Do you want a full Switzerland experience? Visit Interlaken! In this town, you’ll find gorgeous lakes, great hiking trails, and high mountains. In this article, I’ll share some tips and the best places to visit in Interlaken.
Why should you go to Interlaken?
Interlaken is centrally located in Switzerland and lies between two lakes (that’s how it got the name Interlaken, it means “between lakes”): the Thunersee and the Brienzersee. Interlaken is the perfect base to visit the majestic Jungfrau region, with mountains that are over 4000 meters (13000 feet) high.
In the vicinity of Interlaken, you can find many great hiking trails, take a cable car to an impressive viewpoint, you can visit waterfalls, go paragliding or go on a tour boat cruise on one of the bright blue lakes. There are many great places to visit in Interlaken!
It’s quite a small town since it only has 5700 inhabitants. It rarely feels crowded and it’s a place where you actually can relax completely.
How to get to Interlaken?
Since Interlaken is located centrally in Europe, you can reach the town in many different ways. Most people go to Interlaken by train, bus, plane, or car.
It’s great to explore Europe by train and Switzerland is one of the best countries to travel by train. There is an extended rail network, trains leave on time and the views are amazing! However, traveling by train can get really expensive in Switzerland. If you stay in Switzerland for a longer period of time, it might be smart to check the Swiss Travel Pass.
When you only plan to arrive in Interlaken by train, one of the cheapest options is to travel from Germany. I only paid €34 for my one-way ticket from Düsseldorf to Interlaken (the train ride took seven hours! Check this website for train tickets in Europe.
When you plan to travel by trail all through Europe, it might also be smart to check if an Interrail pass is more convenient for you.
Interlaken has two main train stations: Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West. Check before you book your train ticket which station is located closest to your accommodation.
Interlaken doesn’t have an international airport, so you need to fly to Zürich or Bern and then travel to Interlaken by train or get a rental car. Check Skyscanner for all prices and connections.
By (rental) car
When you live in Europe, you might like to drive to Interlaken in your own car. You do need a Swiss motorway vignette to drive on the Swiss roads.
When you arrive by plane you can always rent a car. I usually make a reservation through AutoEurope and a vignette is usually included in the rental fee (always double-check this with your rental company).
Public transport in Interlaken
When you stay in a hotel or a hostel in Interlaken, you get a free pass that you can use for public transport in Interlaken. This is very convenient! You can use it to travel by bus and train in Interlaken en you can even visit nearby towns Wilderswil and Iseltwalt for free. Check Google Maps for a time table and the nearest bus stops.
Travel in the Jungfrau region
Because of the steep mountains, you can’t reach all the locations in the Jungfrau region by car, bus, or train. That’s why there are a ton of cable cars. And those are definitely not free. The cheapest option to get around is to go hiking, but that can take hours. If you like to see all the mountains in an easy way, it might be smart to get a multi-day pass for the Jungfrau region.
Where to stay in Interlaken
As I said, Interlaken is a small town, so when you stay in a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb in, or close to the city center or one of the stations, you can pretty much walk anywhere. A room in a hostel or hotel can be booked through Booking.com.
Do you prefer staying in an apartment or a cabin? Check the listings on Airbnb. Use this link to get a discount on your first booking through Airbnb.
I’m a solo traveler, and for me staying in a hotel or Airbnb was way too expensive. That’s why I chose to stay in a hostel. Luckily, one of the best hostels in Switzerland is located in Interlaken: Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof – Hostel Interlaken. It’s clean, the beds are firm, wifi is great, and there’s a large kitchen for you to cook your own meals. There’s also a nice co-working space for you to work in if needed. I can highly recommend staying in this hostel, it’s even suitable for families!
Cash & cards
Switzerland is one of the few countries in Europe that doesn’t accept the Euro, so you’ll pay with Swiss Francs. In September 2020, 1 Swiss Franc is €0,93. There are many atm’s in Interlaken to get some cash, but most shops and hotels accept debit and credit cards.
Do you need a travel adapter for Switzerland?
When you only need to charge small appliances (like your phone) you can just use a European adapter. However, if you bring a laptop or a hairdryer or something with a grounded electrical cord, you might need a travel adapter.
The best places to visit in Interlaken
There are many awesome things to do and to see in and around Interlaken. These are the places you must visit in Interlaken:
Go to the top of Interlaken: Harder Kulm
Would you like to see Interlaken from the above? You have to get to the top of Harder Kulm! This is a mountain right next to the town and you can either hike to the top (2-hours, very steep) or take a cable car.
On the top (1322 meters) there’s a viewing platform (with a glass floor) and from here you’ll have a great view of Interlaken, the Brienzersee, and the Thunersee.
Discover the historic center of Unterseen
The Aare river runs through Interlaken and if you cross a bridge to the other side, you walk into a beautiful historic city center of Unterseen. Check out the narrow streets, the square, and cross the river a couple of times. I’ve rarely seen a river with bright blue water like this one.
Admire the paragliders (or go paragliding!)
One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive in Interlaken is the number of paragliders in the air. You’ll see them slowing flying through the air and landing on the Höhematte, a large field in the city center of Interlaken. There are many benches to sit on in the field, so you might want to relax and watch the daredevils flying through the sky. If you’re a daredevil yourself, you can always join them!
Great trails in Interlaken
If you like hiking, then Interlaken is the place to be. There are several great trails in Interlaken.
Hiking to the Harder Kulm
This is a strenuous trail for sure! It’s very steep with loose rocks, but the view from the top is very rewarding!
Weissenau Nature Reserve
West of Interlaken you’ll find Weissenau Nature Reserve, where you can do some bird-watching. There’s also an ancient ruin of a castle from which you can climb a tower. This is a great place to see the Thunersee. The hike around Weissenau Nature Reserve is pretty easy, with no climbing.
The Rugen is a small hill on the southside of Interlaken. There’s a ring road you can walk on, and from there you can several trails to the top. From the trails, you almost have a 360-degree view of Interlaken and Wilderswil. This is an easier trail. There is a little bit of a climb, but not too much. The hike takes about one hour.
Great day trips from Interlaken
Interlaken is centrally located and that makes it a perfect base to explore other highlights in the area. These are some of the most popular day trips from Interlaken:
Lauterbrunnen is known as a valley full of waterfalls and it’s absolutely gorgeous. You can take many cable cars and there are several great hiking trails. When you go hiking here, you will see (and hear) some cows with bells for sure. The ultimate experience in the Swiss Alps!
Another highlight close to Interlaken is Grindelwald. It’s a gorgeous town in a valley surrounded by high mountains. If you’d like to visit Johnfraujoch (the roof of Europe), this is where you need to get on the train. This will take you to the highest located train station in Europe at 3454 meters.
Some other highlights near Grindelwald are Grindelwald First (amazing viewpoint with a cliff walk) and the Bachalpsee (a lake with scenic mountain views).
Have you ever walked underneath a waterfall? You can do it at Giessbach Falls. This is a spectacular waterfall and from here you can also take a boat from Giessbach to Interlaken over the Brienzersee.
More information for your trip to Switzerland
Would you like to know more about traveling to Switzerland? You might want to check out one of these amazing guides:
Or read more in one of these articles: