It’s not unusual for a town to settle on the bank of a river or a lake but for it to sit between two lakes is quite unique! This is where Interlaken name comes from – “between the lakes”. Interlaken is built on a narrow stretch of valley between the emerald-colored waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. It is a traditional resort town in the mountainous Bernese Oberland region of central Switzerland. It features old timber houses and parkland on either side of the Aare River. Its surrounding mountains with dense forests, alpine meadows and glaciers have numerous hiking and skiing trails to experience. Truly there are tons of things to do in Interlaken!
Lake Thun (Thunersee)
An Alpine lake situated in the heart of the Bernese Oberland, Thunersee is made especially picturesque by the magnificent mountains that surround it and the quaint villages along its banks. The town of Thun from which the lake takes its name, is worth visiting in order to experience the grand castle and historical medieval Old Town. Also of note are the 12 beautiful churches that occupy the coastline, all dating back to the medieval period.
While around Thun, you should visit the Oberhofen Castle on the lake. It is famous for its distinctive mediaeval architecture and its picturesque lakeside turret. The Oriental Smoking Room at the top of the tower offers a unique experience and a spectacular panorama over the lake and mountain, while the Castle Chapel features impressive murals dating from the 15th century.
As you travel around the lake whether by car, train or boat you’ll pass a number of lovely lakeside villages, most of which warrant a visit.
At Hilterfingen Hunegg Castle houses a Renaissance Revival and Art Nouveau Museum, whilst Faulensee is the ideal spot for partaking in watersports.
Iseltwald, the pearl of Lake Brienz, on the opposite side of Interlaken! With about 420 inhabitants the pretty fishing village is one of the small communities in the canton of Bern. At over 23 km2, however, there is a diversity that is second to none: from the idyllic fishing bay to the highest mountain peaks with breathtaking views! You will find everything.
Lauterbrunnen means “Many springs” in German or more accurately “Loud springs”. And the name is spot on. This little valley in the Swiss Alps has no less than 72 thundering waterfalls, some of which are several hundred meters high. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you might know that it’s also at the Reichnebach Falls, just nearby Lauterbrunnen where Holmes has his presumed mortal combat with Professor Moriarty.
The stunning Staubbach Falls “fall” a distance of 300 metres, making them the second largest waterfall in Switzerland. Much spray is created, which when moved by the wind looks like glittering dust, giving the waterfall its name (“Staub” means “dust” in German). There are many other natural water phenomena in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, including a further 71 waterfalls; Lauterbrunnen itself is picture-card quaint, nestling against the backdrop of three of Switzerland’s highest mountains. Skiing is popular here in winter, mountain biking and paragliding in summer.
Lauterbrunnen’s thunderous waterfalls and dramatic cliffs have inspired many great writers and poets, such as J.R.R. Tolkien who got the inspiration for Rivendell during a hike from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen.
Schilthorn and Mürren
They say that Agent 007 knows how to choose his girl heroes, but it’s definite that he knows how to choose his film shooting locations. High up & up there in Schilthorn you can recall the famous James Bond classic « On her Majesty’s secret service » of 1969, and its famous action scenes on the slopes. To get there you take the cable car from Lauterbrunnen and you should definitely have a stop at the village of Mürren to enjoy the amazing view of the mountains and the valley and why not have a nice Swiss meal. Not to miss is the “Thrill walk” (cable car stop at Birg between Mürren and Schilthorn), a route hanging from the mountains where you can definitely get an adrenaline boost if you are brave enough!
When you reach Schilthorn a magnificent 360-degree panoramic view of the “Swiss skyline” including Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau awaits you at Piz Gloria. We shared even more details about this destination in a separate post about our trip here
Wengen and Trümmelbach Falls
A Swiss Alpine village in the Bernese Oberland region, known for its timber chalets and belle époque hotels, from here you can have access to many wonderful sites. The Jungfraubahn railway climbs to Jungfrau summit, with views of the Aletsch Glacier from the Sphinx observation deck. A cable car reaches Männlichen’s slopes and trails, with views of Eiger and Mönch peaks. South of Wengen are the Trümmelbach glacier waterfalls, accessed via underground paths.
The water thunders, inside the mountain, down the rock face here – no wonder, the Trümmelbach Waterfalls drain the huge glacier walls of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau all by themselves. the artistic lighting in some of the grottos adds magic to the experience.
Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe
One of the best experiences Switzerland offers is its panoramic trains across several valleys and mountains. From the beautiful region of Interlaken you can take the train to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe, being one of the highest locations reached by train in Europe – 3,454m above sea level. There you can visit the Glacier and enjoy the snow-covered mountains most of the year.
Going up at Kleine Scheidegg you are at a cross road of choices! Would you go to the Jungfraujoch, hike the Eiger Trail or conquer the Lauberhorn? Two cogwheel railways meet here, where you can discover the most beautiful region in the Bernese Oberland. Whatever you chose you will be amazed!
On the way back (or way up also) you should pass through Grindelwald. Grindelwald is saught for skiing in winter and hiking in summer, also as a base for mountain-climbing to the iconic Eiger Mountain. Hiking there in spring time gifts you a thousand colorful images that even the best of cameras can bearly capture. On the hiking track there are several cheese making farmers. The Alpine organic cheese (Alpkäse) you get there is remarkable and for a fraction of the cost you get in super markets!
The world-renowned Eiger North Face is the ultimate test of the best climbers in the world! Without the challenge of climbing, the charm of the Eiger can be experienced on the Eiger Trail hike. Read more in our dedicated post about incredible hiking trails in Switzerland.
The Aareschlucht or the Aare gorge is a masterpiece of nature! Just near the town of Meiringen you will see how the river Aare carves through a limestone ridge in a spectacular way. Whatever pictures reveal of this natural wonder it stays short from the awesomeness you feel when standing there!
Engelberg and Mount Titlis
Engelberg – Titlis is the largest winter and summer holiday destination in central Switzerland. The attractive village with its famous monastery offers a wide variety of holiday activities for every taste. From tobogganing and cross-country skiing to scootering and mountain biking and…..the world’s first rotating cable car! Journey to the top of the mount Titlis is amazing with different types of cable cars. Last one is called “Titlis Rotair” which rotates while climbing up giving breathtaking 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
As a cherry on the top Trübsee, a glacial lake, lies nearby at the foot of mount Titlis above Engelbert!