The beautiful resort town of Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland region is one of the top tourist destinations in Switzerland. The town is located at the intersection of two gorgeous lakes – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz hence the name Interlaken. Interlaken offers its visitors with a wide range of unique attractions and activities. The town also makes for an ideal base to explore some of the beautiful Switzerland villages and breathtaking locations around the lakes on a day trip from Interlaken.
Where to Stay on Interlaken Visit
There are a lot of places in and around Interlaken so the best option would be to base yourself in Interlaken. There are plenty of resorts and hotels in Interlaken. The Swiss Capital Bern less than an hour train ride from Interlaken is also a perfect base to explore the places around Interlaken and in Bernese Oberland. The closest airport to Interlaken is also in Bern which is 90 minutes train ride from Interlaken. You can also choose to stay in the Swiss City of Zurich which is a couple of hours from Interlaken. We were based out of Geneva and Geneva to Interlaken train is close to 3 hours journey which may not be feasible for Interlaken day trips.
Best Time to Visit Interlaken
The best time to visit Interlaken and most of the Swiss attractions is during the summer months of June to August. Summer is also the peak season when you will see a lot of tourists. If you want to avoid crowds then plan during the months of April and May when the crowd is less and the temperature still pleasant. Summer is the best time with lots of trekking, hiking, and adventure activities while you can expect some of the rides and activities to be closed during the winter (end of November until February). And even if the rides are open there is a possibility that views from the summit are obscured by clouds so definitely not the best time to risk your money and time. If you love the fall foliage visit during the months of September and October.
Best Day Trips from Interlaken
If you have not already decided to stay in Bern then a day trip from Interlaken to Bern should definitely be on your list. The old town of Bern dates back to the 12th century and has some of the well preserved medieval architecture and historical buildings.
The major attractions in the old town of Bern are the clock tower Zytglogge, the 15th-century Gothic Bern Cathedral, Swiss Parliament Building, medieval fountains and the Town Hall.
Swiss Parliament Building
Bern is also a top choice for someone looking to go on a Swiss shopping spree with a bounty of shopping opportunities from branded boutiques to flea markets.
If you are looking for things to do in Bern with kids do visit the Einstein House a museum dedicated to great physicist Einstein, visit the Bear’s park and watch the bears bathing along the riverside and the museums like Bern Natural History Museum of Bern and the Botanical garden.
There is so much to see and explore in Bern that an hours train ride from Interlaken is definitely worth a visit.
A couple of hours train journey from Interlaken is Lucerne, one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. The major lure for tourists and travelers to Lucerne is its iconic landmark of Chapel Bridge or Kapellbrucke and the historic Lion Monument. The chapel bridge is 5 minutes walk from the main train station of Lucerne and spans the Reuss River.
The 14th-century medieval wooden footbridge connects Old Town with the New Town. The covered bridge decorated with colorful flowers with an octagonal tower at its center looks like its taken out of a fantasy storybook. Visitors can take a walk on the bridge and enjoy the beautiful 17th-century paintings hanging from the roof of the bridge.
Wander the Old Town center on the other side of the bridge and explore the colorful medieval buildings some of which have facades painted with interesting folklore and the fountains. About 10 minutes walk from the Old Town is the Lion Monument which depicts a dying lion pierced with a broken spear and was built to honor the Swiss soldiers who died during the French Revolution.
If you are traveling with kids you may not want to miss a visit to the Swiss Transport Museum displaying models of trains, airplanes, cars, buses and much more. Lucerne is also a perfect base to take trips to Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, and Mount Titlis.
Zermatt and Matterhorn
A couple of hours train ride from Interlaken is the charming car-free village of Zermatt. The alpine village draws visitors for the majestic view of the Matterhorn and the breathtaking ski regions. Matterhorn is a pyramid-shaped mountain of the Alps which is popular with the hikers and mountain climbers from all over the world.
Visitors can take funiculars and cable cars up to the different viewpoints which offer breathtaking views of Zermatt and Matterhorn from sun terraces of restaurants. The Matterhorn glacier paradise is the most popular summit which offers several snow activities like skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, sledging, and more.
If you are visiting during the summer season plan for the popular 5-Seenweg hike where the hiking route lets you explore the 5 mountain lakes of the region. One can see the reflection of the magnificent mountain of Matterhorn in 3 out of 5 lakes.
Brienz and Ballenberg
Brienz is a small pretty village set on the shores of Lake Brienz. The narrow streets of the village are lined with chalets bedecked colorful flowers and wooden sculptures. The village of Brienz is known for the tradition of wood carving and hence one can see a lot of wood sculptures around the village. There is also a wood carving museum and school if you are interested to learn more about the wood carving tradition and its history.
One of the top things to do in Brienz is to visit the Ballenberg Open Air Museum which is about 15 minutes bus ride away from the Brienz train station. The open-air museum displays over 100 traditional houses and buildings which give visitors an idea of the rural life of Switzerland. Visitors can explore the houses, barns, watch cheese processing and learn about farming. More on the tickets and open times of the Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum here.
Iseltwald and Giessbach Falls
Iseltwald is one of the beautiful fairytale Swiss villages located on the shores of Lake Brienz. The small charming fishing village is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. One can reach Iselwald from Interlaken Ost train station by a 20 minutes bus ride.
The village of Iseldwald with chocolate colored chalets and small squares decorated with colorful flowers set in a picturesque location along the lakeshore looks like taken out of a fantasy storybook.
Iseltwald can also be reached from Brienz Village by boat. The boat ride offers breathtaking views of small villages around the lake and the 19th-century Grand Hotel Giessbach perched on the hill. There is a Giessbach Falls next to the Hotel Giessbach. The boat from Brienz stops at the Giessbach stop from where visitors can take a funicular up to the hotel.
From the Giessbach Hotel, there are several hiking routes through the forest offering vantage points with best views of the Giessbach waterfalls.
Aare Gorge and Reichenbach Falls
The Aare Gorge is located between the villages of Meiringen and Innertkirchen in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. The spectacular limestone ridge formation carved by the Aare River is a wonderful site to explore. The wooden walkway stretching for 1.4 km along the rocky cliffs passes through the tunnels and caves offering breathtaking views of the gorge and the gushing river.
There are two entrances to enter the Aare gorge with two stations at both sides, Aareschlucht West and Innertkirchen respectively. So you can enter from one side and exit from other to take a return train. There are restaurants at both the entrances.
One can also combine a visit to the Aare Gorge with the magnificent Reichenbach Falls is another magnificent falls near Aare gorge. Visitors can easily explore both the Aare gorge and the Reichenbach Falls in one day. Take the same train you boarded to Aare Gorge in reverse direction and get down at the Reichenbach Falls station.
Walk for about 10 minutes to the funicular station which will take you to a viewing platform which offers closer looks at the mighty cascades of the falls. There are several hiking trails up the mountain starting from the viewing platform which offers great views of the falls and the surrounding.
St Beatus Caves
St. Beatus Cave in the village of Beatenberg is a spectacular system of caves some 20 minutes bus ride from Interlaken Ost. The bus also stops at Interlaken West. An alternative but time-consuming option is to take a boat from Interlaken on Lake Thun. Both bus ride and boat ride offer breathtaking scenic vistas all along the way.
The caves are located on a cliff and can be reached by a 10 minutes hike through wooden pathways. Visitors can buy tickets at the entrance and join in the next available guided tour. The tours are timed and take place every 45 minutes. One can take a self-guided tour with the help of the St Beatus caves app which provides information about the caves.
There is a restaurant next to the cave entrance where you can buy something to eat and drink. The restaurant terrace overlooks the deep blue Thun Lake with snowcapped mountains in the backdrop.
The tour of the caves lets you explore the spectacular rock formations of stalactites and stalagmites, small pools through well-lit pathways and bridges. There is also a museum on history and formation of the caves which you can visit, the entrance to the museum is included in the ticket to the caves.
Blausee and Oeschinensee
The fairytale lakes of Blausee and Oeschinensee are amongst the most beautiful and picturesque locations in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. The gorgeous mountain lakes located near the village of Kandersteg can easily be visited in one day on a trip from Bernese Oberland.
Blausee is a deep blue lake surrounded by lush forest area of Blausee National park. Visitors can go for a boat ride on the Blausee lake which is full of trout fishes. There are numerous barbeque stands in the park great for a family picnic. Alternatively, there is a restaurant in the park if you are looking to buy something to eat and drink.
Oeschinensee is a beautiful lake surrounded by high mountains and forest area. Visitors can go row boating in the lake and enjoy the views of the picturesque Alpine setting. There are a couple of restaurants and stay options next to the lake.
There are direct trains from Bern to Kandersteg and there are also trains from Bern to Kandersteg connecting at Spiez. From Kandersteg Bahnhof (bus station) take a bus towards Kandergrund which has a stop for Blausee. To get to Oeshenensee continue towards Kandergrund in the same bus to get to the Oeschinen Cable car station.
Lauterbrunnen and Wengen
The picturesque village of Lauterbrunnen is a quintessential Swiss village located in the Lauterbrunnen Valley popularly known as the ‘Valley of 72 waterfalls’ for the 72 waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The village with chalets sprinkled in the lush green meadows surrounded by high rocky cliffs looks and snow-capped mountains is a breathtaking sight. Lauterbrunnen is only 20 minutes train ride from Interlaken Ost station and about 10 minutes walk from the train station is the most popular Lauterbrunnen attraction, the magnificent Staubbach Falls.
The other most popular attraction is the Trummelbach Waterfalls which is about 7-10 minutes bus ride from the Lauterbrunnen train station. Trummelbach Waterfalls are Europe’s largest subterranean waterfalls. A walk through the well-lit wooden pathways and bridges lets the visitors explore the roaring falls ofTrummelbach from different vantage points.
Combine your visit to Lauterbrunnen to the small car-free village of Wengen which is about 15 minutes train ride from Lauterbrunnen. There are many scenic hiking trails around the village offering magnificent panoramic views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, and the mountains of the Jungfrau region. The village itself is great to wander and explore the chalets, meadows, small parks surrounded by the massive mountains.
The Schynige Platte is a mountain ridge and a viewpoint in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. To reach the summit one has to take a cogwheel train from Wilderswil Village which is just 5 minutes train ride from Interlaken Ost train station.
The ride up in the cogwheel train takes about 50 minutes and offers breathtaking scenic vistas. Near the train station at the summit, there is a small play area and a restaurant with a panoramic terrace if you want to buy something to eat before you start out to explore the viewpoints.
The summit is a starting point for several hiking routes with vantage points with magnificent views of Alpine peaks of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau and the Lakes of Thun and Brienz.
The Alpine Garden with over 650 varieties of flower plants is the major lure for the hikers to Schynige Platte. The train to Schynige Platte operates only from late May to late October and is closed during the winter.
Interlaken to Jungfraujoch
Jungfraujoch is one of the top places to visit in Switzerland. A two-hour cogwheel train ride from Interlaken Ost via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen will bring you to Jungfraujoch, the ‘Top of Europe’. The cogwheel train ride up to the summit at an elevation of 3,454 m is one of the most beautiful scenic rides in Switzerland and offers breathtaking views of Bernese Alps and the Aletsch Glacier.
An elevator takes visitors to the viewing platform of the Sphinx Observatory which offers magnificent views of the Alps. The summit has restaurants, Ice Palace with ice sculptures similar to Glacier Cave in Titlis, a chocolate shop and a wide range of snow activities skiing or snowboarding.
Things to do in Interlaken
Before you head out to explore the places around Interlaken do spend a couple of days in Interlaken. The resort town offers its visitors with plenty of things to explore. One of the top things to do in Interlaken is to visit Unterseen or the Old Town of Interlaken. The Old Town of Interlaken is set in a picturesque location along the Aare River. The chocolate colored chalets decorated with colorful flowers with the backdrop of colossal mountains looks like taken out of a fairytale.
The Tourism Museum is dedicated to the history of tourism in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. The museum collection provides information on the development of travel and alpine tourism in Switzerland.
The Congress Centre Kursaal is an important landmark in Interlaken. It is located in the beautiful Kursaal gardens on the main street of Hoheweg. The 19th-century building complex is a popular venue for events and concerts and also houses the Casino Kursaal Interlaken.
Casino Kursaal Interlaken hosts numerous gaming activities like American Roulette, Poker and slot machines in the casino. Bollywood fans don’t miss the statue of the famous Bollywood film director Yash Chopra also located in the Kursaal gardens next to the Flower Clock.
Also must visit in Interlaken is the 12th-century Interlaken Monastery. Adventure lovers can enjoy a wide range of adventure activities like rafting, bungee jumping, canoeing, skydiving, paragliding, and hiking.
Harder Kulm is a viewpoint at an altitude of 4334 ft and offers breathtaking views of towns of Interlaken, Bernese Alps Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau as well as Lakes Thun and Brienz. You would not need a complete day for Harder Kulm, you can easily combine it with the Interlaken town sightseeing tour.
Harder Kulm is a viewpoint at an altitude of 4334 ft and offers breathtaking views of towns of Interlaken, Bernese Alps Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau as well as Lakes Thun and Brienz.
The lower funicular station is 5 minutes walk from the Interlaken Ost Station and from the upper station the vantage point is another 5 minutes. There is a restaurant, a viewing platform and several vantage points on the summit. The funicular operates only during the summer from April to November and runs every 30 minutes.
Next to the lower funicular station is an Interlaken-Harder Alpine Game Park where you can find Alpine ibex and frolicking marmots.
Interlaken Boat Trips (Lake Thun and Lake Brienz)
The picturesque locations around the deep blue Lake Thun and Lake Brienz can be explored on a scenic boat tour. You can visit one of the numerous charming villages, explore the lovely promenades with views of the Alps or just enjoy the beautiful landscapes and the surrounding mountains from the boat.
The boats have a restaurant on board and have 1st and 2nd class sections. A boat trip from Interlaken to Lake Brienz takes around 75 minutes and from Interlaken to Lake Thun about 2 hours.
How many of these places have you visited from Interlaken? Which is your favorite Swiss location to explore in and around Interlaken? Do share with us in comments.
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