WOW is all I can say. One of my best friends (who was also my travel companion) discovered this little town years ago online and has had her heart set on it ever since. Lauterbrunnen translates to “many fountains” which seems understated when you see its 72 towering waterfalls throughout the valley.
I can't wait to go back and explore more of Switzerland. Everywhere you look it's beautiful. We booked an Airbnb in the small town in October. Opening the windows we could hear the sound of the river and the cow bells of our grazing neighbors.
We arrived from Rome and took the train from the Zurich. The green hills, cyan lakes and mountains look like something out of a fairytale. I can go on and on about the beauty, so I'll keep it to my top tips from our experience:
- Walk as much as you can. You get the best views and you'll l forget you're exercising (we walked easily 7 miles a day). The fresh air does wonders.
- Carry water. With as much walking as you're doing (at times at high elevation) staying hydrated is very important. If you're off the beaten path you wont find stores or vending machines.
- ...unless you happen to find a magic vending machine full of fancy cheeses, wines and dried meats! (See photo. This. actually. exists.)
- If you’re there in the off-season make sure to make a reservation for dinner. Only two restaurants were open, and very crowded in the evenings.
- Convenience stores are very serious with their hours. When it his 6pm sharp a gate came down over the refrigerated areas. With only seconds to choose, I grabbed a cheese and meat! (You'll noticed this was the majority of our diet)
- Carry a snack. It was a little unpredictable when we'd find a restaurant open. I love trying local snacks when I travel anyway, so good excuse.
- Talk to people! Everyone we met was so incredibly kind and helpful. Don't be afraid to ask for suggestions or advice. Highly recommend interfacing with a human when you purchase your train tickets. They were really helpful in answering all our questions and helping us find the best transportation.
- That being said, download the SBB mobile app for train schedules. You can find routes, departure/arrival times, and most importantly last minute platform changes. We had boarded a train, only to realize seconds before its doors closed that we were on the wrong one, and that our train car was on a different platform. Saved by the app.
- Took the train to Oeschinensee for the alpine slide. We were easily the oldest people riding the ride (except for parents with toddlers on their laps) but we still had a good time! It wasn't exactly the adrenaline rush the YouTube video made it out to be, but it was fun and we had a beautiful hike afterwards. Heads up again about restaurant hours. We had hiked for quite a while and finally came upon the restaurant, but the kitchen closed (it was 3pm). We continued our hike to the beautiful Oeschinen Lake and had a sausage and beer before taking the tram back to the gondola, and running our fastest to make the last train.
- Take the scenic train ride up to Jungfraujoch. You get to take a journey up through the valley up to the glaciers. It feels like you're on another planet, surrounded by icy peaks. Bring a jacket, water bottle and patience (many tourists, some not so polite...). There are ice sculptures inside an ice palace, a Lindt chocolate shop and restaurants. Hydration is important– you're at 3454m (above 11,300ft). If you start to feel headaches/nausea you may be experiencing altitude sickness and should return to a lower elevation.
- Get up early to walk the Lauterbrunnen Valley. You'll see why JRR Tolkien's Rivendell is said to be inspired by this magical place. Don't be alarmed if you see people paragliding off the cliffs. Say hi to the cows, take in all the waterfalls and watch the sunlight work its way into the valley. It's an easy out and back flat walk.