Summer hike at Lake Brienzersee: Giessbach Falls – Iseltwald

The easy route leads from Giessbach Falls along the shores of Lake Brienzersee to Iseltwald. It can be beautifully combined with a boat trip from Interlaken, a ride on the historic funicular, and lunch at the Grandhotel Giessbach. And, of course, with a visit to the fascinating Giessbach Falls waterfalls.

Start of the trip: Interlaken Ost (See)

In summer, three boat connections run from Interlaken to Giessbach See in the morning: 9.07, 11.07, and 12.07. The complete timetable can be found here. We departed at 11.07 on the Lötschberg steamer, which is just enough time to have lunch at the Grandhotel Giessbach and afternoon coffee in Iseltwald. You’ll find the harbor right next to the Interlaken-Ost train station.

The ticket costs 28 francs, 14 francs with Halb-tax. I got a Day Pass*, which also includes the cruise. On the recommendation of my travel companion, I bought an upgrade to travel on the upper deck in first class, which cost an extra 9 francs. But it was definitely worth it. First class is less busy in high season, with more seats and better views.

*The Day Pass allows you to travel almost all of Switzerland in one day. You can read about it here.

A cruise on the Brienzersee

While cruising, you can admire the emerald-green water of the lake and the picturesque villages and mountains in the background. The second stop on the route is Iseltwald, where more than half of the passengers are sure to disembark. Since lifting travel restrictions due to the coronavirus in 2022, Iseltwald has been a magnet for fans of Netflix’s 16-part South Korean series “Crash Landing on You.” In August 2019, a key scene was filmed on the T-shaped pier in Iseltwald.

Giessbachbahn

In less than an hour, you will disembark in Giessbach. Most passengers head to the station of the historic funicular, which takes them to the Grandhotel Giessbach. The Giessbachbahn was put into operation in 1879 and is the oldest funicular in Switzerland. Since there were a lot of tourists that day and the cable car doesn’t run very often (you can find the schedule and prices here), we walked uphill to the historic Grandhotel Giessbach. We were up there even before those who opted for the funicular ride.
WARNING! A one-way ride costs 7 francs. No Day Pass, Half-fare Card, Swiss Travel Pass, or Junior Card is valid on Giessbachbahn! You will only get a small discount with the Regional Pass Berner Oberland and Panorama Card Thunersee (2 and 3 francs discount on the return ticket, respectively).

Grandhotel Giessbach

Grandhotel Giessbach stands like an enchanted castle in a fairytale location overlooking Lake Brienz. Tourists can enjoy coffee or lunch (at quite reasonable prices) on the historic Grandhotel’s terrace.

Giessbach Falls

After a good lunch, you can go to the waterfalls. I don’t want to be a prude, but we were here a couple of days after a tragedy happened, and a dad and his two small children fell into the falls. And you know what? Crazy tourists eager for Instagram-worthy pictures kept climbing the slippery rocks and put themselves in danger of falling down anyway. So I was utterly stumped (and equally fascinated that there were no signs anywhere warning of safe behavior, given what had happened). So please, be careful here!

Giessbach Falls – Iseltwald hiking route

After seeing the waterfalls, we didn’t go back to the hotel, but took a left along the river at the signpost. Don’t forget your swimming gear in the summer – there are places along the route where you can refresh yourself in the lake.

About halfway along the trail, there is a place for a barbecue in the pleasant shade of the forest.

The route continues along the shore, always with a beautiful lake view. Shortly before Iseltwald, you soon see Snail Island (Schnäggeninseli), and after a few minutes, you find yourself on a peninsula and in the center of the only village on the left bank of Lake Brienz.

Iseltwald

As I wrote above, the Iseltwald has recently become a tourist hotspot. Although most visitors head here for the movie scene, you can enjoy the views from the nearby promenade.

Some visitors didn’t want to pay 5 francs to enter the famous pier and found out they could have the same view from the boat pier, for free.

Before the bus left, we had time to have a coffee at the Strandhotel. Surprisingly, at a very reasonable price. And speaking of the bus…

Express bus Iseltwald

From 1 June 2023, a double-decker Postbus connects Interlaken with the tourist hotspot Iseltwald. Ten times a day, the double-decker bus transports tourists and locals. At peak times, up to 2,000 passengers travel on the Postbus between Interlaken Ost station and Iseltwald Square. We were one of them and comfortably returned to Interlaken via the motorway in just 17 minutes.

Summary

  • The route is 6 kilometers long.
  • It can be walked with an all-terrain stroller.
  • If you don’t want to walk along the lake, an almost parallel route goes higher through the forest.
Categories: Canton Bern, hiking, The best of canton Bern, Waterfalls
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Author

Hana Hurábová

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