A Swiss friend told us that folks here say when God made the Earth, he made Switzerland last and dumped everything he had left into it – all the leftover mountains, lakes, and glaciers – to create a portrait of pure perfection. Lauterbrunnen Valley, often referred to as the “Valley of 72 Waterfalls,” is a place so beautiful in person that it’s like a painting or a creation from someone’s imagination. Even when you’re there, it doesn’t seem real.
Of all the waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen Valley, Staubbach is undoubtedly the most famous. Visible almost as soon as you enter the valley, it’s the one everyone visits. But those who venture further toward the end of the valley are rewarded with a far more spectacular and unusual waterfall: Trummelbach Falls. Fueled with glacial run-off from the surrounding Swiss Alps, this beast is the largest underground waterfall in Europe, and it’s absolutely worth a visit.
As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
Trummelbach Falls is actually not just one waterfall. It’s a series of ten waterfalls inside one of the cliff faces that frames the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Not only is it unique in that it’s the largest underground waterfall in Europe, but it’s also the only subterranean glacial waterfall in the world that’s accessible to the general public because of industriously designed lifts, stairs, and walkways.
So typical of the Swiss to take an incredible natural phenomenon and make it accessible to the world!
The falls are also part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage natural area. They drain the surrounding Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau Glaciers with upwards of 20,000 liters of water per second raging through its rocky path. It’s just an incredible amount of water.
On average, these waters flush around 20,000 tons of natural debris down through the falls every year. Keep this in mind while you’re visiting so you can really appreciate the scope of work involved in creating and maintaining such an attraction. Thanks to a lot of hard work and ingenuity, visitors have easy access to the raw power of nature.
Let’s see some waterfalls!
Once you buy your ticket, you’ll pass through a metal turn-style, then hike a short distance on a wide paved trail through the fields before reaching the base of the hill.
Here you can either hike up to all ten falls, passing them from lowest to highest. Or you can take the elevator/lift straight up into the mountain.
The lift exit spits you out onto the trail about 2/3 of the way up all ten of the falls. From this “Y,” when facing the valley you can choose one of the three branches:
take a hard left and head uphill to see waterfalls 7-10
take a soft left and head downhill to see waterfall 6
take the only right and head downhill to see waterfalls 1-5. If you do this, you’ll miss the upper falls!
Travel Tip: We recommend visiting the upper falls first. If you arrive early, you'll likely have the falls to yourself and then you can work your way down to see all ten of the falls.
If you do take the elevator up first, make sure not to miss the lower falls later! The lower trail offers superb views of Lauterbrunnen Valley and several of the most photogenic overlooks on the entire hike.
Travel Tip: Wear good walking shoes! The trail has lots of stairs that are at times slippery. A light jacket's a good idea too since it's fairly chilly inside the tunnels, especially in the waterfall spray.
One of the neatest stretches is this set of curving steps built into the cliff face. It’s like something straight out of Harry Potter, with its mysterious Grand Staircase.
If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to prepare them for the crash of the water, particularly with the upper falls. It’s not a bad idea to bring ear plugs for them or for anyone with hearing problems. The water can cause uncomfortable reverberations.
Photography Tip: If you don't have a tri-pod, try to balance your camera against a railing or the rock wall for less blur.
My absolute favorite out of all 10 falls was definitely Corkscrew Falls. The channel is narrow and deep where the water has worn an incredibly twisted path through the rock, never slowing its urgent descent.
The last waterfall we visited was the lowest, waterfall #1. From the cliff, it cascades vertically into the lush green Lauterbrunnen Valley floor before flowing into the Weisse Lütschine and eventually into the Lake of Brienz near Interlaken.
By the time we finished hiking inside the cliff, I’d grown cold from the spray from the falls and was actually grateful for the warmth of the sunshine. As always, we’d ended up poking around longer than we expected, and we were starving! Not wanting to leave yet, we wandered back to our car in search of food.
Feeling hungry after your hike?
Before you leave Trummelbach, grab a coffee and slice of cake at the small combo cafe/gift shop near the trail head. You can lounge outside on the covered patio surrounded by flowering plants and views of the Alps. It’s truly such a beautiful setting, it’s a shame to rush through a visit.
Since we were planning to hike up into the Alps after visiting the falls, we had already packed lunch so we didn’t visit the cafe. Instead, we dug out sandwiches from our car and retrieved our dog, Touille. We lucked out with a nice cool day, so we were able to leave her sleeping in our car while we visited the falls.
We sat in a corner of the nearly deserted gravel parking area and threw Touille’s ball into a beautiful field of wildflowers while we ate. With the exception of hiking, playing fetch is pretty much her favorite past-time. Unfortunately, I was distracted by the wildflowers and failed to take note of where I threw her ball in the tall grass. After about an hour, she ended up losing it. Sad because the balls are hard to find in Europe and expensive to buy online.
After dividing the field into quadrants and sniffing her way through all of it in an oddly methodical fashion, she still hadn’t found it by the time we were ready to leave. We called her in, laughing when we saw that she was dyed yellow like a dandelion with funky black and white spots.
We’re offering a $1 reward for whomever visits Trummelbach Falls and finds her mini orange Chuck-It tennis ball.
How do you get to Trummelbach Falls?
To some extent this depends on where you’re coming from.
Most folks will be arriving in Lauterbrunnen Valley from the north and will pass through the town of Interlaken first. From there, it’s only about 15 km to the valley. The road from Interlaken is the one main route in.
Directions to Trummelbach Falls
Arrive in Interlaken via the N6 or N8 freeway. Take the Wilderswil exit near Interlaken onto Obereigasse, then follow Hwy 221/222 to the valley. Drive through the village of Lauterbrunnen. Continue for 3 km on Aschmad road until you reach the turn off for Trummelbach Falls. It’ll be on your left. Free parking is available in a gravel lot near the entrance to the trail to Trummelbach Falls.
Take the train via Interlaken SBB/BLS/Zentralbahn to Lauterbrunnen BOB. From there, you can take a bus the last few kilometers to the “Trümmelbachfälle” bus stop. The bus ticket only costs a couple of CHF (dollars/euros) and takes a few minutes.
Bikes are available for rent in town, or you can walk. From the main train station, signs point the way to Trummelbach Falls. If you walk, you’ll likely want to pass by Staubbach Falls, which is only about 1 km from the train station/Lauterbrunnen Tourismus.
The road through Lauterbrunnen Valley is only about 6 km long. If you continue for 3 km south past Trummelbach Falls, the public road dead ends in the village of Stechelberg.
Want to arrive at Trummelbach Falls early?
We actually arrived at the falls before a single tour bus arrived because we stayed in the valley the night before, which we highly recommend!
There are lots of options in the area for hotels, home-stays, and Airbnbs, but to really appreciate the beauty of the valley, nothing beats camping. Waking up in a tent in Lauterbrunnen Valley to such stunning scenery is surreal.
Waking with the first light, we watched the sun as it slowly slid from the grassy meadows atop the cliffs, down the sheer granite faces with their thundering cascades, finally coming to rest on the valley floor after a long descent. After heating some breakfast on our camp stove, we drove the few kilometers to the ticket office at Trummelbach Falls and were the first ones to start the hike.
Whether you’re tent camping like we were or have an RV, check out what it’s like staying at Camping Rutti.
The price of an adult ticket is 11 CHF – roughly the same as a European euro or US dollar. A child age 6-15 years is 4 CHF. Group rates are available for more than 10 people.
When is it open?
Trummelbach Falls is typically open from early April until November from 9 am – 5 pm and in July and August from 8:30 am til 6 pm.
When is the best time to visit?
Spring and early summer are the best times to visit when they falls are running high. Because of the nature of the attraction, high water run-off and landslides, typical in the Alps, can cause temporary closures. Check directly with the attraction before visiting.
Is Trummelbach Falls wheelchair accessible?
Unfortunately, no. The trail has a lot of stairs which are often steep and wet. It’s also possibly not suitable for those with mobility issues.
Are dogs allowed at Trummelbach Falls?
Dogs are allowed at the cafe, in the parking area, and in the surrounding fields. However, once you reach the ticket booth to officially enter the trail to the falls, dogs are not allowed.
Are children allowed at the falls?
Due to safety reasons, strollers and kids under the age of 4 years old are not allowed. If you plan to visit with older kids, plan to keep a close eye on them. The sound of the water inside the cliff is thunderous. This might not be suitable for sensitive children.
How much time do I need to see the falls?
Allow at least 1 1/2 hours to see all 10 of the falls. This includes taking the elevator up and hiking down. We recommend leaving at least a few hours to take photos and just enjoy the falls so you’re not rushed.
How do I contact the attraction?
Trummelbach Falls is privately owned. You can call them at +41.33 855 3232 or email them at email@example.com.