Lauterbrunnen or Wengen: Which Is Better?

Bernese Oberland is one of Switzerland’s top tourist destinations.  Among the gorgeous places to visit in this area are Thun, Wengen, Mürren, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, and Interlaken. The people who want to visit this area would have to decide where to stay eventually. 

Those wanting to stay in Wengen might also consider staying in Lauterbrunnen instead. Other than being able to bring your car with you, what are the advantages? Or is it better to stay in Wengen instead? You might have a hard time deciding between the two.

Both villages are famous in their own way. Lauterbrunnen looks up to waterfalls and mountain peaks, and Wengen looks way down into the valley and across other peaks. They’re both great options, but one might be better for you. 

In this article, we’ll compare Lauterbrunnen, which is a little lower down the valley, with Wengen, which is a little higher up. Lauterbrunnen or Wengen? Here’s how they compare.



Key Differences: Lauterbrunnen vs. Wengen

The key differences between Lauterbrunnen and Wengen are as follows:

LauterbrunnenWengen
Population: approx.  2,300Population: approx. 1,300
Total Area: 164.4 km2 (63.5 sq mi)Total Area: 36.4 km²
Elevation: 802 meters (2,631 feet)Elevation: 1,274 meters (4,180 feet)
Accessible by car and trainAccessibly by train,
Car-free
Highlights: Staubbach Waterfall, Trümmelbach Waterfalls, Mürren, Schilthorn, Stechelberg, Mürrenbach Waterfall, Gimmelwald, Highlights: Kleine Scheidegg, Jungfraujoch, Männlichen

Lauterbrunnen

Image of Lauterbrunnen by TouringSwitzerland.com

Lauterbrunnen village is situated at the valley bottom of this magnificent U-shaped valley in Switzerland. In Lauterbrunnen, you’ll find an idyllic village surrounded by many waterfalls. It is the perfect place to start exploring the Jungfrau Region.

You can see the Staubbach Waterfall cascading down from above 288 meters deep at the edge of Lauterbrunnen. The church here was built in 1488, and a tower in 1955. Near the bridge is the Valley and Legends Museum (Talmuseum Lauterbrunnen). The museum used to be a mill. These days it shows farming life, Alemannic settlers with their mythology, Walser immigrants, and how life in this region has evolved. 

From Lauterbrunnen, you can reach the sunny car-free terrace of Wengen. The mountain pass of Kleine Scheidegg follows shortly after Wengen by train. From Kleine Scheidegg, you can change trains to get to Jungfraujoch

Getting to Mürren is easy via Lauterbrunnen itself, or through Stechelberg, the other side of Lauterbrunnen. Additionally, if you keep ascending, you’ll hit the summit of Schilthorn at 2,971 meters. Some of the other highlights of the Lauterbrunnen region include Trümmelbach Waterfalls, Mürrenbach Waterfall, and Gimmelwald.

Wengen

Image of Wengen by TouringSwitzerland.com

Wengen is the largest village in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.  Approximately 1,274 meters above sea level, Wengen is in the Bernese Highlands (Bernese Oberland). It sits at the foot of the 4,158-meter-high Jungfrau mountain.

Perched 400 meters above Lauterbrunnen Valley, it’s just 15 minutes from Lauterbrunnen Village.

Wengen holds a Mendelssohn Music Festival every August. A musical genius and artist, Felix Mendelssohn was awed by Jungfrau on his way from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen. In his diary, he describes his experiences in the Jungfrau region, especially in Wengen. Mendelssohn is honored in Wengen with a yearly music festival, a memorial in the upper part of the village, and a hiking trail to Wengernalp.  

With the world-famous Lauberhorn ski race held every January in Wengen, everything is great for tourists. Most houses here are wooden chalets, though a few hotels are in Belle Epoque style.

As in Mürren on the other side of the valley, Wengen is also car-free. That means you’ll have to park your car at Lauterbrunnen before heading up to the mountain village. It might have the same kind of vibe as Zermatt, but it’s much smaller.


Places to Visit near Lauterbrunnen and Wengen

Places to Visit Near Lauterbrunnen

Image of Mürrenbach Waterfall by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Staubbach Waterfall – The Staubbach Waterfall is a waterfall in Switzerland located just west of Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Highlands. It falls 297 meters from a valley overhanging the Weisse Lütschine, before the end of the overhanging cliff.
  • Trümmelbach Waterfalls – There are ten glacier-fed waterfalls in Switzerland’s Trümmelbach Falls. It is accessible by a tunnel-funicular built back in 1913. 
  • Mürren – Mürren is positioned a bit higher than Wengen, at 1,645 meters above sea level. There are also spectacular views of the bottom of the valley, and the town is quiet and car-free. It is smaller than Wengen.
  • Schilthorn – Is the summit above the village of Mürren and the highest mountain north of Sefinenfurgge Pass. It is around 2,970 meters above sea level.
  • Stechelberg – Stechelberg is a small village located at the base of the Schwarzmönch mountain in the Bernese Alps.
  • Mürrenbach Waterfall –  In five cascades, Mürrenbach Waterfall drops 417 meters to the ground, making it Switzerland’s highest waterfall.
  • Gimmelwald – A small car-free village, Gimmelwald is located between Stechelberg and Mürren. It is 1,363 meters above sea level.

Places to Visit Near Wengen

Image of Kleine Scheidegg by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Wengen – Wengen is 1,274 meters above sea level. On a terrace with a spectacular panorama, Wengen offers views of both Lauterbrunnen village below and the surrounding high mountains above.
  • Kleine Scheidegg –  Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 meters. It is located between the Eiger and Lauberhorn. Kleine Scheidegg makes a great starting point for excursions to Jungfraujoch and Lauberhorn. It is also the meeting point of two rack railways.
  • Männlichen – Männlichen is a 2,343-metre mountain easily accessible from Wengen and Grindelwald. From Männlichen, you get a fantastic view of Mönch, Eiger, and Jungfrau.
  • Eiger Glacier – The Eiger Glacier lies on the northwest side of the Eiger mountain.
  • Jungfraujoch –  The saddle between Jungfrau (at 4,158 m above sea level) and Mönch (at 4,110 m above sea level). It is also the location of the highest mountain railway in Europe at 3,454 meters above sea level.

Accessibility: Lauterbrunnen or Wengen

Image of the train to Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg by Techno Ed from Pixabay

Of the two, Lauterbrunnen is definitely the easier one to get to.

  • You can drive your car right to Lauterbrunnen.
  • You’re likely going to have to go through Lauterbrunnen to get to Wengen.

Only Kleine Scheidegg, Jungfraujoch, and the alps near Wengen are closer to Wengen. Other than that, Lauterbrunnen is definitely more convenient and accessible. The train in Lauterbrunnen departs for Wengen every 30 minutes. And although the train ride isn’t that long, knowing the schedule and coming at the right time is still a must, so as not to miss the train or the best connections.

Advantages: Lauterbrunnen vs. Wengen

Advantages of Staying in Lauterbrunnen

Image of Mürrenbachfall by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Lauterbrunnen is more accessible to most places in Bernese Oberland. Stay here if you prefer to stay somewhere more practical than somewhere scenic.
  • If you add up all your costs, Lauterbrunnen will likely come up cheaper compared to Wengen.
  • Lauterbrunnen can be accessed by car. Stay here if you prefer to travel with or use your car often.
  • There are no four- to five-star hotels in Lauterbrunnen. 
  • There are more waterfalls around Lauterbrunnen.

Advantages of Staying in Wengen

Image of Wengen by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Wengen is better for those who want to ski in winter and hike in summer.
  • Wengen is car-free. Stay here if you prefer to stay in a traditional Swiss mountain village that is car-free.
  • There are several 3-star and 4-star hotels in Wengen to choose from. Wengen also has some hotels with swimming pools (Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn, Beausite Park Hotel Wengen, Sunstar Alpine Hotel Wengen).
  • Wengen is closer to Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch than Lauterbrunnen is.

Final Thoughts: Lauterbrunnen or Wengen

The Bernese Oberland region is a great place to visit. Where to stay depends on your itinerary. 

 If you love mountains for skiing and hiking, go to Wengen. Choose Lauterbrunnen over Wengen if you want to be close to most places in the Bernese Oberland or need to drive.

If I had to choose between Lauterbrunnen and Wengen, I would choose Wengen. It gets more sunlight and has beautiful views all around. After you’ve overcome the hassle of hauling your luggage on the train, the absence of cars in the village makes getting around it a true pleasure.

Despite preferring Wengen to Lauterbrunnen, I can see the appeal of Lauterbrunnen. In particular, those with time constraints will find it very practical.

Both are pretty close together being only fifteen minutes away by train. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Both are gorgeous places, filled with majestic mountains and natural landscapes.


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