Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland is one of the country’s foremost tourist destinations. Among the gorgeous places to visit in this area include the mountain resorts of Mürren, Wengen, and Grindelwald. Thun and Interlaken are also interesting towns to visit. And Lauterbrunnen is a beautiful fairytale village with tons of waterfalls. The people who want to visit this area would have to decide where to stay eventually.
Two of the most popular destinations in the Bernese Oberland are Interlaken and Wengen. Visitors from all over the world might wonder: Is it better to stay in Interlaken or Wengen? Other than being able to bring your car with you to Interlaken, what are the advantages? Or is it better to stay in Wengen instead? You might have a hard time deciding between the two.
Both villages are famous in their own way. Interlaken lies between two gorgeous lakes and is near many stunning places, and Wengen looks way down into the valley and across other peaks. They’re both great options, but one might be better for you.
In this article, we’ll compare Interlaken, which is lower in the valley, with Wengen, which is a little higher up. Interlaken or Wengen? Here’s how they compare.
Key Differences: Interlaken vs. Wengen
The key differences between Interlaken and Wengen are as follows:
|Population: approx. 5,600||Population: approx. 1,300|
|Total Area: 4.4 km2 (1.7 mi2)||Total Area: 36.4 km2 (14.1 mi2)|
|Elevation: 568 m (1,863 feet)||Elevation: 1,274 meters (4,180 feet)|
|Accessible by car and train||Accessible by train,|
|Main transport gateway to the Bernese Oberland Region||Swiss Alpine village known for its timber chalets and Belle Époque hotels, and access to Jungfraujoch|
|Highlights: Harder Kulm Mountain,|
Lake Thun, Lake Brienz
|Highlights: Kleine Scheidegg, Jungfraujoch, Männlichen|
Interlaken and Wengen
Interlaken and Wengen are two well-known villages in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. Both villages are famous in their own right and are surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks and stunning scenery. If you find it hard to decide between the two, that is understandable. Both options are great options, but one may be more appropriate for you.
Interlaken serves as more of a base than anything else. Located between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, Interlaken is also surrounded by two lakes.
Around these lakes, there are many pretty towns and villages like Thun, Spiez, Brienz, and Iseltwald. Also nearby are multiple castles, St. Beatus Caves, and more. You can also go on the Aare River.
There aren’t as many high mountains nearby in Interlaken as in Lauterbrunnen. However, if you reach a good viewpoint like Harder Kulm or Heimwehfluh, you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic views.
Even though it’s not as near as Lauterbrunnen to the rest of the Jungfrau region, it is still well connected it. So you can easily visit Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Grindelwald, and Mürren within a day.
Wengen is the largest village in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Approximately 1,274 meters above sea level, Wengen is in the Bernese Highlands (Bernese Oberland). It sits at the foot of the 4,158-meter-high Jungfrau mountain.
The car-free village of Wengen is just 15 minutes from Lauterbrunnen Village. To get to this village, you’ll have to park your car at Lauterbrunnen before heading up on the train.
Wengen holds a Mendelssohn Music Festival every August. A musical genius and artist, Felix Mendelssohn was awed by Jungfrau on his way from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen. In his diary, he describes his experiences in the Jungfrau region, especially in Wengen. Mendelssohn is honored in Wengen with a yearly music festival, a memorial in the upper part of the village, and a hiking trail to Wengernalp.
With the world-famous Lauberhorn ski race held every January in Wengen, everything is great for tourists. Most houses here are wooden chalets, though a few hotels are in Belle Epoque style.
Places to Visit: Interlaken vs. Wengen
Places to Visit near Interlaken
There are many places to visit near Interlaken. There are many tourist attractions nearby, such as those around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
- Harder Kulm – Harder Kulm can be reached from Interlaken by walking through the English Garden and crossing the bridge to the Interlaken Harderbahn. It is located 1,321 meters above sea level and provides fantastic views of Interlaken. Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Lake Thun, and Lake Brienz can be seen from Harder Kulm, too.
- Thun – Thun is a breathtaking lakeside town on the banks of Lake Thun. In Thun, you will find two castles (Thun and Schadau), a picturesque old town, museums, and places to bathe in during summer.
- Spiez – A gorgeous lakeside town near Interlaken with several beaches and a castle.
- Iseltwald – Iseltwald with its peninsula, the Seeburg castle, and its lakeside promenade is a peaceful little village to visit near Interlaken. Boats stop here in summer.
- Lake Thun – The bigger of the two lakes beside Interlaken, you can cruise around Lake Thun, swim, or try one of the water sports.
- Lake Brienz – Lake Brienz is great for sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, wakeboarding and more. Take a ride on the Brienzer Rothorn to get some great photos of Lake Brienz.
- Giessbach Waterfalls – Giessbach Waterfalls get their water from the high Faulhorn-Sagis Valley. From there, it flows into Lake Brienz
- Rosenlaui Valley, Glacier, and Gorge – An absolutely beautiful and peaceful pocket of land in the Reichenbach Valley. The gorge has thundering waterfalls and bizarre cliff formations. It is definitely worth visiting.
- Aare Gorge – Known for its limestone formations, Aare Gorge is a large piece of bedrock that stretches 1,400 meters long and 200 meters deep between Innertkirchen and Meiringen.
- St. Beatus Caves – The caves and the museum are located inside the Niederhorn Massif. Outside, you can walk around a garden with beautiful waterfalls. Take good walking shoes and bring a jacket since the cave can get chilly.
- Bönigen – Bönigen is a traditional village with wooden houses and chalets from the 16th century. You can find the village of Bönigen on the lower shore of Lake Brienz.
- Axalp – Axalp, right above Lake Brienz at 1,535 meters above sea level, is the starting point for a lot of hiking trails from spring until autumn. In winter, it is transformed into a small ski resort with 15 kilometers of slopes for young and old alike.
- Ballenberg Open Air Museum – This open-air museum features various centuries-old buildings from the different cantons of Switzerland. They have typical farm animals such as donkeys, cows, chickens, rabbits, and cats. In some houses, you will learn about specific trades or you will be able to interact with musical instruments or handicrafts.
Places to Visit near Wengen
- Lauterbrunnen – Lauterbrunnen village is situated at the valley bottom of this magnificent U-shaped valley in Switzerland surrounded by numerous waterfalls.
- Männlichen – Männlichen is a 2,343-metre mountain easily accessible from Wengen and Grindelwald. From Männlichen, you get a fantastic view of Mönch, Eiger, and Jungfrau.
- Eiger Glacier – The Eiger Glacier lies on the northwest side of the Eiger Mountain.
- Jungfraujoch – The saddle between Jungfrau (at 4,158 m above sea level) and Mönch (at 4,110 m above sea level). It is also the location of the highest mountain railway in Europe at 3,454 meters above sea level.
- Kleine Scheidegg – Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 meters. It is located between Eiger and Lauberhorn. Kleine Scheidegg makes a great starting point for excursions to Jungfraujoch and Lauberhorn. It is also the meeting point of two rack railways.
- Staubbach Waterfall – The Staubbach Waterfall is a waterfall in Switzerland located just west of Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Highlands. It falls 297 meters from a valley overhanging the Weisse Lütschine, before the end of the overhanging cliff.
- Trümmelbach Waterfalls – There are ten glacier-fed waterfalls in Switzerland’s Trümmelbach Falls. It is accessible by a tunnel-funicular built back in 1913.
- Mürren – Mürren is positioned a bit higher than Wengen, at 1,645 meters above sea level. There are also spectacular views of the bottom of the valley, and the town is quiet and car-free. It is smaller than Wengen.
- Schilthorn – This is the summit above the village of Mürren and the highest mountain north of Sefinenfurgge Pass. It is around 2,970 meters above sea level.
- Stechelberg – Stechelberg is a small village located at the base of the Schwarzmönch mountain in the Bernese Alps.
- Mürrenbach Waterfall – In five cascades, Mürrenbach Waterfall drops 417 meters to the ground, making it Switzerland’s highest waterfall.
- Gimmelwald – A small car-free village, Gimmelwald is located between Stechelberg and Mürren. It is 1,363 meters above sea level.
- Allmendhubel – At 1,907 meters above sea level, Allmendhubel is a hill above Mürren that has a large playground called Flower Park for families with children.
Advantages: Interlaken vs. Wengen
Advantages of Staying in Interlaken
- Interlaken is larger than Wengen. In that area, you can find more restaurants, hotels, and facilities.
- A variety of hotels are available in Interlaken, ranging from luxury hotels to hostels that are more budget-friendly.
- Interlaken is more accessible than Wengen. It can be reached by car, unlike Wengen, which doesn’t allow cars. Additionally, it is closer to all international airports by train.
- Train travel from Zurich to Interlaken takes 1 hour 56 minutes, compared to Wengen (2 hours 39 minutes). Interlaken is also closer to Bern, Geneva, and Basel compared to Wengen.
- Compared to Wengen, Interlaken is closer to many other beautiful Swiss towns such as Thun, Brig, and Murten.
- In Interlaken, you can mix indoor and outdoor activities. There are more options for rainy days, including visiting St. Beatus, Thun with its museums and castles, and Rosenlaui Gorge.
- Interlaken is located near two beautiful lakes. You should choose it over Wengen if you plan to do a lot of swimming. Aside from wakeboarding and sailing, you can also do SUP. There are many activities around Lake Thun and Brienz as well.
Advantages of Staying in Wengen
- Wengen is car-free. Stay here if you prefer to stay in a traditional Swiss mountain village that is car-free. You can wander around this beautiful Swiss traditional village without being concerned about car traffic.
- Wengen is smaller than Interlaken. You’ll find fewer restaurants, hotels, and facilities there. Choose it over Grindelwald if you want to stay somewhere more peaceful.
- The mountains around Wengen offer more traditional activities such as hiking, biking, and skiing. In case you prefer mountain activities over anything else, this is the place for you.
- Wengen is closer to the mountains in the Jungfrau Region and Jungfraujoch. It is also closer to Mürren, Stechelberg, Allmend, and Schilthorn than Interlaken.
- Wengen is a traditional mountain village with a slow scenic train that will bring you to Kleine Scheidegg and Eiger Glacier.
- Wengen is near Lauterbrunnen and its many waterfalls such as Trümmelbach, Staubbach, and Mürrenbach.
Hotels: Interlaken vs. Wengen
Interlaken offers a more extensive selection of hotels than Wengen. Booking very early is highly recommended if you want to stay in Wengen since there is only a limited number of beds. There will be accommodation options for people of all budgets at both places. Since booking.com is easy-to-use, widely accepted, and secure, I highly recommend it for hotel bookings.
Listed below are some recommended hotels in both places:
Hotels in Interlaken
- Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa (5-star) – A luxurious and elegant hotel with distinctive design and decor, marble bathrooms, and views of the Jungfrau mountain.
- Swiss Hotel Apartments (5-star apartments) – With spacious rooms equipped with a kitchen, balcony, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker, it’s the most affordable and convenient place to stay in Interlaken. It’s also just 80 meters from Interlaken Ost train station, so you can easily get there from Zurich and Geneva airports.
- Hotel Royal St Georges (4-star superior) – Close to the Harderbahn Funicular and Interlaken’s center, Hotel Royal St. Georges has a large, elegant lobby, restaurant, spa, and relaxing rooms. Personally, I loved staying here.
- Hotel Bellevue (4-star) – This boutique hotel is near Interlaken West train station. Each room has a balcony with a view of the mountains.
- Hotel Bernerhof (3-star) – The Hotel Bernerhof is an affordable, central hotel right opposite Interlaken West train station. It has modern rooms and a restaurant that serves Swiss food.
- Interlaken Youth Hostel (Hostel) – A convenient hostel located near the Interlaken Ost train station. They have clean and basic accommodations, plus breakfast is included.
Hotels in Wengen
- Beausite Park Hotel, Wengen (4-star) – Beausite Park Hotel is located at the base of the Wengen-Männlichen cable car, making it easy to reach the Grindelwald and Kleine Scheidegg ski slopes. This hotel offers superb views, fine cuisine, top-rated spa facilities, a children’s playground, a natural swimming pond, and free WiFi.
- Hotel Maya Caprice (4-star) – In the heart of the car-free village of Wengen, this top-rated hotel is near the Wengen-Männlichen cable car and Wengen train station. Featuring natural wooden decor, balconies overlooking the Jungfrau massif, spacious refurbished rooms, a comfortable spa, and a fitness center, guests are sure to enjoy their stay here.
- Alpine Hotel Wengen (4-star) – Across from the Männlichen Cable Car is the Alpine Hotel Wengen. The hotel offers a garden, trampoline, indoor pool, sauna, and lounge bar, making it one of the best places to stay in the car-free village of Wengen.
- Hotel Schönegg (3-star superior) – Featuring an award-winning restaurant and beautifully renovated rooms, it has great mountain views, a sauna, and incredibly friendly staff.
- Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn (3-star) – Built back in 1897, Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn offers up-to-date spa facilities including a swimming pool. The hotel is located near the train and cable car stations of the car-free Wengen.
Final Thoughts: Interlaken vs. Wengen
Visiting Bernese Oberland is such an enjoyable experience, and there is much literature and information about it. Your choice of a base will ultimately depend on your itinerary.
If you’re looking for a mix of activities including mountains, lakes, castles, museums, and more, Interlaken is for you. If, on the other hand, you are an outdoor enthusiast who prefers to relax and stay in the mountains, then Wengen is the place for you.
Both locations are quite close to one another. There is no doubt that both places are incredibly beautiful, surrounded by mountains and beautiful landscapes. It doesn’t matter what you decide – I’m sure you won’t regret it!
TIP: For a couple of days in the Jungfrau Region, consider buying an unlimited transportation ticket so you can travel by train, boat, bus, gondola, and gondola on all the valid routes. You can get your ticket from GetYourGuide here – Jungfrau Travel Pass: Unlimited Transportation Ticket. The ticket covers Interlaken Ost, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg, Grütschalp, Winteregg, and Mürren. Jungfraujoch tickets aren’t included, but you can get them at a special price.
Related Posts: Wengen
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- Zurich to Wengen Train: All You Need To Know
- Geneva to Wengen Train: All You Need To Know
- Wengen, Switzerland: 8 Reasons To Love It
- Kleine Scheidegg and How to Get There
- Experience Trümmelbach Falls Once In Your Lifetime
- Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch: What Is the Difference?
- Jungfraujoch – When is the Best Time to Visit?
- Breathtaking Views in Männlichen, Switzerland
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