Travel Back in Time with a Steam Train from 1892

By Lisa Scherer, May 29, 2023

On my last trip to Switzerland, I had the chance to visit the Brienzer Rothorn in the Emmental Alps – a nostalgic trip through railway history combined with unforgettable views and unexpected culinary highlights.

Brienz Rothorn Railway

The journey to the top with its ever-changing scenery is an adventure in itself. It starts in the picturesque village of Brienz, from where the steam train takes you to the Brienzer Rothorn in roughly 1 hour. The lower part of the route winds its way up through forests and tunnels, with magnificent views of Lake Brienz in between. The carriages have panorama windows that open fully – as you go uphill, the best seats for open views are on the left side. It can get chilly and windy though, so layers are important!


After the train passes the Planalp middle station, the upper part reveals an incredible panorama of the Bernese Alps and Lake Brienz before reaching the mountain station. It is an easy and leisurely 20-minute walk from the mountain station at 2244 meters above sea level up to the Rothorn’s summit at 2350 meters, from where you can see no less than 693 mountain peaks on a clear day, as far as the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks.


On the way down I stopped at the mountain restaurant for some traditional Swiss food and had a delicious Schnipo – breaded pork Schnitzel with french fries, one of the most popular dishes in Swiss restaurants. The restaurant offers a range of Swiss dishes including Rösti and Fondue, all made with locally sourced ingredients.

With its fabulous hiking trails, the Brienzer Rothorn is a paradise for relaxed hikers as well as experienced mountaineers. Hiking in this area requires some preparation: appropriate footwear (hiking shoes) and waterproof clothing are required for all trails.
The hike from the summit down to the Planalp middle station (2.5 hours) was the most rewarding experience – I encountered no one except for a few curious cows, enjoyed the fresh mountain air and the breathtaking views.


Another unexpected highlight was Planalp itself. Nestling on a high plateau amid a dreamy landscape and with stunning view of Lake Brienz, it is a real hidden jewel. On the sun terrace of the lovely Berghaus, I had a wonderful home-made cake before I headed back to Brienz by train.

All in all, the Brienzer Rothorn excursion is a must for anyone visiting the Swiss Alps. Whether you’re a train or hiking enthusiast or just someone who loves stunning views and delicious food, this mountain peak has something for everyone.

Practical Information

  • We recommend at least 3 hours for the round trip from Brienz.
  • The fastest way to reach Brienz from Interlaken or Lucerne is by train. Brienz is a stop on the Lucerne – Interlaken Express route. Alternatively, the excursion can be combined with a boat ride from Interlaken to Brienz.
  • The Rothorn station is just across the street from the railway station and the boat dock.
  • The steam railway operates daily from June to October. Additionally, the Rothorn can be reached by cablecar from Sörenberg (UNESCO biosphere Entlebuch).
  • Buy your tickets upon arrival at the Rothorn station. Tickets are 50% discounted with the Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Hikers can purchase a special Hiking Ticket that allows you to travel by train for three legs of the journey and hike a fourth.