Gimmelwald is a small mountain village in Bernese Highlands region of Switzerland. Its location is on the western ledge of Weisse Lutschine valley just above Stechelberg and south of Murren. It's a car-free resort, accesible only by cable car or funicular.
The view of the Eiger and Jungfrau from Gimmelwald.
Sunset over the Mountain Hostel.
The first leg of the Oberhornsee hike.
A glacial river along the trail.
One of countless amazing views.
Alpenkase from the cheese shack.
- Catch the Lauterbrunnen-bound train from the Interlaken Ost Station, and get off at Lauterbrunnen. Make sure you board the correct car, the back few cars go to Grindelwald. Eurail/Inter-rail passes are only valid for a discount on this line, so be sure you have an actual ticket before boarding the train. You can buy a ticket valid all the way to Gimmelwald, with the PostBus and gondola fare for the second leg of the journey included.
- At Lauterbrunnen, cross the street and board the yellow PostBus heading for the Stechelberg gondola station, and get off there.
- Ride the gondola up one station to Gimmelwald. Alternatively, you can take an hour-long hike up to Gimmelwald and save money on the gondola fare.
Alternate Route via Murren:
This route gives you a chance to stop at Murren's grocery store first, as Gimmelwald doesn't have one.
- Catch the Lauterbrunnen-bound train from Interlaken Ost. Same as step #1 above.
- Ride the Lauterbrunnen>Grutshalp funicular (entrance across from the Lauterbrunnen train station) to Grutshalp.
- Catch the Grutshalp>Murren train from the same station. Make sure to sit on the left side for the best view. Get off at Murren.
- Buy groceries, if needed.
- Either walk 30 minutes to Gimmelwald on the road downhill, or ride the gondola down the mountain one stop.
It is not possible to drive directly to Gimmelwald. However, from Lauterbrunnen, you can drive to the Stechelberg gondola station and park in the adjacent parking lot. From there, it is a short cable car ride to Gimmelwald, the first stop. (There is a connecting gondola at Gimmelwald that continues to Mürren.)
Rent a cheap scooter at Funrental Interlaken and ride it in 30 minutes from Interlaken to Stechelberg.
The village itself is small but friendly. Your legs are all you'll need. If you get caught unprepared in bad weather on the 30ish minute hike up to the neighboring village of Murren, you can usually catch a ride with a farmer passing in his truck. They're more than happy to help.
Mountains!!! The huge, sheer cliff face across the valley from Gimmelwald is known as the Schwarzmönch (Black Monk).
- Gimmelwald is a quaint pedestrian village. It offers beautiful views for those willing to take the train, PostBus, and gondola. The village itself can be explored in 30 minutes, but the real allure is in the peaceful setting and quiet laid back attitude.
- Hike! There are tons of hiking trails leaving from Gimmelwald. Pass by Esther's Guesthouse for a guide to these trails. The views are breathtaking.
- The main hike everyone must do at least part of the way (and catch a gondola for the rest if tired) is the one to the Schilthorn, aka Blofeld's hideout in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. This trail is absolutely spectacular. Rick Steves' guide recommends that you hike down from the Schilthorn, but walking up, while more strenuous on the body and heart, is much easier on the legs and balance. It is an intensive trail for non-hikers (but very do-able). It will take at least 5 hours for most people to get to the top of the Schilthorn from Gimmelwald, so pack a lunch and leave early. After passing Schiltalp (the last tiny town you will see on the hike) and crossing a stream of water, the trail will suddenly get steeper. Be careful of the sudden drops and take the hike slower as you get to higher altitudes if you are not used to slightly lower oxygen levels than normal (the summit is over 2900m). Hiking poles are helpful on the way up, and almost necessary on the way down. Bring warm clothes because up high there is snow nearly year round, and the weather can change very quickly while you are underway. The gondola ride down is 41 CHF.
- Another particularly incredible trail, and a personal favorite, is the 7-hour round trip hike from Gimmelwald to Oberhornsee. The first 40 minutes or so is up one of the steepest inclines in the area, but it soon gives way to the most amazing series of flower-filled Alpine meadows, cow pastures, and waterfalls you'll ever see. Great, if you can brave the initial brutalness.
- Those seeking a more relaxing walk for the whole family can take a stroll to Allmendhubel (where you can hear Alphorns being played every weekend) and/or Winteregg (a random restaurant at the end of the walk). Along the way you'll enjoy a near-constant view of the valley below without the huffing and puffing a rugged mountain trail involves.
Fresh dairy and other farm products from the locals.
The nearest chain grocery store, sports, and souvenir shops are in Murren.
- Try delicious Alpenkase (alpine cheese) at the local cheese shack.
- Buy some freshly made, deliciously sweet alpine yogurt from Esther's Guesthouse.
- Snack on Gimmelwalder Horse-Sh*t Balls, a yummy chocolate dumpling from Pension Gimmelwald (the only full-fledged restaurant in the village).
- Tasty authentic cheese or chocolate fondue and generous-sized pizzas served at the Mountain Hostel.
- Mountain Hostel  20 meters from the cable-car station. The lively bar has a range of beers, wines and spirits at good prices (for example, 1 liter of red wine for CHF 11), together with a pool table. Young vibe.
- Esther's Guesthouse and Shop  100 meters from the cable-car station. Sells half-bottles of mainly Swiss wine, starting at CHF 8.
- fresh mountain water can be freely obtained from the ever-trickling public troughs in the village.
- Mountain Hostel  28-30 Rue Rothschild, tel: +41 (0) 33 855 17 04, fax: +41 (0) 33 855 17 04, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, . A delightfully rustic hostel just a few meters from the gondola station. Has a hot tub, a great staff, and a positively awe-inspiring view of the valley below, all for relatively cheap.
- Esther's Guesthouse . Sleep in standard guest rooms or in a barn for cheap, either with a nice breakfast, with homemade cheese, the following day. For the 'sleep on straw' accommodations, blankets are provided. Not much of a social scene, so just head over to the hostel for a beer.
- Walter Mittler's Hotel Mittaghorn. Guest rooms or the less expensive hostel-like loft. Breakfast included on all. Optional, inexpensive dinner meal available for guests only. Call ahead to reserve room, reconfirm the day before your arrival. Tel: +41 (0) 33 855 16 58
- The Schilthornbahn gondola line runs between Gimmelwald and Murren, Birg, the Piz Gloria, and Stechelberg in the valley below. From Stechelberg you can catch a PostBus that connects with other gondolas and the Lauterbrunnen train station, from which you can branch out and travel to Wengen, Grindelwald, Interlaken, etc.
- Alternatively, you can take the relaxed hike back to Lauterbrunnen (or just to Stechelberg). Down to Stechelberg is nice, but walking to Lauterbrunnen can be somewhat boring. Enjoy the hikes and save a few francs too.
- The Jungfraujoch. Also known as the "Top of Europe", this peak is home to the highest train station on the continent, 11,000 feet up. The station is built into the mountain, and is attached to a large recreational complex. From here you can shop and dine while looking out onto the Aletsch Glacier, or go sledding and walking on the glacier itself. You can also ride a high-tech elevator up even further to the Sphinx observatory, where you will behold a once-in-a-lifetime view of the surrounding Alps (provided the weather is good). To get here, first take the train from Lauterbrunnen back to Interlaken Ost. At Interlaken Ost, transfer to the Jungfraujoch train and ride it to the top (switching once at Kleine Scheidegg). Fare information can be found here. Due to the high cost of the ticket, and fact that the view isn't that much better than the one from the Schilthorn (see the "Do" section above), budget travelers should skip this and go there instead.
- Trummelbach Falls is one of the many waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. What makes this one unique is that it is partially inside the canyon wall and that it can be accessed by elevator. The area above the elevator, all accessible by steps or paths, is the most interesting. The waterfall's source is snowmelt from the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks at the south end of the valley. The water flow can reach 5,200 gallons/20,000 liters per second. The Lauterbrunnen/Stechelberg PostBus stops here and there is a car parking area.
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