Above the Lauterbrunnen Valley of Waterfalls: A Stay in Mürren, Switzerland

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Mürren is a remarkable place in the world.

A car-free village clinging to the cliff above the Lauterbrunnen Valley of waterfalls in the Berner Oberland of Switzerland. A one time farm village first settled in the late middle-ages, it has become a popular tourist destination, especially as the base for the stunning Schilthorn mountain cable way.

a small village sandwiched between snow covered peaks
Mürren Switzerland

Located at 1638m, Mürren is the highest town of the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps. Expect amazing panoramic views and opportunity for outdoor adventures.

Travelers love to visit Mürren for the simplicity and joy that comes with leaving your car behind. Enjoy the relaxed, small village atmosphere that is close to many exciting things to do including hiking, exploring the waterfalls, a visit to the Schilthorn Mountain and a trip to Jungfraujoch – the Top of Europe!

The Perfect Introduction to Mürren Switzerland

People sitting on terrace with views of snow capped peaks

Picture yourself sitting at an outdoor terrace enjoying a drink with some Swiss Raclette gazing out at a chasm of green almost 3,000 feet deep fed by seventy-two waterfalls, and capped by the snowy peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau rising to scrape the sky beyond.

The canopies of paragliders soar on updrafts of alpine air twirling to the valley. If you’re brave enough, you might even have a picnic at the cliff’s edge.

paraglider soaring between green hills and snow covered mountains
Paragliding in Murren

This was my second stay in Mürren, and for full disclosure, both visits were at the invitation of the Schilthornbahn company which operates the cable.

Mürren is a bit of a company town, where they operate the rail and cable transport system and own two hotels.

My most recent visit was just at the beginning of summer. The weather was forecast as thunderstorms, but miraculously, except for a brief but rather thrilling twenty-minute evening hailstorm, was almost entirely sunny and beautiful.

The snows had been melting and the rivers flowed with that peculiar color of turquoise of the Alpine streams.

Where in Switzerland is Mürren?

map showing where murren is in switzerland

Just for a moment of bird’s eye geography, the Lauterbrunnen valley is one arm of a Y shape extending to the south of Interlaken, with the other valley arm to the southeast, reaching to Grindelwald at the foot of the north face of the Eiger.

Mürren rests on the southwest wall of the valley above Lauterbrunnen.

How to get to Mürren, Switzerland

cable car ready to go up steep green mountain
The Mürrenbahn cable line

One of the highlights of a trip to Mürren is that the arrival is just as beautiful and adventurous as the destination.

There are two ways to reach the car-free village of Mürren

  1. First ride the Mürrenbahn cable line directly across from the Lauterbrunnen Rail Station, followed by a narrow-gauge mountain railway to the village station.
  2. Catch the Mürrenbahn cable line from Stechelber, which is about ten minutes from Lauterbrunner by bus or car.

The Stechelberg route is said to be more spectacular because the cableway offers a better view of the steep rock walls rising from the valley.

After parking near the station to leave the car for two days and stopping to watch the arriving paragliders who use the grass field near the station as a landing zone, I boarded the cable tram to rise past the valley cliff walls to Gimmelwald, changing to the cable to Mürren.

Some construction was underway near the Mürrenbahn station that continues upward to the Schilthorn. A new cable is planned for a more direct route and will debut in a year or two.

parking lot at Stechelberg

I usually travel by train in Switzerland with a Swiss Travel Pass. I was driving on this trip, so I parked in the Mürrenbahn parking lot at Stechelberg.

The parking rate is 11 Swiss Francs for one overnight, with a discount rate for multiple days, paid with your entry ticket at a machine at the cable station.

As this region is very popular, you may want to reserve your parking spot in advance!

Explore the 72 Waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen Valley

the Staubach waterfall thundering down the cliff face in Lauterbrunnen Valley
Staubach Falls

A highlight of any visit to this Swiss region is seeing the waterfalls gushing down into the Lauterbrunnen Valley from the vertical cliff faces. (It sounds like Yosemite Valley in the Spring – Editor Caroline)

The German word Lauterbrunnen means “many fountains,” and in this valley there are at total of 72 waterfalls with some as high as 400m, flowing year round.

two people admiring the view of lauterburnnen valley
Lauterbrunnen valley view

The Lauterbrunnen Valley is said to be one of the most beautiful in Switzerland. It became a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2001. Rumor has it that Tolkien got the idea for Rivendell during a hike from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen.

This is a thing to do in Murren before taking the cable car up. You can always ride it back down for a day excursion.

TOP TIP: Hike the Lauterbrunnen Valley Trail

For the adventurous, there is an easy 2.2 mile /3.5 km one way hike from Lauterbrunnen to Trummelbach Falls passing by Staubach Fall. The trail winds through the pretty pastures of Lauterbrunnen Valley and past small alps with waterfalls spilling down the sheer cliffs along both sides of the valley. You can walk back or ride a bus.

You can continue the trail to Stechelberg (4 mile/6.7km in total), where you can get the bus (or hike) back. You can also get the Stechelberg Funicular, which takes you up to Gimmelwald. From Gimmelwald, you can take another funicular to Mürren, which is only accessible by train, hiking, or funicular.

Staubach Fall

Staubach Falls streaming down the cliff face
Staubach Fall

The Staubach Fall, just at the end of Lauterbrunnen Village, is the highest free-falling water stream in Switzerland. It stands majestic against the background of narrow steep cliffs which seem to disappear into the distance beyond.

Johann Goethe, the writer of Faust, was a tourist to the valley in 1779 and wrote a poem to the beauty of the Staubach Fall, the “Song of the Spirit of the Waters.”

The poem begins “From heaven it comes, to heaven it rises, and down again to the earth it must,” relating the water to the journey of the human soul.

There is a slight detour trail (about 30 mins) that goes uphill and behind the waterfall and is only opened during the summertime. You’ll also get a beautiful view of the valley from here.

From Lauterbrunnen village, it only takes about 10 minutes to hike to the foot of Staubbach Falls.

Trümmelbach Falls

waterfall carving a slot canyon
Trummelbach falls of Lauterbrunnen | Deposit Photos

The unique Trümmelbach Falls are a “must see” natural wonders in the Berner Oberland of Switzerland. It’s a series of ten separate glacial falls inside the mountain rock that empties the waters of the upper ice of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau,

On hot summer days and after heavy thunderstorms, it carries up to 20,000 liters of water per second through the narrow gorge.

This unique attraction involves first going up inside the mountain in an elevator and then walking back down, partly inside and outside to see the impressive waterfalls.

Mürrenbach waterfall

small waterfall coming down cliff face
Mürrenbach Waterfall

From a height of 417 meters above Mürrenfluh, the water falls in five cascades. It is also one of the tallest falls in Switzerland and is uninterrupted throughout the year. 

You can see glimpses of Murrenbach Falls from certain spots on the outskirts of Lauterbrunnen town, but the most direct views of are from the Schilthornbahn cable car station.

The open-air lot is directly across from the Mürrenbach waterfall where a tributary runs into the Lütschine River. I didn’t have quite enough time to hike to the waterfall, but it was worth the walk to feel the sprays from up close.

Piz Gloria at the Schilthorn Mountain Summit

round restaurant with large windows for the views of the snow capped peaks
Piz Gloria revolving restaurant

One of the most popular things to do in Mürren is to visit Schilthorn Mountain and enjoy a James Bond Brunch in the Piz Gloria.

When the cable car lift was being built in 1967 with a plan for the world’s first revolving restaurant, the producers of the James Bond movies were looking for a location for the next film.

The script called for a mountaintop lair for the villain, Blofeld, to provide for exciting mountain sequences. The cable company was short on money and made a deal with the filmmakers. The film would fund some of the construction cost and would be allowed to design the setting to fit their needs. They added a helicopter pad, which still serves as the observation deck.

The film, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was released in 1968, with George Lazenby as the new James Bond, to replace Sean Connery, who had left the series. (He would come back later.) The film co-starred Diana Rigg fresh off her run as Mrs. Peel on “The Avengers” TV series.

I mention this as a confession. As a kid, I had a crush on Diana Rigg, cool and lean in black fitting jumpsuit with karate moves. I was a fan of the movie as well. My dad would not let me see “Goldfinger” with him, as I was deemed too young for the sex and violence. Rather tame some decades later. So, by the time of “Secret Service,” I was at that age.

The deck of the Schilthorn looks out at over two hundred mountain peaks, and in clear weather you can see all the way to Lake Constance, bordering Switzerland and Germany.

Inside is the main attraction, the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria, which takes about 45 minutes for a full 360-degree turn of the platform. You barely notice it moving, but the vista outside is different whenever you look up.

views of snow capped mountains through restaurant windows
Views from the revolving restaurant

The brunch is a buffet, very well prepared, but not that different from a hotel, except that it’s being served at 10,000 feet. You can spike your orange juice with some sparkling Champagne for a bit of James Bond sophistication. The design of the brass wall grills and lamps are holdovers from the movie set.

And after a turn around the view, a visit downstairs offers a collection of Bond theme exhibits, a movie theater for brief excerpts and a bit of Schilthorn history.

Two exhibits are quite fun, a helicopter you can virtually fly at the controls, up the mountain face, and a virtual Bob Sled that puts you in the action of one of the signature sequences of the movie.

cardboard cutout of james bond on schilthorn deck
My name is Bond, James Bond.

Outdoors, if the weather cooperates, is an added Bond “Walk of Fame” across the rocky crag of the mountain summit, with signposts of Bond characters, though any visit to a mountain peak in Switzerland is a bit of the luck of the draw with weather, and time of year. You might get sun, snow, or be stuck in a miasma of a drifting cloud.

I was lucky with the sun, until I returned to the Birg station, halfway between the village and mountain summit. It is here where a part steel, part glass floor walkway wraps around the rock face mountain for the “Thrill Walk.”

A cloud had enveloped the cliff, so rather than a thrill walk in white haze, I would try later.

Relax and watch the paragliders at Hotel Regina

Black beer on table with view of mountains
Beer with a view!

To while the time, for which a car-free village is particularly suited, I found a table on the deck of the Hotel Regina. Relaxing with a local Black Beer, Schwarzen Mönch, brewed in nearby Gimmelwald and a vegetarian sandwich.

The paragliders were unfurling their parachutes on a grassy slope and launching to soaring arcs, first over the village, then winding down into the valley.

I had earlier enjoyed my own first tandem paragliding adventure in the Italian Dolomites with 360 Cortina d’Ampezzo, so I could envision the sense of freedom and thrill of hanging under a parachute as the world drops away.

To paraglide from Mürren, the services are available with Airtime-Paragliding in Lauterbrunnen. The flight ends at the Stechelberg tram station parking lot.

Skyline and Thrill Walk

a steel pathway on the edge of the cliff
Wow! A fun Murren adventure

The clouds had cleared, and a walk in the sky beckoned. It’s time for one of the most adventurous things to do in Murren – the Thrill Walk!

You’ll find it at the half-way stop to the Schilthorn, the Birg Station.

Birg Station features the Skyline Restaurant, which is mostly an outdoor terrace with a partial glass deck at the end; and the Skyline, for mountain views that can be like standing in the clouds.

boy walking on a glass path on the edge of the cliff

A stairway down leads to the Thrill Walk, a walkway along the mountain face, with sections of glass, though they left enough metal walk if walking on glass is too much.

Chain enclosed sections also allow a tightrope walk, and a kid-sized suspended cage tunnel challenges adults to fit. Both experiences are free, included with the cable ride.

The cable to the top of the Schilthorn from the valley is 108 Swiss Francs through 2022. It’s sixty percent less with a Swiss Travel Pass and forty-percent discount with a Eurail Pass. Children are half-price.

You may want to consider private tours to Schilthorn, which may offer more convenience and a group discount rate. Here are three options

Video: Schilthorn Piz Gloria and Skyline Thrill Walk of Switzerland

See the beauty of this area in the Schilthorn video.

Allmendhubel

views of the mountains with an allmendhubel sign

A funicular rises from the Mürren village up to the flowery glens above on the Allmendhubel mountain taking you to beautiful views of the Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger.

It’s a short 4 minute trip, especially suited for families. The Panorama Restaurant Allmendhubel at the top of the funicular overlooks a trail of flowers in spring and snow trails in winter.

kids playground next to a restaurant with mountain views
Allmendhubel Playground and restaurant

The children’s Flower Park playground is just in view of the restaurant so kids can explore while mom & dad take some refreshing time.

The playground is particularly interesting for the rope slings, safe but inspired by surrounding peaks, and carved wooden marmots, the Swiss version of a woodchuck, watching over the underground fun marmot burrows.

The easy 2km Flower Trail leads down through fields and forest back to Mürren. Perfect for families you can admire over 150 alpine flowers such as edelweiss, gentians and alpine roses.

Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe

viewpoint looking at glaciers high in the mountains
Glacier View

The other top attraction in the Murren region is to visit Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe. Its one of the most iconic and beautiful places in the Swiss Alps.

Jungfraujoch is a viewing point Bernese Alps and, at an altitude of 3,454 m, Europe’s highest train station. It lies at the end of the engineering marvel of a tunnel that cuts through the rock of the mountain ridge.

The tunnel leading up from the station Eigergletscher is seven kilometers in length and was built between 1896 and 1912. Along the tunnel are windows cut from the rock with views out to the glaciers.

Don’t miss these Jungfraujoch Attractions

  • The Sphinx Observatory is one of the highest observatories in the world and they have an open viewing deck. It has panoramic views of Jungfrau and Mönch peaks, Eiger and the Aletsch Glacier.
  • The Ice Palace is an ice tunnel under the glacier filled carved ice sculptures which change from season to season.
  • Glacier Plateau is a popular photo stop for the views over the Jungfrau and Silberhorn peaks. This viewpoint offers the best views of the mountains of Germany and France and on the other side an unobstructed view of the Aletsch Glacier.
  • Hikers will be happy to hear of the trail through the glacier to Mönchsjochhütte or Mönchsjoch Hut , a serviced mountain hut. Be careful hiking on glaciers without experienced local guides and be sure to stay on the path.

There are two ways to get to Jungfraujoch

  1. Train from Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald Kleine Scheidegg, where you switch trains for the luxury Jungfrau Railway.
  2. The new Eiger Espress tri-cable gondola from Grindelwald to the Eiger Glacier station. From Eiger, there is a train for the last section. This is the fastest way to get to Jungfraujoch, cutting the journey down by 47 minutes each way. You can get the train down via Kleine Scheidegg for a different experience.

Be sure too book a train or gondola ticket in advance, especially during the high season. Do that here.

Tickets are expensive, but many will say a visit to Jungfraujoch is worth it. The Swiss Pass and Eurail Passes have discounts on Jungfraujoch tickets.

It may be cheaper to visit with a tour rather than on your own, as they can get group discounts. This is an especially good tip if you are not staying in Murren or other nearby areas and are coming from bigger cities.

Here are a few options.

Eat: Venison at the Hotel Bellevue

People sitting at tables at a terrace restaurant in the mountains

On a fifteen-day driving tour across the Alps from Vienna to Geneva, I had my favorite meal in Mürren. A short walk from the central street up the hill past the Allmendhubel station, the Belleview Hotel restaurant outdoor terrace deck looks out across the village.

I had heard that a special offer was a venison dish of wildhirsch (wild deer) freshly hunted by the hotel owner, Othmar Suter. I’ll admit to being partial to jäger stubli (hunter cuisine) common in Germany and the Alps, more usual in autumn.

plate of venison and vegetables
Venison

It was a familiar dish, Venison filet in wild mushroom sauce with butter spätzle, red cabbage with chestnuts and caramelized pear. But even after some other restaurants of multiple Gault Millau points and Michelin stars, it was delightful.

Eat: Alpenrue Spareribs

plate of spareribs with fries

Spareribs is not a dish normally associated with Switzerland, but I was also able to sample a local version at the Alpenrue Hotel Restaurant, served with a decidedly large portion of French fries.

The Alpenrue is a charming hotel from where I took one of my favorite photos of the Eiger at fiery dawn.

eiger snow capped peak at sunrise

If looking for some other non-Swiss cuisine there is a Chinese restaurant in the village, and fresh local trout is found on many menus.

Stay: Blumental Hotel, Mürren

front of hotel in murren

I was staying this time at the Blumental Hotel, which takes its name from the flowery Alpine meadow above the village.

The cozy chalet style hotel was quiet and almost vacant as it was early in the season. There are only about 450 permanent residents in Mürren, but 2,000 hotel beds which fill in the high seasons of summer and winter.

It was on my arrival I had the show experience of ever changeable Alps weather. I had packed what I needed for a few days away from my rental car into one rolling bag.

The cable ride was sunny, with only a few clouds. I was able to take a stroll through the village for some pictures. It’s only about ten minutes from one end to the other. Some kids were playing on a large oversize garden chess board.

I noticed a local gentleman on the typically Swiss wooden balcony of a shop, placing small gossamer umbrellas in the flower boxes which festoon the village with the colors of summer. I only realized later that he was more familiar with the local weather forecast than I.

flower  boxes on a wooden building with red flowers and umbrellas covering them

On settling in my room, which looked out across a tin roof to the village, upon opening the windowed door to the balcony for a fresh Alpine breeze, a thunderous roar began.

With the briefest warning of a thunderclap, the skies opened and a storm of hail the size of marbles invaded the peace.

The ice stones beat upon the tin, and the rain washed in gulleys down the road from the green slopes above. The storm was brief, and I enjoyed it in comfort from a balcony chair, just shielded from the torrent.

I was pleased the next morning to see that the little umbrella had saved the flower box blooms. I’m now sure a common custom of mountain life.

A morning return to the Stechelberg station found my rental car undisturbed and undamaged from the hailstorm.

If you’re looking for other accommodation in Murren, you can use the map below to compare hotels and short-term rental options.

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