In Switzerland for the 1st time: One day in Lauterbrunnen

Arriving in Interlaken naturally meant trips to the Swiss Alps. I had two stops planned – the first was Lauterbrunnen, known to everyone on socials.

Lauterbrunnen has become famous on social media for short videos from the heart of the village that take in local buildings with hills and waterfalls. Of course, it all looks like something from a fairy tale, and you think that if you’re ever in Switzerland, you definitely have to go there too. Or at least that’s what I told myself and added Lauterbrunnen to the itinerary.

Originally, I had planned to visit this village in the valley of waterfalls only on Friday and save Thursday for Grindelwald, but the weather changed a lot and I wanted more sun in Grindelwald. From Interlaken you can get to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald very easily – by train in about 30 minutes. I don’t know exactly how often these trains run, but I think it was every twenty minutes. Trains run only from Interlaken OST train station (there are two train stations in Interlaken – Interlaken West and Interlaken Ost). Ost is located near Harder Kulm. As for the train itself and the system – the train leaves from the same platform every time, on which it is clearly marked which part of the train you should board if you want to go to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen (the train stops about 2x in the neighboring villages and I guess before you go to one of the destinations, so they disconnect).

As for my plan in Lauterbrunnen: I made a map so I wouldn’t miss a thing. 1 Instagram spot aka a view of the local church with the Alps in the background and then also a visit to the Staubbachfall waterfall. Since Lauterbrunnen is located in a valley and is surrounded by mountains and the Alps themselves (the Jungfrau is breathing down its neck), you can take it up either by cable car to, for example, Grütschalp or by train to Wengen. Both sides have a lot to offer (Grütschalp is more for people who want to hike, Wengen is a village on a hill).

I arrived in Lauterbrunnen by train before noon and it took me a while to get my bearings at the train station, but as soon as I got my bearings, I went to the viewpoint and the waterfall. Although the viewpoint was less than ten minutes from the train station, it was insanely hot again that day and I crawled there a little later around noon. I have to say that this spot didn’t make any impression on me personally, but it was definitely because the sun was 160 degrees and the Alps were disgustingly blue. I think one could appreciate the view more in other conditions. However, even this did not deter other tourists and within about ten minutes the viewpoint was overcrowded. I took as many photos as I could and went to the waterfall.

The Staubbachfall waterfall is located a short distance from the center of the village, and the locals have built a path and tunnel to it. You can get by “behind it”. The waterfall falls almost 300 meters. Walking up that trail to the waterfall was a total killer in that heat. Or was it just me, it seemed to me that among all the other people I was the only one who stopped every now and then gasping for breath and dying of knee pain. But in the end I made it and the view was very nice. Here, too, I took photos of random strangers – two girls right next to me.

Apart from these two stops, I didn’t go anywhere else in Lauterbrunnen. I decided to take the train to Wengen and see the valley from above. I had no idea how long it would take and I didn’t want to waste time. But I think that Lauterbrunnen would definitely be worth a visit – at least for the views.

The trip to Wengen went well. At least for me. American tourists had to pay a fine of 25 francs because they bought the wrong tickets. Whoops. Wengen is a small village about 1,200 meters above sea level. It is popular not only in summer, but also in winter, when tourists and Swiss people flock to the entire region to enjoy the snowy slopes. In addition to these attributes, Wengen is also known for being a car-free place (what everyone forgets to mention is that the locals drive cars and I still don’t know how I didn’t get hit by accident…).

Them: Wengen is a car free town
Locals: *driving them mini vans around like they own the place*

As soon as you get off the train in Wengen, there are toilets right next to the station and across from the Coop, where they have quite a few products. From the station, I decided to walk around the village and after some time I found the Leiterhorn viewpoint on the map, which promised views of the valley and the Alps opposite (well, it depended on the weather, of course). The trip should have taken about 30 minutes according to Google, but what it doesn’t say is that if you walk in the absolute heat under the blue sky and steaming sun and still uphill, it will take you two hours.

So my idea of a hike was different. The road was uphill, but there were benches here and there, so I could sit down, have a sandwich and look at the Alps. And one cannot complain about that. As Lauterbrunnen didn’t really interest me and I found it overhyped from social networks, Wengen and the views from this part made up for it. What is great about this location is that I went towards Interlaken, but there are also trails towards the Alps and you can take the cable car over the hills to Grindelwald and various peaks. The Swiss have it all nicely connected.

You can’t see the Leiterhorn Alps because you have to go through the forest, but you will have a view of the villages you pass on the train to Lauterbrunnen. There are also a few benches there, so I rested for a while and went almost the same way back (and took a million photos, of course). Along the way I met other people and a lot of cows, which was very cool. I also got a little lost, because Google was sending me through apparently private land, but I didn’t want to risk that and decided to stay on the “main” trail. In the end, I arrived in Wengen safely. The clouds kept chasing around the hills and the Alps and I enjoyed them just for a moment. Honestly, I’ll probably always be envious of those who were lucky enough to have clear skies, no clouds during their visit and were able to enjoy the Alps at their best. Maybe next time.

After the obligatory stop at the Coop and the toilets, which were surprisingly well maintained, I decided to get off at Wengen to Lauterbrunnen instead of taking the train back. Well, the views were nice at first, but after a while it takes you into the forest and you just keep descending “s”-shaped like road, which was something for my legs. Yes, I had a great idea again. I don’t know how long it took me to get down, but I don’t think it was more than an hour. And I ran into some sheep along the way, so it wasn’t all bad.

On the way to the train, I learned in a random window of a local shop that J. R. R. Tolkien was in Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen in 1911, and this very valley served as the inspiration for Rivendell.

Ending the article by saying that I would like to be a cow in the Alps and just graze on grass for days.

What I liked about Lauterbrunnen
Well, it was the first time I was so close to the Alps so that’s for sure. This is a great place for hikers. There are many, many trails and one can run on the mountains as one likes.

What I didn’t like about Lauterbrunnen
I find it overhyped. Like crazy. And you could tell from the locals that they were fed up with tourists even more than in Interlaken (and I totally get it). The weather as well – Lauterbrunnen is not to blame and no one can influence it, but I was hoping that there would be less sun and maybe some fog, because that would give the whole valley a beautiful mythical touch. Maybe another time.

Comments Off on In Switzerland for the 1st time: One day in Lauterbrunnen