Lauterbrunnen is an idyllic Swiss village located in an impossibly beautiful valley in the Alps. Towering snow-capped peaks, high-altitude waterfalls and rough valley sides mean you seldom have to move to take in a truly breathtaking view. It’s surprisingly accessible by train, and there’s a wide range of things to do in Lauterbrunnen.
The unspoilt village is popular throughout the year. But if you head there in the spring or summer, you’ll get the best of both worlds – snowcapped peaks and an endless array of scenic hikes and walks. When winter blows in, the deep green meadows turn snow white and the resorts on the nearby hills open for business.
Here are the best things to do in Lauterbrunnen:
1. Soar above the valley
Base jumpers from around the world make pilgrimages to Lauterbrunnen to leap off her near vertical sides. If this is too extreme for your liking, then you can surrender control to a trained professional who will control a more serene paraglider on your behalf. The flights are among the most scenic and dramatic in the world. You’ll leave with a whole new perspective of the region, and quite possibly life.
Insider tip: There are several paragliding companies in the region, with even more further down the valley at Interlaken. If you’re set on floating over Lauterbrunnen, take a look at offerings from www.paragliding-jungfrau.ch.
2. Take a hike
Lauterbrunnen is a hiker’s dream. There are hundreds of walks and hikes that cater to a wide range of skill levels. A general rule is that the tougher the hike, the better the rewards. But even a gentle walk up the valley floor will yield impressive sights. Walks to nearby villages will take you past snow-fed lakes, cows, mountain goats, and to remote mountain huts where you can savor a steaming mug of hot chocolate with a dramatic outlook.
Insider tip: There is a vast network of hikes and walks in the valley. Ask your hotel receptionist for tips, pick up a map from one of the local stores, or visit Wikiloc.com for a user-generated list of trails in the region.
3. Take a ride
Lauterbrunnen is also famous for its mountain biking, and it’s a great way to cover additional distance on the ground. Bear in mind that the valley sides are incredibly steep and probably not suitable for unfit or amateur cyclists. But even a gentle ride up to the end of the valley in Stechelberg will be rewarding. If you’re up for more of a challenge, you can take your bike in the gondola up to the nearby village of Mürren.
Insider tip: There are one or two locations to rent bicycles in Lauterbrunnen. But for better value you can rent one in nearby Interlaken and cycle all the way up the valley – it will add a scenic 13 kilometers to your trip.
4. Walk behind the waterfall
There are several waterfalls plummeting down Lauterbrunnen’s valley walls, some more accessible than others. Staubbachfall is just a short walk up the valley, and there’s a marked pathway that takes you behind the water. You’ll find another popular waterfall further up the valley called Trümmelbachfäll which is equally thrilling to explore.
Insider tip: The walk up to Staubbachfall can be a bit slippery, so borrow a pair of hiking poles at the start of the pathway to help keep your balance.
5. Take a train to the Top of Europe
Lauterbrunnen is famous for its convenient access to one of the summits of the Bernese Alps – the Jungfrau. And for rail travel fans, the good news is that you can get tantalizingly close to the summit by train. The Jungfraujoch station, at 3,454 meters above sea level, is the highest railway station in Europe. The ride is almost as thrilling as the sights that await you at the top.
Insider tip: Show your pass when booking – Eurail Pass Holders receive a 25 percent discount on the fare to the Jungfraujoch.
6. Savor a traditional cheese fondue in Mürren
There are few things better than a traditional Swiss cheese fondue eaten in the country of its origin. There are several places to indulge in this iconic dish in and around Lauterbrunnen, but it’s a particularly welcome reward after the steep walk up to the mountainside village of Mürren. Most restaurants and hotels have fondue on the menu. You can’t really go wrong in any of these in this part of the world.
Insider tip: If you overindulge then you can always catch the train back down – Eurail Pass Holders receive a discounted fare.
7. Watch the sunset from 2,600 meters
You may recognize the Schilthorn from the popular 1969 Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – but even if you don’t, a journey to this dramatic observatory is a truly remarkable experience. If you have the legs for it, a walk to the summit is an impressive achievement. If not, you can still sail to the summit aboard the pristine gondolas. Or combine both and reward your epic uphill hike with a gondola trip back down to reality.
Insider tip: Show your Eurail Pass when purchasing a ticket, so you can get a significant discount on Schilthorn gondola tickets.
Lauterbrunnen is a destination that will leave you in awe of Switzerland and her natural beauty. Regardless of your interests, the things to do in Lauterbrunnen will enthral everyone who visits this stunning little village. And if you’re after the ultimate Swiss rail experience, continue your journey with a trip aboard the Golden Pass trains. It’s free for Eurail Pass Holders.
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