Giessbach Falls (Giessbachfälle)

Brienz / Oberland Region, Bern Canton, Switzerland

About Giessbach Falls (Giessbachfälle)


Hiking Distance: 500m round trip (to back of falls)
Suggested Time: 15-30 minutes (to back of falls)

Date first visited: 2010-06-10
Date last visited: 2010-06-10

Waterfall Latitude: 46.7322
Waterfall Longitude: 8.0241

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Giessbach Falls (also Giessbachfall or Giessbachfälle in German; pronounced “geeYES-bahkh-fell-uh”) spilled into the light blue Lake Brienz.

Nearby the falls was the historic Grandhotel Giessbach, which further added that bygone-era charm to the waterfall experience.

Bernese_Oberland_942_06102010 - Giessbach Falls - the main section
Giessbach Falls – the main section

Although this waterfall was said to tumble about 500m in height over several tiers, we never really got a clean look at the entire drop.

So in reality, it felt like a shorter waterfall than its stated height.

In fact, it even felt shorter than the Reichenbach Falls, which at 250m was half as tall as Giessbach Falls.

Whatever the case, that didn’t take away from the overall experience of enjoying a beautiful cascading waterfall outside of the famed Lauterbrunnen Valley.

Bernese_Oberland_972_06102010 - Looking back towards the Giessbach Grand Hotel from behind the bottom of the main section of the Giessbach Falls
Looking back towards the Giessbach Grand Hotel from behind the bottom of the main section of the Giessbach Falls

We even got to go behind the waterfall, which was something that wasn’t common in the Switzerland Waterfalls that we had encountered so far.

The Boat and Funicular Ride to the Giessbach Grand Hotel

If not for a fairly infrequent boat ferry that included a Giessbach Falls stop as it crossed Lake Brienz (or Brienzersee in German) between Interlaken Ost and Brienz, this was actually a pretty easy waterfall to visit.

After managing to boat across to the other side of the lake at the foot of Giessbach Falls, we then took a funicular ride up to the historic Giessbach Grand Hotel.

This funicular was quite possibly the oldest one in Switzerland as it dated back to 1879.

Bernese_Oberland_932_06102010 - The funicular leading up from the boat dock on the shore of Lake Brienz towards the Giessbach Hotel
The funicular leading up from the boat dock on the shore of Lake Brienz towards the Giessbach Hotel

It was interesting to note that while the Reichenbach Falls funicular was closed due to high winds on the day of our visit, the Giessbachbahn remained open.

I suspect that it was sheltered from the easterly winds given its sheltered position in the forest and the surrounding mountains.

Anyways, at the hotel, we got our first satisfying look at the Giessbach Falls as the area around the facility (as well as the hotel itself) offered an attractive frontal view of it.

Walking closer to the Giessbach Falls

After taking our time enjoying the viewing spot of the Giessbach Falls from the hotel, we then followed a path that crossed behind the facility and towards some car park.

Bernese_Oberland_957_06102010 - The historic Giessbach Grand Hotel (or Grandhotel Giessbach)
The historic Giessbach Grand Hotel (or Grandhotel Giessbach)

That car park suggested that it might have been possible to drive straight here from Brienz (something I might consider doing the next time I come here).

Nevertheless, 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 Giessbach Falls.

Just before the misty bridge crossing the falls’ watercourse, the path went upstream before looping behind one of the tiers of Giessbach Falls and ultimately coming back down towards the bridge.

Bernese_Oberland_966_06102010 - Walking one side of the loop walk to access the backside of the Giessbach Falls
Walking one side of the loop walk to access the backside of the Giessbach Falls

There were other trails that continued higher up along the Giessbach Falls, but we didn’t get a chance to explore them so we can’t comment on them any further.

Overall, our visit to the Giessbach Falls took less than an hour though I certainly wished we had more time to enjoy this place.

That said, we were constrained by an inconvenient boat schedule, which really rushed our visit.

Some Inconvenient Logistics During Our Giessbach Falls Visit

Given the rather inconvenient boat schedule, we only had time to walk a short loop from the Giessbach Hotel to the backside of Giessbach Falls and back.

Bernese_Oberland_999_06102010 - Context of the Giessbach Falls funicular and Lake Brienz in the distance
Context of the Giessbach Falls funicular and Lake Brienz in the distance

This rush was the result of us targeting the next boat that would pick up from Giessbach after it had dropped us off there.

The next boat after that wasn’t for another two hours!

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 with a one-way ticket.

That way, you can then make your visit to Giessbach Falls, check out the historic hotel, and then walk back down to the boat dock where you at least get to control your own return schedule independent of going down on the funicular.

Bernese_Oberland_929_06102010 - Looking back at the context of the bottom of Giessbach Falls and the boat dock adjacent to it
Looking back at the context of the bottom of Giessbach Falls and the boat dock adjacent to it

Perhaps better yet, if we had rented a car, we probably could have driven to the car park for the Grandhotel Giessbach and not be slaved to the train, boat, nor funicular schedules.

Hindsight’s always 20/20 isn’t it?

Anyways, in addition to this boat and funicular ride, we also saw parts of the Giessbach Falls from the train (albeit from a distance).

Moreover, we witnessed the Giessbach Falls’ lowermost tiers as the boat approached the dock nearest to the Giessbach Hotel and waterfall itself.

Authorities

Giessbach Falls resides near the town of Brienz, which sits within the Interlaken-Oberhasli District of the Bern Canton, Switzerland. I can’t find an official governmental authority administering this waterfall. So for information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you may try visiting the Bern Canton website or the Brienz website.

Bernese_Oberland_927_06102010 - Approaching the side of the Lake Brienz with the Giessbach Falls and Hotel perched high above it
Bernese_Oberland_0032_jx_06102010 - View from inside the funicular, which was open air with a roof
Bernese_Oberland_036_jx_06102010 - Inside the Giessbach Grand Hotel
Bernese_Oberland_039_jx_06102010 - Another look inside the Giessbach Grand Hotel
Bernese_Oberland_930_06102010 - The base of Giessbach Falls with a footbridge crossing in front of it as seen from our boat ride across Lake Brienz
Bernese_Oberland_933_06102010 - Our view across Lake Brienz as we were taken up by the funicular ride towards the Giessbach Grand Hotel
Bernese_Oberland_941_06102010 - Looking towards a footbridge fronting the base of the Giessbach Falls from the viewing area by the Giessbach Grand Hotel
Bernese_Oberland_988_06102010 - Looking over some flowering lawn towards some building just as the trail did a switchback heading towards Giessbach Falls. The car park was also somewhere in this direction
Bernese_Oberland_959_06102010 - Julie standing on the footbridge near the base of the main section of the Giessbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_960_06102010 - Looking down over the brink of one of the lower drops of the Giessbach Falls during our brief and rushed loop walk experience at the main section of the Giessbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_965_06102010 - Looking up at the Giessbach Falls from the misty footbridge near its base
Bernese_Oberland_967_06102010 - Context of the trail going behind Giessbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_978_06102010 - Looking out from behind the Giessbach Falls towards the Grandhotel Giessbach
Bernese_Oberland_981_06102010 - Context of Julie on the narrow catwalk behind the bottom of the main drop of Giessbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_996_06102010 - Last look back at the Giessbach Falls when we returned to the Giessbach Grand Hotel
Bernese_Oberland_1000_06102010 - Looking over the funicular tracks back towards Lake Brienz as we were nervously rushing to get down to the infrequent boat going across the lake
Bernese_Oberland_1005_06102010 - Looking down at one of the tiers of the Giessbach Falls as we were looking out the funicular
Bernese_Oberland_1006_06102010 - Looking out towards the white caps on Lake Briez with a town hugging the other side of the lake
Bernese_Oberland_1008_06102010 - Last look at the bottom of the Giessbach Falls as the boat goes back to Brienz
Bernese_Oberland_1029_06102010 - As we were riding the train back to Interlaken Ost, this was the view of Giessbach Falls and the Giessbach Grand Hotel using the camera's full zoom. From this perspective, you can see that Giessbach Falls really was a tall waterfall
Bernese_Oberland_1034_06102010 - Full context of Giessbach Falls and Giessbach Hotel as seen across Brienzersee from the train back to Interlaken Ost

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Since we visited Giessbach Falls exclusively by public transportation (though I may self-drive if we’re fortunate to come back), I’ll describe the route from that perspective in this section.

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.

Bernese_Oberland_1025_06102010 - View from the boat dock near Brienz towards some impressive mountains backing the town
View from the boat dock near Brienz towards some impressive mountains backing the town

And the boat was our only bet at getting to the Giessbach 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)

Another option (if you think you won’t get seasick) is to take the boat directly from Interlaken Ost to Giessbach or vice versa.

Then, after visiting Giessbach Falls, you can 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 restrictive boat schedule in order to make this plan happen.

Our Actual Logistics

Bernese_Oberland_1019_06102010 - Looking east of the Lake Brienz towards some attractive waterfall and some outskirts of the town of Brienz while riding the boat across the lake
Looking east of the Lake Brienz towards some attractive waterfall and some outskirts of the town of Brienz while riding the boat across the lake

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…

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 sort of behind it


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


Left to right sweep from the far side of the falls after having gone behind it

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Tagged with: brienz, bern, bernese oberland, switzerland, swiss alps, waterfall, brienzersee, lake brienz, interlaken, swiss rail, boat



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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