Switzerland has hundreds of lakes, but the ones you’ll absolutely love to see are the lakes in Bernese Oberland. These lakes are gorgeous. They’re fed with glacial water, which gives them a stunning turquoise color that’s simply breathtaking.
In the Bernese Oberland region, Lake Brienz is a standout with its bright turquoise hue. It’s so vivid that you can spot it from space! If you’re on the hunt for some awe-inspiring lake views, then Lake Brienz is definitely the place to be.
However, the bright turquoise color of Lake Brienz’s water is just one of the fascinating things to be found there. In this blog post, I will provide you with ideas of what else to do in Lake Brienz (which are also reasons why you would want to visit) and other information that can help you plan your Lake Brienz trip. Let’s begin!
Visiting an alpine lake like Lake Brienz has so many advantages. It ranges from the simple, refreshing fresh air, perfect for our lungs, to unexplainable calmness that often leads to moments of life-changing introspection.
The latter, I experienced it personally!
These benefits are some of the reasons why I love alpine lakes and why I am so passionate about them. And indeed, these little gems, beyond the awe-inspiring views, can be the best things that you can find in visiting Lake Brienz.
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So, where can you exactly find Lake Brienz?
You can find Lake Brienz in central Switzerland in a spectacular region called the Jungfrau Region. It lies west of Interlaken, which is the gateway to the Jungfrau Region and the closest city to the lake.
Lake Brienz isn’t a stone’s throw away from Switzerland’s major cities like Bern and Zurich. However, it’s a no-brainer to reach with only a single train ride to Interlaken, where you can find the boats, buses, and trains that service travelers wanting to explore the lake.
If you are traveling to the Jungfrau Region, you definitely need this: Jungfrau Region Itinerary: 4 Days in Interlaken on a Budget
If you have Lake Brienz in your Bernese Oberland itinerary, it’s important to note that it’s not necessary to make Interlaken your home base. Bern and Thun are great alternatives, especially if you want a more diverse experience on your Switzerland trip.
Bern and Thun are only 60 and 35 kilometers away from the southern tip of Lake Brienz, and here are the best experiences that you can have from each city:
You can also reach Lake Brienz from Lucerne, which is another top city tourist attraction in Switzerland.
Lake Brienz (the village of Brienz) is only approximately 50 kilometers away from Lucerne, and you can go back and forth between these two places in a 1.5-hour train-bus journey.
Discover Lucerne: How to Spend One Day in Lucerne.
7 Things To Do In Lake Brienz
Visiting Lake Brienz is not just about nature. Exploring the surrounding areas offers a variety of experiences.
You can have an adventure, be thrilled, and find relaxation in Lake Brienz. There are also nostalgic, scenic, and breathtaking activities! Surprisingly, if you have an interest in architecture and a little bit of history, exploring the places around Lake Brienz will be interesting.
Although there are various experiences awaiting you, believe it or not, Lake Brienz only has a few places of interest. Aside from the lake itself, there are only four: Iseltwald, Brienz (village), Giessbach Waterfall, and Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum.
But make no mistake in planning your itinerary!
Lake Brienz may only have a few tourist spots, but they can quickly fill up your day. You may need 2 days in Lake Brienz if you want to experience everything Lake Brienz has to offer in a relaxing way.
In this list of things to do in Lake Brienz, I arranged the attractions/activities from nearest to farthest from Interlaken. Let’s kick off with Iseltwald:
Out of all the stunning spots around Lake Brienz, Iseltwald is definitely my top pick. This little village on the southern shores of the lake is hands down one of the most breathtaking places in the Bernese Oberland, and you absolutely have to check it out when you’re in the area.
If you’re looking to get to Iseltwald from Interlaken, you’ve got a couple of options. You can hop on a boat and enjoy a scenic 45-minute ride or take the bus and get there in just 25 minutes.
Iseltwald is definitely worth a visit during your Lake Brienz trip because it has the ultimate views of the lake. The village is perched on a peninsula, providing 180-degree views of Lake Brienz, which for me, looks so otherworldly.
When the weather is calm in Lake Brienz, the surface of the lake appears like a giant turquoise mirror. It reflects the sky and the craggy mountains on the opposite side.
It’ll be an impressive view until you see Seeburg Castle.
Seeburg Castle, Iseltwald’s main landmark, stands at the tip of the village’s peninsula like an eye-catcher. Its white, elaborate facades contrast beautifully with the dark green mountains and turquoise waters of Lake Brienz, creating a stunning sight.
As soon as you lay eyes on the iconic Seeburg Castle, with the mountains in the background and the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz reflecting both, I’m certain you’ll find yourself marveling, too!
To enhance your experience, visit the finest viewpoints of Seeburg Castle from the village. These viewpoints can be found at the restaurants that line the bay of Iseltwald.
In the alfresco seating, you can indulge in some delectable cuisine — not only will you be treated to a feast for your taste buds, but your eyes will also be in for a treat.
I have more to tell you about Iseltwald. You can see my post, Why Visit Iseltwald and How to Get to This Beautiful Village, to know exactly where the best viewpoints are and to see the cute chalets in Iseltwald.
Hike: Giessbach Waterfall
Hiking in the Jungfrau Region is a perfectly refreshing experience. Wherever your feet take you, your senses will be nourished with purity. You will breathe in the fresh air and take in scenic landscapes, and there is no noise pollution to disturb your peace!
Gotta mention the sound of waterfalls echoing throughout the valleys. It’s a chill white noise that’s super calming.
Speaking of waterfalls, did you know that Lake Brienz has a pretty impressive one? It’s called Giessbach Waterfall, and it’s a natural landmark of Lake Brienz. There’s a hiking trail where you can boost your overall well-being and practice mindfulness.
Giessbach Waterfall may not be as famous as the angelic Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen, but it is remarkable due to its size and form.
Did you know that Giessbach Waterfall is a massive waterfall that stands approximately half a kilometer in height? It is also renowned for its stunning 14-step cascade, which is breathtaking to behold.
For landscape photographers who enjoy capturing long exposure shots, Giessbach presents an opportunity to capture that one epic photo.
Visiting Giessbach Waterfall has a bonus, which architecture enthusiasts would find so nice. It’s the Grand Giessbach Hotel, a 19th-century Swiss-style castle-like hotel that looks so gorgeous in the midst of the forest.
You can get to Giessbach Waterfall directly from Interlaken in three ways:
- A 23-minute drive via A8 highway
- Boat ride (approximately 1 hour)
- 1-hour 2-bus-rides journey via Brienz (Bus #470 to Brienz then Bus #155)
If you prefer public transportation, I recommend the boat over the bus. Needless to say, it’s the more scenic way which you’ll probably enjoy more.
When you arrive at Giessbach Waterfall by boat, the funicular that connects the Giessbach ferry station and the Grand Giessbach hotel is worth trying. This funicular is one of the oldest in Switzerland and will evoke beautiful nostalgic feelings along with the Grand Giessbach hotel.
As soon as you arrive by boat, you can begin hiking to Giessbach Waterfall, even if you choose not to ride the funicular. The hiking trail leads to the source of the waterfall. Be prepared for an uphill climb that may be challenging for new hikers.
The hiking trail passes over and under the cascades of the Giessbach Waterfall. At certain points, you can catch a glimpse of Lake Brienz and the Grand Giessbach hotel, with water flowing in front of you.
The Giessbach Waterfall hike becomes interesting only after reaching Schweibenalp, 350 meters above the Grand Giessbach Hotel.
It can take you 1.5 to 2 hours to reach Schweibenalp, but rewarding views of Lake Brienz should welcome you on top. Included in the view is the cute village of Brienz — another town that is also a beautiful destination in Lake Brienz.
If you’re looking for an affordable trip in the Jungfrau Region and want to discover the beautiful little details of this spectacular part of Switzerland, the villages are the perfect places to be. The Jungfrau Region’s villages are filled with quaint and rustic scenes that are the closest thing to heaven on earth.
However, the Jungfrau Region boasts several stunning villages, making it difficult to decide where to visit, mainly if you have limited time.
Aside from Iseltwald, there are the villages of Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, and Grindelwald. Another is Brienz, the village located at the northern tip of Lake Brienz.
Brienz is the perfect destination for those who want to experience the quaintness of the Swiss countryside during their trip. The streets of Brienz are filled with Swiss artistic culture, making it a must-see destination.
You can compare Brienz with other villages in the Jungfrau Region from the links below.
- Grindelwald — Free Things To Do In Grindelwald: One Day Budget Itinerary
- Wengen — Should You Visit Wengen: Best Reasons & 10 Things To Do
- Gimmelwald — 5 Things To Do In Gimmelwald (Beautiful Reasons To Visit)
- Mürren — 10 Things To Do In Mürren: Reasons Why Mürren Is Worth It
- Lauterbrunnen — Lauterbrunnen Map: 7 Best Viewpoints & Photo Spots
A stroll in Brienz feels like a moment straight out of a fairy tale. The streets are layered with cobblestones, and you’ll pass by half-timber chalets that are heavily decorated with flowers.
It’s not just a simple walk, though. Your eyes will be drawn to the little details along the way, from the wooden mailbox to the rustic metal door lamp.
As you stroll, you’ll surely notice the flower pots in Brienz. They’re extraordinary pots; some are shaped like dogs or cows. I was even pleasantly surprised to see that shoes were used as pots for plants.
Make sure to explore the shoreline of Lake Brienz, as you may come across wooden sculptures that will acquaint you with the region’s culture. Brienz is renowned for its wood carving, and wandering around the village is the best and most cost-effective way to discover it.
Indeed, Brienz is filled with little things that a wanderlust would want to see. But what is there not to miss? It’s Brunngasse. It is a street in the village center known for the most charming scenes in Brienz.
For the most scenic part of Brienz, head to Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche Brienz. From here, you can enjoy an overlook that stretches from the village to the snowy peaks of the Bernese Oberland’s eastern mountains.
There are three ways to get to Brienz from Interlaken.
- By driving, you can reach Brienz within 21 minutes.
- Using public transportation (bus #470), getting to Brienz takes about 32 minutes.
- Riding a boat takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Discover: Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum
The northeastern shore of Lake Brienz is the ideal place in the Bernese Oberland to experience Swiss culture firsthand. Your journey to discover Swiss culture can begin in Brienz and be enriched by a visit to the Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum, which can be easily reached by taking bus #151 from Brienz.
So, what is Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum?
The Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum is a fascinating cultural destination that immerses visitors in the rich history and traditions of Switzerland.
It’s the place to explore over a hundred authentic, original buildings and interact with skilled craftsmen and farmers who demonstrate traditional crafts and farming practices.
Wandering through the Ballenberg Open Air Museum, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, like a journey through Swiss culture and history. You’ll see over 100 historic buildings and 200 farm animals the Swiss people lived and used for a living for the past 200+ years. My interest in traditional architecture is well satisfied here!
If we share the same interest, you won’t be disappointed.
You can also watch cheese making, blacksmithing, and traditional folk performances, and even try your hand at bread making and cooking — experiences that make a visit to the Ballenberg Open Air Museum truly memorable.
And indeed, whether you’re interested in Swiss architecture, farming, or traditional crafts, this museum is for you. The unique and immersive experience that it offers is sure to captivate and inspire you.
If you want to learn more about the Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum, you can check their official website in the resources section of this post.
Thrill: Brienz-Rothorn Railway
Are you now imagining that lovely stroll in the charming village of Brienz? Is the fantastic Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum already making you want to go to Lake Brienz for a memorable time-transporting trip?
Well, there’s another tourist attraction to make you feel more excited to visit Lake Brienz.
It’s the Brienz-Rothorn Bahn.
This time, you’re going up to the mountains to see all of Lake Brienz through a thrilling nostalgic train ride experience! In my opinion, it’s the most unique experience that one can have during their Lake Brienz trip.
The Brienz-Rothorn Bahn is a 7.6-kilometer railway located on the eastern side of Lake Brienz, connecting the summit of Rothorn to Brienz. Dating back to 1892, it is considered one of Switzerland’s oldest alpine railways.
And yes, believe it or not, Brienz-Rothorn Bahn is older than the cogwheel train in Schynige Platte.
Aside from the epic views of Lake Brienz and the 600+ peaks that you can spot while riding Brienz-Rothorn Bahn, what’s so memorable about your journey in Brienz-Rothorn Bahn is the train ride itself. The train journey in Brienz-Rothorn Bahn is like no other.
Unlike most electric trains in the Jungfrau Region, Brienz-Rothorn Bahn uses steam and diesel locomotives.
As you ride, you hear the engine chugging and see steam puffing out of the funnel. It’s as if you’ve been transported back 100 years in time.
What’s so nice about the train ride is that you’ll be sitting on coaches with wide open windows (which can be closed if the weather becomes unpleasant). You can really hear the chugging of the engine and see the breathtaking surroundings as you ascend to Rothorn.
Worry not that you may inhale the steam that the engine releases through the funnel.
When I last checked, the engine was at the back of the train, and the coaches were in front (at least on the way up). The steam is left behind the trail.
Anyway, at the same time that you’ll feel nostalgia, you’ll also definitely feel some thrill.
As the steam locomotive ascends a 20% to 25% gradient, you’ll feel a rush of adrenaline coursing through your veins. All the while, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of meadows and dizzying cliffs.
Overall, the one-way train ride on the Brienz-Rothorn Bahn is a memorable throwback journey that lasts an hour. To fully experience everything, plan for half a day, which includes the round-trip train ride, preparation, and sightseeing on top of Rothorn.
Where can you begin this train journey?
Brienz-Rothorn Bahn station in Brienz is located a stone’s throw away from the ferry and the large parking lot beside the shore. It’s a 10- to 15-minute walk if you are from the village center (i.e., Brunngasse)
Before you go, make sure to check the dates of operation of Brienz-Rothorn Bahn at their official website, linked at the end of this post. Usually, they only operate during summer, from May to October.
Their website has all the tips that you need to know. So make sure you read them before everything.
Relax: Boat Cruise
Did you know that there’s another nostalgic experience awaiting you in Lake Brienz aside from the Swiss Open Air Museum and Brienz-Rothorn Bahn train ride? It’s a relaxing cruise on the steamship “Lötschberg.”
Lötschberg is the ship that you must catch if you’re visiting Lake Brienz if you want to feel that you’re back in the days of the Belle Époque. It’s the most stylish vessel sailing on Lake Brienz, chugging along as it takes visitors from one beautiful place to another.
As you might have expected, Lötschberg also has a restaurant. If you are going straight to Brienz from Interlaken, you can take advantage of this for a more unique experience! You can check bls.ch (linked at the resources) to learn more about Lötschberg.
By the way, if you are spending a day in Lake Brienz (and Lake Thun) for a day, you can take advantage of this unlimited boat ride day pass. You can learn more about Lake Thun from the links below.
If you have plenty of time, why not turn that extra time into fun? No matter if you’re in Interlaken, Bönigen, Iseltwald, or Brienz, you can easily find rental shops and water activity providers where you can borrow kayaks, canoes, and boats.
One of these providers even lets you ride a jet boat for one exhilarating lake experience. The activity organizer is called Jet Boat Interlaken, which is located beside the ferry terminal of Bönigen.
Do you want to book your jet boat experience and other watersports in Lake Brienz? You can check and reserve the available water sports in Lake Brienz here.
Should You Visit Lake Brienz?
If you’re considering a visit to Lake Brienz but are still undecided, I can help you make a decision. Let’s get straight to the point: is Lake Brienz worth visiting?
With its beautiful villages and breathtaking scenery, Lake Brienz is undeniably a beautiful place worth visiting. However, considering other experiences and tourist attractions in Bernese Oberland, and if you are planning a short trip to Switzerland, you may want to think twice before spending time in Lake Brienz.
Switzerland may be a small country, but it’s jam-packed with numerous fun and breathtaking places you would also like to see. Unless magical-looking lakes are on your bucket list, you might want to skip Lake Brienz for more epic destinations in the country, which are just beside it.
Spending time at Lake Brienz would be much better if you have a week to explore the Jungfrau Region or Bernese Oberland. It would also be a fantastic experience if you’re visiting Switzerland for the second time and haven’t had the chance to see Lake Brienz yet.
Here are my recommended other places to consider visiting in Switzerland:
- You’ll love Bern if you’re an old-world architecture enthusiast like me and if you love the city-nature mixed experience. Take a look: 7 Most Beautiful Views in Bern or 10 Must-See Landmarks In Bern.
- Lucerne is another city to try if you like history and breathtaking day trips. Its Chapel Bridge is an icon of Switzerland, and you must see it! Check out Lucerne here: Chapel Bridge, Mount Pilatus (day trip from Lucerne), and 10 Best Things To Do In Lucerne.
When To Visit Lake Brienz
Can’t wait to get to Lake Brienz? Wait a minute!
Lake Brienz may appear stunning and breathtaking in the pictures you see online or on social media. However, this is only sometimes the case. As an outdoor destination, your experience at Lake Brienz is heavily influenced by the weather and season.
But, no doubt, summer is the ideal time to make your Lake Brienz trip worthwhile. It’s when the weather is usually sunny, and the villages are beautiful. Most importantly, it’s during the summer that most of the tourist attractions and services in Lake Brienz are available to the public.
Also, it’s important to note that Lake Brienz’s boat service and Brienz-Rothorn Bahn halt during winter. It’s only Iseltwald and Brienz, which you can visit in Lake Brienz during this season.
One big takeaway from visiting Lake Brienz during the warmer months is that summer is the peak season, and there are more tourists to share Lake Brienz with you. Expect long lines at ticketing desks, especially in Brienz-Rothorn Bahn.
Anyways, do you want to see the best appearance of Lake Brienz, when it looks so calm, appearing like a giant blue mirror?
Come to Lake Brienz very early in the morning — it’s when the lake’s surface isn’t disturbed by the boats running across the lake.
When traveling to Lake Brienz, use the weather app as your guide to determine if it’s a good time to visit Lake Brienz for an epic view. The lake appears more magical when the atmosphere is calm, and the wind is minimal. With this, you’ll need to be flexible with your itinerary.
How Long To Spend In Lake Brienz
Planning a trip to an outdoor destination and deciding how much time to spend in Lake Brienz can be quite challenging. This is mainly due to several factors, such as the operating schedule of transport services, weather conditions, the visiting season, and many other variables.
If you’re wondering how much time to spend in Lake Brienz during peak season when most places of interest and activities are available, here’s my suggestion:
Considering the suggested time to spend on every tourist attraction around Lake Brienz, you will need 3 days.
However, 2 days would be enough if it’s only the unique experiences in Lake Brienz you like to have (Ballenberg Museum, Iseltwald, Brienz-Rothorn Bahn, and Giessbach Waterfall). And 1 day should suffice if you simply want to appreciate Lake Brienz’s beauty (sightseeing in the villages and in Rothorn).
You can decide for yourself how long to spend in Lake Brienz by checking the estimates of the average time spent by the tourists for each of Lake Brienz’s tourist attractions. See the estimates below.
- Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum: 3 hours + 1 hour travel time
- Brienz-Rothorn Bahn (round trip): 2.5 hours round trip + 1.5 hours preparation and sightseeing
- Iseltwald: 3 hours (meals included)
- Giessbach Waterfall: 6 hours (segway meal in the hotel)
- Brienz: 3 hours (meals included)
You might also want to visit Harder Kulm, a view point which has some of the best views of the Jungfrau Region and Lake Brienz. A visit to Harder Kulm takes about 2 to 3 hours. Learn more: Visiting Harder Kulm: Here’s What You Can Expect To See
Resources: Lake Brienz
To assist you further with your planning or visit to Lake Brienz, I am providing you with these links below.
They will provide you with more information about the tourist attractions mentioned in this post. The visiting information and booking forms can also be accessed through these links.
- Lake Brienz boat tickets
- Lötschberg Steam Boat – More information about Lötschberg
- Lake Brienz boat schedule – Please check the PDF for the Lötschberg schedule.
- Brienz-Rothorn Bahn – Visit for announcements, tips, ticket reservations, train schedules, and everything you need to know.
- Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum – More information, events, ticket reservation, and more.
- Giessbach Waterfall – More information, hotel, dining, funicular timetable, and more.
If you need to find a fantastic place to stay near Lake Brienz for your Lake Brienz trip, here’s where you can find the best hotel deals in the Jungfrau Region or Bernese Oberland. The link will send you to a hotel search engine with a map feature to help you quickly find the hotels at the most convenient location.
Here’s where you can find the complete list of things to do in the Jungfrau Region or Bernese Oberland, in case you are looking for more action and a memorable time in Switzerland.
Lastly, if you need more ideas about where to go from Interlaken (aside from Lake Brienz), check my archive of the destinations from Interlaken.
Before you go, you might like to discover the 10 Unmissable Things To Do In Interlaken Jungfrau Region.
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