- Located at the intersection of beautiful Lake Thun and Lake Brienz
- A very tourist-oriented resort town that still has lovely sights to see
- Positioned just below the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps and some of Switzerland’s best hiking
When To Visit: June-September
Climate: Warm in the summer, cool in spring and fall, cold with some rain and snow in winter
Many bloggers and Swiss people will discourage you from staying in Interlaken, but I am of the opinion that it’s the perfect place to position yourself as you explore the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps. It has an unbelievably convenient location that’s easy to access from other Swiss cities via rail, is situated just below one of the most gorgeous sections of the Alps, and has many more affordable food and lodging options than you’d find anywhere else in the region. You will admittedly find yourself among a ton of tourists, but there are some wonderfully charming sights to see within and close to Interlaken.
Photo: Japanese Garden
Where To Go
Hohematte Park: Interlaken’s large central meadow is a great place to view the Jungfrau and Schiltorn peaks on a clear day. Free.
Hoheweg: Interlaken’s “Main Street” is the center of activity in town and has watch shops, chocolatiers, and everything else Swiss!
Garden of Friendship (Japanese Garden): Enjoy a pleasant pond and gazebo at this small garden with views of the lovely Schlosskirche and Hotel Interlaken buildings. Free. Höheweg 74, 3800 Interlaken.
Schlosskirche: This cute tiny chapel has beautiful stained glass windows. Free. Lindenallee 10, 3800 Interlaken
Casino Kursaal: Stop by to see the lovely gardens outside this historic casino building – complete with flowers and fountains. Free. Strandbadstrasse 44, 3800 Interlaken. +41 33 827 61 00
Victoria Jungfrau Hotel: Possibly one of the prettiest hotel lobbies in the world, it’s historic and modern at the same time and there’s a beautiful unique shade of blue throughout. Free. Höheweg 41, 3800 Interlaken. +41 33 828 28 28
Unterseen: This small historic town just across the river from Interlaken has charming Swiss architecture and is a great place for a walk.
Riverside Walk: A walk along Interlaken’s sky blue portion of the River Aare is a must! There’s paths on both sides of the river throughout most of Interlaken and Unterseen. Free.
Covered Bridge: This bridge connects Interlaken and Unterseen and has charming wooden sides and great mountain and river views. Free.
Harder Kulm: The best spot to get a panoramic view of Interlaken, Lake Thun, and Lake Brienz, this viewpoint can be accessed via a steep hike or a 10-minute funicular ride. Funicular: 14 franc round trip. +41 33 828 73 11
St. Beatus Caves: A quick bus ride from Interlaken, these caves are accessed via a very short but steep walk alongside a stunning multi-part waterfall that leads to a castle-like building. A clearly-marked 1.5-2 hour round-trip path guides you through these incredible caves with rushing rivers, waterfalls, stalactites, stalagmites, and perfectly clear reflecting pools. Guided tours are available. 14 franc. 3800 Sundlauenen. +41 33 841 16 43
Canyoning: Go on a canyoning adventure in nearby Grimsel. Read more.
Lauterbrunnen: This charming town located in the Valley of 27 Waterfalls is set below 900 foot Staubbach Falls, has perhaps the most beautifully-set cemetery in the world, and is an excellent jumping-off point for Swiss Alp hikes.
Murren: A car-free town that can be reached from Lauterbrunnen via funicular or a steep hike, Murren makes you feel like you’re in the clouds as you get incredible once-in-a-lifetime close-up views of the Schwarzmonch, Silberhorn, and Jungfrau peaks.
Trummelbach Falls: The world’s only glacial waterfalls accessible via trail, these 10 incredible underground waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley are set amidst ornately carved rock formations. 11 franc.
Wengen: Deep in the mountains and overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Wengen is one of the most charming Swiss alpine villages and is the jumping-off point for the Mannlichen peak.
Mannlichen: Accessed via a quick, large group-sized gondola from Wengen or a 1-4 person gondola cableway that’s the longest in Europe from Grindelwald, this is one of the highest accessible points in Switzerland. The mountain views on a clear day are supreme and there’s a restaurant and hiking trails.
Grindelwald: One of Switzerland’s most famous mountain towns, Grindelwald has wonderful mountain peak views and a charming, windy main street with a plethora of restaurants, hotels, and boutiques.
Alpine Gardens: Located at the Schynige Platte (accessed via a steep railway), these charming high-elevation gardens with over 600 types of flowers sit below dramatic mountain peaks. Gardens: Free. Rail: 63 franc round trip.
Ice Palace: Enjoy ice caves, tunnels, and beautifully carved sculptures in a -10 degree environment in this building constructed entirely of ice, also located at the Schynige Platte. Ice Palace: Free. Rail: 63 franc round trip.
Schloss Thun: Thun’s castle built in the 1100s sits on a hill right above the town and hosts a museum with historic artifacts and a huge Great Hall. It’s worth a walk up to take a gander at even if you skip the 10 franc museum. Schlossberg 1, 3600 Thun. +41 (0)33 223 20 01
Obere Hauptgasse: The main street of Thun, it’s worth a walk for lovely Swiss architecture and plazas.
Untere Schleuse Covered Bridge: This bridge in the center of Thun offers wonderful views of the River Aare and charming wood frames.
Schadaupark: A lakeside park with excellent views of Lake Brienz and the Swiss Alps that hosts the giant Thun Panorama painting. There’s even a pink castle that has a spiral staircase you can ascend. Free. Seestrasse 45, 3600 Thun.
Woodcarvers’ Homes: A 10-minute bus ride from Interlaken, Bonigen is famous for its stately hand-carved wood homes which have survived for centuries. Signs direct you to a walking tour of them. Free.
Lake Brienz: Take the bus to the last stop or drive to Bonigen’s Lake Brienz waterfront to get a stunning view of this huge lake and its surrounding mountains. Boat tours are available here for a fee. Free.
Giessbach Falls: Take a boat across Lake Brienz to reach this incredibly long 14-part waterfall that spills into the lake. Round trip ferry fee: 19 franc
Swiss Alps Hiking
There are an overwhelming array of hikes you can take in the Jungfrau region – here are two of the most scenic trails.
Lauterbrunnen to Murren
- 8 mile loop, 4-6 hours, strenuous
- Begins at the Hotel Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen, accessible via a 20 minute train ride from Interlaken
- On the way up, follow signs to Murren; from Murren, follow signs to Stechelberg and then Lauterbrunnen
- Takes you to the car-free town of Murren high in the mountains – incredible views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the town of Wengen, and the Kleine Scheidegg, Jungfrau, and Schwarzmonch peaks.
- The final portion of the hike takes you on an easy, flat walk through the Valley of 27 Waterfalls
- You’ll pass many cows wearing bells grazing in fields
- For more details on this incredible hike, read my blog.
Panoramaweg Schynige Platte
- 3.7 mile loop, 1.5-2.5 hours, moderately strenuous
- Begins at Schnynige Platte, accessible via an hour train ride from Interlaken
- Walk through delightfully idyllic meadows with sweeping views of Interlaken, Lake Brienz, Lake Thun, and the Swiss Alps
- Excellent wildflowers throughout the hiking season (June-October)
What To Eat in Interlaken
You’ll find Switzerland’s food to be exorbitantly expensive ($30+ for a meal that would be $10 in the U.S.), but it is possible to nourish yourself without breaking the bank. It may seem strange to eat ethnic food rather than local dishes, but it tends to be significantly cheaper. Here are a few of the most affordable yet still high quality eats in Interlaken.
Xport Pizzeria: Enjoy hella cheap prices and large portions of pizza, pasta Middle Eastern sandwiches, and more at this casual dine-in or take-out spot. Hauptstrasse 21, 3800 Matten bei Interlaken. +41 33 221 11 77
Layaly Beirut: A classy(ish) sit-down restaurant with very low prices is hard to come by in Interlaken but this take on Lebanese cuisine is just that. Try all three of their sauces which are served with your meal. Centralstrasse 26, 3800 Interlaken. +41 33 822 40 40
Barracuda Cafe and Bar: There’s great deals on breakfast and lunch at this lively eatery that specializes in bagels, wraps, and paninis. Hauptstrasse 16, 3800 Matten bei Interlaken. +41 79 863 59 25
Coop Pronto: This small supermarket in the center of the town has excellent deals on Swiss pastries, Swiss chocolate, and hot food. Höheweg 26, 3800 Interlaken. +41 33 821 11 75
Gelateria Azzurra: The best gelato in Interlaken, hands down! They have a wide array of flavors and a chic ambiance. Closed Mondays. Jungfraustrasse 45, 3800 Interlaken. +41 33 821 02 43
The 3 Tells: This kitschy Irish pub has a large and affordable food and beer menu and 2 for 1 drinks for women on Fridays! Hauptstrasse 49, 3800 Matten bei Interlaken. +41 33 822 18 25
Balmers Biergarten: Balmers Hostel is the most famous and popular hostel in Interlaken and their large outdoor beer garden offers gigantic shareable beer towers and a lively international crowd. Hauptstrasse 23, 3800 Matten bei Interlaken. +41 33 822 19 61
Metro Bar: Also part of Balmers, this underground club has one of the few dancefloors in Interlaken. It’s a great place to meet locals and other tourists in Interlaken. Hauptstrasse 23, 3800 Matten bei Interlaken. +41 33 822 19 61
Top Of The Met: This swanky restaurant on the top floor of the Hotel Metropole (the tall ugly concrete building in the center of town) has sky-high prices so I recommend just going for a drink to enjoy the best view of Interlaken. Höheweg 37, 3800 Interlaken. +41 33 828 66 66
Interlaken & Jungfrau Blog
Click here to read my Interlaken & Thun blog as I explore the towns and the nearby St. Beautus Caves.
Click here to read my Jungfrau Region/Swiss Alps blog as I head to the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Mannlichen, and Grindelwald for epic hiking and exploring.
Nearby Side Trips from Interlaken
Bern: Switzerland’s capital city only 45 minutes north is one of the only cities in the world to maintain its central street plan since medieval times and is surrounded on three sides by the River Aare. Read more.
Lucerne: This mid-sized city 1.5 hours east of Interlaken has incredibly well-preserved history, including a 700-year-old wall with several towers, covered bridges with centuries-old murals, and a small but charming Old City. Read more.