In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about visiting Lake Brienz, including how to get there, the best time to visit, things to do, where to stay and eat, and what to pack!
Are you considering traveling to Switzerland and looking for a beautiful location?
Lake Brienz is among the most beautiful locations in Switzerland and truly took my breath away when I visited last year. The mountainous and forested setting of the lake’s pristine clarity makes it a must-add stop to your Switzerland itinerary.
While Lake Brienz is a great location to relax and unwind, there are also plenty of activities available such as swimming, sailing, fishing or just taking a stroll along the shoreline.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Lake Brienz has something to offer!
How to Get to Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz is located in the canton of Bern in Switzerland (one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation).
The closest airport is Bern-Belp Airport, which is approximately 60 kilometers away from the lake. However, I recommend booking your flight to the nearby Zurich International Airport (approximately 120 km away). It’s a significantly larger airport so there are more international flights arriving at this airport daily.
To get to Lake Brienz from there, you can take a train or a rental car. If you do decide to travel by train, you’ll want to get a ticket to the nearest train station to Lake Brienz – the Interlaken Ost station. From there, you can catch a bus to the lake.
As an alternative, you could take the picturesque Brienz Rothorn Bahn, which provides panoramic views of the lake and the nearby Alps.
Brienz and Interlaken are only two of the lovely towns and villages that border Lake Brienz’s shore. The towns are renowned for their wooden chalets and structures that are ornamented with flower boxes and ornate woodwork.
Best Time to Visit Lake Brienz
The best time to visit Lake Brienz is during the summer months, between June and September.
During this time, the weather is warm and pleasant, and you can enjoy a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and boating. The lake is also surrounded by beautiful gardens and parks, which are in full bloom during the summer season.
The average temperature during the summer months of June, July, and August is around 20-25°C (68-77°F) during the day, with cooler temperatures in the evenings and at night.
If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting Lake Brienz during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) or fall (October to November). During these periods, the weather is still pleasant, the view is equally lovely, and there will be fewer tourists.
Climate in Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz has a moderate continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters. The temperature in the summer months averages around 20°C (68°F), while in the winter months, it can drop to as low as -5°C (23°F).
It’s worth noting that the weather can be quite unpredictable in the mountains, so it’s a good idea to pack for all weather conditions.
Read more: Women’s Packing Guide For Switzerland
Things to Do in Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. These are some of the top things to do when visiting the lake.
Take a Boat Ride
One of the best ways to experience the lake’s beauty is by taking a boat ride or kayak tour. There are several options to choose from, including paddle boats, rowing boats, and motorboats.
One of the most popular options for boat rides on Lake Brienz is to take a ride on one of the historic paddle steamers. These boats offer a unique and nostalgic experience, with wooden decks and classic design. I recommend checking out the Lötschberg.
Another option for boat rides on Lake Brienz is to take a ride on a modern motorboat. These boats offer a faster and more efficient way to explore the lake, with comfortable seating and panoramic windows that offer views of the surrounding landscape. You can check out Interlaken Boats for motorboat rentals and guided tours on the lake.
Boat rides on Lake Brienz typically last between 1-2 hours, depending on the route and operator. Many boat rides offer the opportunity to stop at some of the charming towns and villages around the lake, such as Brienz and Iseltwald, where visitors can explore the local culture and enjoy traditional Swiss cuisine.
To take a boat ride on Lake Brienz, you can purchase tickets at the boat docks or online in advance. Prices vary depending on the operator and route, with discounts available for children and seniors. I recommend checking to check the schedule and availability of boat rides in advance, particularly during peak tourist season.
Lake Brienz is fed by several mountain streams and is located in the Swiss Alps, which means that it is relatively cold year-round, with water temperatures ranging from around 5-20°C (41-68°F) depending on the season.
Nonetheless, you can definitely swim in Lake Brienz! During the summer months, the water temperature typically ranges from around 12-18°C (54-64°F).
There are several designated swimming areas around Lake Brienz, including public beaches and swimming pools.
The most popular swimming area on Lake Brienz is the Bönigen Lido, located on the eastern shore of the lake near Interlaken. The Bönigen Lido offers a large beach area with a sandy shore and clear water for swimming.
Other popular swimming areas around Lake Brienz include the Strandbad Brienz and the Strandbad Iseltwald.
Lake Brienz is surrounded by unlimited hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to more challenging mountain hikes. Some of the most popular trails include the Axalp trail, the Giessbach Falls trail, and the Hardergrat ridge trail.
The who lake is approximately 14 kilometers long and 2.8 kilometers wide, so if you’re feeling adventurous, you could walk around the whole lake.
The Axalp trail is a 5km (3 miles) loop trail located in the foothills of the Bernese Alps. The trail passes through forests, meadows, and pastures, and offers views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
The Hardergrat ridge trail is a 23km (14.5 miles) hike that features stretches of rocky trails and sections of steep inclines. This trail is considered a moderate to challenging hike, taking around 5-6 hours to complete.
The Giessbach falls trail is a 16km (10 miles) loop trail, located near the village of Brienz. This moderate-to-challenging trail passes through forests and meadows, before reaching the Giessbach falls – a tiered waterfall cascading down the slope of the mountain.
This brings us to the next activity…
Visit the Giessbach Falls
The Giessbach Falls (Giessbachfälle in German) is a spectacular waterfall located on the eastern shore of Lake Brienz in Switzerland. If you are in the area, this is a must-see attraction!
The waterfall consists of several cascades that drop a total of 500 meters (1,640 feet) down a steep gorge, surrounded by lush forests and dramatic cliffs.
You can enjoy breathtaking views of the falls from several viewpoints, as well as walk along the series of wooden bridges and walkways that lead to a platform at the bottom of the falls.
The Giessbach Falls is also home to the historic Grand Hotel Giessbach, a 19th-century hotel that has hosted many famous guests over the years. The hotel is located on a hill overlooking the waterfall and offers views of Lake Brienz and the surrounding mountains.
Take a Scenic Train Ride
The Brienz Rothorn Bahn is a historic steam train that takes you on a scenic journey up to the top of Mount Rothorn. The views from the top are breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Matterhorn!
The journey starts at the Brienz train station and takes around 30 minutes to reach the summit of Mount Rothorn, where you can enjoy views of Lake Brienz and the surrounding Swiss Alps.
The train runs from April to October. I recommend checking the schedule and purchasing your tickets ahead of time to avoid long lines or a sold-out train.
Explore the Towns
Lake Brienz is surrounded by charming towns and villages, each with its unique character. Some of the most popular places to visit include Brienz, Interlaken, and Meiringen.
Brienz is a picturesque lakeside village located on the eastern shore of Lake Brienz. This is where you will find the Giessbach Falls and the Brienz Rothorn Bahn.
Interlaken is a popular tourist destination located between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. Here, you will find lots of shops, restaurants, and cafes, as well as the popular Jungfrau Ski Region.
Meiringen is a small mountain town located in the Haslital valley. There is a very famous Sherlock Holmes Museum here (the place where Holmes falls to his death!), as well as lots of other interesting attractions.
Read more: How To Travel Switzerland On A Budget
Where to Stay in Lake Brienz
There are several accommodation options available in Lake Brienz, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Here are some of the top options to consider:
- Grandhotel Giessbach: This historic hotel is located on the shores of Lake Brienz and offers views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The hotel features a spa, a restaurant, and elegant rooms and suites.
- Garten Hotel Lindenhof: This family-run hotel is located in the town of Interlaken, just a short distance from Lake Brienz. The hotel features cozy rooms, a restaurant, and a garden with views of the mountains.
- Youth Hostel Brienz: If you’re on a budget, the Youth Hostel Brienz is a great option. The hostel is located just a short walk from the lake and offers comfortable dorm rooms and private rooms.
- Hotel Bellevue: This charming hotel is located in the town of Engelberg, just a short distance from Lake Brienz. The hotel features cozy rooms, a restaurant, and a terrace with views of the mountains.
Where to Eat in Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz is known for its delicious cuisine, which includes traditional Swiss dishes such as cheese fondue, raclette, and rösti. Here are some of the top restaurants to try when visiting the lake:
- Restaurant Giessbach: This elegant restaurant is located in the Grandhotel Giessbach and offers views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The menu features gourmet cuisine, including Swiss specialties and international dishes.
- Restaurant Schuh: This cozy restaurant is located in the town of Brienz and offers traditional Swiss cuisine, including cheese fondue, raclette, and schnitzel.
- Restaurant Bären: This historic restaurant is located in the town of Meiringen and dates back to the 17th century. The menu features classic Swiss dishes, including rösti and cordon bleu.
- Restaurant Aareschlucht: This restaurant is located near the Aare Gorge and offers views of the surrounding mountains. The menu features traditional Swiss dishes, including cheese fondue and rösti.
Lake Brienz Packing Essentials
When visiting Lake Brienz, it’s important to pack for all weather conditions. Here are some of the essential items to include in your packing list:
- Comfortable hiking shoes: If you plan on hiking, make sure to pack a comfortable pair of hiking shoes. This can make our break your experience.
- Warm clothing: Even in the summer months, the weather can be chilly in the mountains. Make sure to pack warm clothing, including a waterproof jacket and a sweater.
- Sunscreen: The sun can be strong in the mountains, so make sure to pack a travel-size sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Swimwear: If you plan on swimming in the lake, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit.
- Camera: Lake Brienz is one of the most picturesque places in Switzerland, so make sure to pack a camera (here’s a guide with all of our camera gear)!
Read more: How to Choose the Best Travel Camera