Brienz is located in the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland. It is a small village with approx 3000 inhabitants. Brienz is famous as the Swiss centre for woodcarving.
Brienz can be reached by a 40 minute rail journey from Interlaken Ost- all the Luzern trains stop at Brienz. Or you can take a 2 hour boat journey from Interlaken- the boat leaves frequently behind Interlaken Ost railway station. All kind of rentals availble at Funrental Interlaken. Scooter bike gokart funcar atv motorcycle etc.
Brienz has one main street Hauptestrasse, so getting around on foot is fine. To walk the full length of the street will take approx 10 minutes.
There is beautiful Swiss scenery to see- the lake is a beautiful blue colour and the surrounding mountains spectacular. The Swiss Chalets are very smart and the Graveyard "Brienz West" is the best kept Graveyard in Switzerland.
Walking, sightseeing and looking in the Woodcarving Shops.
On a clear day in season take the (last remaining in Switzerland) steam rack railway to the Rothorn - trains depart from the station across the road from the Zentralbahn station. Hotel at the top, sun terraces, and superb views both South over the Bernese Oberland and North as far as Germany. Can get very busy, so go early if you can.
Dont get me wrong! Brienz is a decent enough place. But things have changed in the last year. There is only 3 Woodcarving Shops- E. Schild, E.D.Jobin, and Huggler-Wyss.
E.Schild is near the train station and so is easy to find. However it has had the same stock for years and years. I would guess 70% of which were not made in Switzerland. Its just poor quality stuff, some of which is expensive.
E.D.Jobin is still the biggest woodcarving shop in Brienz- but since it was devastated by the Brienz floods in Aug 2005- It has been refurbished. It unfortunately is nothing like it used to be. The shop is nothing like the pictures on its website www.Jobin.ch. The shop basically is a vast open space with hardly any woodcarvings or other stuff to buy- On my last visit the shop only had around 25 woodcarvings for sale and they were mainly small uninteresting carvings- basically poor. Two carvings I had recognised from three years ago. So business must be booming!! The shop did however have a big display of general Swiss souvenirs- pens/pencils/teatowels etc- These were the same as you can get anywhere in Switzerland. I am told that Tour Groups very rarely spend any money in the Jobin store.
Huggler is very much like Jobin. I think in 2007/2008 Tourism has declined in Brienz- You can see it in the shops- like Huggler- very little stock on display and the tourist is bored by this and woodcarving collectors wonder if the small number of carvings that are available, are actually made in Switzerland.
Prepare yourself to be disappointed if you are a woodcarving collector if you visit Brienz. You probably will not see an authentic piece that you can guarantee has been made in Switzerland.
Some of the shops in Brienz are completely closed November to March each year, whilst the ones that do open in the Winter close on a Wednesday and a Sunday and the other days are closed for a long lunch break. Summer hours are a little better.
Opposite the woodcarving shop Jobin to the right is a Coffee Shop/Restaurant/Bar.
Please see eat category.
Most visitors to Brienz stay in Interlaken.
Try the youth hostel for good value, albeit basic, accommodation. Near the lake-side and only ten minutes walk from the railway station and five minutes from the bus stop. Watch the sun set over the lake in the evening!
Visitors to Brienz only usually stay for 1 hour- Its small but the lake scenery is nice if the weather is good. In the winter Brienz can be very dull with a lot of rain. In summer, again it can be cloudy and rainy in the mountains. Brienz got a lot of rain Summer 2007.