Where to stay in Interlaken and the Lauterbrunnen Valley

Almost all of Switzerland is beautiful and many of us agree that the area near Interlaken is easily the most beautiful part of the country and the single best place to visit if you have less than a week to spend. One challenging thing about visiting this area is that there are at least 7 primary places to stay and each of them is quite different in almost every way. Deciding where to stay in Interlaken or that area is a critical decision and it could lead to either having the trip of your life or surprisingly expensive regret. I’ll help you figure out where to stay in the Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen Valley areas below.

The town of Interlaken itself is nice, but it’s the worst place to stay in the area unless you are arriving very late or leaving very early. I’ll explain all of that below and hopefully you’ll be able to figure out which area is best for you. Personally, I’m fond of Gimmelwald, but it only has a few small hotels and those are often booked well in advance.

You probably got to this page while researching getting a Swiss Travel Pass or where to go in Switzerland on a short visit. I think you will find this useful.

The main choices of where to stay in the Interlaken area

As mentioned above, there are 7 separate areas where you could stay in the Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen Valley areas and each is quite different. I’ll go over each of them below.

A note about Interlaken itself

Strangely enough, Interlaken (population 5,600), which is locally pronounced inter-LOCK-in, is a pleasant but extremely touristy and kind of gimmicky town itself and you might want to or need to spend one or two nights there, but it’s really best as a transportation hub to pass through on your way to the magnificent Lauterbrunnen Valley just 20 minutes away by train.

It’s best to figure out your arrival and departure schedules into the area and as long as you don’t arrive to late or depart too early it’s best to just pass on through and stay in the valley itself. If you’ve got an extra few hours or you need to stop at a proper supermarket it’s worth walking around Interlaken, but honestly it’s by far the least charming part of this area.

Interlaken West

Interlaken has two train stations, Interlaken West and Interlaken Ost (east) and all trains stop at both stations, which are about 4 minutes apart. Most of the town is around the Interlaken West train station, including most of the restaurants and shops.

There are a few reasonably priced (by Switzerland standards) hotels in this area, but it’s better to stay somewhere else if you can. There’s a full-size supermarket attached to the train station as well.

Interlaken Ost (east)

The area around the Ost train station is much less busy although there are some hotels and restaurants as well as a full-sized supermarket attached to the train station, which can be handy.

The main appeal of Interlaken Ost is that this is the station where you change trains to reach Lauterbrunnen and everything else in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. If you have to leave the area very early or arrive quite late, staying around here might be necessary.


You’ll have to go through the Interlaken Ost train station and switch from the main tracks to a separate line that starts with a 20-minute (and incredibly scenic) ride to the town of Lauterbrunnen (population 2,300). The valley floor is surrounded by steep mountains on three sides and it’s absolutely breathtaking.

If there were no hotels in the villages up the mountain from here this would be an amazing place to stay. It actually IS an amazing place to stay, but since there ARE hotels in the villages above, it’s better to stay in one of them if you arrive when the cable cars (aerial tramways) are running. There are a bunch of hotels in Lauterbrunnen and quite a few restaurants. The main advantage is that Lauterbrunnen is the transportation hub of the valley, so staying here means it’s fast and easy to get anywhere else.

Recommended Lauterbrunnen Hotel:

Hotel Schützen Lauterbrunnen

Just a 3-minute walk from the centrally located Lauterbrunnen Train Station, Hotel Schützen Lauterbrunnen is extremely convenient because that train station is the hub to this entire area and all of the shops in town are nearby as well.


Here’s where I tell you why you should stay in Gimmelwald (population 130). From the Lauterbrunnen train station you take a modern bus, which will be waiting for each train departure, and it will take you to a tiny village called Stechelberg after passing a stunning waterfall along the way. It will take you to the base of the cable car system where you can board a cable car (leaves every 30 minutes and holds about 100 people) for the 5-minute ride up to the tiny village of Gimmelwald.

American travel writer Rick Steves has famously promoted Gimmelwald to his readers for decades and you’ll see why when you get there. The car-free village has unbelievable views of the valley below and it consists of a few hotels, a hostel, a couple restaurants, and a couple dozen working farms. That’s it. You’ve never seen or stayed in anyplace like it. The hotels aren’t cheap (nothing around here is cheap), but they are good value for the area. The hostel is obviously the cheapest place to stay in the area and if you can afford any of these you’ll never forget staying here.

Recommended Gimmelwald Hotel:

Esther’s Guesthouse

Located just steps from the cable car station in Gimmelwald and across from the Mountain Hostel, Esther’s Guesthouse only has 7 rooms and has a minimum stay of two nights. The serve an amazing breakfast in the mornings at an extra cost, which is well worth it. With only 7 rooms and reasonable prices for the area, Esther’s sells out pretty far in advance most of the time.

The Mountain Hostel just a few steps away has some private rooms as well as dorm rooms and a lively restaurant and bar.


If you get off the cable car in Gimmelwald and walk across the small platform to the waiting cable car, it will take you another 5 minutes or so up the mountain to the much-larger village of Mürren (population 450). The views from (also car-free) Mürren might even be better than from Gimmelwald below, but this is much more of a proper tourist village with many hotels, restaurants, shops, and importantly, some ski lifts.

Those who can’t find a place to stay in Gimmelwald would be happy to book in Mürren and you can actually walk down a pleasant path (photo below) from Mürren to Gimmelwald in 30 minutes or less, and then take the cable car back up if you aren’t in the mood to walk back up the hill. Better still, if you stay here you are already about 20% of the way up to the magnificent Schilthorn observation deck and restaurant.

Recommended Mürren Hotel:

Hotel Alpenruh

Hotel Alpenruh is a ski-in, ski-out hotel, but it also has a perfect location for the rest of the year since it’s just a one-minute walk to the cable car up from Gimmelwald that carries on to Schilthorn. Room rates include a full breakfast, which comes in handy in a town without many restaurants and in a place where you’ll be active all day. You’ll see the hotel in the top photograph in this section.


On the other side of the Lauterbrunnen Valley there are two other villages that have hotels and amazing views. Wengen (population 1,300 and also car-free) is the closer of the two and it can be reached on a cog-wheel train from Lauterbrunnen in only 12 minutes. Wengen is a much larger town that the two small villages across from it mentioned just above, and there are some fairly large (for this area) hotels here.

It’s an extremely photogenic and pleasant mountain town and if you arrive by train you can do a fairly short stroll across town to a cable car (gondola lift) that you can take up the mountain for even more amazing views and potentially a lovely hike back into town.

Recommended Wengen Hotel:

Hotel Falken

Another ski-in, ski-out hotel with a great year-round location, the Hotel Falken is a short walk from the Wengen Train Station as well as the cable car station. It also includes a free breakfast and even ice skating (December through March).


Also reachable from Lauterbrunnen by train as well as by cable car, Grindelwald with a population of 3,800 is larger than the three mentioned above combined, and it’s the only one you can reach by car. Another advantage is that Grindelwald is one of the stops on the way up to Jungfraujoch, which is the highest railway in Europe and one of the Lauterbrunnen Valley’s must-do attractions for those who can afford it.

Grindelwald is a proper ski resort and it has many more hotels and rentals than the villages mentioned above. It’s absolutely stunning and if this was the only place on this list that you visited you would be extremely happy to spend one or more nights here. However, since it’s larger and busier, it’s much less charming and quaint. In other words, if you can find a place that looks good and affordable, I’d book in the small villages if possible and maybe stay in a larger village on another visit.

Recommended Grindelwald Hotel:

Central Hotel Wolter

The popular Central Hotel Wolter is located just a few steps from both the Grindelwald Train Station and the cable car station. It’s one of the more reasonably priced hotels in town and it also includes a free continental breakfast.

The bottom line

If you read all of the above you’ll see that I highly recommend booking a place in Gimmelwald if they are available and within your price range. Staying in a tiny farming village in one of the most beautiful parts of the Alps is something you’ll never be able to do anywhere else, and even the other villages aren’t quite as memorable.

That said, my second choice would be Mürren, partly because it’s easy to walk down to Gimmelwald from there. Lauterbrunnen itself is nice if you are arriving late or leaving early.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *