TANZBODELI & OBERSTEINBERG HIKE: THE BEST VIEW OF LAUTERBRUNNEN
Tanzbodeli is one of my favorite hikes in the Lauterbrunnen region because it provides the best 360 degrees of the entire mountainscape. On a clear day, it feels as though you are at the center of the Jungfrau region and you can see all of the glacier-laden peaks. On a gloomy, cloudy day, it is equally impressive as you are seemingly inside a cloud, on top of the world. We had bits of both on our journey to Tanzbodeli and Obersteinberg from Gimmewald.
Hike Distance: 13.9km Total distance from Gimmelwald to Tanzbodeli to Obersteinberg to Stechelberg. Total distance from Gimmelwald to Tanzbodeli was 6 steep kilometers in 2 hours.
Hike Duration: 4 hours of moving time but total time was 7 hours including an hour at the summit, an hour at the Obersteinberg Hotel and other stops.
Hike Difficulty: The trail is not technically difficult although there are parts where you will clamber up rocks. No drop-offs are ever apparent on either side of the trail. Dirt path most of the way. Relatively simple hiking although the incline is quite steep and air does get thin. Physically challenging but relatively safe.
Hike Incline: Total elevation throughout the hike 1100-meters.
HOW TO GET TO TANZBODELI
The hike to Tanzbodeli can start from Stechelberg or Gimmelwald (among other various points making it shorter or longer), which are the two most popular spots to begin the trail. We began in Gimmelwald by catching the Schilthornbahn up to Gimmelwald and that still gave us 1100-meters of elevation for the day. This was an enjoyable distance and elevation throughout this hike, so I would suggest this starting point also. I’ve attached my GPX map below, which you can download here for use on your Garmin, smartwatch or another app.
MY EXPERIENCE HIKING TO TANZBODELI & OBERSTEINBERG
The hike from Gimmelwald to Tanzbodeli has a bit of everything. You start in the dense forest before emerging onto the lush green hills to ascend up to the ‘dance floor’ as it’s called. Here you have a huge plateau that sits beneath the Spitzhorn and has 360-degree views of the Jungfrau region. On one side sits the Sefinen Valley while to the other side you stare down a huge drop-off into Lauterbrunnen.
We began the day in the town of Wengen and caught a train to the Schilthorn Bahn before riding that to Gimmelwald. We started early, arriving at Gimmelwald by 7 am. It seemed no-one was awake. We didn’t see a single person as we walked through Gimmelwald and began the trail, following the signs to Busenalp and Obersteinberg. You can follow the Obersteinberg signs the whole way as only sporadically did we see Tanzbodeli on the yellow signs.
The trail begins with a small descent out of Gimmelwald down to the raging river below. We crossed the river over a small wooden bridge and said goodbye to the descent. It was time to climb. Over the next few kilometers, we made our way through the forest and put in a couple of hundred vertical meters per kilometer in distance traveled. It was steep. By the time we had left the forest, we still hadn’t seen another person or even an animal for that matter. It was a gloomy, strange atmosphere.
We were now out of the forest and making our way up the mountain of a hill in front of us. It was a little intimidating to look up to be honest. Bit by bit we made our way up the steep ascent to Tanzbodeli. The final part of the climb was a bit of a scramble but there was always some sort of path… even if at times it was more rock than path.
Finally, we had reached the summit, but we were inside a cloud. It was actually kind of cool as the atmosphere was incredible. We were the only ones in Jungfrau it seemed and we had no idea what the view looked like. We would find that out later on as the clouds cleared the following day to reveal the incredible view you can get from Tanzbodeli.
Josh started to climb the Spitzhorn, which is an incredibly rocky climb that I don’t advise! Nevertheless, off he went into the cloud hopefully to be seen again while I waited on the plateau, watching the clouds roll in and out amongst the Spitzhorn.
On a clear day, across the plateau you will see the Abeni Flue and Mittaghorn rising above Lauterbrunnen. At the end of the valley you will get great looks of the Breithorn, Grosshorn, Tschingelhorn and Ellstabhorn among others as the Schmadribachfall (Waterfall) plummets down into the valley. It’s a smorgasbord of glaciers and incredible peaks with a view that will rise into the top ten scenes of your life…. if the clouds aren’t there!
I’ve taken a few photos from Murren and Schilthorn the following day when it was clearer to show you what Tanzbodeli is like on a clear day. Just look at that huge wall behind Tanzbodeli that was hiding from us while we were at the summit.
TANZBODELI TO OBERSTEINBERG
After enjoying Tanzbodeli we gathered our gear and headed back down to the junction of signs. You have to backtrack about 10-minutes from the summit and then head on to Obersteinberg. It’s about an hour-long walk underneath Tanzbodeli as you look down into Lauterbrunnen below. At Olbersteinberg you will find respite in the 1880 hotel and restaurant, which has amazing views of Schmadribachfall. The waterfall is 1000ft high and truly impressive to watch out of the window from the restaurant. Josh and I had a Rosti, eggs and toast and a coffee at the restaurant that was one of the cheapest mountain meals we had enjoyed so far. The dormitories at Obersteingberg Haus are $71 USD per night as of 2019.
OBERSTEINBERG TO STECHELBERG
From Obersteinberg you can make a 1-hour side-trip to Oberhornsee, a beautiful glacier lake. We were trying to escape the afternoon rain and continued down towards Stechelberg. On the way down to Stechelberg, you have two options. There is a high-route or the lower route. The high route is shorter and has great views of the mountain peaks before heading deep into the forest. The lower valley route gives you great views of the waterfall and leads you along the Weisse Lutschine River. Both of the trails end in the same place, at the Hotel Stechelberg where you can catch the bus back to Lauterbrunnen.
BEST WAYS TO GET AROUND WITH TRANSPORT IN SWITZERLAND
In Switzerland, the most popular form of transport is the train (and sometimes bus). It always arrives on time, is comfortable, efficient and covers almost all parts of the country. It’s damn good and one of the best public transport systems in the world. But it’s not cheap. A one-way ticket for a 1.5-hour journey can quickly rise to 70 USD. The best option is to buy a 3-day, 8-day or 15-day pass with the Swiss Travel System Pass, which gives you unlimited train rides during that period. It will pay itself off very quickly and makes the train (and bus) travel very convenient without requiring you to buy a ticket each time. I used this myself and used the trains and buses for almost my whole time in Switzerland. To head to the page where you can book your Swiss Travel Pass online you can click HERE and select how many days you would like to purchase the pass for.
The other option (Which I also purchased) was the Swiss Half-Fare Card, which gives you half-price tickets on all transport including buses and trains. This ticket lasts for a month and is much cheaper than the full pass obviously but will pay itself off in a matter of a few days as we quickly found out! To visit the page where you can book your Swiss Half-Fare Card you can click HERE and select the date you want it to start.
The other option is renting a car. After our first few expensive train tickets, we started to think this might be the better option and to our surprise, the train can often be far more expensive than renting a car in Switzerland. For example one day we went from Zurich to hike Mount Pilatus and back to Zurich and our total train tickets for four people was $300 USD. The car rental per day was $90 USD. If you are in a group of two (definitely three) or more, I highly suggest renting a car if you are covering a lot of ground as it will give you scheduling freedom and likely be cheaper as we found.