Whilst most visitors to Interlaken in Switzerland are attracted by the opportunity to ride the Jungfrau train to the top of the Jungfraujoch, there are many other reasons to include Interlaken in your itinerary.
Whilst planning your trip to Switzerland, whether it be your first visit or your 20th, there are so many things to do in Interlaken that you will run out of time to enjoy them all.
Even as a regular visitor to the Jungfrau Region, I’m still just scratching the surface of this incredibly scenic region and am always finding new Interlaken attractions to enjoy.
In this guide I’ll share with you more than 60 of the best things to do in Interlaken and the surrounding area. As well as covering the well-known mountain excursions like Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn, you’ll discover charming local villages to visit, fun activities for all ages, scenic natural wonders to explore, tasty food experiences and much more.
Read on for details on the incredible variety of sightseeing and activities available when you visit Interlaken in Switzerland.
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Before you travel to the Jungfrau Region
All visitors to Interlaken and the Jungfrau Region who don’t have a Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card should consider purchasing a Jungfrau Travel Pass or a Regional Pass Berner Oberland.
These two passes offer free and discounted transport on trains, buses, boats, cable cars and funiculars in the region. The Regional Pass Berner Oberland also offers free and discounted admission to a number of other attractions.
Read more about the passes and what they cover on the links below:
Interlaken: Things to do
As the largest town in the Jungfrau Region, many visitors use Interlaken as their base whilst visiting the area. Year-round, the town has a real holiday resort feel to it and there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied, as well as an excellent range of shops and services.
Below you’ll find details on what to do in Interlaken during your visit.
A good place to start your Interlaken sightseeing is at the Tourist Office where you can collect an Interlaken map and familiarise yourself with the town’s layout.
If you’re keen to learn more about the town’s history, you could join an Interlaken city tour and explore the town on foot with a local. > Click here for details and prices.
Interlaken’s own mountain, Harder Kulm, can be accessed by a funicular and offers stunning views of the surrounding Bernese Alps and Lakes Thun and Brienz.
The Interlaken funicular station is located just a five-minute walk from Interlaken Ost station and half-hourly services whisk you to the summit in just ten minutes.
The mountain top is home to a restaurant, children’s playground, walking trails and the Two Lakes Bridge – the perfect spot to soak in the incredible panoramic vista. Harder Kulm is without doubt one of the most popular attractions in Interlaken – and rightly so!
The Interlaken – Harderbahn (the funicular) operates from mid-April to early December. > Click here to buy your ticket for the Interlaken Harder Kulm funicular.
The large park in the centre of Interlaken, known as Höhe Matte, is a fantastic place to enjoy wonderful views of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch mountains. The park is often awash with colourful parachutes as this is the landing spot for paragliders.
As well as being a lovely spot to sit down and relax, Höhe Matte is one of the best places to visit in Interlaken to watch the paragliders return to earth.
Bodeli Tourist Train and Bodeli-Tram
A fun way to see the sights of Interlaken is to hop aboard either the Bodeli tourist train or the historic Bodeli-Tram, a horse drawn carriage, for a ride around town. Departing from Höhematte Park from mid-March to mid-October, this is a relaxing way to familiarise yourself with the town’s main sights.
Funky Chocolate Club
Speaking of chocolate, if you’d like to try your hand at making your own chocolate, why not join a workshop at Interlaken’s Funky Chocolate Club? As well as chocolate-making courses, the shop sells a range of chocolates made by local artisans. This popular Interlaken chocolate store, located on Hoheweg, is open daily.
If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir from your Swiss vacation, you’re sure to find it in Interlaken. The main street, Höheweg, is lined with shops selling everything from t-shirts and keyrings to Swiss watches and chocolates.
Another Interlaken cable car/funicular ride to enjoy is the one to Heimwehfluh. In operation since 1906, the nostalgic Heimwehfluh funicular still transports passengers to its summit at 662 metres above sea level today.
The ride only takes four minutes but at the top there’s plenty to keep you entertained. There’s a panoramic restaurant, a children’s playground, a model railway (with 200 metres of track) and a toboggan run.
The Heimwehfluh funicular station is located about a seven minute walk from Interlaken West station, or you can take bus #104 from the station. It operates daily from April to October.
With ziplines, wooden bridges and rope swings connecting the trees at the Seilpark Adventure Park, this is a fun way to spend a few hours. There are nine different courses for visitors to challenge themselves on, all with varying degrees of difficulty and height.
The park is open from April to October and is suitable for both adults and children. > Click here to buy your tickets online.
With six different walls to try out, experienced and wannabe rock climbers will be in their element at K44 indoor climbing centre. There’s even a children’s wall especially for the younger adventurers. The centre is open every day from early until late.
Thrill-seekers have plenty of options when they visit Interlaken. With the town known as the adventure capital of Europe, it’s no wonder that Interlaken activities available for the adventurous include skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, canyoning and rafting.
If you’ve always wanted to try one of these extreme sports, this is the place to do it. This article has full details on the Interlaken adventure sports on offer.
Interlaken Castle and Monastery
Located between Höhematte and the Japanese Gardens is a former Augustinian monastery which was first documented in 1133. Featuring a castle and a church – with a bell tower from the early 14th century – and a Gothic cloister gallery in the courtyard, the grounds surrounding the monastery and castle are a pleasant place for a quiet stroll.
Interlaken Food Experiences
Does food play an important role in your vacations? As well as eating chocolate at the Funky Chocolate Club and fondue at one of the local restaurants, you can taste typical Swiss food and drink whilst dressed in traditional Swiss costumes on a fun Swiss Fizz Food and Photo tour.
Enjoy tasty sweet and savoury snacks as well as local schnapps, beer and wine and have your photo taken in a traditional Swiss outfit. > Click here for further details and prices.
Interlaken Pub Crawl
If you’d like to check out the Interlaken nightlife then a three hour pub crawl around the best Interlaken bars should be top of your list. Together with your guide, you’ll visit at least four venues each with their own specialty – one boasts the best tequila in town, another the widest range of beers, and so on.
At each venue you’ll receive a free shot or a special deal. > Click here to book your place.
What better way is there to remember your visit to Interlaken than with a professional photo shoot? Don’t be the one behind the camera, have your precious vacations memories captured on film by a pro photographer in your own private photo shoot.
Your photographer will help you decide on a location of your choice and a range of high quality HD photos will be yours within four days of the shoot. There’s even a 100% money back guarantee!
This is the perfect way to record your Swiss honeymoon, family getaway and vacation with friends. > Click here to check further details and prices.
Or, have some fun with a 30 minute photo shoot in a traditional Swiss outfit at Heidi’s Chalet – complete with the background of your choice. This is one Swiss souvenir that your friends won’t have! > Click here to check prices and book your place.
Find your hotel in Interlaken here.
Mountain excursions near Interlaken
The hardest decision you’ll have when planning a day trip from Interlaken is choosing which mountain to visit! Every mountain peak is different and each has its own charm. Some are reached by cableway, some by cog railway and others by funicular.
Below you’ll find a brief summary of what to expect on some of the region’s best mountain excursions.
The most famous of all Interlaken day trips, an excursion to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe is high on many visitors’ wish lists. The Interlaken – Jungfraujoch trip is a two-hour journey on a series of connecting trains, culminating with the final ascent from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch on the Jungfraubahn.
At the summit – at 3,454 metres above sea level – there are numerous exhibitions and shops, a variety of restaurants, and, in summer, a snow park where visitors can go snow tubing, sledding or skiing. There are also wonderful views of the Aletsch Glacier and the surrounding alpine peaks.
Interlaken to Jungfrau trains operate 365 days per year. > Click here to check prices.
Like to see the Swiss Alps and the Aletsch Glacier from above? Scenic flights from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch are the perfect solution. Get further details and prices here >>
Home to the world’s first revolving restaurant, the Schilthorn was also the setting for the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. The summit (2,970 metres) can be reached from Interlaken in around 90 minutes via both train and cableway.
If the panoramic views of the Swiss Skyline aren’t enough, there are also numerous Bond-themed attractions at the summit. Visitors can also disembark at the intermediate station, Birg, to enjoy a glass-floored observation deck and a 200-metre thrill walk around the cliff face.
The Schilthorn cableway operates year round except for a short maintenance period (check this year’s closure dates here).
From the picturesque car-free village of Murren (around one hour from Interlaken), a funicular transports passengers to Allmendhubel.
Here you can enjoy a stroll around the Flower Trail which circles the Allmendhubel. It is an easy 20-minute walk where you have the chance to spot up to 150 different alpine flowers.
The funicular operates year round except mid-April to mid-June and mid-October to mid-December when it closes for routine maintenance.
Departing from the station at Wilderswil (just five minutes from Interlaken), the Schynige Platte Railway uses locomotives and carriages from the 1800s. This rack and pinion railway takes passengers on a scenic 50-minute journey to the summit of Schynige Platte.
On arrival, visitors are greeted by Alphorn players (July to October from 11am to 2pm) and stunning views of the Eiger and Monch. The Alpine Garden is home to around 650 alpine plants, and there are walking trails, a playground and a restaurant.
The Schynige Platte Railway operates from the end of May until late October.
The year-round resort village of Grindelwald offers a host of things to do and a ride on the Grindelwald-First cableway is one of the best. The cableway operates year round and there are plenty of activities awaiting those who reach the top.
Things to do at First include an easy hike to Bachalpsee (Lake Bachalp), the First Cliff Walk, the First Flyer zipline, mountain cart and Trottibike (scooter) rides. There is also an excellent restaurant.
(Interlaken – Grindelwald is just 30 minutes by car or train.)
Another cable car operating from Grindelwald is the Pfingstegg cableway. Pfingstegg mountain is home to a 735-metre long summer toboggan track and a restaurant, as well as a playground. The summit (1,391 metres) offers wonderful views of the whole valley.
The cableway operates from early May until late October.
The Wengen-Mannlichen cable car is no ordinary cableway. An internal stairway from the gondola gives passengers access to an open, roof-top viewing platform. Imagine standing atop a cable car as you float through the air! (A surcharge applies for the roof-top experience.) > Click here to buy your cable car ticket.
At Mannlichen, the Royal Walk – just 150 metres from the cable car station offers breathtaking views. You can reach Wengen from Interlaken by train in just 45 minutes (via Lauterbrunnen).
How does riding aboard a 125-year old steam train up to 2,350 metres above sea level sound? That’s exactly what you can do when you take an excursion on the Brienz Rothorn Bahn.
Departing from the lakeside town of Brienz, the one hour train ride winds its way steadily up the mountain, with some of the best views of the Berner Oberland awaiting you at the top. There are a number of walking trails and two restaurants at the summit.
The Brienz Rothorn Bahn operates from early June until late October. You can get from Interlaken to Brienz by train in 20 minutes.
The Niesen funicular may be one of the lesser-known mountain excursions in the region but it is certainly worth considering.
Starting at Mülenen (around 45 minutes by train from Interlaken), the funicular climbs the mountain on a track with gradients up to 68%.
At the summit, you can expect 360° jaw-dropping views of the lakes and mountains, walking trails, a children’s playground and an excellent restaurant with a terrace.
The Niesen funicular operates from mid-April to mid-November.
From Erlenbach in the Simmental Valley, a cableway whisks passengers to the Stockhorn in just 20 minutes. Year-round there are plenty of activities on offer.
In summer, visitors can enjoy the unique experience of eating raclette in a stalactite cave, ride Trotti-bike scooters, go hiking or, if they are extra-adventurous, try bungee jumping. Daredevils can jump out of a stationary cable car 134 metres above Lake Hinterstocken! (Click here to check prices.)
During winter, the Stockhorn is a great destination for ice skating, snowshoeing and ice fishing. There is a restaurant and a viewing platform which offers magnificent views from Lake Thun right across to the Jura.
Boasting incredible views of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch, the cable car ride from Beatenbucht to Niederhorn (1,950 metres) is one you won’t forget.
In just 20 minutes, you’ll reach the Niederhorn – after a short stopover at Beatenberg – where 360° panoramic vistas await.
There are 120 kilometres of hiking trails with inviting picnic spots and you can even enjoy a guided tour from July to September to spot the local wildlife including ibex, chamois and marmots.
Enjoy a delicious meal at the summit restaurant before hopping aboard the cable car for your picturesque descent.
Towns and Villages to visit near Interlaken
The departure point of the Schynige Platte railway, Wilderswil is a small village just a couple of kilometres from the centre of Interlaken.
Situated on the main road and rail line to both Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald, Wilderswil has a number of accommodation and restaurant options as well as services including a supermarket and petrol station.
Distance from Interlaken: 3 kilometres
Travel time by train: 4 minutes / by car: 8 minutes
With a permanent population of around 4,000, Grindelwald is one of the larger towns in the Jungfrau region. Situated at the foot of the Eiger, it is one of the most popular bases for visitors year round.
The town is one of the region’s most popular ski resorts in winter and during the warmer months also offers a host of things to do. There are a good range of shops, including a large supermarket, and a large selection of accommodation options and restaurants.
Grindelwald is where you’ll find the First cableway which transports passengers to First mountain, home to the Tissot Cliff Walk and a number of fun activities.
Distance from Interlaken: 20 kilometres
Travel time by train: 33 minutes / by car: 30 minutes
Find your hotel in Grindelwald here.
Nestled in a valley amongst steep cliff faces and 72 waterfalls, Lauterbrunnen is a picture-perfect Swiss village.
Home to around 900 residents, the village is well serviced with a good choice of accommodation, numerous restaurants and shops, including a bakery, butcher shop and a well-stocked supermarket.
Lauterbrunnen is the gateway for many of the region’s mountain excursions including the Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch.
The lush pastures with their backdrop of snow-capped peaks, and the multitude of waterfalls in the valley, make this a must-visit village for pristine alpine views.
Distance from Interlaken: 12 kilometres
Travel time by train: 20 minutes / by car: 20 minutes
Built on a plateau above Lauterbrunnen (the village is 1274 metres above sea level), Wengen is a lovely car-free village that offers incredible views.
There may only be 1,100 permanent residents but the village is a haven for skiers during the winter months and hikers are spoilt for choice with the number of hiking trails in the area.
Wengen boasts an excellent range of hotels and accommodation, gift and sports shops and grocery stores, including a Coop supermarket.
The village can be reached by the Wengenerbahn (train) from Lauterbrunnen.
Distance from Interlaken: 15 kilometres
Travel time by train: 44 minutes / by car: Wengen is a car-free village and can only be accessed by train from Lauterbrunnen (11 minute journey)
Sitting on a terrace on the opposite side of the valley to Wengen, is the car-free village of Murren.
Despite its small size (the population is less than 400), the village boasts a number of hotels and apartments, restaurants, shops and a small supermarket.
It may take a little effort to reach Murren but visitors are rewarded with spectacular views of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch and the Lauterbrunnen Valley below.
There are two ways to reach Murren (1,650 metres above sea level) – either by a cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp and then a train to Murren, or by a cable car from Stechelberg (a few kilometres from Lauterbrunnen).
All visitors to the Schilthorn have to travel via Murren but even if you don’t plan to head on up to the iconic mountain, a visit to Murren is still worthwhile.
Distance from Interlaken: 21 kilometres
Travel time by train/cable car: 50 minutes (approx.) / by car: Murren is a car-free village – see the info above for details on how to reach the village.
The tiny rural settlement of Gimmelwald is another traffic-free village above Lauterbrunnen. Slightly lower in altitude than Murren, Gimmelwald is home to less than 100 residents, most of whom are farmers.
Apart from a couple of guesthouses and chalets, and a restaurant, there aren’t many services in Gimmelwald but that is part of its charm.
Connected to the valley below and Murren and the Schilthorn above by the Schilthorn cableway, this tranquil village is the ideal place to visit if you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
There are numerous walking trails in the area, including a Via Ferrata, and it’s possible to walk to Murren in just an hour.
Distance from Interlaken: 24 kilometres
Travel time by train/cable car: 45 minutes (approx.) – train to Interlaken then cable car from Stechelberg
Situated halfway between Interlaken and Bern, the thriving town of Thun boasts a turreted castle, a pretty medieval Old Town and a wonderful location on the shores of Lake Thun.
Regular trains service the town but another enjoyable way to reach Thun is aboard a lake cruise from Interlaken.
If you’re in need of a day spent shopping, Thun is home to a huge range of shops including large department stores.
Distance from Interlaken: 29 kilometres
Travel time by train: 34 minutes / by car: 26 minutes
Another town on the shores of Lake Thun, Spiez is built around a picturesque bay and is overlooked by Spiez Castle.
In the warmer months, the town is a great place to enjoy watersports and boating or to just enjoy a meal or a drink with delightful lake views.
TIP: The Migros supermarket, located across the street from the train station, offers wonderful views of the lake and castle from its restaurant.
Distance from Interlaken: 17 kilometres
Travel time by train: 20 minutes / by car: 20 minutes
The main town on the lake of the same name, Brienz is small and charming. The town has a large tradition of woodcarving and you can visit many shops selling all kinds of wooden products.
Brienz is also famous for violin-making and you can visit the Geigenbauschule (a violin-making school) where there’s an exhibition of the instruments.
A great half-day trip from Brienz is aboard the Brienz Rothorn Bahn steam train (more details below), and lake cruises from Brienz to Interlaken are also popular.
It’s also possible to join an organised tour from Interlaken to Brienz. The tour also includes visits to Iseltwald, Giessbach Falls and the Aare Gorge – click here for details and prices.
Distance from Interlaken: 22 kilometres
Travel time by train: 21 minutes / by car: 25 minutes
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The small village of Iseltwald is mostly visited for the views it provides from its location on the pristine waters of Lake Brienz. Iseltwald is a favourite location for photographers and was the setting for the Korean movie Crash Landing on You.
Aside from strolling along the lakeside and enjoying a meal at a restaurant overlooking the lake, there’s not a lot to do in Iseltwald apart from enjoying the views but it makes a worthwhile stop on a Lake Brienz cruise.
It is possible to walk from Iseltwald to Giessbach Falls (more info below) – it’s an easy 5 kilometre hike.
Distance from Interlaken: 11 kilometres
Travel time by bus: 13 minutes / by car: 15 minutes
In the Kander Valley, west of the Jungfrau massif, is the small village of Kandersteg. A popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, the area around Kandersteg offers plenty in the way of hiking in summer and skiing in winter.
It’s also the starting point for visits to Lake Oeschinen, and Blausee is just ten minutes away by car (both lakes are mentioned in more detail below) .
The town, which is adorned with timber chalets and hotels, is located close to the north entrance to the Lötschberg tunnel, which is the fastest way to travel between Interlaken and Zermatt.
Distance from Interlaken: 43 kilometres
Travel time by train: 1h:15 / by car: 40 minutes
East of Lake Brienz, and in the heart of the Hasli Valley, lies the lovely resort town of Meiringen. Situated on a sunny plateau, and close to a number of scenic mountain passes, the town offers wonderful views.
From Meiringen, it’s easy to reach a number of natural wonders including Aare Gorge and Reichenbach Falls (both covered in more detail below), and the area is fantastic for hiking.
Distance from Interlaken: 30 kilometres
Travel time by train: 35 minutes / by car: 30 minutes
Beautiful lakes near Interlaken
No visit to the region would be complete without enjoying a relaxing lake cruise. When in Interlaken, boat trips on both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are a convenient way to view the picturesque scenery from the water.
A fun way to appreciate the beauty of the lakes is on a 3-hour guided e-Bike tour of Interlaken, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz – click here for further details.
Lake Thun (Thunersee)
Framed by the spectacular Bernese Alps, Lake Thun connects Interlaken with the pretty town of Thun. Numerous attractive towns and villages sit on the shores of the 18 kilometre long and four kilometre wide lake including Thun, Spiez, Oberhofen and Faulensee.
The lake is popular for sailing and water sports, and frequent lake cruises operate between Interlaken and Thun. One particularly enjoyable cruise to consider is a private boat trip with cheese fondue and wine. This two-hour sunset cruise is the perfect way to enjoy the beauty of the lake and some local delicacies at the same time. > Click here for further details.
Lake Brienz (Brienzersee)
East of Interlaken, Lake Brienz is slightly smaller than Lake Thun but no less beautiful.
Hop aboard a modern boat for a relaxing cruise on the crystal clear waters of the lake which is surrounded by waterfalls and hillsides thick with trees or try your hand at Stand Up Paddleboarding on the lake.
The villages around Lake Brienz, including the pretty town of Brienz, are less touristy and less developed than those around Lake Thun.
There are many other lakes within close reach of Interlaken that are worth visiting, too. Here are just a few:
Blue Lake (Blausee)
With its incredible turquoise waters, the Blue Lake has to be seen to be believed. Set inside the 20 hectare Blausee National Park, the lake’s unique colour is a result of its source in subterranean springs.
Entry to the National Park includes a boat ride on the lake in a glass-bottomed boat and there are plenty of spots to enjoy a picnic or a gentle hike.
You can even stay overnight in the lakeside hotel (click here to check prices).
The Blue Lake can be reached by bus from either Frutigen or Kandersteg train station. You can also join an organised day trip to Blausee from Interlaken – click here for further details.
Lake Oeschinen (Oeschinensee)
High above Kandersteg, and nestled at the foot of towering cliffs, Lake Oeschinen’s aquamarine waters are fed by the glacial brooks of four 3000-metre peaks.
Reached by a cable car from Kandersteg and then a pleasant 30-minute walk, this pristine alpine lake is a tranquil oasis. At 1,578 metres, the lake is surrounded by alpine pastures which are home to an abundance of flora, as well as cattle which graze on the pastures during summer.
Bring a picnic or dine at one of the restaurants for a meal with a spectacular view.
Lake Bachalp (Bachalpsee)
A one hour easy walk from the First cableway station (above Grindelwald) brings you to Bachalpsee. This small glacial-fed lake is split in two by a natural dam and is picture-perfect.
On a clear day, the mighty Schrekhorn is reflected in Lake Bachalp, creating the perfect postcard shot.
There are no facilities at Bachalpsee so be sure to take your own water and snacks. (See travel directions to reach Grindelwald above.)
Other natural sites near Interlaken
St Beatus Caves
Sitting above Lake Thun, St. Beatus’ Caves are home to an impressive display of stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors can view the rock formations via an illuminated one kilometre-long pathway that leads deep into the mountain.
The caves can be reached by cruise boat from Interlaken or Thun, by public bus or by car.
Grindelwald Glacier Gorge
Specially-built platforms inside the Grindelwald Glacier Canyon give visitors the chance to wander through the canyon’s naturally formed tunnels and rock galleries. Stretching for about one kilometre, the walkway is also lined with interactive displays.
A highlight for many visitors is the 170 square metre ‘spider web’ net which spans the canyon. You’re welcome to walk or crawl across the net and look down upon the gushing Lutschine River seven metres below.
The Grindelwald Glacier Canyon is open from early May to the end of October and is an ideal place to visit in all weather. It is a 35-minute walk from the centre of Grindelwald or you can catch bus #2 from the train station.
Between Meiringen and Innertkirchen, the River Aare has carved a deep gorge, known as the Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht), through a limestone rock.
Visitors can discover the beauty of the gorge via a series of paths and tunnels which follow the gorge for around 1.5 kilometres. The stroll along the path, which follows the icy waters of the river as it makes its way through the gorge, takes around 40 minutes each way.
If you’d prefer to walk only one way, you can catch a train back to your starting point (one train per hour, journey time three minutes).
From Interlaken, regular trains run to Meiringen and then a regional train or bus to Aareschlucht West station.
A 24-seat wooden funicular takes passengers from the village of Meiringen to the top of the Reichenbach Falls. Three viewing terraces provide wonderful vistas of the 120-metre high falls and Mount Haslital.
The falls are well known amongst Sherlock Holmes fans as they are the setting for a famous scene where Holmes challenged his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty to a fight which resulted in a fall into the depths below.
The best time to visit the falls is from May to October as there is little or no water in winter. Combination tickets for the funicular and Aare Gorge entrance are available.
Tumbling in fourteen stages over a distance of 500 metres, the Giessbach Falls carry water from the high valleys of the Faulhorn to Lake Brienz.
A walking path allows visitors to reach the falls – and walk under them – and there are wonderful views of the spectacular waterfalls from the terrace of the historic Grand Hotel Giessbach.
Grand Hotel Giessbach is set in a lovely garden and is a great place to stay overnight – click here to check prices.
The hotel can be reached by the Giessbach funicular – the oldest funicular in Europe used purely by tourists.
For the ultimate visit to Giessbach Falls, book a 90-minute private boat tour on a 45-year old Venetian taxi boat. Click here for details and prices.
Deep inside Europe’s largest subterranean caves, the powerful Trummelbach Falls consist of ten glacial waterfalls. Accessible by a tunnel-lift, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed falls can be viewed via a stepped walkway.
Around 20,000 litres of water surges along the falls every second so expect to get at least a little bit wet!
The Falls are located at Stechelberg, a 30-minute easy walk from Lauterbrunnen. There’s also a Postbus service from Lauterbrunnen train station.
The falls are open daily from April until November.
Lauterbrunnen’s landmark, Staubbach Falls can be seen as soon as you enter the village. Plummeting 297 metres from a cliff face above the village, this is Switzerland’s highest free-falling waterfall.
Visitors can explore the falls from behind thanks to a viewing gallery carved into the rock. If you’re not able for the fairly steep climb to the view point, you’ll still get excellent views from Lauterbrunnen’s main street.
During the summer months, the falls are illuminated every evening.
Staubbach Falls are located at the end of Lauterbrunnen’s main street, about a five minute walk from the train station.
More things to do and places to see near Interlaken
Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum
Take a look back in time with a visit to the Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum. Featuring 100 original, centuries-old buildings, the museum is a re-creation of a traditional Swiss village.
Amongst the buildings, which have been transported from all over Switzerland, are a 19th century fire station from Bern, a 15th century house from the Ticino region and a 19th century chapel from Valais.
As well as the reconstructed buildings, the 66-hectare park features around 250 farm animals, crops and workshops where traditional crafts such as cheese making, pottery and wood carving are on display.
The museum is open from mid-April to the end of October from 10am to 5pm. Entry fee is CHF 28 per adult and CHF 14 per child aged 6 to 16 years for a 1 day pass. Holders of a Swiss Travel Pass (which includes the Swiss Museum Pass) are entitled to free entry.
Omega Next Level Mini Golf
At Wilderswil, just a couple of kilometres from Interlaken, visitors can play 17 holes of mini golf on a three-dimensional black-light mini golf course.
Neon-coloured golf balls and golf clubs, and 3D glasses, add to the uniqueness of this activity which is suitable for everyone from five years of age.
Regular trains run between Interlaken and Wilderswil and parking is available in front of the building for those that arrive by car. Reservations are recommended on weekends and advance bookings are available – click here for details.
The four red-roofed turrets on Thun Castle make this a landmark of the town. Built in the 12th century, the castle served as the administrative headquarters for the Dukes of Zährigen.
Today the castle houses a museum which is spread over its five floors. Interactive displays and well-restored rooms in the castle – including the dungeon and medieval Knight’s Hall – provide a fascinating insight into the history of Thun Castle.
The highlight of any visit is the view of Lake Thun and the Bernese Alps from the castle’s towers.
Thun Castle is open every day from February to October and on Sundays from November to January.
Housed in the Thun Art Museum, the Thun Panorama is a circular painting (known as a cyclorama) that depicts the town of Thun and its surroundings two hundred years ago.
Painted by Marquard Wocher of Basel from 1809 to 1814, the 360° panorama is the first of its kind in Switzerland and the oldest in the world.
The Thun Panorama is open from 1 March to 1 December daily except Mondays.
Thanks to its distinctive turreted roof and location right on the shores of Lake Thun, Oberhofen Castle is one of the most-photographed locations around the lake.
Dating back to the 13th century, the castle sits in a 2.5 hectare park. Visitors to the castle today can learn more about the history of the castle over the past eight centuries thanks to an interesting exhibition which is displayed over two floors.
Oberhofen Castle is open daily (except Mondays) from mid-May until the end of October.
Yet another beautiful castle on Lake Thun, Spiez Castle is built beside what is regarded as one of the prettiest bays in Europe.
Dating back to around 700 AD, the castle grounds also feature a small Romanesque basilica, built around 1050 AD, and a beautiful garden with fountains and flower beds.
A self-guided tour through the castle offers an interesting insight into life in the Middle Ages thanks to interactive displays, art work and restored rooms. The kitchen, for example, contains numerous cooking implements that were used in times past.
Impressive views can be seen from the castle’s tower.
Spiez Castle is open daily from Good Friday until mid-October. Spiez is on the main train line between Interlaken and Thun and can also be reached on a Lake Thun cruise or by car.
Tropical House Frutigen
Tropical gardens and a fish farm make the Tropical House Frutigen an attraction of a different kind to most others around Interlaken.
Visitors to Tropenhaus can learn how warm water from the Lotschberg mountain is used to grow tropical fruit and produce one of the world’s most revered delicacies, sturgeon’s caviar, thanks to an interactive exhibition.
If caviar is not to your taste, there’s also a coffee trail where you can learn about the story of coffee – from bean to cup, as well as a banana trail and an orchid garden.
Tropical House Frutigen is open from Wednesdays to Sundays (except 24 and 25 December). Frutigen is just 30 minutes by car from Interlaken and can also be reached by train (via Spiez) in around one hour.
Sigriswil Suspension Bridge
Spanning 340 metres across the Gummischlucht Gorge, the Sigriswil Suspension Bridge offers stunning views as far as the eye can see. The bridge connects the villages of Sigriswil and Aeschlen, providing a safe passage over the 182 metre deep gorge.
Sigriswil Suspension Bridge is one of six suspension bridges along the 56 kilometre-long Lake Thun Panoramic Circular Trail, however you don’t need to complete the whole trail to visit the bridge.
There is a fee to cross the bridge which contributes to maintenance (tickets can be purchased on-site) and a small farm shop next to the bridge sells local produce.
Visitors who don’t have a car can reach Sigriswil by taking bus #B21 from Interlaken Ost station to Gunten, then changing to bus #B25 to Sigriswil. The journey time is around 50 minutes.
With over 70 different hiking trails in the Jungfrau Region you never have to walk the same path twice! Hikes range from easy to difficult, and from less than one hour to full day hikes.
All the trails are well signposted to indicate the level of difficulty. Yellow signs mean the trail is easy whilst red and white signs indicate the trail is difficult and is only suitable for experienced mountain walkers.
Almost all trails are accessible by cable car or funicular, too. So if you’d only like to hike in one direction, you can always catch a ride home!
More Interlaken activites
If all of the above suggestions aren’t enough there are still more ways to pass your time. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wellness centres, kids play centres and fun parks – all perfect rainy day activities.
Things to do in Interlaken in winter
Visitors to Interlaken in winter can take advantage of the 266 kilometres of pistes and 70 kilometres of cross country ski slopes that make up the Jungfrau Ski Region.
Non-skiers don’t miss out either with 150 kilometres of sledding, snowshoeing and hiking trails. You can even enjoy a 4-hour night sled ride (click here to check details and prices) or join a snowshoe walk which includes a sled ride and a cheese fondue! Click here for details and prices.
Another fun activity is a winter kayaking tour on Lake Brienz – click here for details and prices.
Christmas in Interlaken
For those who are visiting Interlaken in December, the Top of Europe ICE MAGIC ice skating experience awaits. It features a number of ice rinks connected by a 450-metre-long ice runway which is set up beside the Interlaken Christmas market.
Where to stay in Interlaken
Interlaken offers a huge range of accommodation styles to suit all budgets. You can read our guide to the best hotels in Interlaken here and find out all you need to know about Manor Farm Holiday Park here.
How to get to Interlaken
Interlaken is located in the Canton of Bern and is easy to reach from all parts of Switzerland by either car or train. It is 45 kilometres from Bern, 70 kilometres from Lucerne, 120 kilometres from Zurich and 220 kilometres from Geneva.
> Click here to read our tips for driving in Switzerland.
Approximate travel times to Interlaken from other Swiss cities are:
- From Bern to Interlaken – 50 minutes by car / 1 hour by train
- From Lucerne to Interlaken – 1h:05 by car / 1h:51 by train
- From Zurich to Interlaken – 1h:35 by car / 1h:58 by train
- From Basel to Interlaken – 1h:40 by car / 2h:01 by train
- From Geneva to Interlaken – 2h:35 by car / 3h by train
Frequent trains service Interlaken from all over Switzerland with regular connections to surrounding towns and villages in the Berner Oberland region. Most intercity trains arrive and depart from Interlaken Ost station.
Trains operate between Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West stations – journey time is 3 minutes. To walk between stations, allow around 25 minutes to cover the 1.6 kilometres.
You can also travel to Interlaken aboard the GoldenPass Line. This panoramic train journey connects Interlaken with both Montreux and Lucerne.
If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, travel to Interlaken from anywhere in Switzerland is free.
> Click here to learn more about the excellent Swiss rail system.
Where to stay in Interlaken
Need a place to stay in Interlaken? Read our guide to the best hotels in Interlaken for all budgets here.
I hope this Interlaken travel guide has helped you to plan your visit and to choose the best things to do. Interlaken certainly offers something for everyone.
Mountain excursions, extreme activities, lake cruises, historic sites and enjoying the scenic vistas and natural wonders of the region – Interlaken offers all this and more.
Enjoy your visit!
To read our full guide to Interlaken and the Jungfrau Region, > click here.
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Top image of Harder Kulm courtesy swiss-image.ch/ Hans Zurbuchen