Gelmersee circular hike - the Gelmer dam

The Gelmersee Hike

The Gelmersee hike is a popular hiking trail located in the Handegg region of Switzerland. The hike takes you through stunning scenery, including turquoise lakes, majestic mountains, and lush green forests.

Gelmersee is located at an altitude of 1,849 meters (6,066 feet) above sea level. It is a mountain lake that was created as a result of a hydroelectric power plant project in the early 20th century, which was designed to generate electricity using the power of the Grimsel and Rhone rivers. The lake is surrounded by steep mountains, some of which rise over 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level, making it a stunning location for hiking and sightseeing.

This glacier turquoise lake is enveloped by breathtaking high-alpine surroundings, where you need to take the Gelmerbahn funicular to enjoy this fantastic and unworldly place.  Along the way, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, including the famous snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps. There are also several great spots to stop and take a break, including picnic areas and viewing platforms that offer panoramic views of the landscape.

The hike is around 7 km long and takes approximately 3 hours to complete and is a must-do for anyone visiting Switzerland, offering a unique and unforgettable hiking experience that showcases the natural beauty of this stunning country.

The Gelmerbahn Funicular

The Gelmerbahn funicular, also known as the Gelmer Funicular, is a unique and historic cable car system that takes visitors from Handegg up to the Gelmersee lake. 

Steepest funicular in Europe

The Gelmerbahn funicular is considered the steepest funicular in Europe, with a gradient of up to 106%, which means that for every 100 meters traveled horizontally, the funicular ascends 106 meters vertically. It is also one of the steepest funiculars in the world.  This industrial railway takes adventurers from the valley to 1,849 meters above sea level in no time. Adrenaline guaranteed!

Built-in the 1920s

The funicular was built in the 1920s as part of a hydroelectric power plant project to transport materials and workers up to the construction site. It was later converted to a tourist attraction, and today it is operated by the Grimselwelt company.

Length and capacity

The funicular is 1,028 meters (3,373 feet) long and has a capacity of 24 passengers per car. It consists of two cars that run on parallel tracks and are connected by a cable. The ride takes about 8 minutes each way.

Safety features

The Gelmerbahn funicular has several safety features to ensure the safety of passengers. The cars have automatic braking systems, and there are emergency brakes and a backup generator in case of power failure. The funicular also undergoes regular maintenance and safety inspections.

Scenic views

The ride on the Gelmerbahn funicular offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, including the Handegg waterfall and the Gelmersee lake. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy hiking trails and panoramic views of the Swiss Alps.

The Gelmerbahn funicular is a unique and thrilling way to experience the beauty of the Handegg region and the Swiss Alps. The experience will meet your expectations! Nothing will prepare you for the bird-eye view over the valley and the alpine panorama.


Booking the Gelmerbahn Funicular Tickets

To book tickets for the Gelmerbahn funicular, you can follow these steps:

1. Visit the Grimselwelt website HERE: The Gelmerbahn funicular is operated by Grimselwelt, and you can book tickets on their website.

2. Select your tickets: On the website, you can select the type of tickets you want to purchase, including round-trip tickets or one-way tickets. You can also choose the date and time of your visit.

3. Enter your information: Enter your personal information, including your name, email address, and payment information.

4. Confirm your booking: Review your booking details and confirm your purchase. You will receive a confirmation email with your ticket information.

5. Collect your tickets: When you arrive at the Gelmerbahn funicular, present your confirmation email or ticket at the ticket counter to collect your physical tickets. Be sure to arrive early, especially during peak season, as there may be lines or wait times to board the funicular.

It is also possible to purchase tickets on-site at the ticket counter, but it is recommended to book in advance to ensure availability and avoid waiting in line. The train takes only up to 24 passengers and departs every 24 minutes.

The last descent for the Gelmerbahn funicular depends on the time of year and can vary. During the summer months (usually from late May to mid-October), the funicular typically operates from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, with the last descent at 5:30 pm. However, it’s best to check the current schedule as the operating hours can change due to weather conditions or other factors.

It’s important to plan your visit and ensure that you have enough time to explore the area around Gelmersee lake before the last descent. Do not miss the funicular time slot on your way down. The ride down on the funicular can take about 8 minutes, but you’ll want to factor in time to photo taking, break time, collect your belongings and make your way back to your starting point. The Gelmerbahn funicular is so busy due to its sheer exciting ride up to the Gelmersee; it receives visitors from around the world every year. 

How to Get to the Gelmerbahn Funicular Station

Here are some ways to get to the Gelmerbahn funicular station:

By car:

You can drive to Handegg and park your car at the designated parking lot near the funicular station.  There are several parking options available in the area.

  1. Handegg parking lot: This is the closest parking lot to the Gelmerbahn funicular station and is located just 300 meters away. The parking lot is free of charge and can accommodate about 100 vehicles.
  2. Guttannen parking lot: This is another option for parking near the Gelmerbahn funicular station. The parking lot is located about 3.5 kilometers away and has space for around 70 vehicles. There is a shuttle bus that runs between the Guttannen parking lot and the Gelmerbahn funicular station.
  3. Handeck parking lot: This parking lot is located about 7 kilometers away from the Gelmerbahn funicular station and has space for around 140 vehicles. There is a shuttle bus that runs between the Handeck parking lot and the Gelmerbahn funicular station.

All of these parking lots are free of charge, but during peak season they can fill up quickly. It’s recommended to arrive early to secure a parking spot or consider the most sustainable way of traveling by taking public transportation to the Gelmerbahn funicular station.

By public transportation:

You can take a train or bus to the Meiringen train station. From Meiringen train station to Handegg bus stop for the Gelmerbahn funicular station, you can take the PostBus line 182. The bus stop at Meiringen train station is called Meiringen Bahnhof” and the bus stop at Handegg is called ” Handegg, Talstation Gelmerbahn.”

The bus ride takes approximately 35 minutes, and the bus schedule can vary depending on the time of day and day of the week. It’s best to check the current schedule on the PostBus website or on the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) website to plan your journey in advance.

From Interlaken to Gelmerbahn Funicular station takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

By hiking

You can also hike to the Gelmerbahn funicular station from Handegg or from other nearby locations. There are several hiking routes that lead to the Gelmerbahn funicular station. Here is one possible route:

Start your hike at the Handegg parking lot, located near the Handegg bus stop. Follow the signposted trail towards the Gelmerbahn funicular station. The trail is well-maintained and offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. After about 1 hour of hiking, you will reach Gelmersee lake. Take some time to admire the stunning turquoise water and surrounding peaks. Continue hiking along the trail that follows the western shore of the lake. The trail is relatively flat and offers more beautiful views of the surrounding scenery.After about 30 minutes of hiking, you will reach the Gelmerbahn funicular station. From here, you can take the funicular up to the Gelmersee dam and continue your hike to other nearby peaks and attractions.

The entire hike takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours and is suitable for hikers of moderate fitness levels. However, it’s important to wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring enough water and snacks for the journey. Additionally, it’s recommended to check the current trail conditions and weather forecast before embarking on your hike.


The Gelmersee Circular Alpine Hike

Gelmersee is not commercialized. No restaurants, no crowd visitors. So peaceful that you can hear the waterfalls echo throughout the walk around the lake. The color of the landscape, the breeze, and the energy make it feel like living heaven. Nature is wild, and the flora is impressive. 

Throughout the hike, you will see the “red & white stripes,” known as the “alpine trail. This sign indicates the trail will be a narrow dirt path with rocks and obstacles, but  It doesn’t necessarily mean the path is difficult.  

Gelmersee is generally considered a moderately challenging route. It takes an average of 2 – 4 hours to complete, depending on your walking speed, photos, and break time. Again, plan it well and do not miss the funicular time. Bring food, water, and hiking essentials. 

Although several hikers rated this circular hike as a kids-friendly activity, I will not do it for younger children and not without a good pair of hiking shoes. The walk is often on edge with a steep, long drop down to the lake. It is not recommended for those with a fear of heights/vertigo.

Gelmersee circular hike

Our choice was to start the hike anti-clockwise by crossing the dam wall first. Gelmersee dam is located at the western end of the lake. There’s a public bathroom available just right before the starting point. After crossing the dam wall, the path will begin with the lake on your left side. Most time is a standard safe path. But some tricky areas require full attention!

Gelmersee circular hike

Around half of the hike, you can take a break by the water. It’s an open space overlooking the Gelmesee—the perfect spot for lunch. 

From here, you can choose to either turn back and retrace your steps back to the dam or continue hiking up to the nearby peaks, such as the Chli Bielenhorn or the Gross Bielenhorn. These hikes are more strenuous and require a higher level of fitness and experience.

Gelmersee circular hike

On the other side of Gelmersee and towards the end has a broader view over the Valley, the crystal turquoise lake is sitting front and center. However, the second half of the hike is also riskier where caution is needed, and the path is narrow with a direct cliff drop into the lake.

There is a specific short section where you must hold on to a chain. It is manageable; walk slowly with full concentration. It was a bit nerve-racking. Be cautious!

Green Hotels Near the Gelmerbahn Funicular Stations

Choose a sustainable hotel that is designed to respect the environment and which takes extra measures to implement their facilities with efficient lighting systems, and low-pressure water installations; it also generates its own energy. In addition to the environment, eco-friendly hotels try to help the local community through their service. 

Luckily, there are quite a few eco-friendly hotels to choose from Gelmerbahn Funicular area. Below are a few sustainable properties for you to consider: 

Green hotel near Gelmerbahn Historisches Alpinhotel Grimsel Hospiz

The Grimsel Hospiz Hotel

The Grimsel Hospiz Hotel is a four-star hotel located in the heart of the Swiss Alps, near the Grimsel Pass. The hotel has a history that dates back to the early 19th century and has been a popular destination for travelers seeking a unique and authentic Swiss Alpine experience.

The hotel is situated at an altitude of over 2,100 meters, approximately 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the Gelmerbahn funicular station. Offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. It is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, skiers, and mountaineers.

The Grimsel Hospiz Hotel is Swisstainalbe certified that has taken steps to reduce its impact on the environment. The hotel is located in a pristine natural environment, and the owners are committed to preserving the beauty of the surrounding landscape. It has implemented energy-efficient lighting, sustainable heating, water conservation measures, comprehensive recycling program in place. The hotel’s restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, reducing the carbon footprint associated with food transportation.

The Grimsel Hospiz Hotel has a rich history that is reflected in its architecture and décor. The hotel has been carefully renovated to preserve its historic charm while also offering modern amenities to its guests. The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed, with many offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Green hotel near Gelmerbahn funicular Hotel Meiringen

Hotel Meiringen

Hotel Meiringen is a historic three-star hotel located in the town of Meiringen in the Swiss canton of Bern. The hotel dates back to the 19th century and has been a popular destination for tourists for over a century. The hotel offers a variety of rooms, including standard rooms, deluxe rooms, and suites, each with its own unique charm and decor.

Hotel Meiringen is not eco-certified. However, some eco-friendly practices that the hotel implements include using renewable energy sources, reducing water consumption, minimizing waste through recycling and composting, using eco-friendly cleaning products, and promoting sustainable transportation options for guests.

The town of Meiringen is located in a picturesque valley surrounded by the Swiss Alps and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and cycling. The hotel is also located near several popular tourist attractions, including the Aare Gorge and the Reichenbach Falls, which is famously associated with Sherlock Holmes.

Hotel Bären Guttannen

Hotel Bären Guttannen

Hotel Bären Guttannen is a charming mountain hotel located in the small village of Guttannen, in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland.  The hotel’s cozy and rustic decor creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for guests. It has a variety of rooms, including single, double, and family rooms, as well as apartments with kitchenettes for those who prefer to cook their meals. All rooms are equipped with modern amenities.

Hotel Bären Guttannen is not an eco-certified hotel and has not mentioned its sustainable practices on its website. However, it is one of the closest hotels to the Gelmerbahn funicular station. Due to its decent location, choosing Hotel Bären Guttannen helps to reduces CO2 emission while commuting. 

Hotel Bären Guttannen is a charming and cozy mountain hotel that offers guests a peaceful and comfortable stay in the beautiful Swiss Alps.

Hotel Photos Credit: All hotels images courtesy of Nananai World’s affiliate partner

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Gelmersee Alpine Lake Hike & Gelmerbahn Funicular

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