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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Travel Tips for Lake Brienz – FAQ
So, before talking about the best activities around Lake Brienz, here are a few tips.
Where is Lake 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 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.
ℹ️ Max. width: 2.8 km
ℹ️ Max. depth: 260 meters
ℹ️ 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.
Can You Swim in Lake Brienz?
You might be interested to know that Lake Brienz is technically swim-able! Now, before you jump right in, there are a few things to consider.
First, this is a glacier lake, which means the water can be pretty icy. And even in the summer months, it can still be rather chilly. That being said, if you’re up for a refreshing dip or just want to check out some of the nearby beaches and lidos, Lake Brienz could be a fun (albeit bracing) experience. Happy 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.
Most people prefer staying directly in Interlaken, though, and you can make it your base and then easily explore Lake Brienz and its surroundings.
➡️ Luxury hotels in Lake Brienz: Besides the above-mentioned hotel, Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa is a popular luxury hotel right in the heart of Interlaken. Click here to get the best deals and find out more.
➡️ Mid-Range Hotels in Lake Brienz: I enjoyed my stay at Hotel du Nord – a beautiful, and newly renovated, 4-star hotel. Check out this lovely property in the heart of Interlaken.
➡️ Budget Hotels in Lake Brienz: Click here for budget hotels and hostels around Lake Brienz
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).
If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip. It is only for non-Swiss residents though.
- It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
- You can also do boat cruises on Lake Brienz and Lake Thun and many other lakes in Switzerland without additional costs.
- It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price).
The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high – but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you.
For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass.
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).
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 (I have 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.
- ➡️ Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass
- ➡️ Get your day pass for a Lake Brienz /Lake Thun cruise
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, sailing, windsurfing, or new stuff like surf ski paddling (do not ask me!). These water sports are available around Lake Brienz in Bönigen, Iseltwald, and Brienz.
Kayak Tour of the Lake Brienz
Imagine yourself kayaking through crystal-clear mountain waters, surrounded by dense pine forests, breathtaking Alpine peaks, and stunning countryside landscapes – as you already know by now, Lake Brienz is a stunner!
Join an unforgettable adventure on the waters of Lake Brienz, where you’ll glide through picturesque sceneries and even visit the historic 12th-century Ringgenberg Castle.
Professional guides will ensure your safety and enjoyment throughout this small-group tour, accommodating up to six people to provide an intimate experience. Booking a guided Kayaking tour also ensures you have all the necessary kayak rentals and safety equipment for a truly spectacular journey! So, gear up and get ready to explore the enchanting beauty of Lake Brienz!
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.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.
One popular activity is strolling along the scenic Lake Brienz, and being captivated by the stunning Brienz sculpture trail, showcasing brilliant masterpieces from the prestigious 2016 International Woodcarving Symposium Brienz.
So whether you are more ambitious than me (and walk the whole lake) or do a little hiking – you will surely enjoy both.
On the northern shore of the lake lies this idyllic village: Brienz – boasting some of the most exquisite wooden chalets you’ve ever laid eyes on.
The crown jewel of this lakeside paradise is Brunngasse, fondly known as “the most beautiful street in Europe.” As you stroll down this enchanting avenue, you’ll be transported back in time, admiring 18th-century homes adorned with intricate wood carvings, each telling a unique story. Come, explore, and fall in love with the magic of Brienz!
You’ll be mesmerized by the beautiful houses in the village! Although there aren’t many, taking a little time to wander around the village center and Brunngasse is well worth it.
Discover the enchanting “village of carvings” – Brienz, where the art of wood processing thrives! Stroll along the scenic Lake Brienz, and be captivated by the stunning sculpture trail, showcasing brilliant masterpieces from the prestigious 2016 International Woodcarving Symposium Brienz.
Even today, there’s a fascinating school dedicated to the art of carving and violin crafting. Exploring the numerous statues adorning the lakeshore offers a one-of-a-kind experience and endless amusement for children and adults alike.
Drive Along Lake Brienz by Car
Discover the ultimate way to explore Lake Brienz – by car! Add some exhilaration to your itinerary as you cruise along the scenic shores of the lake. As a bonus, I highly recommend driving from Interlaken to Brienz for an unforgettable view.
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.
- This steam loc only operates in the summer months from mid-April to mid-October.
- Check out my Brienzer Rothorn guide for more tips.
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.
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 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.
- Check out my quick Iseltwald guide for more info.
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.
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.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.
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.
Remember, that the train ride is free with a Swiss Travel Pass.
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.
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 watercolors – but there is more to do 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.
- Looking for more tips on things to do in Switzerland? Here are 25 fun activities!