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Looking for the best activities, viewpoints, and restaurants to add to your Interlaken itinerary in 2024? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for my best Interlaken travel tips from a 4-time visitor.
Although definitely not easy to navigate on a budget, Interlaken remains one of the most stunning destinations I’ve been lucky enough to visit. A tiny Swiss town surrounded by towering mountains and sparkling blue lakes, Interlaken is Europe’s extreme sports capital and home to every adrenaline-inducing activity you could possibly imagine.
During my time living and working in Florence, I was lucky enough to visit Interlaken not one, not two, not three, but FOUR times. I had the opportunity to ski the Swiss Alps (even if half the day was spent eating fondue in the mountain chalet), winter kayak on Lake Brienz, devour authentic Swiss chocolate, and barrel down the mountain in the middle of the night in a wooden toboggan. Long story short – whatever you decide to put on your Interlaken itinerary, it’s guaranteed to be exciting.
If you’re ready to experience one of the most beautiful (and most expensive) towns in Europe, then keep reading for the best things to do in Interlaken Switzerland.
The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Interlaken
Unless you have a much much higher budget than I did when visiting Switzerland, hostels are going to be your best option for accommodation. Thankfully there are plenty of great hostel options to choose from in the center of town – browse my favorites below!
OR, if you’re looking to splurge a little on your Interlaken Itinerary, go for one of the mid-level or luxury accommodation options listed instead. Bonus points if it has a spa with views of the Swiss Alps 😍
🏠 Where to Stay in Interlaken:
🏔️ Things to Do in Interlaken:
- Book a ski package in the Jungfrau Region 🎿
- Suit up for winter kayaking on Lake Brienz 🛶
- Tap into your inner adrenaline junkie on a night sledding adventure down the Alps 🛷
- Go skydiving 🛩️
- …or opt for paragliding instead! 🪂
- Take multiple gondolas to Lake Bachalpsee 🐄
- Hike to Harder Kulm for amazing views 👀
- Have a drink at the Hotel Metropole rooftop bar 🍸
- Take a chocolate-making class at Funky Chocolate Club 🍫
- Ride the gondolas to a world-famous James Bond filming location – Schilthorn 🚡
- Experience the terrifying heights of Interlaken’s Canyon Swing 🌄
- Take a day trip to Jungfraujoch – top of Europe 🏔️
My Experience at Balmers Hostel
Only the cutest hostel in existence, Balmers Hostel has been operating in Interlaken since 1907 and is a favorite for students traveling through Switzerland. The hostel has a great location in the middle of town and is also home to the only nightclub in Interlaken, Metro Bar.
The Best Activities to Add to Your Interlaken Itinerary
Whether you’re traveling on a budget or not, there’s no shortage of unforgettable experiences to have in Interlaken. As the adventure sports capital of Europe, Interlaken is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. If you happen to be in this category of thrill seekers, you’ll have the time of your life skydiving over the Swiss Alps, night sledding in a wooden toboggan, or skiing down the highest points in Europe. If you’re a little too afraid of heights to jump out of a helicopter, like myself, don’t worry, there’s plenty to do in Interlaken with both feet planted firmly on the ground.
Below are my favorite adventures to embark on in Interlaken and ones I strongly recommend adding to your Interlaken itinerary.
Ski or Snowboard in the Jungfrau Region
It’s no secret that Switzerland is home to some of the best skiing in the world. Every winter, Interlaken is filled with tourists and locals hauling gear on trains and heading out to ski the Bernese Oberland. If you stay at least one night in Interlaken, your accommodation will provide you with an included bus pass, which covers the first leg of your journey to the slopes.
Although you won’t find any slopes in the heart of Interlaken, the town is conveniently located between three of the region’s best ski resorts: Grindelwald, Wengen, and Mürren – all part of the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland. These are all easily accessible by bus or train ride and make the perfect day trip to add to your Interlaken itinerary!
A ski shuttle runs between Interlaken Town and the Jungfrau Ski Region from mid-December to the beginning of April (check the timetables here). The shuttle is free with a guest card and Jungfrau ski region winter sports pass. Take advantage – not much is free in Interlaken!
If you haven’t traveled with your gear, you can rent everything you need in town at Outdoor Switzerland: Hauptstrasse 15, 3800 Matten bei Interlaken, Switzerland.
👉🏼 Click here to book your beginner ski package!
Skiing in Wengen
Wengen is the perfect spot for beginners or intermediate skiers. Most of the runs in this region are blues and reds, so there’s no need to be an expert to cruise these slopes.
To get to Wengen from Interlaken, start at the Interlaken Ost train station and take a train to Lauterbrunnen. The trains usually split at Zweilütschinen, with one half proceeding to Lauterbrunnen (Wengen) and the other heading to Grindelwald. I recommend using this handy Swiss Timetable to plan your trip!
Skiing in Grindelwald
Grindelwald is another great option for beginner or intermediate skiers. Many of the tracks are in wooded areas, and some actually pass through wildlife sanctuaries.
To get to Grindelwald from Interlaken, simply hop on the Berner Oberland Bahn (BOB) from Interlaken Ost station – a journey of approximately 34 minutes with no stops. There are typically two trains per hour, but you can check the exact timetables here.
Skiing in Mürren
Mürren is both the highest and most challenging ski region in the Oberland. You’ll be treated to spectacular views of three of the highest peaks in the area: Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. This area is best for experienced skiers, so if you’re not ready for a challenge I recommend skipping Mürren.
The easiest way to get to Mürren from Interlaken is by taking the Grütschalp Cable Car. From Interlaken Ost station, take the train to Lauterbrunnen. Once you arrive, follow the signs to the Grütschalp Cable Car. In Grütschalp, transfer to a small train that will take you the rest of the way to Mürren. Trust me – these views are truly spectacular.
Kayaking is one of my favorite activities to do in any season, so I jumped at the chance to join a winter kayaking trip on Lake Brienz in early February.
I’ve joined kayaking trips all over the world, from a bird-watching excursion in Lago de Yojoa, Honduras to an overnight trip to Khao Sok National Park when I lived in Thailand. However, none of them have held a candle to the spectacular scenery I experienced while winter kayaking on Lake Brienz.
This highly-rated tour on Viator is a fantastic 3-hour excursion that includes a guide, heavy-duty winter gear, a life jacket, and your kayak rental. The scenery is breathtaking – picture towering, snow-capped mountain peaks surrounding sparkling blue water. Thankfully, the wetsuits keep you warm and dry enough to enjoy the views in even the most extreme Swiss weather!
If you’re wondering what to do in Interlaken in summer, consider booking a summer kayaking excursion with Hightide Kayak School.
👉🏼 Click here to book your winter kayaking trip in Interlaken!
I’d never even heard of night sledding before my second trip to Interlaken. Since the company I worked for was based in town, everyone was treated to a night sledding adventure during winter orientation. Long story short – it was terrifyingly amazing.
Picture a pitch-black night sky dotted with millions of stars in frigid temperatures while you zip down the Swiss Alps gripping a toboggan for dear life. Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s as dangerous as it sounds 😜
As someone who is not a fan of heights, night sledding is the perfect adrenaline-inducing activity to enjoy on the ground. I highly recommend adding it to your Interlaken itinerary if time allows. (Note: the activity below has only two reviews, but it’s the exact same excursion I took with Outdoor – so I know it’s great!)
👉🏼 Book your night sledding adventure with Outdoor here!
Stroll to Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz is one of my favorite spots in Interlaken. The water is sparkling blue, completely clear, and so clean you can actually drink it! Kayaking, in both winter and summer, is common on Lake Brienz and you can also rent stand-up paddle boards. The beautiful viewpoint below is only about a 45-minute walk from downtown Interlaken.
If you’re looking for a fantastic sunrise in Interlaken, Lake Brienz is the place to be. If you’re hoping to watch the sunset, head to Lake Thun on the other side of Interlaken. (This is one of the best things to do in Interlaken in July – or the rest of the summer months.)
Explore Interlaken Town
Downtown Interlaken, although small, is full of yummy restaurants and quaint shops selling all types of outdoor equipment, watches, and Swiss army knives. In addition to lots of chocolate and Swiss fondue, Interlaken has a wide variety of fantastic foreign restaurants – like Indian, Lebanese, and Thai food.
Even if you just plan to wander around and sightsee, a stop downtown is a must if you’ve budgeted for a 3 day Interlaken itinerary or more.
Hike to Bachalpsee Lake
The hike to Bachalpsee Lake was one of the most extraordinary days I’ve ever spent in Europe (possibly even more extraordinary than the Pico do Areeiro hike in Madeira, but we also had terrible weather for that one). Picture a stunning blue lake framed on all sides by the Swiss Alps and littered with grazing cows.
Unfortunately, as spectacular as the hike was, it was far from free. Since it’s too far away to start the hike from Interlaken, you’ll need to take two buses and a gondola each way. These costs add up in Switzerland, where everything is very expensive. But take my advice – the money is worth the views!
If you’re interested in adding Bachalpsee Lake to your Interlaken itinerary, follow these simple directions from Interlaken.
- Use your free bus pass to take the 105 bus from Matten b.I., Hotel Sonne to Wilderswil station.
- Purchase a bus ticket for the 312 from Wilderswil station to Grindelwald (10.20 CHF).
- Make your way to the gondola (Grindelwald Firstbahn) and purchase a one-way ticket to First (34 CHF). It’s a 25-minute ride and the views are breathtaking.
- Start the hike in First and follow the signs to Bachalpsee Lake. If you have time, stop by the Coop before you leave and grab some snacks for a picnic near the lake.
- Loop around the lake and continue down the path to Bort.
- Purchase a one-way gondola ticket from Bort to Grindelwald (11 CHF).
- Purchase a bus ticket from Grindelwald to Wilderswil (10.20 CHF).
- Take the 105 bus from Wilderswil station to Matten b.I., Hotel Sonne station (using your free bus pass).
On our way from Bachalpsee Lake to Bort, we got caught in a herd of cows that Swiss shepherds were trying to bring in for the night. And yes, they were actually yodeling.
Take the Train to Lauterbrunnen
Sadly, even after four trips to Interlaken I never found the time to make it to Lauterbrunnen. The photos I’ve seen of this picturesque Swiss valley are unbelievably stunning, so you can believe me when I say it’s number 1 on my list next time I find myself in Switzerland.
If you have the time during your Interlaken trip, I highly recommend packing your camera, strapping on your walking shoes, and heading out to explore Lauterbrunnen. During your visit, you’ll witness the famous Staubbach Falls cascading into the Lutschine River from 300 meters high. This is actually only one of 72 breathtaking waterfalls to explore in the region!
Thankfully, it’s easy to get to Lauterbrunnen. Simply hop on the train from Interlaken and enjoy the views for half an hour.
Hike to Harder Kulm
Another great activity for your Interlaken itinerary is hiking up to Harder Kulm – the highest point in Interlaken.
At roughly three hours straight up, this hike is anything but easy…but it is free! The views at the top are well worth the burning in your calves and it’s a great excuse to eat even more Swiss fondue.
Unless you get tired and decide to take the funicular one or both ways, the hike to Harder Kulm is the perfect free activity in Interlaken. We contemplated jumping in Lake Brienz afterward, but sadly we didn’t have time before our orientation activities.
Have a Drink at The Hotel Metropole Rooftop Bar
If you’re a frequent flyer on my site, you know I love a good rooftop bar. My all-time fav has got to be View on Art in Florence, but I don’t discriminate against views.
To be franc (haha, we love puns) the outside of Hotel Metropole is an ugly eyesore. However, the hotel is stunning on the inside and they have a killer rooftop bar. Prices are very reasonable, even for Switzerland, and you’ll have a view of both Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. A drink on this rooftop makes for a perfect evening and is one of the best budget-friendly activities on my Interlaken itinerary.
It also happens to be a quick activity to cross off your bucket list, so it’s the perfect stop whether you have 1 day in Interlaken or 7 days in Interlaken.
Ride the Gondolas to Schilthorn
As one of the highest points in Europe, Schilthorn was a filming site in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and is now home to a James Bond museum. It takes three gondola rides to get to the summit and, on a clear day, it offers 360-degree panoramic views of Lauterbrunnen and the valley below.
Unfortunately, when we visited in January 2019, the entire summit was engulfed in a cloud 😭 so we didn’t get to properly enjoy the views. While visiting, make sure to stop for a drink or a meal in the rotating restaurant!
Take a Chocolate Making Class at Funky Chocolate Club
If you wouldn’t describe yourself as an “adrenaline junkie,” a chocolate-making class is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Interlaken. The best chocolate-making classes in town are put on by Funky Chocolate Club and it’s always a good idea to book in advance.
Even if you’re not in the mood to learn how to make chocolate, I would definitely suggest stopping by for a hot cocoa. I’ve had some pretty amazing hot chocolate in my life, but nothing compares to the mind-blowing hot chocolate at Funky Chocolate Club. When it’s negative 10 degrees in the Swiss mountains, it’ll be the best part of your day. They serve an iced summer version that’s also delicious but doesn’t have quite the same effect as drinking a steamy cup of melted Swiss chocolate in the snow! No matter your taste in chocolate, Funky Chocolate Club is definitely a stop for the Swiss travel itinerary.
Skydiving and Paragliding
Although I prefer activities that require my feet firmly planted on the ground (or in a kayak), a lot of adventure-seekers visit Interlaken for the skydiving and paragliding.
If you’re one of these people, keep in mind that both activities are extremely weather-dependent. If you have your heart set on one, or both, I would suggest booking it for the first day of your vacation. That way, if it gets pushed back due to weather concerns, you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to reschedule. If you get lucky and the weather cooperates, most visitors consider paragliding and/or skydiving the highlight of their Interlaken Switzerland itinerary.
If skydiving and paragliding aren’t enough adrenaline for you, consider going bungee jumping or booking Interlaken’s famous Canyon Swing – an activity that an old coworker/friend of mine actually did on her wedding day while wearing her wedding dress!
👉🏼 Book your Interlaken paragliding adventure here!
👉🏼 Book your Interlaken skydive here!
How to Get to and Around Interlaken
Interlaken does not have its own airport, so you’ll most likely be flying into nearby Zurich or Bern. Bern is much closer, only 45 minutes away by train, while the journey from Zurich is closer to two hours. If you plan on seeing other parts of Switzerland, you might want to consider purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass. Check the official website for prices per pass duration.
Once you’ve arrived in Interlaken, you’ll notice that the town is very easily walkable. In fact, one of the best activities to add to your Interlaken itinerary is simply wandering around downtown Interlaken and perusing the many shops, restaurants, and adorable Swiss chalets.
If you’re staying one night or more in Interlaken, your accommodation will provide you with a free Interlaken guest card that will allow you to use the local public transit system free-of-charge.
Where to Eat in Interlaken
Switzerland has no shortage of yummy food, but the challenge is finding somewhere that doesn’t completely break the bank. The following restaurants are reasonable by Swiss standards…but not by anyone else’s. Add these yummy stops to your Interlaken itinerary!
- Hirschen Hotel: An adorable chalet-like hotel, The Hirschen Hotel is centrally located and serves traditional Swiss fondue. Swiss fondue is yummy, but it’s different from any fondue I’ve had in the U.S. The cheese has an interesting aftertaste that tastes almost like vodka.
- Hüsi Bierhaus: If you’re in the market for some melt-in-your-mouth delicious Swiss macaroni & cheese (Älpler makkaroni), look no further than Hüsi Bierhaus. Swiss macaroni is served with applesauce on the side, which sounds very strange but is actually delicious. If you don’t like apples with your cheese, they have a large menu with lots of other great options (and a great beer list!).
- Layaly Beirut: Although probably the most expensive restaurant on this list, Layaly Beirut serves fantastic Lebanese food. Everything we ate was delicious and the staff was super friendly. Unfortunately, seeing the check at the end of the night hurt a little bit. Layaly Beirut is the perfect restaurant if you’re not worried about price and looking for some great Lebanese food in Interlaken!
- Little Thai: I recently spent two weeks in Thailand so you can trust me when I say Little Thai has amazing Thai food. You know it’s authentic when spicy actually means SPICY. Food is a bit expensive but completely normal for Swiss prices. Little Thai has a great location right outside of Balmers and is just a five-minute walk from Backpacker’s Villa.
- Baracuda: Across the street from Balmers, Baracuda serves a variety of yummy wraps and sandwiches that are pretty affordable by Swiss standards (12-14 CHF). They turn the cafe into a bar at night and also offer a great selection of tap beer and tasty cocktails.
- X-Port: Across the street from Baracuda, X-Port is another good option for cheap eats. They offer everything from kebabs to pizza to chicken nuggets and are your best (and only) option for late-night food.
Visiting Interlaken FAQ:
The ideal duration for a visit to Interlaken largely depends on individual preferences and planned activities. However, I would suggest booking at least an Interlaken itinerary for 4 days. There is so much to do and see in this beautiful Swiss town, don’t rush through it by only allowing yourself an Interlaken 1 day itinerary or only accounting for 2 days in Interlaken.
Spending 4 days in Interlaken allows ample time to explore the breathtaking natural surroundings, partake in outdoor adventures such as hiking, paragliding, or skiing, and experience the charming local culture. This timeframe enables visitors to fully appreciate the beauty of Interlaken and its neighboring areas, including the stunning lakes and towering mountain peaks.
Deciding between staying in Interlaken or Grindelwald is always going to come down to personal preference and which local activities you’d like to enjoy on your trip.
Grindelwald, situated amidst the mountains, offers amazing views and is favored for its proximity to the alpine experience. It’s an ideal base for those seeking hiking trails in the summer or ski slopes in the winter.
On the other hand, Interlaken, located in a valley, is a better option for visitors who wish to explore both mountains and lakes in the Bernese Oberland simultaneously. It also offers a wider range of activities, making it suitable for travelers who prefer larger towns with various amenities.
Yes, it is possible to visit Interlaken and Jungfrau in one day, although it would be a very long day. I would not personally suggest trying to fit Interlaken and Jungfrau into one day. Instead, I would recommend budgeting for an extra day on your Interlaken itinerary and taking a day trip to Jungfrau from Interlaken.
The Interlaken guest card is provided for free to visitors upon payment of the visitor’s tax as part of your accommodation expenses. This card offers complimentary access to public transit services and provides discounts on various attractions, activities, and services throughout the region. Therefore, by paying the visitor’s tax associated with their accommodation, guests can enjoy the convenience of free travel on public transit and take advantage of discounts across a wide range of offerings in the Interlaken area. Click here for a complete list of benefits offered by the Interlaken guest card.
The Jungfrau ski region winter sports pass prices vary based on the duration of the pass. For adults, the pass costs 75 CHF for one day, 149 CHF for two days, and 221 CHF for three days. These passes can be purchased on the official Jungfrau website.
Switzerland takes the Swiss franc, which is convenient for Americans because the conversion is currently 1:14 with the US Dollar (as of February 2024). When withdrawing cash in Interlaken, make sure to withdraw from bank ATMs and avoid currency conversion booths and Euronet ATMs.
I’ve only scratched the surface of things to do in Interlaken. There are so many exciting opportunities for outdoor thrill-seekers, it’ll make your head spin! I’m not one for skydiving, but if you’re a fan of heights there’s no better place in Europe to skydive than in Interlaken. You could also book paragliding, hang gliding, bungee jumping, canyon swinging, canyoning…basically any adrenaline-inducing activity you can think of. There’s no limit to what you can do in the Swiss Alps!
If you’re not the jumping-out-of-a-helicopter type, don’t fret – there are still plenty of exciting activities to embark on during a day in Interlaken. Join a chocolate-making class at Funky Chocolate Club, suit up for winter kayaking, or seek out the best spots for Swiss fondue in Interlaken Town. No matter your interests, you’re sure to find something amazing in Interlaken. Why do you think I’ve been back four times?
If you enjoyed my Interlaken itinerary, make sure to check out more of my guides to Europe’s top destinations! Like…