If you are looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure in the Swiss Alps near Interlaken, you might want to check out the Gelmerbahn, a funiculaire that takes you up and down a steep mountainside at a gradient of 106% often compared to the world’s most spectacular rollercoasters. The Gelmerbahn is not only a transportation system towards a stunning Swiss lake, but also a rollercoaster-like attraction that offers spectacular views of the Hasli Valley and the Lake Gelmer.
What is a funiculaire?
A funiculaire is a type of cable railway that uses two passenger cars attached to a cable that move up and down a slope on a track. The cars are counterbalanced by each other, so when one goes up, the other goes down. Funiculaires are often used to overcome steep inclines that are too difficult for conventional trains or buses.
What makes the Gelmerbahn special?
The Gelmerbahn is one of the most unique funiculaires in the world, for several reasons:
- It is the steepest funiculaire in Europe, and the second steepest in the world, after the Katoomba Scenic Railway in Australia. The Gelmerbahn has a maximum gradient of 106%, which means that for every 100 meters of horizontal distance, it climbs or descends 106 meters of vertical height. That’s almost like going up or down a wall!
- It is open-air, meaning that there is no roof or windows on the passenger cars. This gives you an unobstructed view of the surrounding scenery, as well as a feeling of being exposed to the elements. You can feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you speed along the track.
- It is located in a stunning high-alpine setting, surrounded by snow-capped peaks, lush meadows, and crystal-clear lakes. The Gelmerbahn starts from Handegg, a small village in the Hasli Valley, and takes you up to Lake Gelmer, a turquoise reservoir that was created by a dam in 1926. The lake is a popular destination for hikers, who can explore various trails around the area.
How does it feel to ride the Gelmerbahn?
The Gelmerbahn is not for the faint-hearted, as it can be quite scary and exhilarating at the same time. Some people compare it to a rollercoaster, while others say it is more like a ski lift. Either way, it is definitely an unforgettable experience that will make your heart race and your eyes widen.
The ride begins with a gentle ascent through a forested area, where you can enjoy the tranquility of nature. But soon, the track becomes steeper and steeper, until you reach an almost vertical section that makes you feel like you are flying off the edge. You can hear the cable creaking and the car rattling as you climb higher and higher. You can see the valley below shrinking and the lake above expanding. You can feel your stomach dropping and your palms sweating as you brace yourself for the thrill.
The ride ends with a smooth arrival at the top station, where you can catch your breath and admire the panoramic view of Lake Gelmer and its surroundings. You can also choose to walk around the lake or hike to other nearby attractions, such as the Trift Bridge or the Sidelhorn Peak. Or you can simply hop on the car again and enjoy another ride down.
How did the Gelmerbahn become famous?
The Gelmerbahn has been operating since 2001, but it gained worldwide fame a few years ago when a viral video showed its incredible steepness and speed. The incredible time-lapse video of a high-speed ride on the Gelmerbahn Alpine Rollercoaster captured the imagination of rollercoaster fans around the world. The video quickly amassed millions of views and comments from people who were amazed by the funiculaire and wanted to try it themselves. It skyrocketed the sight to stardom and global fame…
How fast does the Gerlmerbahn Rollercoaster go…?
However, some viewers were also misled by the video, as they thought that the Gelmerbahn was actually a rollercoaster that ran at 100 km/h. In reality, the video was sped up by 16 times, and the actual speed of the funiculaire was only 6 km/h. Some tourists who visited the Gelmerbahn after watching the video were disappointed by its slow pace and lack of loops or drops. Nevertheless, many others still enjoyed its unique charm and beauty in a high-alpine unique environment.
The viral video also boosted tourism in the Hasli Valley, as more people became interested in visiting this hidden gem in Switzerland. The Gelmerbahn became one of the most popular attractions in the region, attracting visitors from all over the world who wanted to experience its thrill and scenery.
Gelmerbahn practical info
The passenger car takes 24 people on a 12-minute ride up the steep mountainside from Handegg, 1400m above sea level with sweeping views over Hasli Valley and to Lake Gelmer (1800m) where there are many fun hiking trails to explore. This stunning high-alpine location makes for an excellent outdoor fondue spot with our fondue backpack.
Many people opt for a one-way ticket while hiking the beautiful return journey. You’ll be strapped into the open air car by a single metal bar, and if you’ve got a fear of heights, it’s best to prepare yourself for the thrill of a lifetime. While it is extremely steep, this railway isn’t actually rollercoaster (as shown above) as it only travels 4.5 miles per hour, which gives you plenty of time to take in the epic surroundings, and still have your stomach drop if you peak down.
The Gelmerbahn is open from May 26th to October 21st. Its hours are from 9 AM-4 PM in June, September, and October, and from 9 AM-5 PM in July and August.
How to get to Gelmerbahn from Interlaken
The Gelmerbahn begins at Handegg in the Hasli Valley. You’ll want to make your way to the Handegg, Gelmerbahn bus stop, or get Google Maps directions here.
The drive by car will take approximately 45 minutes along lake Brienz and through a stunning Swiss alpine scenery.
Traveling by public transport takes a bit more effort. You firstly take the train to Meiringen and/or Innertkirchen from Interlaken Ost (East). Change there and from Meiringen and/or Innerkirchen you subsequently jump on bus number 161 or 171 (depending on which time of the day you go) which brings you up to the Handegg, Gelmerbahn bus stop.
Reserve your Gelmerbahn ticket online
The Gelmer rollercoaster funiculaire is a popular tourist attraction and due to its limited capacity sells out fast in the high-season. Best is to reserve tickets and a time slot online here.
So pack your day-pack and head out because the Gelmerbahn could simply become the most gorgeous thrill ride of your life!