We picked Lauterbrunnen for the first half of our two-week summer road trip to Switzerland and Italy. It’s a small town in the middle of the ‘Bernese Oberland’ region, close to the famous Swiss ski resorts of Wengen and Grindlewald. Bev had been here camping as a child and remembered its reputation as one of the most beautiful towns in the whole world. We’re sure if you visit, or if you just read and look at the photos in this post about visiting Lauterbrunnen, you’ll find it hard to disagree with that!
We drove all the way to Lauterbrunnen from the UK via the Eurotunnel. With a family of six, the cost of flights was too much to justify and having the use of our own car made the long journey worthwhile for us.
Lauterbrunnen is in a ‘valley of 72 waterfalls’ surrounded by gigantic cliffs and the distant peaks of the Eiger and Jungfrau mountains.
It’s a popular ski resort in the winter, but we were visiting in summer, when the town and the surrounding mountains are arguably at their most beautiful.
There’s only one road in and out of the valley, which takes you in to the town centre, with its railway station (with links to Interlaken, Zurich and the mountain resorts of Wengen and the Jungfraujoch).
There’s a lift station up to the car-less town of Murren, a number of shops (including hiking supplies, gift shops and a supermarket), a few restaurants and the distinctive white town church, whose bells can be heard frequently ringing out throughout the valley.
As you drive through the valley, you can’t help but constantly have your head and eyes looking up – up at the unbelievably high cliff faces, the snow-capped peaks in the distance and at the signature feature of Lauterbrunnen, the many waterfalls (72 in total) which cascade down the cliff faces from high above. The most iconic of which is the Staubbach Falls (pictured above) at the ‘gateway’ to the valley.
You can park your car at the foot of Staubbach Falls and follow a footpath up to the falls, which then takes you to viewing points underneath and even behind the falling water, which you can actually reach out and touch.
Visiting Lauterbrunnen is popular with paragliders and, on a clear day, the air is filled with them – and the even more dare-devil base jumpers, who leap from the high cliff faces, plummeting before your eyes in to the valley and landing by parachute in the green fields at the bottom.
It’s a truly dramatic place. The peaceful, quiet town contrasting with the drama of the surrounding scenery and thundering waterfalls.
There’s not really a huge amount to fill your day actually in the town itself, but it’s a perfect place to base yourself for all the nearby attractions, lifts, walks and resorts.
The compact nature of the town, restricted in space as it is by the natural surroundings, means there isn’t a large amount of holiday accommodation – something that adds to the quiet, relaxed feel of the place.
We stayed in an apartment in a large chalet right at the foot of the Staubbach falls. We rated this as one of the best quality holiday accommodations we’ve ever stayed in, largely due to its location – by far the best position in the valley.
Lauterbrunnen has a very large campsite – the Camping Jungfrau Holiday Park, which is popular with young backpackers (coach-loads of them are delivered almost daily), and has a range of pitches for your own tent and pre-built cabins. There’s also a shop and a restaurant in the campsite, which are open to the general public, not just campsite users.
Right at the very far end of the valley, as far as you can drive before the road comes to an end, is a lift up to the Schilthorn, with its revolving viewing platform and restaurant made famous in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Another must-see attraction at the far-end of the Lauterbrunnen valley is the Trummelbach Falls – a truly mindblowing waterfall which cuts through the inside of one of the enormous cliff-faces.
Lauterbrunnen itself is not at high altitude and is in a sheltered valley so the weather in summer is typically sunny and warm but, as with all mountain locations, it’s unpredictable and can change very quickly.
We were slightly unlucky with the weather conditions during our stay in that it rained most days, although typically it was warm and sunny throughout the day until about 4pm when it clouded over and rained, often with some spectacular thunderstorms, which we loved watching from the shelter of our balcony looking down the valley.
The week after we left the forecast was for virtually un-broken sunshine all week long.
We’ve been to mountain resorts lots of times in the past, including multiple visits to Chamonix, Morzine and Les Gets – and all the surrounding areas and attractions. Nowhere have we ever come across anywhere as stunning and memorable as Lauterbrunnen.
It’s a perfect base to explore the many sights of this part of Switzerland with good road links to other nearby resorts, regular buses, a large train station and a couple of lifts, where you can purchase the Berner Oberland Regional Pass lift passes that give you access to the entire lift network in the region.
If there’s one single down-side, it’s a financial one, in that everything here is more expensive than anywhere else. We saw shortly after returning from this holiday that Switzerland was ranked literally the most expensive country to visit in the entire world – and that didn’t surprise us.
We were shocked on day one here when we bought a couple of pizzas for dinner from a roadside takeaway as a quick meal after our long journey only to find they cost the best part of €50!
Our daily spending money budget didn’t go very far at all and we found ourselves scraping around the local supermarket for whatever bargains we could find, rather than eating out every night as we’d hoped. But having said that, the whole cost of visiting Lauterbrunnen was worth every penny and more.
Whether you’re camping, staying in a chalet or just visiting for the day, Lauterbrunnen is a town that will make an impression on you that will last a lifetime. Breathtaking views, friendly locals, high quality accommodation and tons of places to visit in the surrounding area. A special place to visit for the whole family.