Lake Brienz in the Interlaken region is considered one of Switzerland’s and Europe’s most beautiful lakes.
Its unique turquoise colour is absolutely gorgeous and very distinct from what we are used to seeing in lakes.
The lake is located amidst the breathtaking scenery of the Bernese Oberland region. It is one of two lakes adjoining Interlaken, the other being the beautiful Lake Thun (read more here).
According to the official website of Interlaken, the colour intensity of Brienz is especially attractive in spring and autumn. The more sunlight falling on the lake, the more penetrating the turquoise tone is.
This colour, which is not common in a lake, is due to tiny sediment particles from the glacial waters carried into the lake from Lütschine and Aare Rivers. These extremely fine glacial particles sink very slowly, producing an extraordinary visual effect only achieved because the lake is clean and translucent.
First of all, I’d better explain that Interlaken is a region and has a city of the same name. Lake Brienz also has a town called Brienz.
Unfortunately, when I went to the region, it was raining, and we had to adapt our plans, but despite that, we managed to walk around Brienz and Iseltwald, drive around both lakes and enjoy this beautiful part of Switzerland.
If you are wondering, I’ve written an article here with tips on what to do on rainy days in Interlaken.
But anyway, the day I was leaving Interlaken, the sun finally came out, and I could see that wonderful colour that left me “jaw-dropping”.
There is no way to describe the landscape, with the mountains surrounding that turquoise lake. It’s perfection! It was one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever visited – after Oeschinensee (read more here).
What to see in Lake Brienz?
One of the best things to do is the boat cruise. Most people say the landscape is impressive, and you will pass by some unique places like the Giessbach, Iseltwald, Bönigen, etc.
I didn’t take this tour because of the bad weather. I thought it was a waste of money to take a boat trip without properly seeing the landscape and the lake’s colour.
You can start from Interlaken or Brienz for the complete tour, and it takes about 2 hours. But nothing stops you from choosing another town by the lake and taking a shorter route. More info here.
Also, another must-see place is undoubtedly the town of Iseltwald.
Iseltwald is the only village on the left bank of Lake Brienz. Situated in a small bay, the fishing village begs you to stay and enjoy the lake’s view, the mountains and the Seeburg castle.
To see the Giessbach waterfalls, you have two options. The boat trip is the best choice if you want to see it as a whole. Or you can walk to the waterfall where at some point you can even go behind it. This hike starts in Iseltwald and is one of Bernese Oberland and all Switzerland’s most beautiful trails.
The Grand Hotel Giessbach is located at the foot of this spectacle of nature. The hotel is accessible via the oldest funicular in Europe, built in 1879.
Another great thing to do is to take the train from Interlaken to Brienz. People say the landscape is beautiful. We didn’t do it because we made a similar way by car.
And if you like hiking, there are several trails to do around the lake, like the one I mentioned above.
Also be sure to visit Brienz Town, which has beautiful architecture, with those wooden houses so typical of Switzerland.
The town is very famous for its wooden carvers. You will be able to see several wood sculptures along the lake promenade and around the city, as well as numerous art galleries and souvenir shops.
A tip I give you is to walk on the lakeshore near the city of Brienz. An extensive, pebbled path runs between the lake and charming houses on its shores.
It is lovely to walk there, as you pass small parks, wooden sculptures and many benches to sit and enjoy the incredible scenery.
Put the name “Brienzer Uferweg” on Google Maps, and it will show you exactly where this path is.
If you want to take a steam train ride, why not take the Brienzer Rothorn Bahn in the centre of Brienz? It brings you to 2.100 meters above sea level and takes about 1 hour. If you wake up early, you can see the sunrise between the mountains from there.
You can also take the Harder Kulm cable car that takes you up to 1,300 meters above sea level, from where you will have an incredible view of the Brienz and Thun lakes.
You will too find the restaurant Zwei-Seen-Steg at the top, with stunning views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains.
Ballenberg Open Air Museum displays more than 100 original buildings that have been transported from their original locations. It is a Swiss heritage of national importance. More info here.
If you want to rent a kayak, canoe or stand-up to enjoy the lake up close, there are several rental locations along the lakeshore in Brienz.
How to get there?
Brienz train station connects the lake to the Swiss rail network. It takes a little over 2 hours to reach Brienz from Zurich. From Interlaken, the train journey takes about 20 minutes.
If you are driving, it takes about 1.5 hours to reach Brienz from Zurich. There are many parking options available in the small town.
If you are just passing through Switzerland, I recommend buying the Golden Pass. The Golden Pass is a scenic route, served by several trains from Lucerne to Montreux or vice versa.
The journey takes almost 5.5 hours, but remember that you need to change trains halfway, as it is not a “direct” route. The route consists of three sections: Lucerne to Interlaken, Interlaken to Zweisimmen and Zweisimmen to Montreux. See more information here.
It is a shame we didn’t have time to visit all these wonderful attractions, but then again, it’s one more excuse to go back to my favourite country in the world.
I hope you enjoy your trip and if you have more tips about what to see in Lake Brienz, please share with us in the below comment box.
An excellent day to everyone!