Giessbach Falls (Giessbachfälle)

Brienz / Bernese Oberland, 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

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

The historic Giessbach Hotel
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).

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.


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

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