It has its name from the location between the two lakes and is surrounded by magnificent mountain peaks. The town of Interlaken Switzerland is picturesque and very touristy.
The general atmosphere of Interlaken is best enjoyed at the big park opposite of Viktoria Jungfrau hotel. There you can also be entertained by screaming Asian tourists landing with the tandem para-glider. I was told, that they’re not afraid, but making sure to deliver the best performance to their friend filming the adventure for the relatives and friends back home.
So, is it boring here? Obviously not! There are so many things to do in Interlaken Switzerland and around, that it would be almost impossible to get bored. Here’s the list:
Ride to the top of Europe
From Interlaken Ost take the Jungfraujoch Train to the highest railway station in Europe. This epic mountain railway journey takes 2.5 hours and snakes through the Lauterbrunnen valley before climbing up into the Alps past the North Face of the Eiger to the Jungfrau Glaciers themselves. There is a glacier palace here as well as some amazing views.
It operates – I quote – “on the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz”. It is fast, almost too fast for quiet Switzerland. I have tested it for you and I must say: Brilliant! You will glide over the waters at high speeds and then – after a friendly announcement of the guide and driver each time – enjoy several 360 degree spins. You will get wet! But that’s ok, because the rental of a raincoat for protection is included in the package. The adventure lasts about an hour and will set you back about 100 USD.
I have done a ride with the speedboat in Darling Harbour in Sydney. But, trust me, the jetboat on lake Brienz is way better!
Completely surround lake Thun on your own feet
Who can say, that he completely surrounded a large lake on his own feet? See! In just two to three days you can wander and surround lake Thun on your own feet. Then you’ve got something to impress friends and family with! There are probably more people doing base jumps than setting a personal record by doing something like this!
The Lake Thun Panorama Round Trail also leads you over a few suspension bridges. The newest and most impressive one is in Sigriswil (you have to pay a fee to cross it).
Everywhere in Switzerland hikers can follow small yellow signposts, that display all possible hiking routes in a certain area. Inbetween there will be yellow markings mostly on stones and tree trunks to keep track of the way. If you have trouble finding the yellow signposts in your chosen start area, ask a tourist information office or a local for directions.
Explore the mountaintops around Interlaken
The best known is Jungfraujoch. But did you know, that there are myriads of other options just in the bigger Interlaken Switzerland area, that can keep you busy for one or two weeks riding up to every mountain peak and/or hiking up on them?
St. Beatus Caves
The St. Beauts Caves are a natural system of caves just next to lake Thun. The best way to reach them is by boat or bus from Interlaken or Thun. Then it is just a few 100 metres to the entrance of the caves. 14 kilometres of the cave system are explored and a segment of one kilometre is open to visitors. The entrance fee is about 18 USD.
You can find out more about the cave’s history and geology in its museum and there also is a restaurant with a splendid view onto lake Thun.
Take a Boat Ride on lake Thun
With crystal clear lakes a day on the water in Interlaken promises some of the finest scenery around. Sail between the villages and towns along the shoreline or take one of the classic boat trips from Interlaken. The cruises on Lake Thun are spectacular and go to interesting places such as the St Beatus Caves and the picturesque town of Spiez.
A recommended option is to take the trains to Thun, explore the old town of Thun and then take the boat back to Interlaken to enjoy the scenery.
Boat rides (with the normal boat) on Lake Brienz are another attraction and take passengers to the famous wood carving town of Brienz or the Open Air Museum at Ballenberg and many other scenic villages en route.
Chill out with a massage
Interlaken is renowned for its spas and wellness vacations and many of the hotels have fitness centres. Some like the Victoria Jungfrau Spa and the Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage are in very impressive architectural settings and have magnificent pools with steam rooms and saunas. The massages and skin treatments are the perfect way to relax after all the outdoor activities in and around Interlaken.
Explore the Old Town
Interlaken is a beautiful town with many historic buildings. Take a stroll along the Aare River which leads to the centre of the Old Town at Unterseen. The sights include the Jungfrau Regional Museum, the 13th century church, and the town hall. Marktgasse leads into the Hohweg and the centre of Interlaken. From here you can enjoy the Japanese Garden before exploring Interlaken Castle.
Water dam in Unterseen with fish stairs
Relax with coffee and cake
The Victoria Jungfrau Hotel is one of the finest in Interlaken Switzerland and a luxury five star hotel. The rooms are some of the most coveted in town but there’s another treat for visitors to Interlaken. One of the finest views of the Jungfraujoch is to be had from the Victoria Terrace which is open to the public as well as guests. Enjoying coffee with delicious home-made cakes is a real treat with that splendid view and in such luxurious surroundings
Go for a hike
Among the things to do in Interlaken and around it are hundreds of hiking routes. There is everything from a small circular route to a high altitude trek. In spring the alpine meadows are glorious with their flowers. There is the Schwander Life Path with thirteen carved figures, and the Brienzer Rothorn. For the experienced mountain walker there is ice walking on the Aletsch Glacier. The Three Waterfalls trail is really scenic and leads from Brienz through to Iseltwald and Bonigen. There are also routes above Interlaken and around Lake Thun (see above). The hiking is a major attraction here and with so many wonderful views and picnic spots a day out exploring is a real must for anyone coming to this area. Don’t forget to look for the guided hikes available via the tourist office.
If you ever wanted a bird’s eye view of Interlaken then one of the best ways to achieve it is to go paragliding. Not for the faint hearted, this is a superb experience and offers unparalleled views of the Jungfrau, lakes, and surrounding countryside. By riding tandem with an experienced para-glider you can have the experience of a lifetime. Before long you’ll be hooked. There are schools in Interlaken to learn the sport too just in case that experience got you wanting more.
Relive a Bond Moment
The Schilthorn starred in James Bond’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and you too can relive a little drama by visiting this mountain. This journey starts in nearby Stechelberg where the cable car brings passengers to the Schilthorn itself. At the Piz Gloria you could enjoy a meal in the revolving restaurant or go hiking in summer. This is also a classic ski centre for those looking for some high altitude runs.
Learn about Chocolate making
Switzerland is renowned for chocolate and one only has to wander down the main streets to see exquisite displays of sugary treats. In the Grand Restaurant Schuh there are opportunities to learn about the art of chocolate making and taste a few of the products. This is a fabulous opportunity to see how the chocolates are made and learn the history. There’s also nothing quite like walking down Interlaken’s shopping area and deciding which chocolate to buy from the vast displays.
Or – if you come in the winter season – Enjoy winter sports
Interlaken makes a superb base for winter sporting activity as it is really close to the Brienz-Axalp ski and snowboarding area and the Beatenberg Niederhorn resort. The Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen skiing area is at the foot of the Mönch, Jungfrau and Eiger region and another very popular place for winter sports within easy reach of Interlaken. These are ideal for families and have a wide range of pistes. In the Jungfrau Ski area glacier skiing is possible in summer – as well as the winter months – on the Jungfraujoch. Interlaken has many cross country ski trails nearby in places like Habkern and the area around Brienz which are very popular with visitors. There is also ice skating, hockey and sledging, making this area perfect for a few days in the snow.
Interlaken Switzerland is full of surprises and has a lot of things to see and do for the sports enthusiast as well as a visitor who simply wants to relax in a beautiful setting. Why not come to Interlaken and see the dramatic scenery for yourself.
Be warned, that Interlaken is not the cheapest destination. You should budget 500 USD for a few of the adventures, that can be done here. Regarding overnight stay on a budget there are some Interlaken hostels available. I recommend you to find them on Hostelworld.
If you don’t want to stay in Interlaken, Thun is a good alternative
and the train ride from and to Interlaken lasts just half an hour.
Thun also has a very beautiful old town to offer as the two following pictures prove:
A surfer practising on a standing wave in the city centre of Thun at one of the water gates.
Thun old town reflecting in the water.
For your travel planning
There are several airports within two to three hours of Interlaken: Basel, Berne, Zurich and Geneva. All airports have direct rail links to Interlaken. There are also direct trains from Paris and Milan.
When is the best travel time?
Interlaken is a delight all year round:
In winter there are snow and ice sporting activities including skiing and skating.
Summer season, to which most tips here refer, lasts from May to September. April and October can also still be ok.
Spring is also beautiful with Alpine flowers in full bloom.
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Thanks to Interlaken Tourism and Jetboat for supporting my stay in Interlaken.