Perched on the north-east shore of turquoise-coloured Lake Brienz, Brienz is a charming town in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland region. It’s home to one of the most beautiful streets in Europe and a steam-hauled mountain railway, as well as an open-air museum showcasing the diverse architectural traditions of Switzerland.
Things to do in Brienz
Stroll along the lakeside promenade and the beautiful street of Brunngasse, which is lined with 18th-century chalets decorated with traditional wooden carvings. Brienz is renowned for its wood carving and log construction techniques, as well as having a rich history of violin making. Several wood carving shops dot the town streets where you can pick up locally made souvenirs.
If you’re interested in the region’s cultural heritage, don’t miss a visit to the Ballenberg Open Air Museum where historic buildings from across Switzerland are exhibited. It’s divided according to the various Swiss regions, with architecture from the Bernese Midlands, Central Switzerland and Jura all on show. Rural crafts and cheesemaking demonstrations are regularly held in the buildings’ recreated interiors and friendly farmyard animals roam the property.
For sweeping views across Brienz, ride the steam railway that climbs to the top of Brienzer Rothorn Mountain. From here, you can enjoy superb views across the lake and the Swiss Alps. A cable car descends along the northern side of the mountain to the winter ski village of Sörenberg, which is surrounded by a protected tract of moorland.
Getting around Brienz
Brienz is around 30 minutes by train from the Interlaken Ost railway station or can be accessed by a leisurely 1.5-hour boat cruise from Interlaken along Lake Brienz. The centre of Brienz is compact enough to explore on foot while the Brienz Rothorn Railway links to the summit of Brienzer Rothorn.