We were visiting friends in Paris a couple months ago, comparing notes about places we’d been in Switzerland, when my friend asked me, “Have you been to Lauterbrunnen?” When I replied in the negative, he responded, “Oh, you’ve got to go to Lauterbrunnen.” The very next weekend, we got in the car and traveled the 2 hour 15 minute drive (which is a lovely trip by the way, past Gruyère, Bern, and Interlaken) to go and see how beautiful this area is for ourselves.
How impressed was I? I’ll put it this way: We’ve had six (count ’em, 6!) sets of visitors since our initial visit in July. How many times have I been back to Lauterbrunnen? You guessed it… Six more times! I knew when I first laid eyes on the majestic views and awesome hiking trails that there was no way I could ever NOT bring guests to this incredible place.
The image below is an artist’s rendering of the valley. I’m partial to the yellow trail, including the loop on the left side out of the town Mürren called the “Northface Trail” but depending on the disposition of whoever happens to be with me, the hike can be modified.
So that’s an artist’s rendering. Here’s nature’s rendering:
The day’s journey starts with a gondola ride up from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp (altitude 4,900 feet), which is nothing more than a gondola stop. From there, you make a decision to either get on a really cool little choo-choo train, or – my recommendation – walk the 1.5 kilometers along the valley’s ridge over to the town of Mürren. In either case, provided it’s a clear day, here’s the view you get as you step away from the gondola station.
Even though it is the 3rd tallest of the three peaks (it doesn’t seem right to call it the “shortest”) the Eiger is probably the most iconic mountain in the entire Bernese Oberland region. Here’s a photo of the Eiger. The shaded face is the renowned “north face”, thought by many to be the most notorious mountain face in the world. Dubbed “the Wall of Death”, many climbers have met their fate attempting to climb it’s mile-high face.
Here are some photos I took of my friends and family in and around Lauterbrunnen.
Once you get to Mürren, you can extend the hike by taking the North Face View trail which offers magnificent views of many incredible peaks, including Schilthorn, a mountain featured in the opening sequence of the James Bond thriller On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which James Bond skis off the summit and floats to safety under a parachute of the Union Jack.
To get back to Lauterbrunnen, you ride down again on a gondola. I decided to take a video of the ride down, hoping that I could capture someone crossing the cable bridge over a thousand feet over the valley floor. I got lucky.
The walk back to Lauterbrunnen from Stechelberg is a 1.5 kilometer walk beneath thousand foot rock faces on either side, many spectacular waterfalls, beautiful mountain views, and a lot of cows. Here is a sample of the views as you wander back along the valley floor.
I’ll take anyone that comes to visit to Lauterbrunnen. To me, it is the most “Swiss” place in all of Switzerland.