Chug up to the Brienzer Rothorn | Admire the Eiger, Jungfrau and 691 other peaks| Enjoy a meal, stay overnight, or go for a hike
The Brienz Rothorn Bahn travels from the shores of Lake Brienz (Brienzersee; Lac du Brienz) to the Brienzer Rothorn high on the ridge above. One of the oldest mountain trains in Switzerland — and the only Swiss mountain railway with a full steam train service — the one-hour ride makes a lovely day trip from Lucerne or Interlaken.
From the top station (2,260 m) you’ll have a superb view of Lake Brienz and the Swiss Alps, including famous peaks like the Eiger, Mönsch, Jungfrau, Pilatus, Rigi and Titlis. An easy climb up to the Brienzer Rothorn summit takes the panorama to 360°, from the Schrattenfluh on the other side all the way to the Swiss Jura mountains.
Numerous hiking trails head off in all directions, from easy walks back to Lake Brienz to the challenging Hardergrat — the knife-edge ridge famed among hikers and trail runners.
Or simply soak up the view from the terrace of the Rothorn Kulm or Planalp Berghaus, two mountain hotels and restaurants located near the middle and top train stations. You can also enjoy special offers such as a full moon dinner, a sausage cooked on the train boiler, and even working on the train.
However you spend your time, a ride on the Brienz Rothorn scenic steam train is among the best things to do in Switzerland!
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Getting there & away
The Brienz Rothorn Bahn is located in the Swiss canton of Bern, in the pretty town of Brienz in between Lucerne and Interlaken.
The bottom station is nearly on the shore of Lake Brienz, just across from the main Brienz train station and ferry terminal. You can park at the ferry station as well as other parking areas in Brienz; note that you’ll need to pay and that the car parks can fill up quickly.
►Directions to the Brienz Rothorn Bahn station on Google maps
Brienz Rothorn train info
The mountain train service runs from mid-June to mid-October. The 7.6 km journey takes around 1 hour, with a stop in the middle at the small village of Planalp.
You can buy tickets at the station or online. Folded strollers, up to two non-powered wheelchairs (with advance notice), and dogs are allowed; bicycles are not.
The railway offers various special tickets, including:
- A free ride on your birthday
- A discount for the first train of the day at 08.36 as well as the 07.36 train running on summer weekends
- A hiking ticket, which allows you to travel on 3 of the return route sections and walk the 4th
- Discounts for holders of the Brienz Guest Card, Swiss half fare card, Swiss general abonnement and Swiss Travel Pass
- Half day riding the footplate
- 1 and 3 day fireman courses
►Brienz Rothorn Bahn timetable & fares (English and German)
►Guaranteed seat ticket
►Fireman course (in German)
►Visit the train depot
See below for fun meal offers.
What to bring
You don’t need any special equipment to visit the Brienzer Rothorn — but be prepared for sudden changes in weather, don’t forget sun protection, and bring enough food and water if you don’t wish to buy any onsite. You also need appropriate shoes for the hiking trails.
Dangers & annoyances
The steam engine is very loud, and even more so in the tunnels along the way. I suggest sitting as far from the engine as you can.
If you plan to spend a lot of time outside, then guard against:
- Heat stroke/dehydration
And if you plan to walk further than the Rothorn Kulm and Brienzer Rothorn summit, then be very careful of the steep drop offs on both sides of the ridge.
Things to do at Brienzer Rothorn
Walk & hike
The short walk from the top train station to the Brienzer Rothorn summit (2,348 m) is easy and not dangerous. The Schongütsch summit (2,319 m) on the other side of the station is also an easy walk, but on a hiking trail rather than a path.
Other hiking trails criss-cross both sides of the ridge — and also run along the top. For trails on the Lake Brienz side of the Brienzer Rothorn, see the Brienz Rothorn Bahn map and SwissMobility. For trails on the other side of the ridge, see the Sörenberg trail map.
Ride a cable car
The steam train isn’t the only mechanical way to get to the Brienzer Rothorn: the ridge is also reached by a cable car and chairlift from Sörenberg on the other side. The cable car takes you all the way down to the valley while the chairlift goes to Eisee, a lake below the summit.
►Brienzer Rothorn cable car & Eisee chairlift summer timetable (German)
Eat & drink
There are two places to eat near the summit: the Rothorn Kulm, an alpine lodge around 100 m from the Brienzer Rothorn train station, and the Gipfel Restaurant Rothorn, at the top of the cable car from Sörenberg. Both are on the ridge top and have terraces with an amazing view.
Planalp, the small village where the train stops halfway through its journey, also has a restaurant, the Planalp Berghaus.
Alternatively, join a special steam train ride with a drink, snack or meal. Options include:
- “Steam Sausage Cruiser” — stop in Planalp for a snack of sausages cooked in the boiler plus bread and a non-alcoholic drink
- “5 o’clock Break on Planalp” — ride to Planalp for an afternoon beer or soft drink
- “Full Moon Dinner” — night train ride and 3-course dinner at the Rothorn Kulm
►Rothorn Kulm website (English & German)
►Gipfel Restaurant Rothorn website (German)
►Special train offers (English & German)
►Planalp Berghaus website (German)
You can also sleep at the Rothorn Kulm, in rooms with 2-4 beds or in a dormitory, as well as at the Planalp Berghaus.
►Rothorn Kulm room prices (bottom of the page; English & German)
►Train & Rothorn Kulm room offer (English & German)
►Planalp Berghaus room prices (German)
Nearby mountain fun
Eating & sleeping
You’ll find many more eating and sleeping options in and around Brienz, as well as on the other side of the Brienzer Rothorn in Sörenberg.
A medium-sized ski resort operates from Sörenberg in the winter.
►Sörenberg ski resort map
►Sörenberg ski resort info