Giessbach Falls

Brienz / Bernese Oberland, Bern Canton, Switzerland

Rating: 3     Difficulty: 1
Giessbach Falls or Giessbachfälle

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Giessbach Falls (also Giessbachfall or Giessbachfälle in German; pronounced "geeYES-bahkh-fell-uh") spilled into the light blue Lake Brienz. Nearby the falls was a historic hotel. Although the falls is said to tumble 500m in height over serveral tiers, we wondered whether this was true or not considering that Reichenbach Falls is said to be nearly half as tall as this waterfall though our observations didn't seem to support these numbers. Perhaps it was because we could only see parts of the falls but never its entirety in one go. Whatever the case, this provided us a waterfalling excuse to do something else in the Bernese Oberland area besides Lauterbrunnen Valley.

If not for a fairly infrequent boat ferry that crossed Brienzersee (Lake Brienz) between Interlaken Ost and Brienz while stopping at Giessbach Falls, this was actually a pretty easy waterfall to visit.

Once we managed to boat across to the other side of the lake by the falls, we then took a funicular (perhaps the oldest one in the country since 1879) that took us up to the historic Giessbach Hotel and an attractive frontal view of the main section of the waterfall (see photo at the top of this page).

The historic Giessbach Hotel Even though it was very windy (to the point that the Reichenbachbahn was closed [note that "bahn" = "train" in German]), the Giessbachbahn remained open because it was sheltered from the easterly winds. It was interesting to see all the white caps on Lake Brienz except for its far south side thanks to the shelter provided by the neighboring mountains.

After taking our time enjoying the viewing spot of the falls, we then followed a path that crossed behind the hotel and towards some car park. But the walking path then bent its way back towards the stream as it ascended towards a bridge crossing between the waterfall's middle tiers. Somewhere along this ascent, there was also a junction where the trail descended back towards the boat dock while passing alongside the lower tiers of the falls.

Just before the bridge crossing the falls, the path followed alongside the stream (upstream) before looping behind one of the tiers of Giessbach Falls and coming back down towards the misty bridge. Walking this loop was about all the time we were afforded given the inconvenient boat schedule. The next boat was coming up, but the boat departure after that wasn't for another two hours (see directions below for the boat schedule we faced).

Even though we mistakenly bought a two-way ticket for the funicular, had I been able to do this all over again, I'd personally recommend taking the funicular up (just a one-way ticket), walk the loop behind the falls, check out the historic hotel, and then walk back down to the boat dock. Hindsight's always 20/20 isn't it?

In addition to this boat and funicular ride, we also saw parts of the falls from the train (albeit from a distance) as well as its lowermost tiers as the boat approached the dock nearest to the Giessbach Hotel and Waterfall.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

This was the view looking out from behind Giessbach Falls towards the historic Giessbach Hotel. Yes, this is one of those waterfalls that let you go behind itLooking out from behind Giessbach Falls towards the historic Giessbach Hotel
While we were on the boat traversing Lake Brienz (Brienzersee), we got this view looking towards the scenic mountains backing the eastern end of the lake with a waterfall on the far rightWhile we were on the boat traversing Lake Brienz (Brienzersee), we got this view looking towards the scenic mountains backing the eastern end of the lake with a waterfall on the far right
The whole time we were waterfalling in the Bernese Oberland area, we were based in Interlaken, which was a well-connected town with plenty of things to see and do hereThe whole time we were waterfalling in the Bernese Oberland area, we were based in Interlaken, which was a well-connected town with plenty of things to see and do here
When we needed a break from waterfalling, our decision to base in Interlaken allowed us to take advantage of their train system to visit a charming city like Bern, the capital of SwitzerlandWhilst taking a break from waterfalling, we visited the charming Bern, the Swiss capital
Approaching the side of the lake with the Giessbach Falls and Hotel perched high aboveApproaching the side of the lake with the falls and hotel perched high above

The base of Giessbach Falls with a footbridge crossing in front of itThe base of the falls with a footbridge crossing in front of it

The GiessbachbahnThe Giessbachbahn (aka the Giessbach Funicular)

Looking over some flowering lawn towards some building just as the trail did a switchback heading towards Giessbach FallsLooking over some flowering lawn towards some building just as the trail did a switchback heading towards the falls

Looking up at the falls from the misty footbridgeLooking up at the falls from the misty footbridge

Going behind Giessbach FallsGoing behind Giessbach Falls

Looking over the funicular tracks back towards Lake BrienzLooking over the funicular tracks back towards Lake Brienz

Last look at the falls as the boat goes back to BrienzLast look at the falls as the boat goes back to Brienz

As we were riding the train back to Interlaken Ost, this was the view of Giessbach Falls and the hotel using full zoomAs we were riding the train back to Interlaken Ost, this was the view of the falls and the hotel using full zoom

Full context of Giessbach Falls and Giessbach Hotel as seen across Brienzersee from the trainFull context of Giessbach Falls and Giessbach Hotel as seen across Brienzersee from the train


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


The bottommost tier of the falls as seen from the boat on Lake Brienz


Bottom up sweep from the top end of the funicular showing the main part of the falls


Top down sweep of the falls from directly behind it while showing the historic hotel in the background


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From Interlaken Ost, we caught one of the fairly frequent trains (once every 15 minutes or half-hour I think) to Brienz. Unfortunately, the boat schedule wasn't nearly as frequent nor as flexible as the trains. And the boat was our only bet at getting to the falls by public transport.

According to this brochure we picked up, the Summer Fahrplan (Schedule) was as follows:

Going East (Cruise Number in parentheses)

  • Interlaken Ost: 9:40 (59), 11:45 (63), 13:10 (67), 15:10 (69), 16:50 (73)
  • Giessbach: 10:53 (59), 12:51 (63), 14:16 (67), 16:16 (69), 18:06 (73)
  • Brienz [arrival]: 11:05 (59), 13:05 (63), 14:33 (67), 16:30 (69), 18:20 (73)


Going West (Cruise Number in parentheses)

  • Brienz: 11:15 (60), 13:15 (64), 14:45 (68), 16:50 (70), 18:30 (74)
  • Giessbach: 11:27 (60), 13:26 (64), 14:57 (68), 17:07 (70), 18:42 (74)
  • Interlaken Ost [arrival]: 12:28 (60), 14:35 (64), 16:10 (68), 18:15 (70), 19:50 (74)


View from the boat dock towards some impressive mountains backing Brienz the town Another option (if you think you won't get seasick) is to take the boat directly from Interlaken Ost to Giessbach or vice versa, and then take the short boat ride to the opposite end of the lake and follow that up with a train to complete the round trip. You'll just have to work with the schedule given above to make this happen.

For the record, we took the 14:45 boat from Brienz to Giessbach. And then we took the 16:16 boat from Giessbach back to Brienz. Based on this schedule, we barely had an hour at the Giessbach Falls, and I felt it was a bit rushed.

I don't know what's the deal with boats and bad schedules, but we had a similar experience at the Nachi Waterfall in Japan, but that was due to an utterly useless boat schedule to and from the Hotel Urashima. But anyways, I digress...




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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