Nestled in the Bernese Alps, about eight miles south of Interlaken, is a sweeping Swiss landscape with 72 waterfalls, hundreds of acres of untouched meadows, and looming rocky cliffs with tiny villages accessible on foot or by cable car. If you are looking for a postcard-perfect destination in Switzerland, look no further than the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Lauterbrunnen is a municipality that encompasses a collection of towns and hamlets, such as Gimmelwald, Mürren, Stechelberg, and Wengen, among others. The village of Lauterbrunnen, complete with its own waterfall (Staubbachfall), is where you’ll want to park and walk around a bit, unless you plan ahead and grab lodging at a local cozy hotel. Visitors can rent bikes or buy provisions for the day’s hike, as there are cafes, restaurants, shops, and a beautiful view no matter where you look.
Stechelberg is particularly worth visiting as it sits at the foot of the Schilthorn peak, which, at close to 10,000 feet, boasts a sweeping panoramic view of the Bernese Alps and Mont Blanc. Catch the gondola at Stechelberg, right in front of the Mürrenbachfall, the highest waterfall in Switzerland, and enjoy all four stops not accessible by public roads – first to Gimmelwald (a farming village with plenty of footpaths), then to Mürren, next to Birg (where brave souls can attempt the Thrill Walk), and finally to Schilthorn.
Fans of the James Bond movie franchise will want to visit Piz Gloria, the revolving restaurant at the summit of Schilthorn, as it was a filming location for the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In between the panoramic views along the walkways are statues and other snippets from the film, along with an exhibition with movie memorabilia on a lower level of the building. (Schilthorn.ch/en)
Opposite Schilthorn, on the eastern edge of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, is Jungfraujoch, home to the Sphinx Observatory, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. The summit sits at nearly 12,000 feet and is accessible via railway and cable cars from multiple villages in addition to Lauterbrunnen, such as Interlaken and Grindelwald, a popular tourist destination east of the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Coined the “Top of Europe”, Jungfraujoch is more than a peak from which to view the longest glacier in the Alps. It’s home to an ice sculpture exhibit, a Lindt chocolate shop, and a few spots to grab a bite to eat or warm up with a cup of coffee. For the adventure seekers, the full Jungfrau region experience offers paragliding, trail running, mountain biking, and, in winter, all the skiing one could want. (Jungfrau.ch/en-gb)
Planning a trip to the Swiss Alps can get complicated when trying to navigate traffic, weather, and discerning what routes require a gondola or railway, or what areas are only accessible on foot. However, if you study the map and keep the itinerary loose, there will be plenty of time to explore the beauty and diversity of the Lauterbrunnen Valley.