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Most guidebooks and travel forums about Switzerland as well as fellow tourists consistently mention Interlaken. You might wonder: Why is that? What makes Interlaken so famous? Why do people keep talking about it?
Interlaken, Switzerland is popular because it is an excellent base for tourists. No matter if you want to stay here for a day or two, or even for a week or more – Interlaken has a lot to offer. But it doesn’t stop there. As you explore the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, you will also be able to visit many famous and beautiful places nearby Interlaken.
The following article will detail the many reasons why Interlaken is such a great base for your stay in Switzerland. And what type of traveler should consider it as their primary base in the Swiss Alps.
Interlaken Is Located Between Two Beautiful Lakes
With two lakes at its doorstep, Interlaken is a fantastic place to base yourself. A little town, almost like a city, it lies between the lakes of Thun and Brienz.
In the Jungfrau Region, passenger boats run on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz from April to October. The regular service enables guests to visit other destinations along the lake by boat.
Behind Interlaken West train station are the boats in Lake Thun. You can ride the boat Blümlisalp, if you wish to ride a steamer. Boats in Lake Thun stop in Neuhaus (Unterseen), Beatushöhlen-Sundlauenen, Leissigen, Beatenbucht, Merlingen, Faulensee, Spiez, Gunten, Einigen, Gwatt Deltapark, Längenschachen, Oberhofen am Thunersee, Hilterfingen, Hünibach, and Thun.
If you wish to read more about Lake Thun, check out our article 8 Best Things to Do in Lake Thun, Switzerland.
In addition to riding the boats (steamer or not) and stopping at towns, there are also numerous places you can visit for a swim such as the Thun Lido.
Thun Lido is one of the largest pool complexes in Switzerland. Besides the 50-meter and 10-meter pools, there is also a 25-meter training pool, a pool for non-swimmers, a large slide, a 10-meter springboard (also with lower springboards), and a beach volleyball court.
Behind Interlaken Ost train station are the boats in Lake Brienz. You can ride the boat Lötschberg, if you wish to ride a steamer. Boats in Lake Brienz stop in Böningen, Ringgenberg, Niederried, Iseltwald, Oberried, Giessbach, and Brienz.
If you wish to see the list of steamer boats, check out our article Ultimate List of Steamboats in Switzerland’s Lakes.
You can visit the towns that the boats stop in. There are three towns I would highly recommend: Thun, Spiez, and Brienz. Also popular is the place Iseltwald. However, most of them will be really picturesque.
Interlaken Is a Fantastic Base for Many Mountain Trips
Interlaken is near a number of mountains in the Bernese Oberland region. This is an excellent base from which to explore the fantastic area. It is near Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau among many others.
Here are 5 of the most popular mountains to visit near Interlaken.
- Harder Kulm – the top station of the funicular right above Interlaken and Unterseen
- Grindelwald First – due to the gorgeous Bachalpsee Lake, this area is one of the most popular hiking spots near Grindelwald
- Niederhorn – at an elevation of 1,963 meters above sea level, it lies in the Emmental Alps near Beatenberg, canton Bern.
- Jungfraujoch – at 3,463 meters above sea level, Jungfraujoch is a saddle between Jungfrau (at 4,158 m above sea level) and Mönch (at 4,110 m above sea level).
- Schilthorn – located near Mürren, Schilthorn offers a stunning view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley below.
If you wish to see the list of mountains near Interlaken, check out our article Mountains Close to Interlaken Worth Visiting.
Interlaken Is Beautiful
Located in the Bernese Oberland, Interlaken is a beautiful city that is an ideal base for exploring this region. It is surrounded by the Aare River and offers views of nearby mountains like the Grosse Rugen.
One of the main streets is the Höheweg, which connects the two train stations. There are many hotels, cafes, souvenir shops, and watch shops on this street connecting Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West. The Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and the Casino Kursaal are located along this street.
Another pretty spot in Interlaken is the Japanese Garden as pictured above. It is close to the old monastery and the Catholic Church.
Interlaken Has Exciting Adventure Experiences on Offer
For those who are into fun adventures, below are some of the most popular outdoor activities in Interlaken:
- Tandem Paragliding (GetYourGuide): Experience pure serenity as you float weightlessly alongside an experienced pilot and witness the breathtaking beauty of the Jungfrau region from the sky.
- Adventure Park (GetYourGuide): Conquer 9 thrilling rope courses and zip lines soaring up to 23 meters above the ground, with the assurance of a comprehensive safety briefing and top-notch safety gear.
- Kayak Tour of Lake Brienz (GetYourGuide): Paddle through the crystal-clear waters of Lake Brienz with the guidance of an experienced coach, as you soak in the stunning views, including the picturesque Rinngenberg Castle. You may also book this activity in winter (GetYourGuide).
- Canyoning (GetYourGuide): Dive into the ultimate adrenaline rush with a canyoning expedition in Chli Schilere, featuring challenging rappelling, high jumps, fast slides, and an unforgettable adventure in one of the region’s top canyons.
- Scenic Jetboat Ride (GetYourGuide): Experience an exhilarating 45 to 50-minute jetboat ride on Lake Brienz near Interlaken, culminating at Giessbach Falls.
Interlaken Is Easy to Reach From the International Airport
Due to its easy access from the international airport, Interlaken makes for an excellent base for exploring the Bernese Oberland. In spite of Bern having an airport, which is closer to Interlaken than Zurich, most international flights arrive and depart through Zurich or Geneva.
Interlaken is easy to reach from the Zurich International Airport. In just a little over 2 hours, you can travel by train from Zurich International Airport to Interlaken.
Train travel from Zurich Airport to Interlaken West takes 2 hours and 6 minutes. To Interlaken Ost, it takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Normally, a transfer is required in Bern. Check out sbb.ch for train schedules, tickets, and prices.
If you would like to read more about how to get from Zurich to Interlaken by train, check out our article: Zurich To Interlaken Train: All You Need To Know.
Interlaken Has Hotels for All Budgets
There are many hotels in Interlaken that suit all budgets. You can find everything from budget to high-end. Here are some of my hotel recommendations for 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.
Search and book your next hotel or apartment in Interlaken on Booking.com.
Interlaken Has Lots of Shops and Restaurants
The main shopping area in Interlaken is Höheweg. There are several Kirchhofer, souvenir, and chocolate shops. There are also other watch shops such as Bucherer.
There are Swiss, Korean, Italian, and Indian restaurants in Interlaken. There are also Migros and Coop restaurants, which are cheaper.
You can guess that I find Interlaken a fantastic base in the Bernese Oberland. Travelers looking for several options and opportunities at their fingertips for a couple of days in Switzerland will benefit from staying in Interlaken, especially those who are looking for variety.
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.
Is Interlaken not suitable for all tourists?
It might not be the best place if you only want to focus on mountains or hiking. Perhaps the mountain villages of Wengen or Mürren would be a better choice for you. And if you would rather explore Central Switzerland, Lucerne might be a better option.
Is Interlaken the right place for you?
Interlaken is an excellent option if you want to experience more than just the mountains of the Bernese Oberland. From this location, you can enjoy lots of activities on the lakes, shop, dine, and many others. And should you want to visit the mountains nearby, there are many to choose from.
I hope you will find Interlaken as charming as I do. Have fun!
- Interlaken: 8 Reasons Why You Should Visit
- Harder Kulm, Interlaken
- Mountains Close to Interlaken Worth Visiting
- Top 12 Stunning Places Near Interlaken
- 8 Beautiful Towns Near Interlaken, Switzerland
- When Is the Best Time to Visit Interlaken, Switzerland?
- 10 Best Day Trips from Interlaken
- 10 Best Things To Do In Thun, Bernese Oberland
- Ultimate List of Steamboats in Switzerland’s Lakes
- Giessbach Falls Near Interlaken, Switzerland
- Exploring St. Beatus Caves Near Interlaken, Switzerland. Plus 7 Tips!
- 8 Best Things to Do in Lake Thun, Switzerland
Related Posts: Travel to and from Interlaken
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- Geneva to Interlaken Train: All You Need To Know
- Lucerne to Interlaken Train: All You Need To Know
- How to Get From Interlaken to Eiger Express
- How to Get From Interlaken to Jungfraujoch: Your Options
- How to Get From Interlaken to Wengen
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.