These glacial waterfalls carving through the cliff walls are a must see if you are in the Interlaken area. Since the visit takes less than an hour, it’s an easy add-on to other activities you might be doing in the area. These falls drain the glacial melt from the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch, with up to 20,000 liters/second rushing through caverns cut into the mountain. It’s a beautiful sight. This is a fine activity for children as the falls can be safely viewed from a cement path through the cavern, with high railings and plenty of overlooks. Small children will need assistance, as there are lots of stairs, mostly wet. But it’s not particularly difficult and it’s well worth the effort. Be aware that it is very noisy, with the pounding water, and often quite dark, which may scare some children.
Note: One of my readers said that children under 3 are not admitted into the falls, due to the noise. I haven’t verified this but considered yourself warned.
|Location:||Jungfrau Region, Berner Oberland, Switzerland|
|Address:||Trümmelbach 236, 3824 Stechelberg CH
GPS: 46°34’20.1″N 7°54’42.7″E
|Car:||~1hr50 from Zurich|
|Train:||~2hr45 from Zurich|
|Trail:||lots of stairs through a cavern, about 45 mins|
|Condition:||wet slippery stairs|
|Open:||April through November|
Drive to Lauterbrunnen and keep driving on the main road through town (taking a couple sharp turns) and up the valley, toward Stechelberg. About 5 mins after you leave Lauterbrunnen, you’ll reach a large parking area (free) for the Trümmelbachfälle. Next to the parking lot, you’ll find a self-service cafe with outdoor seating overlooking the valley. Make sure to use the toilets behind the restaurant as there are no toilets at the falls themselves.
The falls are not appropriate for strollers, as there are many stairs. Instead bring your favorite child carrier for little ones that aren’t ready to walk the whole thing. The path isn’t super long and there is an elevator that takes you up part of the distance. But there are lots of stairs and very small ones might fade quickly.
Important: Remember to bring proper footwear for the entire family. My friend was wearing flip flops and the guard threatened to turn us away. He said that he routinely turns visitors away for wearing sandals, heels, flip flops, etc, requiring them to come back with more appropriate shoes. I don’t know why he let us through but I wouldn’t want you to get turned around. The path was very wet, but it’s well maintained and not particularly slippery or dangerous. But this is a big tourist destination and perhaps they’ve had unprepared and litigious visitors slip and fall. I don’t know why the big fuss over footwear, but better safe than sorry.
Also, bring light rain jackets as it can get cold and wet inside the caverns. I found myself taking my jacket on and off several times as we dipped in and out of the caves.
From the cafe, follow the short path (less than 5 mins) up to the entrance to falls, where you pay an entrance fee (in 2014 it was 11sfr/adult, 4sfr/child). The park is open from early April through early Novemer, 9:00 to 17:00, in July and August from 8:30 to 18:00. It can close during bad weather. Check their website for current information.
After entering the park, you will see this map of the falls. There’s water the whole way, but 10 main falls to see. You can take an elevator partially up the falls so you don’t have to walk the whole way up. From the top of the elevator, you will walk father up to see falls 7-10. Then you walk down (instead of taking the elevator again) to see falls 1-6. The whole visit will take about 45 minutes.
Happily the railings and barriers are quite safe for small children. I’ve been to many attractions in Switzerland that have railings with wide gaps (I’m looking at you Säntis!), so I was pleased with the relatively safe railings here. But still, keep your children close and don’t do anything stupid like perch your child on a railing for a picture. Stop the madness!
Once you’ve taken the elevator up, follow the path up to falls 7-10. Here’s a bit of what you’ll see. It is spectacular and difficult to describe. The amount of water thundering through the twisting rock is memorizing.
If you want a good picture, bring your tripod or buy a postcard. It’s dark and wet in there and hard to capture the beauty of moving water.
After you reach the top (still inside the caves), retrace your path back down towards the elevator. Take a moment to enjoy a view of the Lauterbrunnen valley before continuing down.
Don’t forget to take the short detour to fall 6 before continuing down the stairs to visit falls 5 thru 1 on your way to the back to the valley. Here’s a bit of what you’ll see on the way down.
Well, that’s it. It’s short but very sweet. To fill out the rest of you day, consider one of these:
– a walk or bike ride through the Lauterbrunnen valley
– ride up the nearby Stechelberg-Schilthorn cable car to Murren, then a short funicular to Allmendhubel, where you’ll find a playground with an amazing view and a children’s adventure trail
– go back to Lauterbrunnen and ride the train and cable car up to Männlichen for a short, easy hike with amazing views
See this post covers various things to do in the Lauterbrunnen area, including those mentioned above.