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“It is, indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house.”

I stand atop Reichenbach Falls and watch the raging waters tumble 394 feet into the black-rock chasm below. I listen to the booming roar of the water and feel the fresh spray on my face.

My wife and I were touring Switzerland, passing by car from Interlaken to Lucerne, when I had insisted on a little detour near Meiringen to the site of the spectacular falls, the place where Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had tried to kill off his fictitious super-sleuth in the story The Adventure of the Final Problem.


Reichenbach Falls WATCHARAKUL RONGKAVILIT - shutterstock_1742814446 Sherlock Holmes in Switzerland
The spectacular Reichenbach Falls (Photo: WATCHARAKUL RONGKAVILIT / Shutterstock)


The walking path along the cliff-side might now be a little better maintained otherwise, I imagine, not much has changed from the scene that Conan Doyle described on May 4th, 1891. It was here that Sherlock Holmes met his archenemy, Professor Moriarty, and, after a fierce fight, the two had purportedly fallen to their deaths. One would suspect that, had Holmes been as pugilistic as Robert Downey Jr in the recent Holmes’ film adaptations, he would have had little problem coping with an aging villain.


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Switzerland


And perhaps he really didn’t. Faced with a great public outcry, Conan Doyle was forced to alter his narrative plan and bring Holmes back from the abyss, back for further adventures on the pages of The Strand Magazine. He resurrected his nemesis by claiming that Holmes had managed to grab a tuft of grass during the fall into the “dreadful cauldron” and so had lived to solve another mystery.

A memorial plaque at a viewpoint reminds visitors of the fictitious incident, and on May 4th every year, members of the international Sherlock Holmes Society make a pilgrimage to the falls to commemorate the “death” of their beloved hero.


Reichenbachfall funicular -shutterstockOlha Solodenko -Sherlock Holmes in Switzerland
The Reichenbach funicular will take you to the top of the Falls  (Photo: Olha Solodenko / Shutterstock)


Even without its literary connection, the beauty and wildness of the waterfalls would make Reichenbach a worthwhile side trip. From a parking lot at the hotel below, a short trek accesses the three viewing terraces which offer breathtaking views. A funicular railway also transports visitors alongside the raging waters of the Reichenbach, to the uppermost waterfall.


Sherlock Holmes in Meiringen


The charming Swiss town of Meiringen is, for many Holmes fans, a kind of Mecca. Set at the heart of the Hasliberghiking region, the town has long been a favourite mountain walking resort. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stayed here many times, taking up residence at the Parkhotel Du Sauvage. This grand 1880s hotel still stands, retaining its romantic period charm. A plaque on the Victorian porch announces Conan Doyle as a guest. The author had used the hotel as Holmes’ and Watson’s lodging in his story, calling it the Englischer Hof.


Streetview in Meiringen Kenneth Bagge Jorgensen - with house and church
Spend time exploring pretty Meiringen (Photo: Kenneth Bagge Jorgensen / Shutterstock)


Near the hotel is Meiringen’s town square, refurbished in the 1980s and renamed Conan Doyle Place. A statue of Holmes sits contemplatively in the park, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum can be found in the basement of a quaint English Chapel.

The centrepiece of the Museum is a life-size replica of the sitting room at 221b Baker Street, put together with scrupulous accuracy. Many items are strewn around, including Holmes’ violin, a bust of the detective used to decoy his enemies and a copy of The Times left on the floor in an attempt to convey the impression that Holmes and Watson had only moments before gone out.


Experiencing Sherlock’s Swiss Adventures


Another fabulous museum dedicated to Holmes was established by Sir Arthur’s son, Adrian Conan Doyle, in the charming town of Lucens.

Among its many curiosities, the Lucens Sherlock Holmes Museum contains a small viper preserved in aspic, from the story The Speckled Band, a bust of Conan Doyle, a deerstalker hat owned by Holmes illustrator Sidney Paget, and several of Paget’s illustrations, including Holmes wrestling with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. This museum concentrates as much on the writer as on the fictional sleuth.


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The spectacular view from the top of Reichenbach Falls (Photo: Alla Khananashvili  / Shutterstock)


It might be fair to ask, other than being the background for one Holmes story, why is there such a fascination for the great detective here in Switzerland so far from his London home? Well, in a country renowned for its clockwork efficiency, order and logic, the answer is elementary, my dear Watson.


How to Enjoy Your Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Switzerland


There’s no end of fun things to do in Switzerland for the wannabe sleuth interested in following in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes. For ideas and inspiration, visit Switzerland Tourism at

Swiss Rail accesses Meiringen, and a Swiss Pass allows unlimited travel on the Swiss Travel System including trains, buses, and boats, and also allows free access to over 400 museums, including Meirengen’s Sherlock Holmes Museum. There’s also a website dedicated to Reichenbach Falls, Switzerland. 

There are also many great places to stay in Meiringen, some of them with a strong connection to the fictional Sherlock Holmes, including Parkhotel Du Sauvage and Das Hotel Sherlock Holmes.




Contributor James Ross writes about destinations and travel adventures for various international publications. You can see more of his work at