If Lauterbrunnen looks like something from “Lord of the Rings,” that's because the Swiss town — with its steep waterfall, cliff-lined valley and views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains — served as inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth sagas. According to BBC, the author revealed in a letter to his son Michael: “From Rivendell to the other side of the Misty Mountains, the journey ... including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods ... is based on my adventures in Switzerland in 1911.”
The town, a municipality near Interlaken and in the canton of Bern, is straight out of a fairy tale. After a quick, magical glimpse of Lauterbrunnen during a train ride to the Jungfrau, I was compelled to take a quick diversion to explore it. The area encompasses just 63 square miles, and the main part of the city is small and charming, with hostels, outdoor gear stores, modern cafes and a smattering of darling chalets.
To take it all in, I trudged through some high grass to a better vantage point and stood in the sunshine. I felt like, at any second, I might be approached by a mythical creature asking me to join in an epic adventure across Middle Earth. (I would accept in a heartbeat.)