Europe > Central Europe > Switzerland > Bernese Highlands > Interlaken
Interlaken is a small city in the Bernese Highlands region of central Switzerland. Located between two alpine lakes (Lake Brienz (Brienzersee) and Lake Thun (Thunersee)), Interlaken is a popular base camp for outdoor sports and travel in the surrounding Bernese Oberland Alps. Interlaken itself is a superb holiday destination.
Trains arrive frequently from Berne and Basel. An hourly connection to Lucerne and a half hourly connection to Meiringen is also available. Connection at Spiez provides access to the canton Valais, to Zürich and to Italy via Lötschberg and Simplon tunnels.
There are two stations: Interlaken Ost (east) and Interlaken West, the latter is closer to the city centre. Most trains stop at both stations, except for trains to Lucerne and the trains to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald which stop only at Ost station.
Follow Autoroute A8 (former N8) into the city center.
- Bus2alps operates direct private buses from Florence, Rome, Paris and Munich to Interlaken. Timetables do vary but are busiest in February and March to cater for winter sport activities. Travel and accommodation packages are available and small and big groups are catered for.
- FlorenceForFun provide transport by private bus and accommodation packages departing from Florence on Thursday evenings. Trips depart in November and early December then mid-January through to mid-March for Winter activities. Summer departure dates are in May, June and September. Check the website for departure dates and a full itinerary.
- mysterytours provides airport & city transfers.
Interlaken is small enough to get around on foot or bike. Taxis are available from either train station and most hotels. With the guest card from your hotel, you can travel around Interlaken for free (it also gives discounts to local tourist attractions). Buses around town and to Thun are available.
- The Höheweg is Interlaken's main street which runs between Interlaken West and Interlaken Ost Railway Stations. On this street you will find many souvenir shops. Have a look at the "Japanese Garden", the 150-year old Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel, and don't miss the beautiful view of the famous snow-covered Jungfrau mountain from "Höhematte".
- Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn is a glaciated UNESCO World Heritage Site above Interlaken in the Bernese Alps.
- Unterseen is a small old town near the Interlaken West train station. It's not as crowded as Interlaken and has several shops and bakeries (including an enormous Coop supermarket in which there is a large selection of groceries and chocolates). To get there, cross the bridge over the water near the train stop, walking in the direction facing away from Interlaken.
All year round: Shopping in Interlaken's souvenir shops.
- Walks: Take a walk along the shores of lake of Thun (Thunersee) or lake of Brienz (Brienzersee). A nice, ca. 2h walk goes from West train station to "Neuhaus". It takes you along the Aare river and through the small but popular nature reserve Neuhaus at the lake of Thun. From Neuhaus you can take a bus or boat back to Interlaken.
- Hiking: There are plenty of great hikes in the Interlaken area. Popular near-by hikes include Harder mountain (mountain train 5 min. from Interlaken Ost station) and Schynige Platte (mountain train from Wilderswil). Hiking season runs roughly June through September.
- Adventure sports: A whole bunch of adrenaline sports are offered through Interlaken guide groups including paragliding, hang gliding, bungee jumping, canyoning, river rafting, rock climbing, etc. Outdoor Interlaken is on the main street in Matten. Another great option is Alpin Raft Alpin is the original outdoor aventure company in Interlaken; the owner bought a raft in New Zealand in the late 80's and was the first to bring white water rafting to Switzerland. He also brought Canyoning to Interlaken after trying it in France. The canyoning experience with AlpinRaft is amazing.
- Swimming: You can swim both in the lakes of Brienz and Thun. The water in the lake of Thun is generally warmer (around 20°C in July/August). A popular swimming area with showers, changing rooms, a restaurant, etc. is in Neuhaus. A real insider-tip is the beautiful "Burgseeli" in Ringgenberg-Goldswil. Burgseeli is a nature reserve, where water temperatures can reach up to 27°C and you can swim among ducks and water lilies. The natural lido offers a non-swimmers pool, paddling pool, children´s playground, restaurant, changing rooms, showers, etc.
- Sailing: Lake Thun is quite popular for sailing. You can rent sail boats and book classes in Neuhaus.
- Take a boat trip. Boats traveling the Thunersee leave from Interlaken West. If you go all the way to Thun, you will see many cute towns and beautiful buildings/small castles on your way (Spiez, Oberhofen). There is also a castle in Thun. Boats traveling the Brienzersee leave from Interlaken Ost. The water in the Brienzersee is a beautiful shade of turquoise. The boat is free if you have the Swiss rail pass.
- Biking:Take an awesome mountainbike ride around the lake of Brienz (4 hours) and visit the Giessbach waterfalls on the way. Alternatively, visit Lauterbrunnen by bike (~2 hours one-way)and look inside the Trümmelbach-Waterfalls (Trümmelbachfälle).
- Skydiving in Interlaken: Funrental Interlaken offers helicopter or plane jumps including 4000 meters in 40 seconds freefall jumps.
- Ski/Snowboard: Interlaken has good access to several skiing/snowboarding areas. The largest of them is the "Jungfrau winter sport region" which includes Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen, Grindelwald First and Mürren-Schilthorn. A day-pass costs CHF 62.-/39.-/24.- (adults/youth/children). Beatenberg-Niederhorn and Habkern are two smaller, family-friendly ski areas with easy lifts and slopes for beginners. A day-pass is CHF 35.-/17.- (adults/children). If you need to rent equipment that can be easily arranged at the SwissRentaSport shop.
- Sledging: The best but also most challenging sledging is from the Faulhorn to Grindelwald. Take the first gondola cableway from Grindelwald and prepare for a beautiful but challenging, 2h-2 1/2h uphill hike to the Faulhorn. Enjoy the amazing view of the Alps from the Faulhorn peak before you sledge down to Grindelwald for 15 km (!) on the longest sledging run in Europe. Alternatively, several sledging runs are accessible by bus/train: Bussalp-Grindelwald (8 km), Eiger Run in Grindelwald (3 km), Niederhorn-Beatenberg (7 km), Suhlwald-Isenfluh and Habkern (4 km).
- Night sledding. There is a company who makes night sledding trips every night. The cost is € 74 and includes a Swiss cheese fondue dinner in a restaurant at the end of the sled run. There are no "fitness requirements" and bookings are necessary in advance.
- Cross-country skiing: A beautiful and sunny cross-country area is in Aeschiried near Spiez (about 1h by train/bus) where you have a great view on the lake of Thun. Good cross-country trails are also in Habkern/Lombach and Beatenberg.
- Ice-skating: An indoor ice-rink is in Matten near Interlaken.
- Swimming/Wellness: The Bödelibad in Interlaken offers an indoor pool with a 25m swimming pool and a children's pool. There is also a very nice wellness facility with sauna, steam bath, whirlpool and more.
Interlaken has the highest concentration of souvenir shops in Switzerland.
- Swiss Army Knives: Interlaken is a good place to buy Swiss Army Knives. One of the best shops is the "Swiss Knife Center" (Höheweg 125) as it stocks the full range of Victorinox and Wenger Swiss Army Knives. Other knife shops in Interlaken are "ALSCHER", "Bühler Chalet Shop", "Royal St Georges Gift Shop", "Gallerie Metropole". Most of the mentioned shops engrave text on the knife for free. Remember to pack Swiss army knives in your hold luggage.
- Watches: Interlaken has two main watch and jewellery shops: "Bucherer" and "Kirchhofer" which stock all the big traditional Swiss brands (Tag Heuer, Omega, IWC, Rolex). Alternatively, most souvenir shops sell some inexpensive Swiss-made watches like Swiss Military and Swatch.
- Chocolate: You best buy Swiss chocolate at the Coop supermarket (one is just by the Ost train station; there is also a large Coop supermarket in Unterseen, a town right near the Interlaken West train station) where you have a very good choice of Lindt and Cailler chocolates, Toblerones, etc. at much lower prices than you'd pay in the souvenir shops.
- Woodcarving: If you want to purchase a Swiss Woodcarving, go to Brienz (about 30 minutes by train from Interlaken Ost), which is the centre for Swiss woodcarving. In Interlaken, woodcarvings can be found for example at the shops "Bazar Tivoli" and "Albert Schild".
- Other souvenirs: Other items to purchase in Interlaken's souvenir shops are: Swiss Music Boxes, Leather Wallets and Purses, Cow bells, Swiss embroideries, cuckoo clocks, some inexpensive Swiss made watches (like Swiss Military or Swatch), Switzerland T-shirts, sweatshirts, backpacks, etc.
- Bebbis Restaurant, Bahnhofstrasse. A popular but touristy place for traditional Swiss dishes including fondue and raclette. It´s right next to Interlaken West train station.
- If you're into Korean food there is an excellent, cheap and easy-going restaurant in a hot basement opposite Interlaken West train station. Star serves simple and good Korean food like hot pots and sweet dumplings. Prices are below average for Interlaken.
- Kang Chon Central, Centralstrasse 13 (near Interlaken West station). Kang Chon Central also serves a range of delicious Korean dishes at reasonable prices, including a range of traditional Korean accompaniments with your meal. The staff are friendly and helpful, explaining any menu items that you may not be familiar with, and the ambience of the restaurant is very pleasant, especially on summer evenings.
- My Little Thai, Hauptstrasse, Matten (located next to Balmer's). Interlaken's best kept secret. Fantastic Thai food at very good prices keeps this little gem packed all day and night. Reservations are highly recommended for evening eating and take away is available.
- El Azteca. An authentic Mexican food restaurant owned and operated by a gentleman who migrated from Mexico around 1984. Located on the street level of Hotel Blume in a street mall on the west side of town (Jungfraustr.), it is small, and very friendly. The staff will go above and beyond to help you celebrate birthdays and other events. Groups up to 25, and a bar that can seat about 10 more. Prices are quite high if you're used to paying for Mexican food in the USA, but considering everything is imported, it is understandable. All the best Mexican beers, and top notch Mexican cuisine. Open 17.30 - 23.30.
- Coop Supermarket. If you want to save some money on any meals, you can buy the ingredients for making, for example, sandwiches at Coop or Migros (Coop opposite Interlaken Ost station, or both Coop and Migros near Interlaken West). For example, buying material for four sandwiches costs about CHF25, whereas an average entree at a restaurant in the area costs CHF20-25.
- Rugenbrau 'lager hell': the local beer and one of the best you'll ever taste as the water in the area is the cleanest in Europe.
- For a small Swiss town, Interlaken has quite a lot of nightlife options, including one of Switzerland's three Hooters Bar & Restaurant. Most of these bars serve the seasonal tide of tourists, but off the main road, many more mellow local venues can be found. Try the Brasserie 17 (Rosenstr. 17) which has a nice summer terrace, good beer and snacks and sometimes live music.
- The two best nightlife spots in town are Balmer's hostel and the Funny Farm, which are located fairly close to each other (both at Hauptstrasse, Matten). Balmers has a decent underground bar and dance club and the Funny Farm has great outdoor chill out areas, including a bonfire. Both hostels have good happy hour specials, and you can kind of bounce back and forth between the two to get your drink for the best price.
Reservations are a must during the busy summer season. Note that not all hotels are open all year round.
- Balmer's Herberge youth hostel, Hauptstrasse 23 - 33. Young friendly hostel. Seems to be the hostel of Interlaken. Offers any and every extreme sport. Dorms, privates, and tents available. Guest kitchen, restaurant, gift shop, coin laundry, and nightly movies. Also has Metro Bar underground, the most popular bar in Interlaken. Adheres to city wide noise curfew. Right around the corner is a grocery store for all your cooking needs.
- The Lazy Falken Hotel & Backpacker, Spielmatte 8 (From Interlaken West Cross the bridge, turn right, walk along the river, at the end of the road, look for the hotel.), ☏ . Check-in: 3:30, check-out: 10AM. Friendly staff, free breakfast with the dorm. Its relaxed, informal, clean and has cheap booze. Walk-ins are fine, reservations preferred. From 25CHF (dorm and breakfast).
- Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof, Alpenstrasse 16. Dorms and private rooms. Kitchen, laundry, including sheets, breakfast, free WLAN, free entry to public swimming pool and Minigolf, personal locker for each person, big garden with table tennis, soccer & billiards, free use of local busses, free parking facilities, movies available. Friendly staff who help you, answer your questions, give you advise for hiking or what to do, book for you adventure sports. No curfew!
- AlpLodge/BackPackers Interlaken, Marktgasse 59. Reception open from Daily 8AM – 1AM. Young friendly hostel. Staff can help suggest hikes and will book activities. Dorms and private rooms. Bar, internet, laundry. 24CHF-40CHF
- Hotel Rugenpark B&B, Rugenparkstrasse 19, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Friendly and cozy budget B&B with a lovely park and mountain views. Excellent personal service from your young hosts Ursula and Chris, free internet, guest kitchen, coin-op laundry, free WLAN, booking desk for activities, train and cable car ticket sales, book exchange and ample parking. 52-200 CHF.
- Swiss Inn, General Guisan Straße 23. B&B bordering on family-operated hotel. Excellent location, very quiet part of west Interlaken, 5 minutes walk from anything touristy or otherwise, as well as grocery and Interlaken West train station. Run by JP & Veronica Müller-Lohner, a very friendly and accommodating couple, speak perfect English. Wireless internet available for CHF 5. per day. Room prices are CHF 90-160, apartment prices are CHF 140-200. Breakfast daily for an additional CHF 12 per person. Open all year.
- City Hotel Oberland, Postgasse 1, fax: , email@example.com. Three star hotel 0.2km from the railway station. Single room from 112CHF, double room from 170CHF (as of April 2009).
- Stella, General-Guisan-Strasse 10, fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Four star hotel 500m from the railway station and 200m to the resort center. Single room from 135CHF, double room from 184CHF (as of low season 2009).
- 1 Ula's Holiday Apartments, Uf Bort 558 (Take bus #101 from Interlaken West to Beatenberg, Ramsern (we will meet you at the bus stop)), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00 - 22:30, check-out: 11:00. Ula's Holiday Apartments offer 3-star self-catering holiday rentals in the Interlaken area with panoramic views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains as well as the lake of Thun. Fully equipped kitchens, free wifi, free parking, flat-screen cable TV, family friendly, pet friendly. CHF 117 - CHF 400.
- Hotel Toscana, Jungfraustrasse 19. Reception open daily from 6AM until 10PM, but you can ask about rooms in the restaurant until midnight. This nice little family-run hotel features a restaurant which seems to be quite a local hangout. The rooms are clean and the staff is friendly and attentive. CHF170-240 (breakfast included).
- Hotel Goldey, Obere Goldey 85, ☏ . This is a hotel for the middle-aged traveller. It's rather expensive but offers tremendous service in a wonderful location, e.g. couples can spend a romantic and erotic night in the loveroom. The river-side rooms are the best. CHF 130-390.
- Metropole, Höheweg 37, fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Four star hotel 0.5km from the railway station. Single room from 187CHF, double room from 293CHF (as of low season 2009).
x-Port Pizzeria GmbH, Hauptstrasse 21, high speed Internet access, terminals and notebook connection through LAN available, laserprinting facilities, try the kitchen while surfing the net (sFr. 9 per hour).
McDonald's (150 m from the train station) offers 30 minutes of free WLAN internet access.
- Internet Laundry, Marktgasse 45/ beside post.
- Laundry for €2; per load,
- Internet 15 minutes free,
- Bicycle rental > €10/day,
- Scooter rental > €20/day.
Trains up into the Jungfrau region leave from Interlaken East station. Nearby destinations include: