Welcome to Brienz
A short train ride from Interlaken, along the beautiful turquoise lake, Brienz is famous for its wood-carving.
Not only is there a museum, filled with intricate, historical carvings, there’s also a world-class wood-carving school, and a violin-making school. The wood carving school is so exclusive, only 24 students a year are admitted to learn the ancient craft, while at the violin school, students spend a full four years before graduating as violin-makers.
All the old houses of Brienz are wooden too- there is so much of it, residents are not allowed to smoke, even outside, for fear of the whole town disappearing in a fireball when the warm wind, the Fuhn, blows off the lake.
There are only 3000 inhabitants here, and the town is charming and unique, with each wooden house individually decorated with painted shutters, carvings, flowers, and signs. Many date from the 18th century and owners are not permitted to modernise the exteriors. Brungasse is a ludicrously pretty, cobbled street of carved old houses, and a short stroll up here leads to the church overlooking the astonishing lake views.
The water’s otherworldly aqua colour is believed to be due to sand and sediment particles which are blown from the mountains, and sit just beneath the surface, reflecting the sunlight.
There is a woodcarving shop, Huggler, a few chocolate shops, and The Hotel Steinbock, a basic but pleasant chalet-style hotel with lake views. But if it’s just a flying visit, have lunch at the Hotel Sternen, which has a beautiful terrace overlooking the lake, and serves traditional, well-cooked Swiss food, such as potato soup, rosti and lamb chops.
Brienz is also the starting point of the Brienz- Rothorn steam railway, which runs up the steep mountainside in Summer to the peak of Rothorn Kulm, an hour-long trip which offers wonderful lake and mountain views.
Try the Seerestaurant, just near the lake and the railway station Sternen/Hauptstrasse 92/ 3855 Brienz
BRIENZ BY RAIL FROM INTERLAKEN
Brienz is just a short 20 minute train journey from Interlaken Ost, with services every half hour. Sit on the right to see the best of the lake.