Interlaken: The Ultimate Guide to Switzerland’s Adventure Capital

Interlaken, a picturesque town located between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz in the heart of the Swiss Alps, is a dream destination for travelers seeking both adventure and peace. Known as the adventure capital of Switzerland, Interlaken offers a perfect mix of natural beauty, thrilling outdoor activities, and rich cultural experiences.

Located in the Bernese Oberland region, Interlaken is famous for its breathtaking scenery, including majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and lush green valleys. This charming town has something to offer everyone, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, or a culture enthusiast.

Geographical Information

Interlaken is strategically located in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, nestled between the crystal-clear waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. This prime location makes it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding alpine region, including the famous Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch mountains.

Location and Accessibility

Interlaken is well-connected by a comprehensive network of trains and roads. The town is easily accessible from major Swiss cities such as Zurich, Geneva, and Bern. The Swiss Travel System offers seamless connectivity, making it convenient for tourists to reach Interlaken. The nearest international airports are Zurich and Geneva, both offering excellent rail connections to Interlaken.

Climate and Best Times to Visit

Interlaken enjoys a mild climate, with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. The best time to visit depends on your preferred activities. For summer activities like hiking, paragliding, and water sports, the months from June to September are ideal. For winter sports enthusiasts, December to February is the perfect time to visit, when the region transforms into a winter wonderland.

Historical Background of Interlaken

Interlaken’s history dates back to the early Middle Ages when it was known as “Aarmühle.” The town’s strategic location between two lakes made it an important center for trade and transport.

Early History

The name Interlaken, meaning “between the lakes,” was first used in the 13th century. The establishment of the Augustinian convent in 1133 played a significant role in the town’s development. The convent, located near the present-day Schloss Interlaken, became a spiritual and cultural center.

Development Over the Centuries

Interlaken gradually evolved from a small village into a popular tourist destination in the 19th century, especially with the advent of the railway in 1872. The railway made the region more accessible, attracting visitors from all over the world. Today, Interlaken is renowned for its hospitality, outdoor activities, and stunning landscapes.

Cultural Insights

Interlaken’s culture is deeply rooted in Swiss traditions. The town is a melting pot of German, French, and Italian influences, reflecting the diverse heritage of Switzerland.

Local Customs and Traditions

The locals of Interlaken take pride in their customs and traditions. The Swiss are known for their punctuality, cleanliness, and hospitality. Traditional Swiss attire, music, and dances can be seen during festivals and events. Alphorn performances and yodeling are popular cultural expressions that visitors can enjoy.

Festivals and Events

Interlaken hosts several festivals throughout the year, celebrating Swiss culture and traditions. The Unspunnenfest, held every 12 years, is a major event showcasing Swiss folklore with traditional music, dances, and sports like stone throwing and Swiss wrestling. Other notable events include the Greenfield Festival, a popular music festival, and the International Trucker & Country Festival, celebrating country music and culture.

Must-Visit Attractions

Interlaken is home to numerous attractions that offer something for every type of traveler.


Known as the “Top of Europe,” Jungfraujoch is the highest railway station in Europe, situated at an altitude of 3,454 meters. The journey to Jungfraujoch is an unforgettable experience, offering panoramic views of the Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in the Alps. Visitors can explore the Ice Palace, enjoy breathtaking views from the Sphinx Observatory, and partake in various snow activities.

Harder Kulm

A short funicular ride from Interlaken takes you to Harder Kulm, the town’s local mountain. At an altitude of 1,322 meters, the Harder Kulm viewing platform offers stunning views of Interlaken, Lake Thun, Lake Brienz, and the surrounding mountains. The Harder Kulm Panorama Restaurant is a great place to enjoy a meal while soaking in the magnificent scenery.

St. Beatus Caves

Located near Lake Thun, the St. Beatus Caves are steeped in legend and history. According to legend, Saint Beatus took refuge in these caves in the 6th century. Visitors can explore the impressive limestone formations, underground waterfalls, and illuminated chambers. The caves also house a museum that provides insights into their geological and historical significance.

Trummelbach Falls

Hidden within the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the Trummelbach Falls are Europe’s largest subterranean waterfalls. The falls are a series of ten glacier waterfalls inside the mountain, accessible by lifts, galleries, tunnels, paths, and platforms. The sheer power and beauty of the falls make it a must-visit attraction.

Outdoor Activities

Interlaken is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities that cater to all levels of adventure and fitness.

Hiking Trails

Interlaken is a hiker’s paradise, offering trails for all levels. The region’s well-marked hiking trails provide opportunities to explore the stunning alpine landscapes, lush forests, and serene lakes. Popular routes include the Eiger Trail, which offers close-up views of the famous Eiger North Face, and the Hardergrat, a challenging ridge hike with spectacular vistas.

Paragliding and Skydiving

Interlaken is renowned for its paragliding and skydiving opportunities, providing thrilling experiences with incredible views of the Alps and lakes. Paragliding flights launch from nearby mountains like Beatenberg and offer breathtaking aerial views. Skydiving adventures include tandem jumps that allow you to freefall over the stunning Swiss landscape.

Water Sports on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz

Both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz offer a variety of water sports, including kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboarding. The crystal-clear waters of these lakes provide a perfect setting for a refreshing dip or a leisurely boat ride. Boat rentals and guided tours are also popular, allowing visitors to explore the lakes at their own pace.

Winter Sports

In winter, Interlaken transforms into a hub for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. The nearby ski resorts of Grindelwald, Wengen, and Mürren offer extensive slopes and facilities. These resorts cater to all levels, from beginners to advanced skiers. Cross-country skiing, ice skating, and tobogganing are also popular winter activities.

Adventure Sports

Interlaken is synonymous with adventure sports, offering a wide range of adrenaline-pumping activities.


Interlaken is famous for canyoning, where adventurers can navigate through gorges, jump into pools, and rappel down waterfalls. Guided canyoning tours are available, catering to different levels of difficulty and experience. This thrilling activity is a great way to explore the natural beauty of the region from a unique perspective.

Bungee Jumping

For adrenaline seekers, bungee jumping from the 134-meter-high Stockhorn is a must-do activity. The jump offers a heart-pounding experience with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. The thrill of the freefall and the stunning scenery make it an unforgettable adventure.

Rock Climbing

Interlaken and its surroundings offer excellent rock climbing opportunities, with routes suitable for beginners to experienced climbers. The limestone cliffs and alpine crags provide a challenging and rewarding experience. Guided climbing tours and courses are available for those looking to improve their skills or try climbing for the first time.

Scenic Tours

Interlaken offers a variety of scenic tours that showcase the natural beauty of the region.

Boat Tours on the Lakes

Boat tours on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are a relaxing way to enjoy the stunning scenery. Cruises range from short trips to full-day excursions, allowing visitors to admire the picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and historic castles along the shores. Special themed cruises, such as sunset or dinner cruises, are also available.

Scenic Train Rides

The scenic train rides around Interlaken offer breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps. The GoldenPass Line connects Interlaken with Montreux, passing through charming towns and offering panoramic views of the mountains and lakes. The Jungfrau Region Railway is another popular route, providing access to mountain villages and the famous Jungfraujoch.

Helicopter Tours

For a truly unforgettable experience, helicopter tours offer a bird’s-eye view of the majestic Swiss Alps. These tours provide an unparalleled perspective of the mountains, glaciers, and lakes, with opportunities to land on a glacier and enjoy the pristine alpine environment. Various tour options are available, ranging from short scenic flights to longer excursions.

Accommodation Options

Interlaken offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences.

Luxury Hotels

For those seeking a luxurious stay, Interlaken boasts several high-end hotels that offer top-notch amenities and services. The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa is a renowned five-star hotel that combines historic charm with modern luxury. Other notable luxury hotels include Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage and Hotel Royal St. Georges Interlaken.

Budget-Friendly Hostels

Interlaken also caters to budget-conscious travelers with a variety of hostels and budget hotels. The Balmers Hostel is one of the oldest and most famous hostels in Switzerland, offering affordable accommodation and a lively atmosphere. Other popular options include Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof and Alplodge Hostel.

Unique Stays

For a unique and memorable experience, Interlaken offers several distinctive accommodation options. Staying in a traditional Swiss chalet provides an authentic alpine experience. There are also options like treehouse lodges, glamping sites, and boutique hotels that offer a blend of comfort and novelty.

Dining and Cuisine

Interlaken offers a diverse culinary scene, with options ranging from traditional Swiss cuisine to international dishes.

Traditional Swiss Cuisine

Swiss cuisine is characterized by its rich flavors and hearty ingredients. Fondue, a melted cheese dish served with bread, is a must-try. Raclette, another cheese dish, involves melting cheese and scraping it onto potatoes and pickles. Rösti, a Swiss-style potato pancake, is a popular dish often served with various toppings.

Must-Try Local Dishes

In addition to fondue and raclette, visitors should try other local specialties such as Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, a creamy veal dish, and Berner Platte, a platter of meats and sausages. Swiss chocolate and pastries are also not to be missed, with numerous local chocolatiers offering delicious treats.

Interlaken boasts a variety of dining establishments, from fine dining restaurants to cozy cafes. Restaurant Laterne is known for its traditional Swiss dishes, while Husi Bierhaus offers a wide selection of beers and hearty meals. For a unique dining experience, Harder Kulm Panorama Restaurant provides stunning views alongside delicious food.

Shopping in Interlaken

Interlaken offers a pleasant shopping experience with a variety of shops and markets.


Visitors can find a range of Swiss souvenirs, including cuckoo clocks, Swiss army knives, and traditional handicrafts. Swiss watches are also popular souvenirs, with several local shops offering a wide selection of brands and styles.

Local Crafts

Interlaken is known for its local crafts, such as woodcarvings and handmade textiles. The town’s markets and shops showcase these crafts, allowing visitors to purchase unique, locally made items. The Höheweg shopping street is a great place to explore and find these treasures.

Shopping Streets and Markets

Höheweg, the main shopping street in Interlaken, is lined with shops, boutiques, and cafes. The Interlaken Market, held weekly, offers a variety of local products, including fresh produce, cheeses, and crafts. This vibrant market is a great place to experience local culture and find unique items.


Interlaken offers a variety of nightlife options, ensuring that visitors can enjoy the town even after the sun sets.

Bars and Pubs

Interlaken has a lively bar scene, with several establishments offering a range of drinks and entertainment. Balmer’s Metro Bar is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, known for its vibrant atmosphere and regular events. Husi Bierhaus is another great option, offering a wide selection of beers and live music.


For those looking to dance the night away, Interlaken has a few nightclubs that cater to different tastes. Club Caverne, located in the heart of the town, is known for its energetic vibe and eclectic music. Club Mad is another popular venue, offering a mix of electronic music and themed parties.

Evening Entertainment Options

Interlaken offers a range of evening entertainment options, from live music performances to cultural shows. The Casino Interlaken is a great place to try your luck and enjoy a glamorous night out. For a more relaxed evening, consider attending a traditional Swiss folk show, which often includes music, dancing, and yodeling.

Travel Tips

Travelers to Interlaken can benefit from a few practical tips to make their visit more enjoyable.

Getting Around

Interlaken is a small town, and most attractions are within walking distance. For longer distances, the town’s efficient public transportation system, including buses and trains, is convenient and reliable. Renting a bike is another great way to explore the area at your own pace.

Language and Communication

The primary language spoken in Interlaken is Swiss German, but English is widely understood and spoken in tourist areas. Learning a few basic German phrases can enhance your experience and interactions with locals.

Currency and Expenses

Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc (CHF) as its currency. Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for small purchases and tips. Interlaken is known for being a bit pricey, so budget accordingly and look for deals and discounts on activities and accommodations.

Safety and Health Precautions

While Interlaken is generally safe, it’s important to take precautions, especially when engaging in adventure activities.

Safety Tips for Adventure Activities

Always use reputable companies and guides for adventure activities. Follow all safety instructions and wear appropriate gear. Make sure to have travel insurance that covers adventure sports.

Health and Emergency Services

Interlaken has modern healthcare facilities, including hospitals and pharmacies. In case of emergency, dial 144 for medical assistance. It’s advisable to carry a basic first-aid kit and any necessary medications.

Travel Insurance Recommendations

Travel insurance is essential, especially if you plan to participate in adventure sports. Make sure your policy covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and loss of personal belongings. Check if your insurance includes coverage for activities like skiing, paragliding, and canyoning.

Budget Planning

Interlaken can be an expensive destination, but with careful planning, you can manage your budget effectively.

Average Costs

Expect to pay around CHF 100-200 per night for mid-range accommodation. Meals at restaurants can range from CHF 20-50 per person. Activities and tours vary in price, with some adventure sports costing several hundred francs.

Money-Saving Tips

Consider staying in hostels or budget hotels to save on accommodation. Take advantage of free activities like hiking and exploring the lakes. Purchase a Swiss Travel Pass for unlimited travel on public transportation and discounts on attractions.

Budget Itineraries

Create a budget itinerary by prioritizing must-see attractions and activities. Plan meals at affordable restaurants and use public transportation. Look for package deals and discounts offered by tour operators.

Local Cuisine

Interlaken’s culinary scene is a delightful blend of traditional Swiss flavors and international influences.

Fondue and Raclette

Fondue and raclette are quintessential Swiss dishes that you must try. Fondue involves dipping bread into melted cheese, while raclette is a melted cheese served with potatoes, pickles, and onions. These dishes are perfect for a cozy meal, especially in the colder months.


Rösti is a Swiss-style potato pancake, often served as a side dish or topped with ingredients like cheese, bacon, or eggs. It’s a hearty and delicious dish that reflects the simplicity and richness of Swiss cuisine.

Swiss Chocolate

No visit to Switzerland is complete without indulging in Swiss chocolate. Interlaken has several chocolatiers and shops where you can sample and purchase high-quality Swiss chocolates. Many shops also offer chocolate-making workshops, allowing you to create your own sweet treats.

Sustainable Tourism

Interlaken is committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices to preserve its natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Eco-Friendly Practices

Many local businesses in Interlaken practice sustainability by using renewable energy, reducing waste, and supporting local produce. Hotels and restaurants often promote eco-friendly practices, such as minimizing plastic use and conserving water and energy.

Responsible Travel Tips

Travelers are encouraged to respect nature, support local businesses, and minimize their environmental impact. Use public transportation or rent bicycles to reduce carbon emissions. Follow the “leave no trace” principles by disposing of waste properly and staying on designated trails.

Sustainable Accommodations

Look for eco-friendly hotels and lodges that focus on sustainable practices. Many accommodations in Interlaken have received certifications for their environmental efforts, ensuring that your stay is both comfortable and environmentally responsible.

Personal Stories and Experiences

Hearing from fellow travelers can provide valuable insights and inspiration for your own trip to Interlaken.

Interviews with Travelers

Many travelers rave about their experiences in Interlaken, highlighting the friendly locals, stunning scenery, and wide range of activities. Interviews with adventurers, hikers, and culture enthusiasts can provide firsthand accounts of what to expect and tips for making the most of your visit.


Testimonials from past visitors often emphasize the beauty and adventure of Interlaken. Whether it’s the thrill of paragliding, the serenity of hiking through alpine meadows, or the charm of exploring local villages, these stories capture the essence of what makes Interlaken a beloved destination.

Expert Insights

Advice from travel experts and local guides can enhance your visit to Interlaken.

Quotes from Travel Experts

Travel experts often recommend Interlaken for its unique combination of adventure and relaxation. They highlight the town’s accessibility, well-developed tourist infrastructure, and the wide range of activities available throughout the year.

Advice from Local Guides

Local guides offer invaluable insights into the best hiking trails, hidden gems, and authentic dining experiences. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your interests and help you discover lesser-known aspects of Interlaken.


Interlaken is a destination that truly has it all – stunning natural beauty, thrilling adventures, rich cultural experiences, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or peaceful moments in nature, Interlaken promises an unforgettable journey. With its diverse attractions, welcoming atmosphere, and commitment to sustainability, Interlaken is a place that leaves a lasting impression on every traveler.
Read More:

Leave a comment