Brienzer Rothorn: Experience A Magical Railway Adventure

brienzer rothorn

Nothing is more quintessentially Swiss than a ride up to the Brienzer Rothorn on the shiny red panoramic coaches of the Brienzer Rothorn Bahn, a cogwheel train that has been puffing along the historic steam rack railway since 1892.

The Brienzer Rothorn is the highest summit in the Emmental Alps. The train begins its ascent to the summit from beautiful Lake Brienz with magical views of the lake below and the Bernese Alps including the peaks of Pilatus and Hogant.

You can also get to Brienzer Rothorn via an aerial cableway that departs from Sörenberg for a cheaper price which, unlike the Bahn, also operates in winter. Either way, it’s an unforgettable adventure and a must-do when visiting Lake Brienz and the Grimsel area.

Here’s what you need to know to experience this exciting adventure.

General Information

AltitudeThe panoramic viewpoint sits at 2,350 meters above sea level.
Visit DurationThe train ride takes one hour. Allow at least 5 hours for hiking and other activities.
Ticket PricesFull adult price is CHF 92. Children under 6 ride free.
DiscountsSwiss Travel Pass, Half Fare Card, Day Card: 50% off
Free with Berner Oberland Pass, and Tell Pass
Ride FREE on your birthday.
AccessibilityEasily accessed by car and public transport.

How to Get To Brienzer Rothorn

Rothornbahn in Brienzer Rothorn
Rothornbahn in Brienzer Rothorn

By car: From Interlaken, take the A8 motorway. The trip to Brienzer Rothorn takes 25 minutes. Get there from Lucerne via the Brünig Passin 45 minutes. Parking is available near the Brienz Valley station. All-day parking is available for CHF 8.00. Long-term parking is available at the nearby Brienz boat station at no charge.

By train: Get to Brienzer Rothorn by taking the Interlaken Express route. It’s part of the GoldenPass Line that operates between Lucern and Interlaken Ost. The train station is across from the Brienz Valley station.

By boat: From Interlaken, a boat goes to the quay in Brienz. After the boat docks, it’s a three-minute walk to the valley station.

Riding The Brienzer Rothorn Bahn

Brienzer Rothorn Bahn
Brienzer Rothorn Bahn – © Brienz Rothorn Bahn AG

The Brienzer Rothorn Bahn ride is approximately 60 minutes long both ways. It operates from mid-July to late October. The first train departs at 8:36 am and departs almost every hour until 4:36. It’s possible to take an early train that leaves at 7:36 on Sunday mornings only in June, July, and August.

The train usually pushes rather than pulls its carriages. The open windows have panoramic views but can be closed in inclement weather. All of the views are spectacular, but for the very best views try to sit on the left side.

Hiking Trails on Brienzer Rothorn

Hiking in Brienzer Rothorn
Hiking in Brienzer Rothorn – © Brienz Rothorn Bahn AG

Although most visitors choose to get to Brienzer Rothorn by the famous cogwheel train or by the aerial cableway from Sörenberg, the peak trail to the summit from the mountain station is manageable with a minimum amount of hiking experience. Different trails lead from the north (Sörenberg), from the east (Lungern and Brünig), and from the south in Brienz. The trails are marked with yellow signs and red and white signs. The yellow signs are easiest, and the red and white signs indicate more significant elevation gains.

If you skip the hike to the summit and ride the train or cable car, you’ll find a variety of short trails for easier hikes and longer trails for more of a challenge. Families with children should be aware that none of the paths are stroller-friendly.

All of the hikes afford some of the best views anywhere in Switzerland. Depending on the weather, you can expect to have unobstructed views of the Alps of Central Switzerland including the 4000-meter-plus peaks of the Berenese Alps including Pilatus, Titlis, and Rigi. On a clear day, it’s possible to see all the way to the Chasseral in the Swiss Jura Mountains. In all, you should be able to see up to 693 peaks.

Things to Do on Brienzer Rothorn

Paragliding in Brienzer Rothorn
Paragliding in Brienzer Rothorn

If you choose not to hike on Brienzer Rothorn, you’ll still have an exciting adventure riding the train and chatting with the other passengers or riding the cable car. Once at the top, there are two short walks to lookouts at a higher elevation.

Spend time at one of two restaurants at the summit that serve traditional Swiss dishes such as wurst, aelpermagrönen, and rösti. The restaurants have both indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy the fresh air and the views. There’s also a small gift shop to browse in and pick up cool souvenirs like retro postcards.

Where to Stay Near Brienzer Rothorn Station

Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn
Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn – ©

You’ll have a choice of great hotels for accommodations in the area. The Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn is located about 12 miles (19 km) from Brienzer Rothorn and is not too overly priced. Choose from comfortable double rooms, double rooms with a view, and triple rooms. Amenities include a breakfast buffet, free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, a bar & lounge, and a full-service spa.

If you want to splurge, check into the Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, a 5-star property with a variety of well-appointed rooms and suites. The hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Amenities include a breakfast buffet for a fee, 3 restaurants, a bar/lounge, a full-service spa, and much more including a garden with BBQ grills and a picnic area.

Is Brienzer Rothorn Worth It?

Some of the most stunning views in all of Switzerland, the iconic Brienze Rothorn Bahn ride, and a variety of hiking trails make the trip to Brienzer Rothorn very worthwhile.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any restaurants on Brienzer Rothorn?

Yes, there are two excellent restaurants at the top of the summit serving delicious food and outdoor terraces with views.

Can I bring my dog to Brienzer Rothorn?

The hiking trails to Brienzer Rothorn are dog-friendly.  Each person can bring one dog free of charge on the train ride. There is a charge of CHF 10 for each additional dog. Be aware that the noise of the steam engine may be stressful for some dogs.

Are there other attractions worth visiting near Brienzer Rothorn?

You can combine the trip to Brienzer Rothorn with a visit to nearby Giessbach Falls. You can get there by boat from the ferry dock opposite the train station. The Aare Gorge and Reichenbach Falls are good half-day trips from Brienz. 

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

One thought on “Brienzer Rothorn: Experience A Magical Railway Adventure

  1. I agree with pretty much everything you said about this trip, however in the interests of full disclosure it might be worth mentioning that even if you pre-book tickets. the scenes at the station are a total nightmare (both ways).
    No proper queuing, manic pushing and shoving, family groups unable to get seats together, and lines to buy tickets onsite at busy times are looong.
    Our family loved the trip, but there are a lot of great rail trips that start and end with a lot less stress.

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