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BEST THINGS TO DO IN BRIENZ, SWITZERLAND

BRIENZ TRAVEL GUIDE – WHAT TO DO AND SEE + TRAVEL TIPS

Nestled amongst the Swiss Alps, on the shores of gorgeous Lake Brienz, Brienz is a wonderful little village to visit. Traditional, cute wooden houses, water sports activities, mountain excursions, and more – there is a lot to do and see in and near Brienz, Switzerland.

And here I share my tips for the best things to do in Brienz, Switzerland. Find out about the best activities along with many travel tips for your visit to this cute village in the region of Interlaken.

Brienz tourim
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BRIENZ TRAVEL TIPS 

Before we talk about the best Brienz activities, here are some quick travel tips.

LOCATION:

Brienz (at 566 meters above sea level) is located in the canton (state) of Bern in the Bernese Oberland. It is about 18km northeast of Interlaken, one of the best-known regions for adventures and outdoor activities, and flanks the gorgeous Lake Brienz on the northern end.

HOW TO GET TO BRIENZ:

  • From Brienz to Lucerne: about 60 minutes by car, 90 minutes by train
  • From Brienz to Zurich: about two hours by car, 2.5 hours by train 
  • From Brienz to Interlaken Ost: about 20 minutes by car or train 
  • From Brienz to Thun: about 50 minutes by car or 1 hour by train (90 minutes by train and bus).

HOW TO GET AROUND: 

Brienz is quite small, so you can walk to the sights – however, some of the places are outside of Brienz. For these places, I recommend getting around via public transportation, though a car might also be a good option.

  • BY CAR: Though I normally love road tripping in Switzerland, I should add that parking in Brienz is difficult; parking is, in general, tricky in the region. 
  • BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation in the region of Interlaken and Brienz is great and it gives you the chance to get around easily. If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken, you will get a guest card, that is, if you stay overnight in an official hotel/guest house, you are given a guest card that you can use for some buses and that also gives you a small discount on activities in the region (often around 10%). But for many of the places/activities mentioned here, it might not be very useful.
  • SWISS TRAVEL PASS: I have had a Swiss Travel Pass several times, and I think it is super useful. You can use almost all the buses and trains without any extra charge, the boat tour mentioned on this Brienz itinerary is included, and you get a 50% discount for most mountain excursions (some mountain excursions, like Mount Rigi near Lucerne, are included in the pass). It is not cheap, but it might pay off (for me at least, it does). If you buy it via GetYourGuide, you usually have a free cancellation option in case you have to cancel (we never know what might happen). Check out prices here.

MORE TIPS:

Currency/Money: The currency is Swiss Francs. Euros are widely accepted, but the exchange rate is often terrible. Credit cards are often, but not always, accepted. In particular, smaller restaurants in Brienz did not accept my card. So, make sure to have at least some Francs with you. 

BEST THINGS TO DO IN BRIENZ

So, without further ado, find out what to do in Brienz.

Lake Brienz Boat Cruise

One of the most stunning lakes in Switzerland – and in the world – is Lake Brienz. The village of Brienz is located on the northeastern shores of the lake. As an unofficial lake expert, I can confirm that the lake is just beyond stunning – the turquoise watercolor is striking and the lake is one of the main reasons I fell in love with Brienz in the first place.

Arrive by boat at Grandhotel Giessbach or just do a boat tour on Lake Brienz
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Lake Brienz is primarily fed by the Aare River, the Lütschine River, and the Giessbach Waterfalls. The water is so low in nutrition that there isn’t much sea life. 

Until the 10th century, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz were one lake. After the separation, each became its own beauty with Interlaken in between them.

It wears its best color when the sun shines – its turquoise color knows then to impress the best. And a cruise on Lake Brienz is one of the best Brienz activities. From April to the end of October, you can hop on a boat – the boat station is located near the train and main bus station – and admire the stunning scenery. The whole cruise – until Interlaken – takes about 90 minutes and you can get out at several stops (more on that later).

Swimming at Lake Brienz

Stunning Lake Brienz has one little flaw… it is freezingly cold. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but the water is actually quite chilly even in the summer (it is a glacier lake after all).  

Lake Breinz promenade at Brienz
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Most people prefer swimming in Lake Thun instead, which is a bit warmer, however, on a really warm and sunny day (and we had a lot of them in recent years), you will love the cold of the water.

And whether you get to the lido close to the train station or just walk along the lake and find a good spot, there are plenty of options to swim in this lovely lake that comes with great views.

Also, the lake is so clean that you will not find fish in it. As someone with a fish phobia (it is a serious thing, I am not kidding), this makes Lake Brienz even more appealing to me.

Get Up Brienzer Rothorn

Brienzer Rothorn is a mountain in the Emmental Alps at 2,350 meters of elevation, which makes it the highest summit of the range. There are different ways to reach the top: 1) hike up (either just some parts or all the way up to the summit), or 2) take a ride and enjoy a one-hour journey with a steam locomotive (almost 8km) that offers spectacular views.

Brienzer Rothorn with view on Lake Brienz
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View from Brienzer Rothorn
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Getting up Brienzer Rothorn via a very old steam locomotive – with great views of Lake Brienz – is an amazing experience. It might be quite busy on sunny days (as are most mountain peaks), but it is worth the time, money, and everything else that comes with it.

You can buy a return ticket or a single ticket and then hike up or down. Of course, you can also just hike. But I recommend getting up via the steam locomotive at least – for the experience. Here is more about the trip to Brienzer Rothorn.

Stroll Brienz Village

Brienz is a small village that stretches along the shores of Lake Brienz. The most beautiful wooden chalets are in the Brunngasse, which was awarded “most beautiful street in Europe.” Most of the houses in this street date back to the 18th century and are decorated with wood carvings.

Brunnengasse in Brienz is a must see
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Most beautiful street in Europe, Brunnengasse in Brienz
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Brienz village center
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However, while the houses there are stunning, it is just a few and you will not need a lot of time to stroll the village center, including the Brunngasse.

Walk the Sculpture Trail/Skulpturenweg

Brienz, also known as the “village of carvings,” has a long tradition of wood processing – they even have a sculpture trail along the shores of Lake Brienz. The sculptures were created during the “International Woodcarving Symposium Brienz,” which was inaugurated in 2016.

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To this day, it has a school for carving and violin making. Following the statues, seeing many of them along the shores of the lake is indeed a unique experience, is also fun for younger kids. 

Do Some Water Sports

Lake Brienz is heaven for water sports lovers. If you bring your own equipment, you can do almost any kind of water sport. But even if you do not bring your equipment, there are many water sport rental options at Brienz.

Water sports activities in Brienz
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You can do wakeboarding, wake surfing, wake skating, water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, or new stuff like surf ski paddling (do not ask me!).  There are even jet boats for rent – Brienz is good for those seeking some adventures, too!

Visit Ballenberg Museum

At the Ballenberg Open-air Museum – the biggest open-air museum in Switzerland– you will find traditional buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. There are more than 100 century-old buildings from all over Switzerland, 250 farmyard animals, traditional, old-time gardens, and more. Also, there are workshops, events, shops, restaurants, and more for a great day.  

Open air museum in Ballenberg near Brienz top thing to do
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Ballenberg Museum in Interlaken
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It takes several hours to see all the buildings and stroll the whole museum. It is so big, it even has two main entrances. 

From Brienz, it is just a shortish – and extremely scenic – bus/car ride away. 

See the Giessbach Waterfalls

There are many waterfalls in Switzerland, but the Giessbach Waterfalls is one of the most unique in the country. The towering waterfall is cascading over stepped rocks, with viewing points spanning a forested ravine. The water from the Giessbach stream plunges down a total of 14 steps into the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz. 

Best things to do around Lake Brienz, Interlaken Giessbach Waterfalls
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Interlaken where to stay
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There are several ways to get to the waterfalls – by car, bus, or boat. The most scenic is via boat – what a sight! If you get out of the boat station (Giessbach), you can either go up to Grand Hotel Giessbach via the funicular or hike for 10 minutes. From there, you have great views of the waterfalls. Keep hiking so you can even walk behind the waterfalls. 

Explore Interlaken

Not far from Brienz is this world-famous Swiss destination: Interlaken. The town is located between the two lakes, Brienz and Thun, and has the reputation of being the capital of adventure in Europe. 

Interlaken Where to go, Höhenmmatte
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So, whether you want to go up Harder  Kulm Mountain, do some paragliding, or experience one of the many other adventures the region is famous for, many tours start from here.

The train ride from Brienz to Interlaken Ost is also one of the most scenic train rides. It is just a 20-minute ride, but the great views of Lake Brienz with the Alps are worth the trip to Interlaken alone. Here are 50 things to do in Interlaken.

Fall in Love With Iseltwald

Another gorgeous little village along the shores of Lake Brienz – but on the southern side – is Iseltwald. It has many traditional Swiss wooden houses with charming decorations and makes a great walk from Giessbach Waterfalls or even Interlaken.

Iseltwald in Switzerland near Interlaken Arzo Travels
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You can also do some water sports or take pictures from the quite famous little pier (which has been in a famous Korean movie) that you will find here. Though it is small, Iseltwald is one of the cutest places to visit in Interlaken. Check out my Iseltwald post for more tips. 

Enjoy a Day at Jungfraujoch

If in Brienz and in the region of Interlaken, make sure to add the Jungfraujoch to your Swiss itinerary. Jungfraujoch is one of the most popular tourist spots in the region. It is a saddle that connects the two impressive mountains, Jungfrau and Mönch.  

View of the Sphinx Observatory on Jungfraujoch, one of the highest observatories in the world located at the Jungfrau railway station, Bernese Overland, Switzerland. @shutterstock
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View from Eismeer Station on the way to Jungfraujoch
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Ice sculpure at Ice Palace at Jungfraujoch
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Getting up Jungfraujoch is a bucket list item for many, understandably because there is snow throughout the year. And it holds the record for being the highest train station in Europe – standing at almost 3,500 meters above sea level. You can do winter sports (we are talking about winter sports in the summer!), see the Ice Palace, or visit the Lindt Museum.

It is a rather expensive activity, and if you are on a budget, you can skip it and enjoy some other wonderful experiences. However, if you have the money, I suggest going up to Jungfraujoch. Find out more about my trips to Jungfraujoch.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST BRIENZ ACTIVITIES

Brienz is a gorgeous village along the shores of Lake Brienz – it is the perfect place to explore the stunning surroundings. But it is also very cute and pretty, so you will enjoy ending your days either along the shores of the lake or in the small village center.  

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