Interlaken is a spectacularly scenic resort town located at an altitude of nearly 2,000-feet in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps. Apart from the dazzling Alpine views, this charming village has lots to see and do. The town sits in between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz (hence its name) at the foot of the Jungfrau mountain region.
With such a great location, it is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts who want to make the most of the water and the hills. In fact, Interlaken is one of the oldest tourist resorts in Switzerland. Locals and visitors have been coming here for hundreds of years to enjoy the great outdoors. Nowadays you can ski, snowboard, hike, skydive, paraglide, hang glide, mountain bike, canoe, kayak, sail – the activities are endless.
Best things to do in Interlaken:
- Enjoy a boat tour on Lake Thun
- Paddle on Lake Brienz
- Take in the views at Harder Kulm
- Stroll around splendid Höhematte Park
- Visit the Touristik-Museum (Museum of Tourism)
- Admire the Interlaken Monastery and Castle
- Create Swiss chocolate at the Funky Chocolate Club
- Hike the Schynige Platte Trails
- Explore the St. Beatus Caves and Waterfalls
- Take A Day Trip To Grindelwald
Enjoy a boat tour on Lake Thun
When choosing to do a boat tour of the lakes, there is a lot more to see and more stops on Lake Thun. There is so much to see and do on this lake that you should allow at least half a day so you aren’t rushing from one stop to the next.
A boat tour allows you to hop on and hop off at all the different stops. Of course, you can just stay on board and enjoy a leisurely cruise on the water and soak up the scenery.
Paddle on Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz is smaller than Lake Thun and is a wonderful spot for a pleasant paddle. Rent a kayak, stand up paddleboard or boat and take to the water which is surrounded by the limestone ridge of the Brienzer Grat and the Faulhorn mountains. Go it alone or hire a guide and explore the diverse nature and serene scenery from this wonderful perspective.
Take in the views at Harder Kulm
The Harder Kulm is a viewpoint, 1,321 metres (4,334 ft) high that overlooks the towns of Interlaken and Unterseen. You reach the viewing platform by taking a 10-minute funicular ride. This funicular has been negotiating the climb for more than 100 years. At the top, there is a platform with a glass floor giving incredible views of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau as well as Lakes Brienz and Thun.
Stroll around splendid Höhematte Park
Nestled in the heart of the Interlaken town, Hohematte Park is a popular green space where people can come and chill out and relax when they need a break from all the activities. Enjoy the flower beds and Alpine scenery as you picnic on the grass or sip coffee for a nearby cafe. Paragliders land in this park and it is great fun watching them do so. In the winter you’ll find an ice-skating rink.
The park is also home to the Garden of Friendship, the first Japanese garden in Switzerland. This tranquil place is filled with flowering plants, water features and koi carp.
Visit the Touristik-Museum (Museum of Tourism)
Exhibits spread across three floors tell the history of tourism in the Jungfrau Region. The museum is housed in a lovingly restored 17th-century timber house and you’ll find all sort of objects, transportation and photographs that tell the story of the area.
Admire the Interlaken Monastery and Castle
Explore the old monastery site, which was first documented in 1133 and admire the Gothic cloister gallery as you roam around the castle grounds. Both the castle and former Augustinian monastery have a colourful history and a great way to learn about this is on a guided tour. The monastery was once a prominent hostel for pilgrims who passed by on their way to the hermitage of St. Beatus believed to be in the sacred caves above Lake Thun.
Create Swiss chocolate at the Funky Chocolate Club
Switzerland is synonymous with chocolate and the country has the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption worldwide. If you have a sweet tooth, head to the Funky Chocolate Club where you can stock up on all kinds of creamy, dreamy chocolate creations as well as make your own.
During a chocolate-making workshop, you’ll learn how to taste it like a professional Swiss connoisseur, you’ll play around with tempering to create your chocolate and you’ll decorate it too. It is a truly scrumptious experience.
Hike the Schynige Platte Trails
Take an hour-long scenic cog-railroad ride up to the Schynige Platte, a paradise for walkers and hikers. At the top, there are panoramic views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains as well as Lake Thun. From here, there are loads of routes to take but one of the easiest is the 45-minute hike to the Daube Viewpoint. This loop route brings you back to the station.
Beside the station, you’ll find the beautiful Botanical Alpine Garden. The garden is resplendent with over 650 plant and flower species in their natural high-altitude environment. Their colours and scents are beguiling, and so are the views.
Explore the St. Beatus Caves and Waterfalls
Nestled in the Alps, overlooking Lake Thun are the impressive St. Beatus Caves and Waterfalls, a natural wonder millions of years old. According to legend, Saint Beatus, a monk and hermit, chose to live in the caves after driving a fire-breathing dragon into Lake Thun.
The cave contains intriguing limestone structures, a mirror lake, crisscrossed stalactites and stalagmites and underground waterfalls. These waterfalls flow out of the mountain, cascading under a traditional house perched atop. It is an impressive sight. You can tour the grottos, chasms and vast halls of the caves with a tour guide or on a self-guided tour.
Take A Day Trip To Grindelwald
If you fancy exploring a little further, the village of Grindelwald is just a 45-minute train ride away. It is accessible by road too.
Grindelwald is known as the ‘Glacier Village’, and when you see the impressive array of glaciers you’ll understand how it got its name. Located in the Swiss Bernese Alps, Grindelwald is a great base for touring the magnificent Jungfrau Region. It truly is a playground for outdoor lovers all year round.
One of the best things about Grindelwald is its convenience for accessing the mountains. The cable cars and trains take you right into the surrounding mountains. This means you can start hiking or biking as soon as you leave your accommodation. In the winter, this means you can hit the slopes with ski-to-door access.
A popular thing to do is to take a cable car ride to the sunny terrace at the summit of Mt. First some 2,168 meters ( 7,113 feet) high. The panorama views of the Bernese Alps are breathtaking. Look out for the world-famous triple peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
Hotels in Interlaken:
The best places to stay in Interlaken are usually busy all year round. If you are planning to stay overnight, book as far in advance as possible if there is a particular hotel that you have your eye on.
There are accommodation options to suit all types of traveller and most budgets. However, Switzerland isn’t the cheapest of destinations. Therefore, budget travellers will have to search hard for a bargain bed especially in high season.
You can choose from a good selection of private rental properties from single rooms to whole apartments and houses. There are also some friendly hostels and budget hotels with a variety of room options. There are lots of mid-range hotels and chalets as well as some luxury five-star properties. These usually come with spas, Alpine views and plenty of facilities.
To be in the heart of the action, look for hotels in Central Interlaken. If you want to be close to the hiking routes and railway station, book accommodation in Interlaken Ost. The best place to stay if you are on a tighter budget is the Matten bei Interlaken. This is just a 15-minute walk from Interlaken Ost and is a great location for more reasonably priced accommodation.
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Interlaken is a spectacularly scenic resort town located at an altitude of nearly 2,000-feet in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps.
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