If you only have time in your trip to savor one alpine region, make it the Berner Oberland's Lauterbrunnen Valley. Ride the cable car up to the 9,748-foot Schilthorn peak and linger among Switzerland's white-capped rooftop before riding down to the hillside hamlets of Mürren and Gimmelwald. Tunnel through the Eiger mountain on a train ride to Europe's highest station, at the saddle between the Jungfrau and Mönch peaks. At the valley's center lies the namesake town of Lauterbrunnen and its mighty waterfall. Your gateway to the valley is the old resort town of Interlaken; nearby is Switzerland's open-air folk museum of Ballenberg. But when the weather's fine, head to the hills, and bask in the Alps' most dramatic panoramas from a spot just this side of heaven.
At a Glance
Towns, Villages, and Resorts
▲▲▲ Gimmelwald Wonderfully rustic time-warp village — and good home-base option — on the slopes of the Lauterbrunnen Valley's western hillside.
▲▲▲ Mürren Pleasant resort town above Gimmelwald, midway up the Schilthorn cable-car line; a good high-mountain home base for those who find Gimmelwald too small and rustic.
▲▲ Kleine Scheidegg Small resort area with breathtaking views of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks; several hotels and restaurants; and train station for pricey ride to the high-altitude Jungfraujoch.
▲▲ Lauterbrunnen The valley's small-town namesake. From here, a cable car goes up to Grütschalp (with connections to Mürren and Gimmelwald), a train runs up to Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg, and the PostBus goes to Stechelberg (with connections to the Schilthornbahn lift).
▲ Interlaken Big town between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, at the "entrance" to the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Top Lifts and Trains
▲▲▲ Schilthornbahn Cable car soaring from Stechelberg, on the valley floor, to the 9,748-foot Schilthorn peak, with Piz Gloria revolving restaurant, James Bond exhibit, and stupendous views. Stops at Gimmelwald, Mürren, and Birg along the way.
▲▲▲ Jungfraubahn Train running from Kleine Scheidegg station and through tunnel inside Eiger and Mönch mountains to 11,333-foot Jungfraujoch saddle, with observation deck, restaurants, tip-top views, and snow activities.
Walks and Hikes
▲▲▲ Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg Easy, mostly downhill ridge hike from cable-car station at Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, with spectacular views of Eiger and more.
▲▲ Cloudy-Day Lauterbrunnen Valley Walks Easy trails and pleasant walks along the valley floor, plus short trail to Staubbach Falls at upper end of town.
▲▲ North Face Trail Relatively easy, view-filled hike from top of Allmendhubel funicular to villages of Mürren and/or Gimmelwald, passing farms with food service, the Sprutz Waterfall, mountain huts, and meadows.
▲▲ Schynige Platte to First Demanding ridge walk from Schynige Platte train station to gondola station at First. Fabulous views of Jungfrau-area peaks and Lake Brienz.
▲▲ Birg to Gimmelwald via Bryndli High, scenic, moderately difficult hike from Birg cable-car station below Schilthorn summit to Gimmelwald. Trail winds past knobby summit of Bryndli, with non-stop views.
▲ Sefinen Valley to Kilchbalm Easy trail from village of Gimmelwald up Sefinen Valley to dramatic Kilchbalm, a glacier-carved bowl with streams, waterfalls, and meadows.
▲ Allmendhubel to Grütschalp Fairly easy walk from Allmendhubel down to Grütschalp, with views of the Jungfrau.
▲ Gimmelwald–Tanzbödeli–Obersteinberg–Stechelberg/Gimmelwald Long, difficult, yet highly rewarding hike offering spectacular views and relative solitude (other than goats, cows, chamois, and a cheese maker).
▲ Sprutz Waterfall A moderately difficult hike from Gimmelwald up to and behind the waterfall (or a good stop on a hike down from Allmendhubel).
▲ Grütschalp to Mürren Super-easy, family-friendly stroll along the ridge with grand views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
More Sightseeing Options
▲▲ Ballenberg Open-air folk museum near Interlaken, on Lake Brienz.
▲ Trümmelbach Falls The Lauterbrunnen Valley's most powerful falls, accessed via elevator ride up into the mountain and dramatic walk through several wet caves.