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Things to Do in Interlaken

Tucked in an alpine valley between the glistening mountain lakes of Thun and Brienz, the resort town of Interlaken is ideally situated for exploring the Swiss Alps. Surrounded by the snowy mantles of Harder Kulm, the Eiger, and the Jungfrau—arguably Europe’s most beautiful mountain—Interlaken is the gateway to Bernese Oberland, as well as a popular vacation resort in its own right.

The Basics
See the highlights of Interlaken on full-day or multi-day tour from Zurich or Lucerne, or use the mountain town as a base for exploring the surrounding Alps. Ride the cogwheel train to the Top of Europe observation deck at Jungfraujoch, go hiking along the Schynige Platte ridge, admire the glacial landscapes of Grindelwald, or take in the views from the nearby Kleine Scheidegg mountain pass, the valley of Lauterbrunnen, or the Harder Kulm viewpoint. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Free Wi-Fi hotspots are available around Interlaken.
  • The mountains around Interlaken can be chilly even in the summer months, so be sure to pack warm clothes if you plan on exploring the Alps.
  • Many of the attractions around Interlaken are wheelchair accessible, but it’s best to check in advance.

How to Get There
Interlaken is located in Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland, 73 miles (117 kilometers) southwest of Zurich or an hour and a half by road. The town is linked by train to cities all around Switzerland. The closest international airport is Bern Airport, 45 minutes by road or an hour and a half by train from Interlaken. 

When to Get There
The most popular time to visit Interlaken is during the summer months of July and August. Summer visitors can hike in the Alps, take boat cruises around the lakes, and a enjoy a myriad of other activities. Visiting in the shoulder season (October, May, and June) can mean fewer crowds and cheaper prices on tours and accommodation. Ski enthusiasts should arrive between December and March to make the most of the snow. 

Outdoor Adventures in Interlaken
Hiking and skiing aren’t the only outdoor activities to enjoy in Interlaken—the alpine town is also famous as a center for extreme sports. Test your nerve canyoning, abseiling (rappelling) down a waterfall, or rock climbing; enjoy water sports like river rafting; or check skydiving, paragliding, or bungee jumping off your bucket list. For something a little less hair-raising, horseback riding, mountain biking, helicopter tours, snowshoe excursions, and cross-country skiing are also possibilities. 
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Jungfraujoch Sphinx Observatory (Sphinx-Observatorium)
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Perched on a rocky precipice 11,716 feet (3,571 meters) above sea level, the Sphinx Observatory is a working lab with a large telescope. The landmark sits on Jungfraujoch peak—known as the "Top of Europe"—and offers stunning views of the Bernese Alps and beyond from its observation deck, one of the highest in Switzerland.

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Matterhorn
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Nicknamed the “Mountain of Mountains,” the Matterhorn is one of the highest peaks in Europe, reaching a mighty 14,692 feet (4,478 meters). Known for its jagged triangular shape, it’s one of Switzerland’s most famous peaks—not only for its views, but also for its appearance in the logo for Toblerone, the iconic Swiss chocolate brand.

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Lake Brienz (Brienzersee)
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Lake Brienz (Brienzersee) is one of the two lakes that flank the popular resort town of Interlaken. The village of Brienz, which sits on the opposite side of the lake (and from which the lake takes its name), is a picture-perfect Swiss spot made up of traditional wooden chalets with the snow-capped Alps rising behind them.

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Harder Kulm
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High above the Swiss town of Interlaken stands Harder Kulm, a viewpoint with panoramic views of the mountains and valleys of the Berner Oberland region. Visitors can hike to the spot from town, or take a funicular railway. Once at the top, you can enjoy the views, have a refreshment, and enjoy a variety of attractions.

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Lake Thun (Thunersee)
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Lake Thun—or Thunersee as it’s known locally—is a glacial lake near Interlaken. Its bright turquoise water and the surrounding mountains and valleys are pure picture-postcard Switzerland.

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Grimsel Pass
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The Grimsel Pass route through the Swiss Alps reaches some 6,500 feet (1981 meters above sea level—linking the canton of Bern with the canton of Valais. Wild and often treacherous, the path was once used by traders and mules to transport Swiss cheese, and holds a sacred place in Switzerland’s history.

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Grindelwald First
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Located just north of Grindelwald, the 7,106-foot (2,166-meter) First Mountain is one of the region’s most accessible peaks. Affording spectacular views of the neighboring Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains, it’s a scenic spot for hiking and skiing.

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Adventure Park Interlaken (Seilpark Interlaken)
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Home to nine unique courses of varying difficulty level, this high ropes park in Interlaken is a nature lover and thrill seeker’s paradise. Adventurers can experience more than 120 unique physical challenges across the park’s treetop ziplines, bridges, and swings, while little ones can have a go on the family-friendly Butterfly Walk.

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Aletsch Glacier
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Covering a total area of over 45 square miles (72 square kilometers, the Great Aletsch Glacier is the largest glacial landscape in Europe. It’s located in the eastern Swiss Alps flanked by the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains.

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Rhone Glacier
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The Rhône Glacier in the Swiss Alps is the source of the Rhône River, which travels through Switzerland and France into the Mediterranean Sea, and contributes to Lake Geneva. It’s estimated to be more than 10,000 years old. Visitors can view it from the outside and also walk inside the glacier.

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More Things to Do in Interlaken

Rapperswil

Rapperswil

Rapperswil is a town on the east side of Lake Zürich in Switzerland’s canton of St. Gallen. The lakeside location and surrounding rolling hillsides create a picturesque riviera-like feel, while the town combines history and culture with a thriving outdoor lifestyle.

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Wengen-Männlichen Aerial Cableway

Wengen-Männlichen Aerial Cableway

The Wengen Männlichen aerial cableway is a high-speed cable car situated in the Swiss Alps that offers unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape. It’s the perfect way to experience the scenic beauty of the region.

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Schynige Platte

Schynige Platte

Step inside one of the wooden coaches of the historic cogwheel railway that trundles up to Switzerland’s Schynige Platte, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Then get out on the Alpine plateau, where sweeping views of the Eiger mountain and the Jungfrau countryside await you.

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St. Beatus Caves (St. Beatus-Höhlen)

St. Beatus Caves (St. Beatus-Höhlen)

Legend has it that in the 6th century, a dragon took shelter in these caves while the monk and hermit Beatus of Lungern was hunting him. The St. Beatus Caves (St. Beatus Hohlen), which sit next to the lakes of Interlaken, were formed over many centuries and are full of stunning stalagmites, stalactites, lakes, and waterfalls.

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Ballenberg, Swiss Open-Air Museum

Ballenberg, Swiss Open-Air Museum

Made up of more than 100 historic buildings from across the country, this open-air museum is one of Switzerland’s stand-out heritage sites. Guests can meet costumed characters, explore renovated houses and cultivated gardens, or enjoy a close encounter with farmyard animals as they learn more about traditional Swiss life at this 66-hectare museum.

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