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EXPLORE STUNNING LAKE BRIENZ – SWITZERLAND

Things to Do in Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz in the Bernese Oberland knows how to amaze people. With its turquoise color, it makes people from all over the world fall in love – including me. It is for sure one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland and actually even one of the most stunning lakes in Europe!

While there are more sights around Lake Thun (another lake just “around the corner”), Lake Brienz is still my favorite. With its interesting color, cute towns on its shores, waterfalls, and more, Lake Brienz is a place that should be on any Switzerland itinerary.

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Hotel view of Lake Brienz
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Travel Tips for Lake Brienz

So, before talking about the best activities around Lake Brienz, here are a few tips.

Where is Lake Brienz?

Lake Brienz is in the region of Bernese Oberland, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. The lake is flanked by Brienz on the northern shores and Interlaken on the southern shores.

  • 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 Interlaken to Lucerne: about 2 hours by train or car
  • From Interlaken to Zurich: about two hours by train (fastest connection, not the most scenic) or car

Lake Brienz Facts

Lake Brienz lake 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. 

  • Max. width: 2.8 km
  • Max. depth: 260 meters
  • Surface elevation: 560 meters

Until the 10th century, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz were one lake. After the separation, each became its beauty! While I wonder what it once looked like, I appreciate having two jaw-dropping lakes.

It wears its best color when the sun shines – its turquoise color makes this lake one of the prettiest ever. With about 30 kilometers of shoreline, there are several cute villages and towns nearby that offer fun activities to do.

Most beautiiful lake in Siwtzerland Lake Brienz
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Can You Swim in Lake Brienz?

Theoretically, you can swim in Lake Brienz. There are even some beaches and lidos. However, it is also freezing (since it is a glacier lake) and even in the summer months rather chilly and thus not the first choice for swimming.

Where to Stay in Lake Brienz

If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken or the area, you will get the Interlaken Guest Card that gives you discounts on certain activities. You can also use public transportation in Interlaken and its surroundings for free.

Interlaken is a great place to stay. It is centrally located and you get to many attractions easily.

If you stay around Lake Brienz, my tip is the Grandhotel Giessbach. It is closed ruing the wintertime, but if it is open, it is just something unique, and my top tip for two or three nights.

Balcony - Waterfall view room
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Most people prefer staying directly in Interlaken, though, and you can make it your base and then easily explore Lake Brienz and its surroundings.

Interlaken where to stay
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How to Get Around Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz makes it a joy to drive, ride, or walk around. It doesn’t matter if you get around via car, public transportation, cycle, or just on foot because each of these modes is fantastic for getting around the lake (and I should not forget boats as a great way to get around – more on that later).

Lake Brienz – What to do

You probably can guess how much I love this pretty lake, but I don’t just like looking at it – there are quite a few activities to do in, on, at, and around Lake Brienz.

Lake Brienz Boat Cruise

Cruising Lake Brienz on a boat is a must-do. I can‘t remember how often I have cruised Lake Brienz, but I am sure I will never get tired of it. Even if you aren’t the biggest boat lover, this is probably one of the prettiest cruises you can take (the highlight is passing the Giessbach Waterfalls).

Arrive by boat at Grandhotel Giessbach or just do a boat tour on Lake Brienz
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Whether you start from Interlaken or Brienz, you will see the lake and its scenery from a unique perspective, and you get a good idea of the geography of the lake and its towns/villages.

Getting from Brienz to Interlaken by boat takes a bit less than 2 hours. You have the chance to hop off at several stations (including at Giessbach Waterfalls – more on that below).

  • Boat cruises on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are included in the Swiss Travel Passes and there are no extra charges. Alternatively, you can buy day passes for Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. You can even do boat cruises in one day (done that myself, and loved it).
  • However, keep in mind, that during the wintertime, there are no boat cruises on Lake Brienz. The season starts in mid-April and lasts until October.
  • In December, there is the Advent boat which sails on Lake Brienz on Sundays only. 
  • It takes about 75 minutes to get from Interlaken East (Ost) boat station to Brienz boat station.

Enjoy Watersports on Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz is actually quite cold, so most people prefer swimming in Lake Thun instead which is a bit warmer. 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 watersport rental options for Lake Brienz.

You can do wakeboarding, wake surfing, wakeskating, water skiing, sailingwindsurfing, or new stuff like surf ski paddling (do not ask me!). These water sports are available around Lake Brienz in Bönigen, Iseltwald, and Brienz.

Lido

Talking about swimming: Though you could swim at many spots, there are several lidos at Lake Brienz. Lidos are outdoor swimming pools at the lake/river. And in a country like Switzerland, there are many, many lidos. Perfect for a warm summer day. 

Watersports at Iseltwald in Switzerland
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I have a post with many activities to do in and around Interlaken, which you can check out here.

Walking / Hiking At Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz is also perfect for beautiful strolls and hikes. I haven’t walked all of Lake Brienz yet, but parts of it (from Giessbach Waterfalls to Iseltwald, e.g.) and walking directly along the shores is one of the most fun activities in Lake Brienz.

Iseltwald hike from Giessbach_
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So whether you are more ambitious than me (and walk the whole lake) or do a little hiking – you will surely enjoy both.

Stroll Brienz

On the northern shore of the lake lies this idyllic village: Brienz. The village’s 18th-century wooden chalets make you feel like you have been beamed back in time. With the lovely promenade, it is probably one of the cutest places at Lake Brienz.

Best things to do at Lake Brienz, Interlaken
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Drive Along Lake Brienz by Car

Getting around Lake Brienz is fun. So, I also added it as one of Lake Brienz’s best activities. If you enjoy driving, you will love driving along the shores of Lake Brienz. 

Tip: for the best views, drive from Interlaken to Brienz

Brienzer Rothorn

Once in Brienz, you can experience another Lake Brienz highlight: Getting up Brienzer Rothorn. You could hike up or use the old locomotive to enjoy the mountain views of Brienzer Rothorn (about 2,100 meters above sea level). The lake is often in sight while going up.

View from Brienzer Rothorn
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  • This steam loc only operates in the summer months from mid-April to mid-October.
  • Check out my Brienzer Rothorn guide for more tips.

Giessbach Waterfalls

The Giessbach Brook tumbles in 14 stages over 500 meters and then flows into Lake Brienz. For the best view, hop on a boat and see the waterfall from the distance. Get out at the Giessbach Waterfall Station and hike up – you can even go behind the waterfall, where you have a view of the Grandhotel Giessbach and the lake.

Best things to do around Lake Brienz, Interlaken Giessbach Waterfalls
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Grand Giessbach - public area
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Balcony - Waterfall view room
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The Grandhotel Giessback is a beautiful luxury hotel. If you can, I recommend booking a room at Giessbach Hotel in Brienz with a waterfall view. The hotel is closed in winter, but you can enjoy the waterfall view even if you don’t stay at the hotel.

  • Since there are no boats operating between mid-October and mid-April, you can also get there by bus, car, or walk/hike there from Interlaken or Iseltwald.

Iseltwald

Iseltwald is another adorable village on the southern shores of Lake Brienz. The pier has become a popular photo motif, but the traditional Swiss houses feel authentic despite the tourists. Get here by bus, car, or boat – or walk to Iseltwald from the Giessbach Waterfalls. 

Where to stay in Switzerland
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Cycle Around Lake Brienz

I haven’t cycled Lake Brienz, but it has become a bucket list item because cycling around the lake is probably pure bliss. Yes, it is a mountainous area, and you might have to pedal a bit harder at times, but with views of Lake Brienz, it should not be too difficult.

Harder Kulm

There are many mountain peaks with great views in the region of Interlaken, but Harder Kulm station is directly linked to Interlaken Ost train station, southwest of the lake. 

Harder Kulm in Interlaken and things to do
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Great views of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun will be your reward – whether you hike up or take the funicular. From here, you also have a beautiful spot to watch the sunset (though you should look towards Lake Thun rather than Lake Brienz).

  • The Harder Kulm funicular does not operate from mid-October to mid-April.
  • 50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass.

Hop on a Train Around Lake Brienz 

Fancy a scenic train view of Lake Brienz? One of the moments I enjoyed most was the train ride from Interlaken to Brienz – views like this make train rides worthwhile.

Lake Brienz in February
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Tip: If going on a train ride, choose the route from Interlaken to Brienz and sit on the window on the right in the direction of travel.

LAKE BRIENZ IN WINTER?

Lake Brienz is absolutely stunning at any time of the season – I love the summer season the most, however, Lake Brienz can look gorgeous in fall, winter, or spring as well.

Is there snow around Lake Brienz in winter?  Maybe. There is no guarantee for snow at Lake Brient. I visited Lake Brienz in December, January, and February – and there was no snow. Then I visited in April and all villages around Lake Brienz were covered in snow. 

Lake Brienz in April
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Lake Brienz in April
Lake Brienz in the winter months
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Lake Brienz also in April
Lake Brienz in December
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Lake Brienz in December
Lake Brienz in February
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Lake Brienz in February
Lake Brienz. Iseltwald  in winter
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Lake Brienz. Iseltwald in winter – there might or might not be snow
Lake Brienz in Brienz during fall
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Lake Brienz in fall – October

Check out my Switzerland in the fall post for more tips if you plan a wonderful trip in the fall months.

IS LAKE BRIENZ WORTH VISITING?

I have visited many, many times and I am sure I will never tire. Is Lake Brienz worth visiting? I hope, the above images and info have helped to answer the question. Yes, yes, yes, Lake Brienz is worth a trip!

Lake Brienz is a stunning lake with a beautiful watercolor – but there is more to do in and around Lake Brienz than just admiring it. You can enjoy so many different activities and beautiful places to visit at Lake Brienz which makes it one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.

Safe Travels, Arzo
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