Interlaken offers the best opportunities for great Swiss excursions in the mountains as well as on Lake Brienz or Lake Thun.
Whether a boat trip on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz, a day trip to the Jungfraujoch or great shopping. Interlaken has a lot to offer. The Swiss agree that Interlaken is not one of the most beautiful cities in their country. But the place is the perfect place to start great excursions.
Brief summary of the history of Interlaken
Interlaken means “Inter = between” and “Laken = Lakes”. So between the lakes. Accordingly, the Swiss city lies between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. It was founded by a baron from Oberhofen in 1130. Furthermore, a monastery was built, which was in operation until the 16th century.
Interlaken achieved an upswing with the discovery of mountain tourism. Famous people such as Johan Wolfgang von Goethe visited the town. The ship canal from Lake Thun to Interlaken West has existed for over 100 years.
Today, tourism is of the greatest importance for the region. Not only various day trips to the Swiss mountains are beeing offered. Extreme sports such as parachuting and bungee jumping are also very popular.
Places to see in Interlaken
- Old Town Unterseen
One of the best photo subjects in “Interlaken Switzerland” is the old town of Unterseen with its historic houses. Here you can take a leisurely stroll or enjoy a nice delicacy in one of the “Interlaken Restaurants”.
- Weissenau Castle Ruin
One of the insider tips in Interlaken is a walk along the shore of Lake Thun with a visit to the Weissenau castle ruins. From here you have a perfect view over the lake and the surrounding green hills.
- Shopping street Interlaken
The shopping street in Interlaken is the ideal place if you want to buy a souvenir. You can find everything from cowbells to postcards and expensive Swiss watches. The street is very much geared towards tourists as a target audience.
12 TOP excursion destinations of Interlaken Switzerland
Interlaken is one of the best towns to start Swiss excursions in all directions. Because Interlaken is not only between the two lakes “Lake Thun” and “Lake Brienz”. Moreover, the town is surrounded by impressive mountain areas such as the Jungfrau region and the Brienzer Rothorn mountain range.
I am happy to present you with my 12 top excursions from Interlaken. Tip number 12 is a real insider tip that I suggest to all connoisseurs and romantics.
- Harder Kulm – Top of Interlaken
The Harder Kulm in “Interlaken Switzerland” is one of the most popular destinations in the city. The “Harder Kulm Funicular” takes you up the mountain in 10 minutes. From the cable car you can walk to the viewing platform in just 300 meters, where you can enjoy a magnificent panorama over Interlaken, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
By the way, there is a very tasty restaurant on the Harder Kulm. It’s worth pampering yourself there. The Harder Kulm funicular is open from April to November.
Are you looking for a Harder Kulm hike? Then a great suggestion is the hike from Harder Kulm to Augstmatthorn. This is a hike with one of the most beautiful views over Lake Brienz.
- Lake Thun boat trip from Interlaken to Spiez
One of the easiest and most comfortable ways to travel from Interlaken is by boat on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz . From my own experience, I can especially recommend the trip on Lake Thun. You board the boat at Interlaken West in the channel of the river Aare. If you’re lucky, you’ll even travel on a steamboat.
A trip on the bright blue waters on a Swiss lake is a real highlight of any vacation in Switzerland. You can enjoy a meal on board of the ship. Whether hot meals or snacks. When you arrive in Spiez, I recommend visiting the “castle of Spiez” with its vineyards. You can return to Interlaken either by train or by boat on Lake Thun.
If you would like to take a boat trip on Lake Brienz, you can get on at the port of Interlaken Ost (lake). A highlight is the trip to the excursion destinations Iseltwald or Brienz.
- Brienzer Rothorn
The Brienzer Rothorn is the local mountain of Brienz in the canton of Bern. Thousands of tourists flock up here every year because the view over Lake Brienz and the surrounding Swiss mountains is fantastic. But the real highlight is the Brienzer Rothorn cable car. This is a steam cogwheel railway that is over 100 years old and provides nostalgic moments. Some of the steam trains are also more modern.
A tip for hikers and those with a head for heights is the hike on the Brienzer Rothorn in the direction of the Augstmatthorn. If you like, you can even hike to the Harder Kulm above Interlaken. However, this takes around seven hours.
The Brienzer Rothorn cable car is normally open from around May to the end of October. Please check it on their website for further details.
The Niesen is the local mountain of Thun and Lake Thun in the canton of Bern. Imposing and proud, it looks over the region. No wonder you would love to see this mountain from above. If you like, you can hike up around 1600 meters in altitude from Mülenen. On the other hand, the Niesen Railway runs to the top of the Swiss mountain from around May to November.
Great photos with a brilliant view can be taken on the Niesen. But the Niesen Restaurant is also a worthwhile destination.
As I already mentioned, you can hike the Niesen. You can either do a hike from the Niesen to the middle station or back down to Mülenen. As the path is very steep, I do not recommend this. Another option would be a high-altitude hike into Emmental to Diemtigen. This also takes a long time and is only suitable for trained hikers.
Of course, the Jungfraujoch has to be among the excursion destinations of Interlaken. Because this is simply the classic of all Swiss excursion destinations. Take the train from Interlaken to Grindelwald, where you change to the Eiger Express or the train to the Eiger Glacier.
From there you have to change again to a cogwheel railway, which finally takes you up to the Jungfraujoch. The fastest connection from Interlaken Ost to the Jungfraujoch takes 1h36min with the newly built Eiger Express.
If you want to go to the Jungfraujoch, you absolutely have to visit Grindelwald afterwards. The famous mountain village is one of the most beautiful things Switzerland has to offer. But I would walk a bit out of the center, because that’s where it really gets beautiful in my opinion. This means amazing views and less people.
But Grindelwald is also immensely worthwhile for a day trip from Interlaken. A great tip is the cable car ride to Grindelwald First. From there you have so many options how you can spend your day. On the one hand, there is the popular hike to Bachalpsee. On the other hand, you can also take the hike to Grosse Scheidegg.
If you don’t want to hike at all, Grindelwald First has many alternatives to offer. For example, the First Cliff Walk, where you can see the beautiful Swiss mountains around Grindelwald.
- Lauterbrunnen Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen is one of the most photographed villages in Switzerland. On the one hand, the impressive waterfall called Staubbachfall is very popular. It is considered the highest waterfall in Switzerland besides the Seerenbach Falls. On the other hand, the Lauterbrunnen valley with its 72 waterfalls attracts thousands of tourists and locals every year.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was already impressed by the beauty of Lauterbrunnen and wrote a poem especially for it.
Lauterbrunnen is a worthwhile excursion from “Interlaken Switzerland” and can easily be combined with Grindelwald or even the Jungfraujoch. Now my secret tip for you: Theoretically, you can also visit Grindelwald first. Then drive from Grindelwald to the Jungfraujoch and from the Jungfraujoch via Wengen to Lauterbrunnen. This way you’ll have seen the three top destinations in Switzerland in no time at all.
- Murren and Gimmelwald
Two other beautiful villages in the Jungfrau region are Mürren and Gimmelwald. To be honest, Mürren is even one of my favorite places in Switzerland. The imposing view over the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and the charming chalets are simply unique.
My tip is the walk from Murren to Gimmelwald. Not only are there great photo spots, but there are also benches where you can rest and enjoy yourself. A recommendation I’d like to make to you and my top destination from Interlaken.
The Rosenlaui Gorge with the imposing Klein Wellhorn has become a popular destination in recent years. On the one hand, you can take beautiful photos at that place. On the other hand, you can relax or go on great hikes. Especially locals like to come to the gorge and enjoy the atmosphere.
But the gorge is also accessible for tourists. Because in summer, the Postbus runs a few times a day from Meiringen via the Rosenlaui Gorge and the “Grosse Scheidegg” to Grindelwald. This is another highlight in the region around Interlaken.
At the Hotel Rosenlaui you can also enjoy a meal in the delicious restaurant.
- Schynige Platte
From Wilderswil, which is right next to Interlaken in Switzerland, you can take a vintage train to the Schynige Platte. The panoramic ride with a view over the Swiss Alps takes you to the top of the mountain. Here you can not only enjoy a magnificent view, but also stop for a bite to eat in the restaurant.
There are also various hikes here from the Schyinge Platte. How about the ridge hike to the Loucherhorn, for example? A fabulous panoramic view over Lake Brienz and the surrounding mountains awaits you.
Iseltwald is one of the most beautiful places at Lake Brienz. Thanks to Instagram in particular, the place has become one of the hotspots in Switzerland. In summer, many Swiss and tourists flock to Iseltwald. Nevertheless, it is still relatively idyllic during the week.
If you want to take a great photo with Seeburg Castle, you can take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade. But the restaurants in Iseltwald also serve their delicacies on the terrace from later spring until autumn. A hike from Iseltwald to the Giessbach Falls is also worthwhile.
Iseltwald is easy to reach from Interlaken. You can either travel by boat from Interlaken Ost or by bus, which is the faster option.
- Lake Thun Hike from Sigriswil to Gunten
The region around „Interlaken Switzerland“ not only has typical tourist attractions to offer. There are many more insider tips. I would like to reveal one tip here that I would particularly recommend to you. It’s the leisurely hike from the charming village of Sigriswil down to Gunten.
The view you will experience is indescribable. On the one hand, you can see the imposing Niesen and Lake Thun. On the other hand, at good weather, you can spot the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
Journey from Zurich to Interlaken
The easiest way to travel is by train from Zurich to „Interlaken West“ or „Interlaken East“. You can reach Interlaken in around 1h50min with just one change in Bern.
By car, you can get to Interlaken about 15 minutes faster if there are no traffic jams. Instead, you take the route over the Hasliberg.
From „Interlaken Switzerland“, all excursion destinations can be reached by public transport without any problems.
Interlaken will never be the most beautiful town in Switzerland. But the town is perfectly situated to reach Switzerland’s most beautiful excursion destinations within a very short time. Thanks to the high density of great destinations, it is worth staying a few days in “Interlaken Switzerland”. Whether it’s a boat trip on Lake Thun or an excursion into the mountains. There is something for everyone.