Interlaken might not have the same appeal as Switzerland’s big cities like Lucerne and Zurich, but that only means that it’s suited for a different type of traveler! And if you would rather spend time outdoors than in shops, it’s definitely the place for you. This charming town lies in between the Thun and Brienz lakes, and it’s heaven on Earth for adventurers. Not only can you attempt to go on some of the toughest hikes in the country, but you will also have the opportunity to have several once-in-a-lifetime experiences. From witnessing underground waterfalls to seeing the highest-altitude post office on the continent – here are the six best things to do around Interlaken!
Skydiving, Paragliding, Rafting And More
Interlaken is the best playground an adventurer could ask for. If it’s an adrenaline rush you seek, you will have a hard time saying goodbye to this charming Swiss town. Why? Because Interlaken is the adrenaline capital of Switzerland, and they have it all!!
Skydiving and paragliding are very popular in Interlaken. Several different companies in the town offer this experience to tourists, which means that the prices are pretty competitive. Whether you’re looking to roam around the sky for quite some time, or just experience the rush of the freefall, Interlaken will not leave you disappointed.
And it doesn’t stop there; considering that the city lies nestled between two lakes, there’s all sorts of water adventures you can keep yourself busy with. Rafting is certainly on the menu, as is jet boat riding! And if water is your thing, then you can also hire a two person kayak, a canoe or stand up paddle board and explore Lake Brienz on your own.
Other exciting things you do in Interlaken include bungee jumping, canyon swinging, kayaking and hang gliding – and that’s just in the summer. If you happen to visit Interlaken in the winter, you’ll have loads of fun skiing and snowboarding, and you can even go snowshoeing and sledding. Seriously, the fun never has to stop if you don’t want it to!
Harder Kulm is the highest point in Interlaken, offering sweeping views of the lakes and the charming town below. You can get to the mountain platform in just under 10 minutes if you decide to take the vertical train, or you can hike there. The trail to the top is well marked, and it’s about a three-hour hike.
Before you decide that the funicular will do just fine, here’s a great reason to put in the legwork to the top – the Alpine Game Park is just a few minutes away from the Interlaken railway station. It’s a unique opportunity to spot Marmots and Ibex in the wild, and we guarantee it’s an experience you’re not likely to forget.
There’s a restaurant at the top where you can sit down and admire the views while enjoying a drink or getting a bite to eat. More often than not you will also get to enjoy live folk music, making this a proper Swiss experience you should not miss out on!
Even though it’s not quite so easy to reach, it’s entirely worth it to put in the effort and go to Schynige Platte. Catch a bus from Interlaken to Wilderswil, and from there a train will take you to Schynige Platte – a small mountain ridge with some of the best views in this part of the country.
Once you get to the top, you can explore as many hiking trails as you want. Most are quite short circuit trails, but it could still take you several hours to complete them. Why? Because the nature around you is so magnificent that it’s virtually impossible to just focus on the hikes, and not the incredible views.
Schynige Platte also features a huge alpine botanical garden. It’s perfect for people who want to see the wonderful plants, without actually having to risk their lives on mountain cliffs. The garden has over 650 different plant species, and you can easily see at least two thirds of them if you embark on a kilometer-long hike.
Hiking Trails For Days
The region of Interlaken-Oberhasli offers approximately 928 different hikes you could set out on. So, when we say hiking trails for days, we actually mean it!
And one of the best hiking trails in the area isn’t even in proper Interlaken. Head to Interlaken Ost and get on a train that takes you to Lauterbrunnen. Popularly known as the valley of waterfalls, this area offers lots of circuit trails that will take you to see some truly stunning nature. If you’d like to see a system of glacier waterfalls, then head to Trümmelbachfälle – you’ll see lots of other waterfalls on the way from Lauterbrunnen, but they can’t really compare to the waterfall inside the mountain.
If you are looking for a true challenge, then the toughest hike in Interlaken is definitely the right one for you. The Hardergrat hike is one of the most dangerous hikes in the area, and it’s suitable only for very experienced hikers. The trail begins at Brienz and it takes you all the way up to the Harder Kulm station, for a total hiking time of at least six hours. With many steep cliffs along the way, not even the most avid hikers should attempt to take on the trail on wet days – just one mistake could very well be your last.
St. Beatus Caves
Just some 15 minutes outside Interlaken (by train) lies one of the most impressive tourist attractions in this part of Switzerland – the St. Beatus Caves. You’ll be wowed even before you reach the caves – it’s impossible not to be impressed by the mesmerizing waterfalls that have carved a path through the mountain cliffs.
But the journey begins only once you’ve reached the caves. The underground path is about a kilometer long, and it is without a doubt worth your time. Just make sure to bring a jacket, since it tends to be pretty cold inside the caves.
The pathway inside is well lit, ensuring that you’re able to get a good look at everything around you. All the different rock formations are certainly interesting, but not nearly as intriguing as the actual waterfall inside the caves.
Once you’ve had enough of the underground exploration, you can head to the restaurant that sits just above the entrance. The food is delicious, the views are spectacular and a cup of hot coffee will warm you up after the underground exploration in no time.
Jungfraujoch: the Top Of Europe
Getting to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken is neither cheap nor quick, but it’s something you should definitely do if you have the extra time. Because, would you really skip out on the once in a lifetime opportunity to stand at the Top of Europe, just because it’s a bit further away than you’d like?
The Swiss know how to take advantage of a great location, and that’s exactly what they did here. A lift will take you up 108 meters in just 25 seconds to the Sphinx observation deck. Here, you can enjoy mountain views that are out of this world – if you’re not afraid of heights, it might just be the highlight of your trip.
And if you start experiencing altitude sickness, a quick trip to the Lindt chocolate shop will fix you right up. It wouldn’t be a Swiss experience without access to chocolate, even at an altitude of 3,454 meters (11,332 feet) above sea level. You can also enjoy a walk through the Ice Palace that features some rather unique sculptures – just make sure to wear the right shoes!
- Interlaken, official tourism
- My Switzerland, official Tourism Board
- On our site: An Alpine Adventure: From the Eiger to the Matterhorn
I was in Interlochen several weeks before Christmas, so many travel years ago. I realize you cannot list everything in a destination as beautiful as Interlochen, so I will add one to the list. The Piz Gloria, a short train ride out of town. At 2970 meters on Schilthorn, it offers sweeping views, including the Eiger. Part of the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed there. The Piz is a mountain top rotating restaurant, one of the first in the world.
You ride up the lower portion of the mountain from the valley on a steep cog railway, walk through a quaint Swiss mountain town and then continue upward on a ski lift to the Piz Gloria for the spectacular views.
You’re making me want to return to Switzerland, Byron!