Lake Brienz Area
A Romantic Slice of Switzerland
The beauty of this area is magical. Hop on a cruise on Lake Brienz, the exquisitely turquoise lake east of Interlaken, and enjoy premier vistas to the surrounding mountains, forested hills, craggy cliffs and waterfalls.
Click on photo for Image Gallery
Regular boats take you from village to village. You can hop-off hop-on and spend some time exploring several picturesque villages along the banks of the Brienzersee, as we call it.
The main hub in this area is Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West, including Wilderswil, ideal base for visiting laid back Lake Brienz area and the Jungfrau region. From leisurely Lake excursions to exciting hikes and biking tours or strolling through deeply traditional villages such as Iseltwald, Bönigen and the wood carving center Brienz, the activities are endless.
This region is also home to Switzerland's only steam powered cogwheel mountain train still in operation - the Rothorn Bahn - and to the Open Air Museum - Ballenberg - that provides fascinating insights into our past.
Exploring Lake Brienz Area
- Hike or bike along the shores of Lake Brienz. Especially scenic stretch between Bönigen, Iseltwald, the little fishing village on the south side of the lake, and Giessbach Falls. Part of the Swiss Camino leads from Brienz to Interlaken on the northern shore;
- Wander along the "Katzenpfad" (Cats path) from Interlaken Ost via Goldswil to Ringgenberg on the North shore;
- Take a boat ride to the woodcarving and violin making village of Brienz;
- Step back in time and stop at the Grandhotel Giessbach for coffee, desert and a circle walk to the Giessbach falls;
- Or combine a trip up to the Brienzer Rothorn (Switzerland's oldest cogwheel railway) by taking the train one way and return by boat from Brienz;
- Take a lunch or dinner cruise between June and August;
- Waterfall trail: Explore waterfalls in Bönigen, Iseltwald and Giessbach;
- Get up-close with Swiss traditions in the Open Air Museum Ballenberg just outside Brienz;
- Spend August 1st, the Swiss National Day, by taking the "Yodel-Cruise" for brunch or the evening cruise to see fireworks and bone fires;
- Hike the wood carving trail in Axalp high above Lake Brienz;
- Of course, there are many more options for avid hikers. Pick up some ideas at the tourist offices in Interlaken (Höheweg 37) and Brienz (directly at the train station);
- Taste some real Alpine cheese on Bättenalp above Bönigen - between Giessbach Valley and Faulhoren mountain - where cows and herdsman spend their summers;
- Soak up sun and dive into crystal clear water. Free wherever you find a spot along the shore, except in public pools (admission);
- Spend an afternoon between ducks and water lilies at the "Burgseeli", a romantic sheltered little lake between Interlaken and Ringgenberg;
- Stunning views to Lake Brienz, Lake Thun and a wreath of mighty mountains from Harder Kulm above Interlaken Ost;
- Paddle your own boat: row, kayak or paddle on this idyllic Lake;
- Insider Tip: A lovely path along the river Aare (to the right) leads from Interlaken Ost to Unterseen and Interlaken West. It takes about 30 minutes, that is if you don't get stuck feeding the ducks and taking breaks to admire the panorama;-). Unterseen has a charming main square with great restaurants, street cafes and Switzerland's only "Touristic Museum".
Highway A8 winds its way along the Southern shore, partly tunneled. A secondary road (free of tunnels) runs along the North shore.
By Train and Post Busses
Trains run on half hour intervals and connect villages on the North shore of the lake and all the way to Meiringen and Lucerne. From Interlaken Ost regular connection to the rest of Switzerland.
Postal buses run on the Southern shore: Giessbach and Axalp from Brienz and Bönigen from Interlaken Ost.
Lake steamer Lötschberg
Regular passenger ships
serve all villages and towns directly located on shore between Interlaken Ost and Brienz year round, albeit in the winter months only one course on weekends. Starting in March, three more connections are added on weekends. Between April and October daily boats
as well as lunch and dinner cruises. Schedule see here
The boat launch in Interlaken Ost is conveniently located behind the train station and in Brienz directly vis-à-vis the train station and just steps away from the Brienzer Rothorn mountain railway.
Tickets and Passes
Rent a bike. Guided tours available.
- Combo tickets for a cruise on Lake Brienz with Ballenberg visit available;
- Kids up to the age of 16 travel free on Saturdays when accompanied by an adult (free with one of the Swiss Travel Passes and Family Card);
- Charter your own ship for a special occasion. How about celebrating an anniversary or your wedding on a cruise?
How to get to the Lake Brienz Area
The Lake Brienz Area is located in the Bernese Oberland to the east of Lake Thun and Interlaken. The small strip between the two lakes - connected by the river Aare - is occupied by the towns of Bönigen, Matten, Interlaken and Unterseen and a little further south Wilderswil.
Golden Pass, operated by the Zentralbahn, on Lake Brienz. Meanwhile they have new coaches in red and white,
so this is kind of a nostalgic photo :-)
From Berne to Interlaken Ost
- By car: 60 km / 37 miles
- By train: Just under an hour
From Lucerne to Interlaken Ost
- By car: 70 km / 43 miles;
- By Zentralbahn (Lucerne Interlaken Express, part of the Golden Pass Line) via Brünig-Hasliberg approximately two hours. Reservation not mandatory but I recommend doing it in the peak tourist season July and August, especially if you are travelling in a small group and want to sit in the same compartment;
- Via Olten Bern approximately two and a half hours;
- Via Entlebuch Biosphere and Thun approximately two and three quarter hours.
If you travel by regular train (operated by the Zentralbahn) from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost via Brünig-Hasliberg consider leaving the train in Brienz and hop on a boat for the last leg of your journey to "Interlaken Ost" (or visa-versa). The boat launch is right across the train station, so even if you carry suitcases with you, it shouldn't pose a problem. All train tickets and passes are valid on boats. No extra fee applies, unless you choose to travel in first class (upper deck). Easy upgrade on the ship.