Reichenbach Falls (Reichenbachfälle)

Meiringen / Oberland Region, Bern Canton, Switzerland

About Reichenbach Falls (Reichenbachfälle)


Hiking Distance: 6-7km round trip (w/o the funicular nor bus)
Suggested Time: 3 hours (w/o the funicular nor bus)

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

Waterfall Latitude: 46.71351
Waterfall Longitude: 8.18243

Waterfaller Newsletter

Get over the hump of the mid-week blues! Subscribe and get exclusive curated content delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

Reichenbach Falls (also Reichenbachfall or Reichenbachfälle in German; pronounced “RHYE-khen-bahkh-fell-uh”) is perhaps best known for its association with the fictional character Sherlock Holmes.

Since I haven’t really followed any of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels, I didn’t quite get amount of enthusiasm devoted to the fictional events and how this waterfall related to the death of the famous sleuth.

Bernese_Oberland_903_06102010 - Reichenbach Falls
Reichenbach Falls

In any case, the passion was apparent as we even noticed a Sherlock Holmes museum in the town of Meiringen as well as a plaque (in German, French, and English) near one of the waterfall overlooks in his honor!

As for the Reichenbach Falls itself, it dropped an impressively tall 250m over multiple tiers while exhibiting pretty high power when we witnessed it during our visit.

It wasn’t easy to see all the waterfall’s tiers in one go given much of the overall drop was concealed due to the twisting nature of its drop.

Therefore, I swore that the Reichenbach Falls seemed taller than its stated height for reasons I’ll divulge later in this page.

Bernese_Oberland_821_06102010 - Sherlock Holmes statue in Meiringen
Sherlock Holmes statue in Meiringen

Another thing that was quite interesting about the Reichenbach Falls was that part of the waterfall seemed to have punched a hole (i.e. a natural arch) in its neighboring cliff creating a segmented effect.

It was as if the falls was shaped like a bent two-pronged pitchfork, which you might notice in the photo at the top of this page.

I didn’t recall seeing in the literature a waterfall passing through a natural arch with that much water rushing directly through it.

Thus, I wonder how much longer would the Reichenbach Falls keep this up before more of the cliff would erode and ultimately collapse that natural arch.

Visiting Reichenbach Falls The Easy Way

Bernese_Oberland_911_06102010 - View of Reichenbach Falls from the viewing platform just outside the upper station of the funicular
View of Reichenbach Falls from the viewing platform just outside the upper station of the funicular

In theory, Reichenbach Falls was supposed to be pretty easy to visit.

A funicular ride would climb up from street level and lead right up to a viewing platform with a direct view of the waterfall.

That funicular, by the way, was first opened in 1899, which would make this a pretty historical apparatus (though the one at Giessbach Falls was said to be actually older).

Anyways, had we been able to exercise this option, I would have given this falls a 1 for difficulty.

Bernese_Oberland_904_06102010 - The upper station of the funicular for the Reichenbach Falls or (Reichenbachfall-Bahn)
The upper station of the funicular for the Reichenbach Falls or (Reichenbachfall-Bahn)

Unfortunately, on the day that Julie and I showed up, there were very gusty easterly winds that posed too much of a risk to operate that funicular as well as other cable cars in the area.

Therefore, I wound up giving the Reichenbach Falls a 3.5 in difficulty, which I’ll explain why below.

Visiting Reichenbach Falls The Hard Way

Without the availability of the funicular ride, we had no choice but to engage in what turned out to be a pretty tiring hour-long ascent to the other end of the funicular ride.

This involved climbing to the top of the Reichenbach Falls, then descending towards the top end of the funicular station.

Bernese_Oberland_852_06102010 - The easy-to-miss hiking trail that climbed steeply from the lower funicular station up to the top of Reichenbach Falls then back down to the upper station of the funicular
The easy-to-miss hiking trail that climbed steeply from the lower funicular station up to the top of Reichenbach Falls then back down to the upper station of the funicular

I started the hike by going up a trail that began on the opposite side of the funicular station, which wasn’t very well signposted.

Initially, I went up a steep road before going onto a steep trail that left the road and traversed through what seemed like a sheep paddock.

During the long ascent, I passed by one stretch of trail that skirted the dropoff besides the falls.

Given the swirling gusty winds of the day of my visit, it made that stretch very wet and misty, and thus it was very muddy and potentially treacherous.

Bernese_Oberland_863_06102010 - Rainbow and the Reichenbach Falls from the viewpoint with the Sherlock Holmes plaque
Rainbow and the Reichenbach Falls from the viewpoint with the Sherlock Holmes plaque

Further up this hike to the top, there was a short spur along the cliffs to an overlook of the Reichenbach Falls.

Embedded in the cliff facing the overlook, there was a plaque talking about how Sherlock Holmes vanquished his nemesis.

I’m sure most people would have missed this spot since the funicular wouldn’t have gone by here, and only hikers willing to partake in the physical exertion would have the opportunity to come near.

Beyond this spur, the path continued to climb up a forested path before rejoining a road that passed between some accommodation and cafe.

Bernese_Oberland_866_06102010 - At the top of the climb, the trail momentarily went back on the asphalt before descending a different walkway leading down past the top of Reichenbach Falls and ultimately to the upper station of the Reichenbach-Bahn
At the top of the climb, the trail momentarily went back on the asphalt before descending a different walkway leading down past the top of Reichenbach Falls and ultimately to the upper station of the Reichenbach-Bahn

With all this uphill walking required to get up to this point, I started to wonder whether this waterfall might be a bit taller than 250m.

In any case, I didn’t spend much time on the road because I then reached the upper entrance leading down to the Reichenbach Falls Funicular Station soon thereafter.

The path descended towards a couple of overlooks before crossing a bridge right above the main two-tiered drop of Reichenbach Falls and just below one of the smaller uppermost tiers.

A scary sign here indicated where the water level was when the stream was in flood in a past event.

Bernese_Oberland_879_06102010 - Looking down over the top of the Reichenbach Falls from the bridge over its watercourse
Looking down over the top of the Reichenbach Falls from the bridge over its watercourse

Past the bridge, the path continued to descend while offering up more overlooks of the falls as well as birdseye views of Meiringen and the Alps backing the scene.

Finally, the path descended another long series of stairs before reaching the platform at the top end of the funicular.

It was at this platform where I got the best views of Reichenbach Falls as it was directly in front of the main two-tiered drop (see photo at the top of this page).

From this close-up view, I also gained a better appreciation of the hole in the cliff where the falls punched its way through.

Bernese_Oberland_885_06102010 - Commanding view across the valley towards the town of Meiringen as seen from the walkway near the top of Reichenbach Falls
Commanding view across the valley towards the town of Meiringen as seen from the walkway near the top of Reichenbach Falls

Since the funicular was closed, it was eerily quiet except for the howling winds.

Nonetheless, since I was the only person up here, I guess having to work for this waterfall experience did have its benefits.

The bummer was that there was no direct way back down to the cafes and car park at the bottom of the funicular other than the funicular ride itself.

So that meant that I had to go back up all those steps to get to the top of the Reichenbach Falls, and then I had to descend steeply back down to the bottom of the funicular along the same zig-zagging hiking path that brought me here in the first place.

Bernese_Oberland_886_06102010 - Descending towards the upper funicular station of the Reichenbachfall-Bahn, but it also offered teasing views of the Reichenbach Falls itself
Descending towards the upper funicular station of the Reichenbachfall-Bahn, but it also offered teasing views of the Reichenbach Falls itself

All told, the whole excursion ended up taking me about 2 hours, which included some mild trail running on the return hike so I wouldn’t keep my pregnant wife waiting too long.

I’m sure it would have taken at least 3 hours on a more relaxed visit without the funicular.

Nevertheless, with the funicular, I’m sure it would’ve been possible to experience the whole thing in about an hour or less.

There could’ve even been the option of taking the funicular to the top and then hike back down or vice versa.

Bernese_Oberland_908_06102010 - Scenery looking to the east of Meiringen just as I was heading back down to the lower station of the Reichenbachfall-Bahn where Julie was waiting for me
Scenery looking to the east of Meiringen just as I was heading back down to the lower station of the Reichenbachfall-Bahn where Julie was waiting for me

That would have at least cut off a good hour or so of arduous hiking.

Authorities

Reichenbach Falls resides near the town of Meiringen, 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 Meiringen website.

Bernese_Oberland_828_06102010 - Initially when we first showed up to Meiringen, we tricked ourselves into thinking that this waterfall was the Reichenbach Falls. Actually, it wasn't, and it was a good thing we paid close attention to the signs afterwards because this could have been a costly mistake!
Bernese_Oberland_840_06102010 - As we approached Reichenbach Falls from the town of Meiringen, we got our first glimpse of the falls backed by an impressive mountain during our walk (in lieu of taking the bus)
Bernese_Oberland_841_06102010 - Looking back at some kind of power station at the base of a waterfall that we had initially mistaken for the Reichenbach Falls near Meiringen
Bernese_Oberland_845_06102010 - Julie walking towards Reichenbach Falls past a bus stop along the way
Bernese_Oberland_846_06102010 - Looking back across the valley at another cascade near the town of Meiringen
Bernese_Oberland_849_06102010 - Approaching the car park for the Reichenbach Falls funicular station or Reichenbachfall-Bahn
Bernese_Oberland_850_06102010 - Contextual look back at where we had walked from when we first got off the Meiringen Station
Bernese_Oberland_853_06102010 - Initially, the hike up to the Reichenbach Falls (in lieu of the funicular) involved walking on a narrow asphalt road like this
Bernese_Oberland_854_06102010 - Looking back at how far up the road had taken me before the wanderweg (walking path) left the asphalt and went onto more of a trail (or at least a tractor road)
Bernese_Oberland_855_06102010 - Continuing the climb up to the Reichenbach Falls as the trail doubled as a tractor road
Bernese_Oberland_857_06102010 - Looking back at some chalets, residences, or farms while making the steep hike up to the top of Reichenbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_859_06102010 - A section of the trail to the top of Reichenbach Falls was drenched by swirling mist carried about by the strong winds during my hike
Bernese_Oberland_864_06102010 - The Sherlock Holmes plaque I noticed at the end of the spur path on the way up to the top of Reichenbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_867_06102010 - Looking upstream from the bridge at the top of Reichenbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_874_06102010 - Another look back towards the uppermost tiers of the Reichenbach Falls as the walkway descended to the upper station of the Reichenbachfall-Bahn
Bernese_Oberland_876_06102010 - This was a scary sign showing how high up the water went when there was a flood in this area back in August 2004
Bernese_Oberland_878_06102010 - Looking down towards a rainbow showing up in the chaotic mist of the Reichenbach Falls as the walkway went past its top
Bernese_Oberland_888_06102010 - Descending on the steps leading down to the upper funicular station near the base of the main drop of Reichenbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_893_06102010 - As I got closer to the funicular station, I could better see the effects of the arch or pole punched through the cliff by the Reichenbach Falls
Bernese_Oberland_913_06102010 - Looking back down over the top of Reichenbach Falls with a bright mid-day rainbow appearing in its spray as I was making my way back to the lower funicular station for the Reichenbachfall-Bahn

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


Since we visited Reichenbach Falls as part of a bit of an adventurous excursion exclusively by public transportation, this is the perspective of how we’re going to describe the logistics in this section.

From Interlaken Ost, we took the train east passing through Brienz and ultimately arriving at the Meiringen Station.

Bernese_Oberland_825_06102010 - Shortly after leaving the Meiringen Station and heading for Meiringen, we managed to get this distant look towards the top of Reichenbach Falls backed by some snowy mountains of the Swiss Alps
Shortly after leaving the Meiringen Station and heading for Meiringen, we managed to get this distant look towards the top of Reichenbach Falls backed by some snowy mountains of the Swiss Alps

This train journey takes about 45 minutes or so with all the stops.

From the Meiringen Station, we then had to walk a short distance from the train station towards a bus stop with a lot of yellow signs.

Unfortunately, the bus that goes from Meiringen to Reichenbach Falls only comes either once an hour or once every half-hour (depending on what time of day).

In any case, Julie and I just walked the 20 or 30 minutes through Meiringen to the car park for Reichenbach Falls.

Bernese_Oberland_842_06102010 - While in Meiringen, we realized that we must have just missed the bus bringing us to the Reichenbach Falls. Thus, we opted to walk the half-hour to get there instead
While in Meiringen, we realized that we must have just missed the bus bringing us to the Reichenbach Falls. Thus, we opted to walk the half-hour to get there instead

There are plenty of signs pointing the way to the falls (though we had to admit that we sidetracked ourselves by mistakenly thinking the other waterfalls closer to the cable car to the north of us were the Reichenbach Falls).

Along the way, we saw the Sherlock Holmes museum and statue as well as distant (yet attractive views) of part of Reichenbach Falls plunging before a pointy snowy mountain.

Finally, for some geographical context, the train ride from Zurich to Interlaken was about 3 hours by rail.

L-shaped sweep from the right to the top of the falls amongst a good deal of swirling mist and gusty winds along with a rainbow appearing in there


Top down sweep of the falls from the signposted Sherlock Holmes spot


Top down sweep of the falls from the footbridge going across it; starting from upstream of the bridge and ending further downstream of it


Top down profile view of the falls from an overlook perched near the top


Another top down look at the falls from an overlook with a view directly of the upper tier and an angled view of the twisting lower tier


Bottom up sweep from the platform at the top end of the funicular showing the main tier of Reichenbach Falls

Tagged with: meiringen, bern, bernese oberland, switzerland, swiss alps, waterfall, train, interlaken, swiss rail, sherlock holmes



Visitor Comments:

No users have replied to the content on this page


Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls
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.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.