, the best value combination of passes and tickets for my trip was the Swiss Half Fare Card, which cost CHF 120 but gave me 50% off most train journeys for one month, including the train to Jungfraujoch. The saving on the Jungfraujoch pass alone was CHF110, which nearly paid for the Half Pass on its own.
To help you make your own decision, you can check the inclusions and exclusions on the various rail passes on the Swiss Travel Centre site.
Things To Do In Lauterbrunnen
Here are some ideas of things to do in Lauterbrunnen. You won’t be able to do all of these things in one day in Lauterbrunnen, but you can pick & choose from the list and build an itinerary that suits your interests.
1. Enjoy The Views Throughout The Village
If you arrive by train, on the journey from Interlaken, you’ll get teasing glimpses of the mountains as you approach Lauterbrunnen. And the views of Lauterbrunnen itself start in the station, from where you can see super-tall Staubbach Falls.
And you’ll likely walk up the hill into the centre of the village. From the main street, you will also see Staubbach Falls on the right, seeming to fall from high onto the chalets. It’s a trick of perspective, of course – the falls are just beyond the village.
When I arrived, I guess some people had been in the area a long time and gotten used to the views because they were going about their day like normal, not looking up – whereas, I was staring upwards, slack-jawed by the scenery!
2. Scenic Viewpoint
The views from pretty much anywhere in Lauterbrunnen are amazing, but the most special, picture-perfect viewpoint is down a footbath off the main street. It is outside Chalet Pironnet and there’s a bench there. The view looks southward over the town and the valley, with Staubbach Falls on the right and ahead the breathtaking peaks of the Lauterbrunnen Wall, a wall of mountains in the Bernese alps.
The view is truly amazing. I felt like I’d stumbled into a Disney version of reality – it just didn’t seem real! It’s as if nature painted a picture for you. Sitting here and taking in the view is such a simple thing, yet one of the best things to do in Lauterbrunnen, for sure.
Some pointers for enjoying this view, though: stay off the private property of the chalets and check the rules before using a drone. The owner of Chalet Pironnet challenged a drone user I saw there, saying it was not allowed in the village.
3. Lauterbrunnen Church
Right in the middle of that stunning view is Kirche Lauterbrunnen (Lauterbrunnen Church), a quaint church with a steeple and pretty clock face. It sits next to the Weisse Lütschine, a gushing river fed by melting snow from the mountains.
It is definitely worth wandering down to the church and enjoying this quiet, picturesque part of the village.
4. Staubbach Falls
Staubbach Falls is the main waterfall you will see from Lauterbrunnen. It is to the west of the village and falls a massive 297 meters from a hanging valley and over a cliff. It is the highest free-falling waterfall in Switzerland
5. Hiking & Cycling
The whole valley of Lauterbrunnen is bursting with natural beauty and unspoiled countryside, so it is no surprise that the area is popular with hikers and cyclists.
I didn’t get into this myself, but there were a lot of people in hiking gear or with bicycles in Lauterbrunnen and the popular hikes include:
- Mürren, a car-free village high above Lauterbrunnen to the southwest (6.2km)
- Staubbach Falls and then on to the Trümmelbach Falls (8.2km)
- Wengen, another car-free village north-east of Lauterbrunnen (2.9km)
There are also plenty of cycle routes in Lauterbrunnen, including to the Staubbach falls, Mürren, Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg.
6. Cable Car & Alpine Trains To Surrounding Villages
All over the Swiss alps, I was amazed by both the communities that exist on the steep terrain and the trains and cable cars that connect them to the rest of civilisation.
If you don’t fancy hiking, you can still visit some of the gorgeous alpine villages high up the mountainsides around Lauterbrunnen:
- Mürren can be reached from Lauterbrunnen by cable car to Grütschalp, then by train to Mürren BLM station.
- Wengen is reachable by cogwheel train from Lauterbrunnen, which takes 11 minutes. Trains go every 30 minutes during the day.
- Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks and it has stunning views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks.
7. Jungfraujoch: Top Of Europe
Jungfraujoch is a saddle of mountains between two peaks: the Jungfrau and the Mönch. Its elevation is 3463 meters above sea level and whilst it would be a daunting climb, it is super easy to get to because the Swiss built a railway up there in 1912! Yep, you can take a train to the Jungfraujoch railway station, which is the highest in Europe. From here, you can explore the Top Of Europe, a silvery building perched on the mountain crest. At the top is the Sphinx Observatory, from which you can get 360-degree panoramic views across the mountains and over the Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in the alps.
Taking the train up to Jungfraujoch is an epic thing to do in Lauterbrunnen! However, if you only have one day in Lauterbrunnen, you may need to plan this carefully because you need at least half a day to do this.
If you can only spare one day in Lauterbrunnen, it would be best to stay one night as well because it is a good idea to start early and get one of the first trains to Jungfraujoch. From Lauterbrunnen, the journey takes about an hour and 40 minutes and involves changing trains at Kleine Scheidegg.
Heads up: you may well feel the effects of the altitude this high up. I felt it almost as soon as I got off the train at Jungfraujoch: I felt lightheaded and weak. I remembered this is how I’d felt at high altitude in Cusco and doing the Inca Trail in Peru: walking around the facility was a huge effort and I had to sit down often!
8. Eat Classic Swiss Food
There are different kinds of cuisine available in Lauterbrunnen, but if you’re in Switzerland, like me, you might be tempted to try some Swiss dishes.
Here are some classic Swiss foods I tried and loved. I didn’t eat all of them in Lauterbrunnen – some of them I tried in Zürich or Zermatt, but I thought it would help to include them here, as you might want to look out for them on menus in Lauterbrunnen:
- Raclette is basically melted cheese, served with veggies, traditionally boiled potatoes, cornichons and pickled onions.
- Fondue is basically melted cheese with bread and veggies dipped in it.
- Rösti is made from potatoes chopped up and fried into a round shape. They can be served as a side dish or a main, often topped with other things (eg, you guessed it, melted cheese!)
- Kalbsbratwurst with zweibelsauce. I have my Swiss brother-in-law for putting me on to this one. Kalbsbratwurst is a veal sausage that has a tender texture and mild flavour. Zweibelsauce is a rich brown onion sauce and the two are a yummy combination.
- Schnitzel is a thin cut of meat, often veal, tenderised and cooked in breadcrumbs.
- Spätzle is somewhere between pasta and dumplings: small dense pieces of flour, eggs & water, usually served as a side dish to meat and gravy.
- Bircher Muesli is a good breakfast food: it’s soft instead of crunchy because the rolled oats are soaked in juice and mixed with fresh fruit, like apples. I like it mixed with yoghurt.
- Rivella – this one’s a soft drink that looks and tastes fruity but is actually made from milk whey! My Bro-in-law says, ‘Everything in Switzerland that’s worth anything is made from milk: chocolate, cheese and Rivella.’
Map: One Day In Lauterbrunnen
Here’s a map of the key places and things to do in Lauterbrunnen:
How To Use This Map: click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one. If you click the star next to the title of the map, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.
Where To Eat In Lauterbrunnen
In Lauterbrunnen, I liked the following places to eat:
- Hotel Oberland: the hotel where I stayed has a restaurant on the ground floor with some outdoor seating. The food was really great here: I had a cheese, ham & mushroom-topped Rösti, which was indulgent and filling.
- Hotel Horner: there’s a laid-back pub on the ground floor, which seemed to have a backpacker vibe. I had raclette here which was fine – but not the best I’ve had. Service was slow but friendly.
- Food Point: a casual pace that does kebabs and falafel. I had a falafel wrap and ate it on my balcony enjoying my view (more on that later).
Heads up: I need to keep it real – there are lots of flies in Lauterbrunnen in the summer. I guess it’s all the cows and countryside, but whatever the cause, they are everywhere, including restaurants – and it’s very annoying to keep waving them off your food when you’re eating. I guess even places as beautiful as Switzerland have downsides!
Where To Stay In Lauterbrunnen
Switzerland is an expensive place to visit for many people, including me. I wanted a simple room in Lauterbrunnen, not far from the train station. Ultimately, I was really happy with my choice: Hotel Oberland is a 5-minute walk from the station and was competitively priced.
I was travelling solo, so I went for a single room with an en-suite bathroom: the room was fairly basic, but had what I needed. My room was on the third floor and there was no lift/elevator in the hotel, so the stairs were a lot. Breakfast was a standard buffet affair and the staff were really helpful.
The thing I really liked, though, was having a balcony with a view: my room had a small balcony overlooking the village and the mountains on the other side of the valley. The flowers drew bees – it was such a lovely place to sit and relax, enjoying the alpine scenery.
The Last Word
I hope this has inspired you about the things you could do in one day in Lauterbrunnen. It really is a special place and worth the hype, in my opinion.
And if you’re interested in other scenic towns in Europe, have you considered Flam, in Norway?