4 Best Sights in Brienz, Berner Oberland

Brienzer-Rothorn Bahn

Fodor's choice

Switzerland's last steam-driven cogwheel train runs from the waterfront of Brienz up to the summit of Brienzer-Rothorn, 7,700 feet above the town. The ride takes an hour and rolls under huge craggy peaks and through verdant meadows to afford stunning views of the lake. (The town will be so far below, you'll need pictures to remember the whole excursion wasn't fake.) A restaurant up top serves decent soups and sandwiches on a terrace that makes the most of the views. Trains depart about once an hour, but to avoid long waits at peak times, purchase your timed ticket online in advance.

Freilichtmuseum der Schweiz Ballenberg

Fodor's choice

More than 100 typical houses from virtually every part of Switzerland (along with 200 native livestock species) are on display in this magnificent outdoor exhibit down a small road just east of Brienz. Dotting the meadows are 19th-century barns, pastel-shuttered houses, antique lace-making shops, traditional haberdasheries, and plenty of carefully reconstructed chalets. Even the gardens and farm animals are true to type. Spinning, forging, and lace-making are demonstrated using original tools. The settlement, between the villages of Hofstetten and Brienzwiler, ranges over many acres, and you can easily spend at least a half day here. Via public transport, take the train to Brienz or Brünig and then a short bus ride to Ballenberg.

Fuchs Holzschnitzkurse

At Brienz you may want to try your hand at wood carving. From May to October, you can learn to carve the typical Brienzer cow during a two-hour lesson at the atelier of Paul and Mario Fuchs. Their workshop is in Hofstetten, between Brienz and Ballenberg.

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Schweizer Holzbildhauerei

To learn about the history of traditional Swiss woodworking, stop by the Schweizer Holzbildhauerei, where you can also buy locally carved pieces.