If you’ve heard of any single waterfall in Switzerland, it’s probably Staubbach Falls (dust creek falls). Ranked as the third highest waterfall in the country and one of the highest in Europe, it cascades 297 meters (974 ft) over the edge of a cliff at the entrance of Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Travel brochures often use photos of Staubbach Waterfall for advertising, and it’s a popular tourist attraction. But does it really live up to the hype? Is it worth visiting during your vacation in Switzerland?
The answer depends a lot on what time of year you visit the falls and the current weather conditions. If you have limited time in Switzerland, you’ll likely want to maximize your chances of seeing this doozy of a falls when it really is a doozy.
As Swiss residents, we offer an insider’s perspective and tips on when NOT to visit. At the end of the post, we suggest some even better waterfalls to visit in Lauterbrunnen Valley that most people don’t see.
Map of Staubbach Falls, Switzerland
Staubbach Falls is in the Bernese Alps in central Switzerland.
By car, it’s 2 1/2 hours northeast of Geneva and 2 hours southwest of Zurich. It’s possible to take public transportation to the falls, but it’s easier and faster by car.
The Best (& Worst) Time of Year to Visit Staubbach Falls
The answer to whether the falls are worth visiting depends a lot on what time of year you visit. Depending on the season and weather conditions, you just might be disappointed to find a mere trickle where you’re expecting a raging spectacle of nature.
This was the case for us during our first visit in mid-March.
Despite waking up to a thick, murky ocean of fog lurking in our own Swiss valley near Fribourg, we took off for a drive to get out of the house.
Randomly heading north toward Interlaken, Travis pulled off the highway onto an exit so we could check out a map. We decided to just continue on, and the road ended up taking us to the little town of Lauterbrunnen with its famous Staubbach Falls.
With the spring weather and melting snows, we thought it would be a great time to visit. Despite the persistent, odd mist obscuring the mountains, we were heartened by flashes of blue sky, even if they were quickly swallowed anew by the mist. We’d had days of typical rainy, warm spring weather, so we were sure the waterfall would be raging.
We were so wrong. As it turned out, it was far too early in the year to visit the falls.
Though the snows had melted at lower elevations, it must’ve still been holding tight up high because the waterfall was just a trickle.
Travel Tip: The best time of year to visit Staubbach Falls is in May or June. Both months usually have considerable water flow. May has fewer tourists, but not all businesses will be open for the summer season. They’ll be open by the end of June, but you’ll have more tourists.
The worst time of year to visit any of the Lauterbrunnen waterfalls is spring (before the winter snow melts enough to feed the falls) and fall or even late summer (when the bulk of the season’s glacial ice has already melted).
Hiking to the Overlook Behind the Falls
For those who want to get up close and personal with the falls, hikers can follow a short 15-20 minute trail carved out of the cliff face. Just past a short metal tunnel, the trail dead-ends behind the falls. The rocky trail can be slippery and wet, so make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes and take clothes that can get wet from the waterfall spray.
Travel Tip: Just keep in mind that depending on the season, this trail might also be closed!
Despite the low water level during our visit, we wanted to investigate the trail behind the falls. Walking through town and past the falls, we were again disappointed. The trail was closed for safety reasons due to debris being carried over the cliff above.
Strike 2 for Staubbach Falls.
Spring definitely is not the time to visit.
Exploring the Town of Lauterbrunnen
Despite our poor timing to see the falls, we were still impressed with the town of Lauterbrunnen and even more, Lauterbrunnen Valley.
The name, which means “many fountains,” is appropriate considering its stunning series of 72 waterfalls liberally peppered throughout the valley.
We knew we’d definitely be coming back to explore the area more during the summer!
We seriously can’t rave enough about how much we love Lauterbrunnen Valley. We did, in fact, come back later to camp and hike in the valley.
For those looking for perhaps the most memorable and stunning waterfalls in the entire valley, do NOT miss Trummelbach Falls.
If you’re the adventurous outdoorsy type, consider Camping in Stechelberg at the end of the valley. It offers insane full-on views of Murrenbach Falls right from your tent or RV.
And whether you’re camping or staying at a 5* hotel, we recommend hiking the Jungfrau UNESCO World Heritage trail, which starts from Stechelberg. You can find everything you need to know about the hike on our travel blog, UNESCO Alps Hike to Obersteinberg.
A Visit to the Neighboring Grindelwald Valley
Also consider visiting the neighboring Grindelwald Valley, which is arguably as famous and gorgeous as Lauterbrunnen Valley. It’s less than 15 minutes away by car.
Leaving the little community of Lauterbrunnen, we drove north, back the way we had come, but turned east when we saw a sign for Grindelwald, another beautiful mountain town we wanted to investigate.
We spent the rest of the evening walking around town with our dog Touille, gawking at the spectacular scenery, and briefly chatting with a friend we ran into who was there for a skiing weekend.
Travel Tip: As with Staubbach Falls, we recommend visiting Grindelwald in any season but spring. Winter is ideal for skiing. Summer is perfect for hiking and other tourist activities. Fall is still beautiful but less crowded for those looking for a more intimate Swiss experience.
As it grew dark, we neared the end of our road, which dead-ended at a secluded hilltop hotel beneath the towering peaks.
In the fading light, we threw the ball for Touille for a bit, popped into the restaurant for coffee, then bade the beautiful, rugged mountains of Grindelwald farewell.
Don’t miss these other small towns while in Switzerland.