Things to do in Interlaken and surroundings
Do you want to know all the wonders to see and do in Interlaken beyond strolling through the streets of this town? Let’s start!
1. Harder Kulm, one of the best places to visit in Interlaken
Harder Kulm is one of the most famous viewpoints in the Swiss Alps. Accessing the place is as easy as taking a panoramic funicular from town. That’s right, a ten-minute train ride separates you from having one of the best views of Interlaken and the Swiss Alps. From this triangular-shaped wooden platform, built at an altitude of 1,321 meters, you can enjoy a wonderful landscape.
Up there you will also find a cafeteria and a restaurant. If you want you can take a walk around the surroundings or go on a hike. I visited this place on my last trip to Switzerland and the truth is that it is worth it since without making any kind of physical effort, you will be able to observe a wonderful landscape.
2. Bathe in Lake Brienz, things to do in Interlaken
One of the activities that I enjoyed the most during my visit to this region was bathing in Lake Brienz. We came from trekking for several hours in Oeschinensee and the only thing we wanted was to cool off in a lake. We asked the owner of the campsite where we were staying where we could go and she recommended an area of Lake Brienz. It was a success!
We found a small dock with grass and we spent a good time enjoying the cold and turquoise waters of the lake. If you fancy this plan, all you have to do is go to Bönigen and start along the road that runs alongside the lake. There you will find numerous areas where you can dive into the water.
If you enjoy nature, one of the best activities in Interlaken is kayaking on Lake Brienz. On my last visit to this part of Switzerland I took a tour of this lake for about two hours and it was a very fun experience. We did it with Hightide Kayak School, a school located in Bönigen. They also gave us the opportunity to bathe in the cold waters of the lake.
Getting on a kayak to explore this lake is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Interlaken during the summer.
3. Take a train to Schynige Platte, an amazing adventure in Interlaken
Do you feel like going for a ride on a 19th century railway with panoramic cars from Interlaken to an altitude of 1,967 meters? Then get ready to discover Schynige Platte, a station located on the crest of a mountain where you can enjoy incredible views, hiking trails and an alpine garden with more than 650 species of plants.
If you get hungry, don’t worry, because in Schynige Platte you will find a panoramic restaurant. If you want to take this train, you will have to go to the small town of Wilderswil, just outside of Interlaken. Once you get up there you can walk, enjoy the views or have a drink. I loved it!
4. Paragliding in Interlaken
Have you come to Switzerland seeking adrenaline? Then I recommend this paragliding flight over Interlaken. I think Switzerland has been the country where I have seen the most people paragliding. Seriously, look up at the sky at any time of the day and I’m pretty sure you’ll almost always see a paraglider. It’s one of the best things to do in Interlaken and in Switzerland in general!
The birds-eye view from the sky is amazing. If Switzerland is already breathtaking from the ground , imagine it from the air. I wasn’t able to paraglide on my first few trips to Switzerland but I did end up gathering the courage to do so on my last trip. Paragliding over Interlaken on my last trip was absolutely amazing. 100% recommended!
5. Lauterbrunnen Valley, one of the best places to visit near Interlaken
We have arrived at one of the best places to visit in Switzerland and the surroundings of Interlaken: Lauterbrunnen. This little town is indisputably one of the most beautiful places in the country. It is located in a spectacular valley with green meadows, rock-walled mountains with waterfalls and snow-capped peaks. I did not hesitate to include Lauterbrunnen in my 7-day Switzerland itinerary (coming soon). You don’t miss it either!
Staubbachfall is located right next to Lauterbrunnen, probably the most photographed waterfall in Switzerland. Other places that I recommend you visit in this valley are Wengen, Mürren and Trummelbach.
6. Boat ride in Thun and Brienz Lakes
Another fun thing to do in Interlaken (Switzerland) is to take a boat trip on Thun and Brienz Lake. Linked together by the Aare River, we find two of the largest lakes in Switzerland. Its turquoise waters and its mountainous surroundings create several of the most beautiful landscapes you will see in the country. It is a quite relaxing activity, therefore, if you have had a somewhat exhausting day, this walk will be the perfect finishing touch for your day.
If you prefer to spend the whole day on a boat, visiting different points of both lakes, take a look at this one-day boat trip on Lakes Thun and Brienz.
7. Visit the San Beato Caves, one of the best things to do in Interlaken
In the northern area of Lake Thun, you will find the Caves of San Beato. The visit to these caves allows you to enter up to a kilometer deep inside the Niederhorn massif. The illuminated paths will lead you through underground waterfalls and passageways with stalactites and stalagmites. At the entrance to the cave there is a restaurant with beautiful views and a museum on research and speleological surveys.
8. Bachalpsee, the best day trip from Interlaken
One of the best things to do from Interlaken is visiting Lake Bachalpsee. To get to this lake, you first have to go to a small town called Grindelwald. Whether or not you decide to visit this lake, do not forget to visit this town and the valley where it is located, since the place is incredible. If you are going to go, do not miss my blog post on what to see and do in Grindelwald.
Once in Grindelwald you have to take this cable car to First. From the First station, you will have to walk less than an hour to the lake. If you want to know more details about this place, I recommend you read my post on how to get to Bachalpsee.
9. Hiking the Hardergrat Trail
If you like going on hikes, the hike known as Hardergrat may be one of the best you will do in your life. Although I warn you that it is a quite hard and even dangerous trek, since you will walk along the crest of several mountains located next to Lake Brienz. Yes, if you are not very fit and do not have much experience doing demanding routes, forget about this route. If, on the other hand, you are an expert, get ready to enjoy amazing landscapes.
The hike takes 6 hours and starts at Brienzer Rothorn, where you can board the train from Brienz, and ends at Harder Kulm, where you’ll need to catch the train to Interlaken. It can be done both ways. It is not recommended to do it when the soil may be wet. On the other hand, do not forget to check the train schedules.
10. Giessbach Waterfall
If you like waterfalls, and are left wanting more after visiting Lauterbrunnen, I recommend you visit Giessbach Falls, another natural wonder in Switzerland. This waterfall is made up of a total of 14 steps and is more than 500 meters high. Its waters come from Mount Faulhorn and flow into Lake Brienz.
The Grandhotel Giessbach is located at the base of the waterfall, built between 1873 and 1874. To get to this hotel, you need to take a cable car from the “Giessbach See” pier. It is the oldest cable car in the world. It can also be reached in 15 minutes on foot.
11. Go up to Mount Niesen
Something perhaps less popular to visit near Interlaken but that will impress you as much or more than other places on this list is Mount Niessen. This mountain measures 2,362 meters above sea level and stands out for its perfect pyramidal shape. It is possible to climb to the top. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do any exhausting hikes.
If you are in Interlaken, you just have to go to a small town called Mülenen, located 25 km from Interlaken, and take a cable car. The views are spectacular. Apart from an amazing scenery, at the top of Mount Niesen, you will also find a hotel and restaurant.
12. Visit the Ballenberg Museum
If you are interested in learning how old Swiss families lived, don’t miss the Ballenberg Museum, a 66-hectare open-air museum located 21 km from Interlaken. In it you will be able to know the traditional buildings of different times and from different areas of the country, among which there are houses, barns, shops and historical houses.
All of these buildings were carefully dismantled in their original location and transported to the museum to be rebuilt. They contain the original furniture, crafts and utensils, which will allow you to take a trip to the past and discover what rural life was like.
13. Walk through Unterseen, a charming town near Interlaken
Right next to the center of Interlaken, you will find Unterseen, a small medieval town well worth visiting. It is a fairly calm place so I recommend walking quietly through its streets while you get lost among its canals, markets, gardens, squares, pastry shops, restaurants and wooden houses. Don’t miss Unterseen Church, built in 1471. Its tower is late Gothic.
14. Aareschlucht, walk through the river gorge
Aareschlucht (Gorge de l’Aare) is another beautiful place in the region, a 200-meter-deep gorge that you can traverse thanks to a wooden walkway built next to the cliff face. The trail measures 1.4 km and takes about 40 minutes. The turquoise waters of the Aare River will accompany you throughout the walk. It is only 30 km from Interlaken.
15. Go up to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
The highest train station in Europe is located in Switzerland, it is at an altitude of 3,454 meters and its name is Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. You can get there from Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. This last option is the fastest. In Grindelwald, take the cable car to Eigergletscher station, where you’ll need to catch the train. Getting to Jungfraujoch (article coming soon) is not easy or affordable but it is worth it.
If you wish, you can buy the ticket to Jungfraujoch in advance or book an organized tour to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken. In Jungfraujoch you will find several restaurants where you can eat and enjoy the scenery.
Where to stay in Interlaken, Switzerland
I recommend you spend at least two or three nights staying in Interlaken or in some other surrounding town, as there is a lot to see in the area. If you have more days, much better. This town is a very good place to base yourself as it has a very central location.
If you prefer a quieter town that is also well located, I recommend Wilderswil, a small town where I stayed. It is only 2.5 kilometers from the center of Interlaken. If you prefer to be lost in the mountains, stay in Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald.
- Recommended hotel in Interlaken: Hotel Alphorn.
- Recommended hotel in Wilderswil: Swiss Holiday House.
- Recommended hotel in Lauterbrunnen: Hotel Silberhorn.
- Recommended hotel in Grindelwald: Hotel Cabana.
If you still have doubts about choosing a hotel to stay in, I recommend reading my article on where to stay in Interlaken.
Map of things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland
On the following map of Interlaken, I have marked all the places mentioned in this article. In this way, it will be easier for you to organize your trip to this area of Switzerland. I have also indicated the hotels that I recommend, with their respective links to Booking.
If you are going to travel to more parts of this country, do not hesitate to visit my Switzerland travel guide.
I hope that this post about the top 15 things to do in Interlaken and its surroundings has been very helpful in planning your visit to this part of Switzerland. If you have more questions or want to tell me how your trip was, you can leave a comment or email me. Until next time, travelers!