Nestled between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz lies picturesque Interlaken — a town between two lakes. This charming Swiss resort village offers guests incredible activities like skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer, a scenic boat cruise, delicious Swiss food, decadent Swiss chocolate, and exciting adventures. The surrounding mountains make this beautiful town even more breathtaking.
Anchored by a center green used for picnics, parasail landings, and special events, the town is hemmed in by massive mountains and lakes. The town is pedestrian-friendly; you can easily walk from the town center to shopping, dinner, evening entertainment, and the train stations. With East and West train stations, you have quick access to transportation to the mountains and nearby Swiss towns.
Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Stand On The Top Of Europe
Perched atop the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe, you find yourself standing at 3,454 meters (11,332 feet) above sea level. The spectacular view from this UNESCO World Heritage Site shows off the rugged Swiss Mittelland towards the Vosges on one side and the bright white Aletsch Glacier on the other. Looking down on the surrounding mountains is a balance-bending sensation. Far below, birds fly circles around jagged snow-covered peaks and floating clouds look like soft, pillowy floors. More than simply being at the top of a mountain, you feel like you are on top of the world.
There is more to see and do at the Top of Europe. The Ice Palace is a sparkling cave carved through the ice flow in the 1930s. Today, visitors can enjoy a slippery walk on ice while viewing stunning carved ice sculptures along the pathway. The ever-changing exhibit includes ice bears, ice penguins, and other frozen creatures.
Shops and restaurants join various exhibits to entertain and nourish you on your frozen quest. The magnificent Lindt Chocolate store has a sweet selection and kitchen display to top off your visit.
Pro Tip: Getting to the Jungfraujoch requires a little train and gondola juggling. You will find sales offices in Interlaken’s town center offering tickets and guidance for your panoramic journey.
2. Take A Funky Chocolate Club Class
Perfectly roasted cocoa beans and sweet milk from happy cows produce the world’s most decadent milk chocolate. Why buy Swiss chocolate when you can join a hands-on class to make and design your very own bars? At the Funky Chocolate Club, you can explore the world of delicious chocolate, taste-test samples, and craft your own personalized chocolate bars — not to mention the adorable photo opportunity of you wearing a bright red chef’s hat.
The young and young at heart love chocolate, and the 75-minute chocolate class is designed for all ages and dessert crafting experiences. Learn chocolate techniques like tempering while taste testing different types of chocolate. Once you have filled your molds, you can decorate with abandon — sprinkles, nuts, candies, melted chocolate, and more. One of the best parts of the class: licking the spatula after your molds are filled.
Pro Tip: The chocolate bars need to set up, so you will need to leave them at Funky Chocolate and pick them up a few hours later.
3. Parasail Over The Mountains
Does floating gracefully over the evergreen forest with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop sound like your ideal adrenaline kick? Paragliding Interlaken will float you down the mountainside with winds and thermals to power your exciting tandem paragliding experience. Paragliding Interlaken provides you with all the gear you need including cold weather protection for your tandem jump with one of their expert paragliders. After a short demonstration and a ride to the top of the mountain, you are strapped to your guide, and essentially run until there is no ground left under your feet.
After sailing high above the beautiful cliffs and forests surrounding Interlaken, your guide gently lands in the town center green. After you catch your breath, you’ll be ready to go again.
Not ready to jump? No problem. Grab a bench along the center green and live vicariously through the steady stream of experienced and newbie jumpers as they navigate the skies above Interlaken.
Pro Tip: Paragliding Interlaken offers GoPro videos of your adventure. For a small extra fee, you can relive your jump and have great Instagrammable photos and videos.
4. Experience 007’s Majesty
Schilthorn – Piz Gloria is where the iconic mountain scene from the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was filmed. The movie was shot in Schilthorn from October 1968 to May 1969 and made the area famous. In the movie, Piz Gloria was the headquarters of Blofeld (Bond’s arch-enemy) and his secret Spectre organization.
Experience the movie scenery firsthand at the James Bond Brunch, which is served in the 360-degree Restaurant Piz Gloria with amazing mountain views as your backdrop. The cable car ride up to Schilthorn is an adventure on its own. The views are so beautiful, it’s difficult to decide which direction to focus your attention.
Pro Tip: Restaurant Piz Gloria also offers an afternoon meat and cheese platter to satisfy those midday cravings.
5. Cruise Lake Thun
Lake Thun is the largest lake in the Bernese Oberland and a leisurely cruise is a must for any visitor. The mountain scenery will take your breath away. It is incredibly beautiful. Not to be outshined, charming small towns and villages line the lake and beckon you to disembark and explore.
The lake is a mirror of brilliant shades of blue, sometimes with soft gray hues and other times a brilliant Caribbean turquoise. The changing seasonal landscape from snow-capped mountains to verdant hillsides is reflective of nature’s whims. While you are cruising, enjoy a beverage, a delicious nibble, or an elegant meal while moving from port to port.
Once in Thun, wander the old city and explore the wonderful shops and cafes. The boat docks just a few blocks from all the action.
Pro Tip: Book the cruise from Interlaken West train station and after touring take the quick train ride back.
6. Eat Raclette
Raclette, the ooey-gooey cheese of Switzerland, is best eaten melted with potatoes and pickles. Sounds odd, but it is amazing. Restaurant Baren serves up cast-iron plates filled with bubbling cheese and accouterments for your heavenly indulgence.
Restaurant Baren is known for classic Swiss mountain dishes delivered in their rustic chalet. The short walk from Interlaken center will help you work up an appetite. You will be sure to find a fun bar for a nightcap on the walk back to your hotel.
Pro Tip: Baren is a popular local restaurant; reservations are recommended.
7. Shop For Watches
Swiss watch shops are ubiquitous in Interlaken. Watches of Switzerland is one good option if you are in the market for a new timepiece. From Rolex to Tissot, you will find a watch at your price point. The hunt for the perfect watch is fun and it makes the perfect souvenir from Interlaken.
Pro Tip: It’s easy to overspend. Set your budget before you enter the store so you won’t be distracted by all the bling and pretty things.
8. Ski The Jungfrau Region
Spectacular mountains make up the Jungfrau Ski Region and offer stunning views of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains. Ski, snowboard, sled, and hike along the snow-covered trails in the trio of resort areas. Grindelwald-Wengen, Grindelwald-First, and Murren-Schilthorn offer on and off-piste trails for all levels of downhillers. From the uber black diamond runs at the top of Schilthorn mountain to the gentle lower slopes of Grindelwald, there is a run for everyone.
If you don’t downhill or need a break from skiing, grab your trekking poles and hike the many trails designed for walkers and sledders. It is a wonderful way to get some fresh air and enjoy the winter wonderland.
Pro Tip: The ski areas are not immediately accessible from the city center. You will need to take a bus and/or train to hit the slopes. When you purchase your lift ticket, add the train ticket too for a smooth transition to the beautiful ski areas.
9. Hike The Mountains
When the snow melts, the mountains offer visitors hiking trails that offer awe-inspiring panoramic views.
AllTrails lists 35 different scenic hikes near Interlaken. There are plenty of options to get out and view the mountains on foot. Beginners will enjoy the 2.7-mile Harder-Kulm point-to-point hike that ends at the Aare River. Experts can test their skills with the Hardergrat: Interlaken – Brienzer Rothorn, a 14.5-mile point-to-point option, one of the most popular hikes in the region.
If you’re not interested in hiking, jump on the train and enjoy the view while you sit back and relax.
Pro Tip: Nearby Lauterbrunnen is a great spot to begin your hiking expeditions. Our destination guide will get you started with this pretty village as a base.
Explore Interlaken And The Swiss Alps
Visiting Interlaken is a wonderful way to explore all the great experiences you can have in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. This charming town between two lakes makes a convenient headquarters for enjoying outdoor activities, stunning scenery, delicious Swiss food, shopping, and their world-famous chocolate.
Check out the Interlaken Tourist Office for the latest information and seasonal happenings to make the most of your trip to Switzerland.
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