Gimmelwald is a picturesque hamlet in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. It's perched on a cliff edge looking down into the Weisse Lütschine valley towards Lauterbrunnen, and in 2020 had a population of 130. There's no road access so you get here by cable-car. Gimmelwald has chalet accommodation but no shops or other facilities - find these 3 km further up the mountain in the larger resort of Mürren.
For inter-city routes, travel via Interlaken, which has trains every 30 min from Bern. Change at Interlaken Ost for the BOB train - the Berner Oberland-Bahn. Don't get off at Interlaken West, which is town centre.
You need to be in the front portion of the BOB train. This runs every 30 min and takes 20 min via Wilderswil and Zweilütschinen (where the rear portion divides for Grindelwald) to Lauterbrunnen. From here you take the bright yellow Postbus to Stechelberg. This is the foot of the Schilthornbahn cable-car, which ascends to Gimmelwald, Mürren, Birg and the Schilthorn summit. The last connection from Interlaken leaves at 23:00; it's often a "bustitution". Eurail passes get you a 25% discount on the BOB trains but are not in themselves valid for travel beyond Interlaken. A Swiss Travel Pass is valid to Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald and Mürren. See Lauterbrunnen for the WAB trains to Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch, and connections to Grindelwald.
1 Stechelberg cable-car station can be reached by public road. Park here, as there's no vehicle access up the mountain.
You can also take the cable-car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp, where a train takes you to Mürren. Walk through the village to the Schilthornbahn station and ride the cable-car down one stop to Gimmelwald.
2 Gimmelwald cable-car station is at the foot of the village. A new cable-car is under construction, bypassing Gimmelwald, and due to open in 2025.
Hiking to Gimmelwald is an easy 30 min descent from Mürren, but a stiff 90 min climb from Stechelberg.
Gimmelwald is tiny, just walk. The lane up to Mürren is suitable for push-chairs, and used by tractors and occasional service vehicles. Steeper paths short-cut across its zigzags.
3 Mürren Schilthornbahn cable-car station is your likely access to facilities in that village. It's at the south end of Mürren, with the railway station at the north end.
See and Do
- Gimmelwald itself is picture-perfect. The great cliff face across the valley is the Schwarzmönch, the Black Monk.
- Mürren is worth exploring, though it may feel like a seething metropolis after Gimmelwald. If the 30-min walk up hasn't sated you, continue a short way to Allmendhubel or to Winteregg; you can ride back from either.
- Via Ferrata: see Mürren, as it descends from there to Gimmelwald.
- Hike: dozens of trails start from Gimmelwald.
- Schilthorn is strenous but is the signature ascent from Gimmelwald. It's 9.2 km each way, with a vertical gain of 1574 m, allow 5 hours to ascend and be prepared for snow and bad weather any time of year. Slog straight up northwest from the village to Gimmeln (1795 m), which has a restaurant, and the trail from Mürren joins. The gradient slackens going west up the mountain shoulder to Schiltalp (1950 m). A gentle ascent west leads to a brutal climb onto the ridge at Seelifuhre (2600 m), where a side trail links Birg cable-car station. Follow the S-bend of the ridge to Schilthorn at 2973 m. You'll probably be glad to fork out Fr. 50 or so to ride the cable-car back down.
- Tanzbödeli, meaning the dance-floor, is a glacial cirque, a little plateau overlooking the south end of the valley. Ascend the steep ridge from Gimmelwald then descend more gradually along the shoulder of the mountain to Stechelberg. Or vice versa, 6 km each way.
- Oberhornsee is approached initially by the same trail from Stechelberg, but bear left / east onto the steep ascent. It's a picturesque little lake set in Alpine meadows, 8.3 km each way.
- Skiing is higher up the mountain, see Mürren for description of the Mürren-Schilthorn ski area. A pass for this area includes the cable-cars, trains and buses as far down as Lauterbrunnen. The far side of the valley is covered by the Wengen-Grindelwald pass. The Jungfrau pass covers both, and is valid on the BOB trains down to Interlaken Ost.
You can buy fresh dairy and other farm produce from the locals.
The nearest grocery store, sports and souvenir shops are in Mürren.
- Pension Gimmelwald and Mountain Hostel restaurants are open to non-residents, but you need to book.
- Local specialties are alpine yoghurt and Alpkäse. The cheese is made only in summer, when the cattle graze on high alpine meadows. It's semi-hard like Emmental, grows stronger as it matures, and has tiny holes known as teardrops.
- There are no free-standing bars in this tiny place. Mountain Hostel bar is open to non-residents, otherwise head up to Mürren.
- Fresh mountain water can be freely obtained from the ever-trickling public troughs in the village.
- Mountain Hostel, Nidrimatten (corner of Kirchestatt) (150 m above cable-car station), ☏ +41 33 855 1704, firstname.lastname@example.org. A delightful rustic hostel, with great staff and awe-inspiring views of the valley below and the Jungfrau opposite. The restaurant and bar are open daily in summer, F-Su in winter. Dorm Fr. 45 ppn, B&B double Fr. 120.
- Pension Gimmelwald, Kirchestatt 746a (150 m above cable-car station), ☏ +41 33 855 1730, email@example.com. Charming trad chalet pension with great views. Restaurant and bar are open to non-residents. B&B double Fr. 170.
- Esther's Guesthouse, Kirchestatt 751a (150 m above cable-car station), ☏ +41 33 855 5488, firstname.lastname@example.org. Smart friendly B&B with 7 rooms and two apartments. B&B double Fr. 170.
- Hotel Mittaghorn, Wylern 862 D, ☏ +41 33 855 1470. Closed for renovation in 2022.
- 1 Olle & Maria's, Nidrimatten, ☏ +41 33 855 3575. Charming spacious chalet, shared bathrooms. Three nights min stay. B&B double Fr. 190.
As of Feb 2022, Gimmelwald has 4G from all Swiss carriers. 5G has not yet come this far up the valley.
- Lauterbrunnen nowadays is just the place you change trains, but it has a dramatic setting beneath the cliffs and roaring waterfalls. Staubbach Falls are south edge of the village. Trümmelbach Falls are within the mountain, 2 km north of Stechelberg and 3 km south of Lauterbrunnen on the Postbus route.
- WAB trains ascend from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg then burrow through the Eiger and Jungfrau to the top station of Jungfraujoch. Brilliant summit and glacier views on a fine day, pointless if it's gloomy.