Gelmerbahn Funicular: Tickets, Operating Hours, And More

Last updated: May 15th, 2023

Switzerland is known for its many modes of transportation that include everything from a cable car to some of the world’s steepest mountain railways. The Gelmer funicular is one of the latter, featuring railway tracks on a mountainside at an incline of 47°. It allows passengers to climb to a man-made lake at an altitude of 1,850 meters above sea level and features some of the best landscape views in the Bernese Oberland.

This detailed guide to the Gelmer funicular will tell you everything you need to know about it, from its interesting history to opening times and ticket prices. If you’re planning a trip to the Bernese Oberland and you want to get more information on one of the most interesting mountain railway rides in Switzerland, you’ll learn everything you need to know below!

History of the Gelmer Funicular

Gelmerbahn – Image courtesy of Tim Withnall

Gelmerbahn has existed for nearly an entire century and it will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2026. It was originally built to help with the transport of construction materials up to Gelmersee when the artificial lake and its hydroelectric power station were first being created. That was in 1926, and the Gelmer funicular didn’t open to the public until 2001.

This was also the steepest funicular railway in Switzerland for a long time until the construction of the Stoos funicular was completed in 2017. It has an incline of 47° (106%) while the Stoos funicular runs at an incline of 47.7° (107%). It’s not a massive difference, but the 1% was enough to dethrone Gelmerbahn as Switzerland’s steepest funicular. But it’s still the steepest open funicular railway in Europe!

The track length of Gelmerbahn is 1,028 meters, and the funicular travels at a speed of 2 meters per second. The ride in the funicular is about 12 minutes total, and it will be the worst twelve minutes of your life if you’re afraid of heights.

Gelmerbahn Tickets & Prices

Tickets for the Gelmer funicular can be purchased in the ticket office on the spot or online. It’s recommended to buy them online a few days in advance since the funicular is quite popular in the summer and long queues tend to form. If you don’t want to stand in line for at least an hour, just buy your ticket on their website a few days prior to your trip.

If you buy your tickets online, you need to exchange the voucher for actual tickets at the office at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time of the departure, otherwise, they will give your seats to someone else. The ticket office is at the bottom station of the funicular, just across the iconic Handeggfall suspension bridge.

The ticket prices for the Gelmerbahn are:

  • Adults: Single ride – 18 CHF / Return ride – 36 CHF
  • Children (6 to 15 years) – Single ride – 9 CHF / Return ride 18 CHF

It’s worth noting that dogs are allowed on the funicular, and small dogs that can fit in your lap get to ride for free. Larger dogs (shoulder height of more than 30 cm) that require their own seat are charged a children’s ticket fare.

Gelmerbahn Opening Times

The Gelmerbahn operates only between June and mid-October, and only during the day. In June, September, and October, the funicular is open from 9 AM to 4 PM, with the last ascent at 3:48 PM and the final descent of the day at 4 PM on the dot.

In July and August, the funicular operates for an hour longer, so until 5 PM. The last ascent during these months is at 4:36 PM, while the last descent from the top station is at 4:48 PM. The funicular then closes down until the next day, so it’s highly recommended that you watch the time if you want to be back in the village on the same day.

Riding the Gelmerbahn


Gelmerbahn connects the village of Handegg to the upper terminus at Lake Gelmer, which boasts exquisite nature and lake views. You will climb the altitude of 448 meters in only 10 minutes, in a train car that doesn’t have a roof, sides, or seatbelts. Passengers are secured in place with a metal rod which is similar to what you hold onto during rides at amusement parks.

The views during the funicular ride are some of the best you can experience in this part of Switzerland. If you don’t have a fear of heights, you can absolutely enjoy this experience, so long as you remember that you’re on exposed terrain for 12 minutes, so appropriate clothing and lots of SPF are a must.

On the other hand, if you’re even a little bit afraid of heights, you probably won’t enjoy this ride that much. The upside is that you’re only traversing the steep mountainside for some 12 minutes, so you might just be able to endure it.

How to Get to Gelmerbahn Funicular

The Gelmerbahn base station and ticket office are most easily accessed by personal vehicle. There are a few parking lots near the ticket office, and if you have a personal vehicle this is by far the best way of traveling to the funicular.

It’s also possible to travel by bus, but they don’t run frequently. The bus line 161 runs from the Oberwald Bahnhof to the Meiringen Bahnhof, stopping at the Handegg Gelmerbahn bus stop only twice a day at 11:55 AM and 16:35 PM.

If you’re traveling from the northern direction, you can also ride the bus line 171, which operates between Innertkirchen Grimseltor and Handegg Gelmerbahn. These buses are a little more frequent, but they operate a much shorter route of only nine stops. The 161 bus only makes two stops at the Gelmerbahn bus station in this direction, but the 171 bus makes an additional 9 stops, approximately once an hour.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Gelmer Funicular covered by the Swiss Travel Pass?

No, the Gelmer funicular is not covered by the Swiss Travel Pass. It is a privately owned railway, and therefore it is not covered by any discount and half-fare cards that are valid in Switzerland. 

How fast is the Gelmer funicular in Switzerland?

The Gelmer funicular traverses the extremely steep mountain at a speed of 2 meters per second, which is equivalent to a speed of 7.2 km/h. That’s very slow, but going faster would be outright dangerous considering just how steep this railway is. 

Is it worthwhile to ride the Gelmer Funicular?

If you’re not afraid of heights, it’s definitely worth it to ride the Gelmer funicular. This is an unforgettable rail experience with gorgeous views along the way, and even prettier landscapes once you get out of the funicular at the top station. The hiking trails near Gelmersee Lake are wonderful and absolutely worth the trip for all avid hikers and trekkers in Switzerland. 

Courtesy of Wikimedia for the image header.

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