There are so many things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland, that regardless of whether you love the more adventurous activities in Interlaken such as canyoning, white water rafting and paragliding or prefer to take it a little easier, you'll never find yourself wondering what to do in Interlaken.
With its position at the heart of the Bernese Alps, and surrounded by crystal clear lakes, Interlaken is paradise in central Switzerland.
As the name suggests, Interlaken is situated on a narrow strip of land between two lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, both of which are fed by the River Aare.
The beautiful landscape provides tourists plenty of places to visit in Interlaken, both within the town itself as well as offering plenty of day trips from Interlaken.
With a population of around 14,000, Interlaken is one of the larger towns in the Bernese Oberland and it offers plenty of services for both residents and visitors.
If you've got holidays to Interlaken coming up, you'll love this comprehensive guide on visiting Interlaken. This guide includes all the best things to do in Interlaken, as well as how to get to Interlaken and a guide to some of the best hotels in Interlaken.
Keep reading for information on the best attractions in Interlaken, as well as the best places to see in Interlaken and surrounds.
Excursions from Interlaken
Let’s start with the world famous mountain excursions from Interlaken as these are the main reason many visitors come to the region.
Jungfraujoch Tour from Interlaken
No doubt one of the most popular things to do near Interlaken is to take the train to the Top of Europe - Jungfraujoch.
The Jungfraujoch tour from Interlaken is simply one not to be missed. The cogwheel train will take you to the top of Jungfraujoch, through absolutely breathtaking scenery straight from the pages of a wintery fairytale book!
The end of the line will have you disembarking at Europe's highest train station at 3454 metres. Here you can enter the Top of Europe building, which overlooks the the Aletsch Glacier in the UNESCO Natural World Heritage of Jungfrau – Aletsch – Bietschhorn.
There are various activities to keep you occupied for a few hours (you can read about them all in this article) including, restaurants, the ice palace, skiing, sledging, Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven and you can then ride the elevator to the Sphinx Observatory for jaw-dropping 360° indoor and outdoor views.
Jungfraujoch is open 365 days a year.
Schnyige Platte cog wheel train excursion from Interlaken
Just a few kilometres from Interlaken is the lovely village of Wilderswil and it’s from here that one of the region’s most scenic train rides starts.
The 45 minute journey, in an open-sided cog wheel train, to Schnyige Platte and the Alpine Garden makes a lovely excursion.
The railway line winds its way up the side of the mountain, providing magnificent view of the Alps and Lakes Brienz and Thun below.
At the summit of Schynige Platte is the Alpine Garden, a nature reserve consisting of around 600 species of alpine plants including the Swiss emblem, edelweiss. (Read more about Schynige Platte in this article.)
Open: late May to late October
Getting to Schnyige Platte: The Schnyige Platte bahn (train) departs every 40 minutes (late May to late October) from Wilderswil station. Connections are available from/to Interlaken. Click here for current ticket prices.
Mount Titlis from Interlaken
Mount Titlis is famous for having the world’s first revolving cable car and makes a great day trip if you’re looking for excursions from Interlaken.
To reach the summit you firstly take the 8-seater cable car from the town of Engelburg to Stand Station, with the option of hopping off at the Trusbsee station. From the Stand Station you will board the rotating cable car to ascend to the summit which is 3020 metres above sea level. The entire cable car rides takes about 30 minutes.
As well as experiencing the fabulous views at the summit, make sure you take the Ice Flyer which is a chairlift that takes you over the glacier and to the glacier park. At the Glacier Park you can use snow equipment such as snow tubes and sledges. Other things to do include taking a walk to the Glacier Cave, the Titlis Cliff Walk, hiking as well as visit the various restaurants and shops.
Mount Titlis from Interlaken is best reached by car and takes around 90 minutes.
I’ve written a dedicated article on Grindelwald as it is a worthy destination in its own right, however it also makes a great excursion from Interlaken.
There are numerous adventure activities to be found in Grindelwald, including scooter and mountain car rides, as well as a flying fox, but it’s also a pleasant alpine village for shopping and admiring the mountain scenery.
The village sits facing the imposing north face of the Eiger and is one of the most popular winter ski resorts in the region.
Getting to Grindelwald: You can reach Grindewald from Interlaken either by car (about 30 minutes) or by train (35 minutes).
Just twenty minutes from Interlaken is the pretty alpine village of Lauterbrunnen, gateway to some of the region’s most famous attractions including the Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch.
This article on Lauterbrunnen highlights the numerous things to do in the village and even if you can only spare half a day whilst staying in Interlaken, it’s well worth a visit to Lauterbrunnen.
Getting to Lauterbrunnen: Lauterbrunnen is only 12 kilometres from Interlaken and can be reached by car or frequent train services.
An excursion to the Schilthorn mountain is another great day trip from Interlaken. Schilthorn is a mountain peak above Lauterbrunnen that is well-known as the location for the filming of the James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".
Schilthorn can be reached two different ways from Lauterbrunnen - either via a series of cable cars the entire way or via a combination of cable cars and mountain train. I've written a comprehensive guide on planning a visit to the Schilthorn which you can read here.
Regardless of which way you choose to reach the Schilthorn summit, you'll be rewarded with incredible views. The 360 degree panorama allows you to see over 200 mountain peaks as well as Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
There are numerous James Bond-themed activities at the summit including the world's first mountain-top revolving restaurant which was featured in the movie. At Birg, one of the intermediate station enroute, you can test your nerve on the Thrill Walk and the Observation Deck.
Schilthorn is open year round except for a short period in November/December when scheduled maintenance takes place on the cable way.
Mt Niesen day trip from Interlaken
A less well-known but fabulous mountain excursion is to Niesen Kulm just 20 kilometres from Interlaken.
From the bottom station at Mulenen, two funiculars transport visitors up the mountain to a summit with superb views.
The two funicular tracks are incredibly steep - the first section has a gradient of 66% and the second a gradient of 68% - and take 30 minutes from bottom to top (and vice versa).
Beside the track runs a staircase featuring 11,674 steps, which, according to the Guiness Book of Records, is the longest staircase in the world. The staircase is not open to the public for safety reasons, except on one day a year when a special fun(?) run takes places.
At the summit (2362 metres above sea level), the views are breathtaking. A 360 degree panorama of lakes and the snow-capped Alps, including the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch, encircles you. Wherever you look, you are rewarded with jaw-dropping views.
If you can pull yourself away from the views for just a moment, there’s a restaurant (indoor and outdoor seating) where you can grab a drink or a meal. There’s also an excellent playground for children and plenty of opportunity for hiking.
An excursion to Niesen is a great alternative to the Schilthorn, particularly for those who aren’t fond of cable cars.
Open: 10 May to 10 November, 2019
Prices: Return tickets from Mulenen to Niesen cost CHF 59 per adult.
Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Half Fare Card holders receive a 50% discount. (More info about the Swiss Travel Pass here.)
The Niesen Funicular is free of charge for holders of the Regional Pass Berner Oberland. (More info about the Regional Pass Berner Oberland here.)
Getting to Niesen Kulm:
The Niesen funicular station is located next to the railway station (beside the main road) in Mulenen, 20 kilometres from Interlaken.
Trains depart Interlaken Ost every hour for the 50 minute journey to Mulenen.
The Niesen funicular departs every 30 minutes between 8am and 5pm seven days a week. The last descent from Niesen is at 5.45pm.
Special evening trips are also available most Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the season.
Adventure Sports in Interlaken
The Best Paragliding in Interlaken
Interlaken is a popular place for paragliding with its mountains and stunning panoramic views.
For the best paragliding in Interlaken make sure you choose one of the licensed hang gliding in Interlaken operators. Each hang gliding Interlaken operator will have its own take off points, but most start in Beatenberg which is a 20 minute drive from Interlaken. From Beatenberg you will get fantastic views across Lake Thun, the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.
Paragliding is suitable for beginners starting at age 4 and most packages include transport and all necessary equipment. Duration time of the actual flight is usually between 5-30 minutes depending upon your package.
If you want to get up close and personal with some of the waterfalls and slippery rock faces then you’ll love the canyoning Interlaken has on offer.
Canyon jumping in Interlaken will have you jumping, sliding and abseiling down rock faces, waterfalls and torrents of raging water. As well as providing the ultimate in adventure you will also get fantastic views of the beautiful landscape as well as narrow gorges that you just can’t see any other way.
There are several operators to choose from offering a range of different packages from beginners to those more experienced in canyoning. Packages usually include transport, all equipment and can either be half or full days.
Interlaken Canyon Swing
One of the newest outdoor activities in Interlaken region is the Canyon Swing at Grindelwald. After free-falling 50 metres into a glacial canyon with just a rope attached, participants then swing at speeds of up to 120 kph!
This is the ultimate adrenaline-pumping experience in Interlaken.
Trips, which include transfers from Interlaken, are available.
Hiking in Interlaken
If you’re interested in hiking in Interlaken, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of trails suitable for all fitness levels and all types of travellers.
The entire region is a hiker’s and mountain biker’s paradise. Hundreds of well-maintained trails criss-cross the mountains and lakeside pastures, with trails to suit all levels of fitness.
The hiking Interlaken has on offer, ranges from around 1 to 2 hours up to full day hikes. Many of the best hikes in Interlaken have the option of taking a cable one way and hiking the other (like Harder Kulm mentioned below).
Skiing in Interlaken
Whilst there is no skiing in Interlaken itself, it is the perfect base to ski in the nearby resorts of the Jungfrau region (Grindelwald, Wengen and Murren) which have more than 205 km of ski trails.
If you want to ski Interlaken, you’ll be pleased to know that during winter, a free ski bus takes skiers directly from Interlaken to the valley stations of the Jungfrau Ski Region. (Read this article for ideas on things to do in Interlaken and the Jungfrau Ski Region in winter.)
Bungee Jumping in Interlaken
They don’t call Interlaken the adventure capital of Switzerland for nothing! So it’s not surprising that you can also go bungee jumping in Interlaken. Interlaken has some of the world’s most spectacular bungee jumping spots.
During the warmer months, kayaking Interlaken is a lovely way to explore Lake Brienz or Lake Thun. Sea kayaks can be hired from a range of operators in Interlaken.
River Rafting Interlaken
If kayaking is a bit too slow paced for you, why not join a river rafting Interlaken tour? The Lutschine has some of the best white-water rafting in the Swiss Alps with continuous class III-IV rapids surging down the mountain and out to the Interlaken Valley and Lake Brienz.
Whether you are a beginner or experienced rafter, this is a great opportunity to get amongst it in the Swiss Alps. Most tours include transport and all necessary equipment.
The Best Things to do in Interlaken - Switzerland
Whilst there are plenty of day trips from Interlaken to enjoy, and lots of activities to get your adrenaline pumping, make sure you allow time in your itinerary to explore the town of Interlaken, too.
One of the great places to go in Interlaken is to the top of Harder Kulm.
Interlaken’s own ‘mountain’ rises 1322 metres above sea level and is a great place from which to view the town of Interlaken and the surrounding Alps and lakes. The funicular station for Harder Kulm is just a few minutes' walk from the Interlaken Ost station.
Reached by a ten minute funicular ride, Harder Kulm offers a relaxing spot for a bite to eat or something to drink.
The Two Lakes Bridge, a suspended platform, provides magnificent views of ‘the big three’, the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, as well as Lakes Thun and Brienz.
There's also a relatively easy 1 hour circular walk called the Harderweg which starts and finishes close to the restaurant and Two Lakes Bridge.
Open: April to November
Guided walk of Interlaken
Alternatively, why not join a guided walking tour of Interlaken, led by one of the town’s locals? Learn about the history and legends of the town on a free walking tour. Tours depart regularly throughout the year.
Also available is a guided Pub Crawl of Interlaken. A young local guide will escort you to three bars and a club, where the first drink in each is on the house.
Train and tram rides
A great way to get your bearings whilst learning more about Interlaken is to take a ride on either the Bodeli-bahn tourist train or Bodeli-Tram, a horse drawn tram carriage. After choosing your mode of transport, enjoy a journey on a nostalgic ride through Interlaken and past some of the best places in Interlaken to visit at a later stage.
Both the train and tram operate from mid-March to mid-October with departures from Höhe Matte Park (opposite the Casino) in central Interlaken.
Casino Interlaken/Congress Centre and Kursaal Gardens
Interlaken’s Casino and Congress Centre can be found half way along Höheweg in the Kursaal building, dating back to 1859. Surrounded by well-manicured gardens and a flower clock, the congress centre hosts regular shows and concerts whilst those who like a flutter can try their hand at American roulette, Blackjack, Poker and slot machines in the casino.
Höhe Matte park
One of the best places to visit in Interlaken for views of the snow-capped Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch is Höhe Matte. This is a large open park in the heart of Interlaken with fantastic views and a popular gathering place and the landing spot for paragliders and hang gliders.
Shopping in Interlaken
If you’re interested in shopping in Interlaken, here you will find everything from luxury stores to chain stores and souvenir shops. The main shopping strip, Höheweg Interlaken, stretches over one kilometre from near Interlaken West station to Interlaken Ost station.
Here, the shops in Interlaken sell designer watches and jewellery alongside ice cream parlours and souvenir shops. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants offering outdoor dining in summer, making Höheweg the perfect place to sit and people watch.
Interlaken is home to at least three large supermarkets and offers all the services of a large regional town.
Spa and Wellness centres
If your body craves some pampering, Interlaken’s spa and wellness centres are the place to visit. After a day of adventure or sightseeing, treat yourself to a massage or body treatment or just relax in the healing waters of one of the town’s luxurious spas.
The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Lindner Beau Rivage Hotel are just two of properties in Interlaken that offer excellent wellness facilities.
Interlaken Monastery and Castle
Dating back to 1133, Interlaken’s former Augustinian monastery, complete with castle and church, is located in the old town.
Two significant aspects are the bell tower of the former monastery church, which dates back to the early 14th century, and the mid-15th century Gothic cloister gallery and chapel.
The Monastery is located in the old town (Unterseen), just across the River Aare.
Helicopter flights in Interlaken
With such spectacular scenery all around, Interlaken is the perfect place to enjoy a helicopter flight.
Magnificent views of mountains, lakes and glaciers await you as you take to the skies in the comfort of a helicopter.
If you’re looking for things to do around Interlaken, spend some time exploring the pretty medieval town of Unterseen.
Places to visit include the 13th century church, the old town hall with its square, the Museum for the Jungrfau Region as well as simply strolling the streets and admiring the chalets and their exaggerated eaves and visiting local stores.
You can easily walk to the Unterseen from most parts of Interlaken or take a train.
More Interlaken attractions
If you are using Interlaken as a base there are some great places to visit near Interlaken. Keep reading below for more information.
Cruises on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz
One of the most relaxing ways to spend a few hours is to take a boat ride in Interlaken on one of the lakes. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is which lake to cruise on!
To the west of town is Lake Thun which stretches 18 kilometres to Thun, whilst Lake Brienz is to Interlaken’s east. Both lakes are known for the turquoise water and steep banks dotted with hamlets of Alpine chalets.
Half and full day cruises operate from April to October, with a winter cruise also available on Lake Thun. You can also purchase 1-day boat passes for both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz - click here for current prices.
For something extra special, why not book a private boat cruise with guided waterfall tour? Click here for full details.
The boat station for Lake Thun cruises is opposite Interlaken West railway station, whilst cruises on Lake Brienz depart from behind the Interlaken Ost railway station.
Further reading: 13 reasons to visit Switzerland's Lake Thun >>
Spiez is a picturesque town on Lake Thun, surrounded by hills and vineyards. Whilst in Spiez you can visit the Spiez castle which was built in the 13th century, the 1000-year-old Romanesque church, the winemaking museum, hiking and enjoy a meal and a glass of Spiez wine by the lake
The town of Spiez can easily be reached by car, train or boat from Interlaken.
The Oberhofen Castle
Places to see near Interlaken include the Oberhofen Castle which is just a 30-minute drive outside Interlaken, on the shores of Lake Thun. Due to its location on the lake, this picturesque castle is a popular subject for local postcards and tourist brochures
The castle dates back to the 13th century and houses a living museum which displays Bernese culture dating back to the period of the 16th to the 19th century. Around the castle is 2.5 hectare park which is a must see for garden lovers.
You can also visit Oberhofen Castle on a Lake Thun cruise from Interlaken.
The Panoramabrucke Sigriswil is a 340-metre long suspension bridge which sits 180 metres above the Gummi Gorge. Along the bridge you will have fantastic panoramic views of Lake Thun, the Bernese Alps and the surrounding area.
It costs CHF8 per adult to cross the bridge. Tickets can be purchased on site.
If you’re wanting to explore some waterfalls near Interlaken, check out the Giessbach Falls located on the southern shores of Lake Brienz.
The Giessbach Falls are spread out over 500 metres in 14 different stages, starting at the high valleys of Faulhorn and ending in Lake Brienz.
The best viewing point for these waterfalls in Interlaken is to take the funicular up to the historic Giessbach Hotel. From here you have a great front on view of the falls. There is also a path from here where you can take a loop behind the falls.
Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum
At the Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum, visitors can see the Switzerland of yesteryear. The museum is a re-creation of a typical Swiss settlement of the past with 100 original, century-old buildings on display.
Amongst the buildings are fields with all of Switzerland’s native farm animals represented and workshops where handicrafts typically carried out by farming families in the 19th century, are on display.
Open: 13 April to 3 November, 2019
Ticket prices: CHF21 per adult / CHF10.50 per child (ages 6 to 16). Guided tours are available for an additional cost.
Getting to Ballenberg: Ballenberg is 22 kilometres from Interlaken. If you don’t have a car, Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum can be reached by public transport. Trains depart Interlaken regularly for Brienz where a connecting coach awaits for the onward journey to Ballenberg West.
St Beatus Caves
Situated above Lake Thun are the limestone St. Beatus Caves. Legend has it that the 6th century monk, St. Beatus, drove away a dragon that lived in the caves. Nowadays, visitors come to the caves to see the impressive display of stalactites and stalagmites.
A well-lit pathway of over one kilometre leads visitors deep into the mountain past rock formations that have evolved over millions of years.
Open: mid-March to mid-November
Getting to St. Beatus Caves: Visitors without a car can reach the caves by either bus or boat from Interlaken.
Accommodation in Interlaken
As a true holiday resort, there is a huge selection of accommodation in Interlaken. There is a large selection of luxury hotels in Interlaken, mid-range hotels, holiday apartments, a youth hostel and a number of camping grounds in town.
If you’re not sure where to stay in Interlaken, Switzerland, I have selected a few of the best places to stay in Interlaken below across the various price points.
5 Star Hotels in Interlaken
- Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel ( also known as Hotel Victoria Interlaken) - click here to check current prices
- Lindner Beau Rivage Hotel - click here to check current prices
4 Star Hotels in Interlaken
- Hotel Metropole Interlaken - click here to check current prices
- Hotel Du Nord Interlaken - click here to check current prices
- Hotel Du Lac Interlaken - click here to check current prices
- Hotel De La Paix Interlaken - click here to check current prices
- Carlton Hotel Interlaken - click here to check current prices (Note: This hotel consistently receives good reviews from members of my Switzerland Travel Planning group on Facebook.)
3 Star Hotels in Interlaken
- Hotel Toscana Interlaken - click here to check current prices
- Alpina Hotel Interlaken - click here to check current prices
For something entirely different, you can get close to nature and stay in an alpine hut.
How to get to Interlaken
Interlaken is situated about 50 kilometres south east of the Swiss capital, Bern, and 125 km from Zurich.
For visitors arriving by car, parking is available at most accommodations. There are also numerous public car parks in town (charges apply).
Getting to Interlaken by train is easy with regular train services operate every day between Interlaken and other towns and cities in Europe.
You can also travel to Interlaken via the scenic Swiss trains, the Luzern-Interlaken Express and the Golden Pass line.
Train from other Switzerland destinations to Interlaken
- Train Bern to Interlaken: The train from Bern to Interlaken takes around 45 minutes, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- Train from Zurich to Interlaken: Trains Zurich to Interlaken via Bern take around 2 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- Train Geneva to Interlaken: Trains Geneva to Interlaken via Bern take close to 3 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- Trains Basel to Interlaken: The train from Basel to Interlaken takes close to 2 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- Train from Lucerne to Interlaken: The train Lucerne to Interlaken via Bern takes close to 2 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- From Grindelwald to Interlaken: The train from Grindelwald to Interlaken takes 35 minutes, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- From Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken: The train from Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken takes 20 minutes, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- From Montreux to Interlaken: The train from Montreux to Interlaken takes 2.5 hours via Visp and Spiez or 3.75 hours via Zweisimmen and Spiez, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- From Wengen to Interlaken: The train from Wengen to Interlaken takes 20 minutes, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- From Lausanne to Interlaken: The train from Lausanne to Interlaken via Bern take close to 2.25 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- From Innsbruck to Interlaken: The train from Grindelwald to Interlaken takes 35 minutes, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
Train Paris to Interlaken
The train Paris to Interlaken is the TGV Lyria train, with a journey time of almost 6 hours.
Train from Italy to Interlaken
- Train from Milan to Interlaken: Milan to Interlaken by train via Brig takes 3.25 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- Train from Venice to Interlaken: Venice to Interlaken by train via Brig and Spiez takes 6.25 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- Train from Rome to Interlaken: Rome to Interlaken by train via Milan and Spiez takes 7 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- Train from Florence to Interlaken: Florence to Interlaken by train via Milan, Brig and Spiez takes 6 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
Train from Germany to Interlaken
- Train from Munich to Interlaken: The train Munich to Interlaken via Zurich and Bern takes 6 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- From Frankfurt to Interlaken: Frankfurt to Interlaken by train takes 5 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
- From Berlin to Interlaken: Berlin to Interlaken by train via Basel takes around 9 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day.
London to Interlaken by train
London to Interlaken by train via Paris, Strasbourg and Basel takes around 9 hours, with trains leaving multiple times per day. Or you can fly from London to Basel, Zurich or Geneva and take a train from there.
Train from Prague to Interlaken
The best way to come from Prague to Interlaken is to fly into Basel, Zurich or Geneva and take the train from there.
Train from Amsterdam to Interlaken
Amsterdam to Interlaken by train via Basel takes around 9.5 hours. Trains leave Amsterdam for Basel 6 times per week, with trains from Basel leaving multiple times per day.
Join the Switzerland Travel Planning Facebook Group
You are also welcome to join my Switzerland Travel Planning Facebook group where you can ask questions about your upcoming trip to Switzerland. Click here to join!
This article was originally written in conjunction with Switzerland Tourism but all words and opinions are my own.
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