A mountain-surrounded hidden town in the central region of Switzerland, Interlaken is one of the best nature enthusiasts attractions and adventurers destinations in the country. With various jaw-dropping activities, the Interlaken itinerary should be a must on your Europe tour.
Why Shoulder Season Is The Best Time to Visit Interlaken
In my experience, the best season to visit Interlaken is the shoulder season. It actually lasts from September to November and from March to May. The rates are fairly cheaper during the shoulder period than the peak season, with less crowd blocking your merry-time.
Note that the peak season is from December to February for skiing and June to August for outdoor activities. Therefore, those might not be the best times for your Interlaken itinerary if you want to have the region all for yourself.
To be honest, the shoulder season provides the best scenic views of Interlaken. You will be welcomed by greenery and blooming flowers on every nook (from March to May) or by the golden season (from December to February), and the mountain caps will be covered with snow.
During the time that I suggested, the weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging anywhere between 7°C to 17°C.
Why Avoid Interlaken in Winter
Winters are the least enjoyed seasons in the region because of the freezing climate, with the temperature dropping to as low as -10°C sometimes. The cold gets unbearable, so the town encounters the least number of visitors during this time.
However, if you love to ski, many snow games are waiting for you. Make sure you cover your body with a good number of layers, and you’re good to go.
Why Avoid Interlaken in Summer
Honestly, the weather in summer is great, and you could enjoy many activities, like hiking, trekking, paragliding, and boating. However, exploring the city and the neighborhood during summers might not be the best idea for you as the whole region will be overcrowded with mass tourists.
Besides, accommodation and leisure costs are much more expensive during this peak season. Honestly, I don’t enjoy myself when I spend too much money in an overcrowded place.
The Best Way To Get Around Interlaken
Interlaken itself is not a huge town, and you can easily explore it, even on foot in one day. However, while you are there, you should explore the whole region because it has much more to offer. In addition, you will have options to get around:
By public transportation
In Switzerland, the public transport connections are great. But the fares are costly. And you will not be so flexible because you have to plan your day depending on transportation availability, which can be tricky sometimes.
If you have no other option, you should buy a transportation pass. Then you will be more flexible taking whatever train or bus you want for your Interlaken itinerary. The 3-day Swiss travel pass costs about 220€.
If you are traveling in a small group, you should definitely rent a car in Interlaken. It is way cheaper than public transportation. And you will be really flexible in planning your itinerary. Car rentals in Switzerland usually cost about 70 to 90€ per day.
What You Really Have To Include in Your Interlaken Itinerary
1) Lake Brienz
On the east side of Interlaken lies Lake Brienz, which extends to the valley of River Aare. Surrounded by mountain-capped Brienzer Grat and the Faulhorn mountain, the greenish-blue-colored lake defines natural beauty.
The Lake, which extends to up to 15 kilometers, is famous for cruising in the steamboats, available from April to October. These boats have been functioning since the 1830s. Also, five vessels take you on the tour of the lively Giessbach village, Castle-like hotel Giessbach and the neighboring waterfalls.
What you can also do in this beautiful region is going for a hike or rent a bike. Cycling at the lake is a great thing in Interlaken. It will help you discover some hidden gems in the region like Ilesfeld.
Where to Stay near Lake Brienz?
If you really wanna enjoy the lake to the fullest and also from your room. We suggest Hotel Carpe Diem. It is a little costly, but it has one of the unique views of the lake.
Alternatively, B&B Brienz is a good, more affordable option. It also has a great location (and a delicious breakfast!)
Lauterbrunnen is a beautiful village sitting on the laps of the Alps. You have to include it in your Interlaken itinerary. It lies in the Interlaken-Oberhasli district and is about 12 kilometers away from Interlaken. Lauterbrunnen is a land of waterfalls with 72 falls. The most famous of them are the Staubbach Falls.
Although there are so many things to do in Lauterbrunnen, such as great day hikes, we stayed one night in this beautiful village as we still have several hundreds of kilometers ahead of us. We woke up by sunrise the next day, and we took all the pics we wanted from the famous instagrammable places in Lauterbrunnen.
There are also great day hikes in Lauterbrunnen. The whole region is a natural wonder and is worth spending another day or two exploring the neighboring mountains and the waterfalls.
Where to Stay in Lauterbrunnen?
Lauterbrunnen is a small village and accommodation here might be sold out very quickly. That is why you should book as soon as possible. Waterfall Apartments are a great and affordable option (if you find one left).
Otherwise, your backup plan will be the Valley Hostel. It is not that cozy, but the price is really affordable.
Grindlewald is one of the best swiss villages in the country, and it looks like heaven on earth and is definitely one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing places in Interlaken. We loved the region and enjoyed walking around and contemplating the massive mountains which surround the village.
One of the main activities you could do is to go up by cable cars to enjoy one of the most scenic views I ever had. Then you can hike to Bachalpsee lake.
The hike takes around 30 minutes and is really worth it. The lake has a view of one of the greatest mountains of the region and offers you a magic reflection when there is no wind.
Where to Stay in Grindelwald?
Grindelwald is a famous and touristy town in Switzerland. So you might not find suitable options in the center if you book last minute. But you will find great alternatives nearby. And that was our case.
Chalet Graben is a great cottage where you can spend quality time in the middle of nature.
Ferienwohnung im Grünen is also a great holiday apartment (as the name suggests in German) where you can enjoy a great view of the whole region.
4) Blausee Lake
Blausee Lake is about 30 minutes drive from Interlaken. It is a great aqua-greenish lake and a beautiful romantic destination for couples. Unlike the other lakes in Interlaken, it is a forest lake. A thick forest surrounds it, making the place perfectly gorgeous and dream-like.
With a mysterious history, a landslide created the lake about 15,000 years ago. The water is also fed by underground hot springs that maintain the temperature of the lake.
Where to Stay near Blausee Lake?
The lake itself is not far from the main road leading to Bern. Therefore, the lake itself gets quite busy during the day. For this reason, you should book a stay as close as possible to the lake so that you can have it all to yourself and take amazing pictures.
Restaurant Felsenburg offers affordable stays and is also famous for its breakfast.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and it is 45 minutes away from Interlaken. So I guess you will need to drive through it during your Interlaken itinerary. The city was built on the sandstone ridge and is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage site.
Rich in culture and art, the capital city has magnificent architecture and hosts a few world-famous festivals like the Jazz Festival and Gurten festival.
Actually, Bern is among the top 10 best cities to live in and a must-see on your Switzerland road trip. We saw why when we visited it spontaneously on our way home and after finishing our Switzerland road trip. The city is compact and gorgeous, with hills surrounding it and the Aare river flowing throughout it.
Where to Stay in Bern?
Well, I guess you won’t have trouble finding a suitable stay in the capital of Switzerland. On our road trip, we tried Boutique Hotel Belle Époque, and we can only recommend it. The hotel is quite affordable (depending on the season) and has free parking (a big advantage in Bern!)
Think Twice Before You Include Those Attractions
What is Jungfraujoch? It is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is situated in Interlaken. It is the highest railway station in Europe. Jungfraujoch is a snow-covered station and is also known as the ice palace.
Although the views up there are awesome, you can find comparable ones in Grindelwald and save a lot of money at the same time. The rail trip to Jungfraujoch is costly and costs about 150€.
Also, the place is very famous and always overcrowded with visitors. Therefore, it is not worth the money, and you can take it off your Interlaken itinerary.
Lake Thun is on the west side of Interlaken. Although there are nice cruises in Lake Thun that take you to stunning castles dating back to the 12th century. It is not as beautiful as Lake Brienz.
So if you need to pick one of them to include in your Interlaken itinerary, go for Lake Brienz. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
What To Pack for your Interlaken Itinerary
Here are some things that you must definitely fill your backpack with whenever you’re traveling to Interlaken.
- Interlaken is a beautiful town that is surrounded by high mountains. I know you will bring your camera, but think about bringing about a wide-angle lens and learning about some photography tips in Switzerland, so that you don’t miss the best shots of the beautiful snowy peaks of the mountains.
- Bring a credit card that has a good foreign currency exchange rate. For example, Euro to Swiss Franc conversion can cost you extra money if you ignore the exchange rate.
- Interlaken is a mountain city. So, make sure to pack warm clothes along, even when you are traveling in summer.
- Take a first aid box along with you, together with magnesium pills. The pills are great for cramps after a long day of hiking in the sun.
- Switzerland is insanely expensive. Restaurants are really pricey, and groceries from the supermarket as well. So if you are on a tight budget, bring your own food with you.
- In case you want to hike, carry your hiking shoes. Otherwise, the path uphill might get slippery.
Check these Must-Eat Foods In Interlaken
Although the food in Switzerland is expensive, some meals are just worth the try. Moreover, Interlaken is home to some of the best Swiss delicacies in terms of food and munchies. A few of them are:
Switzerland is famous for its phenomenal Cheese Fondue. A feast for your stomach, it is surely the creamiest and the tastiest fondue you’ll ever have. A few restaurants you can try the special fondue are Bebbis, Des Alps, and Laterne. Also, Gasthof Hirschen is an authentic restaurant that dates back to 1666 and makes the best fondue ever.
Many restaurants offer cheese fondue without wine, like one for Muslim people.
While in Interlaken, taste another authenticity of the Swiss culture, Rosti. It is a dish with sweet potato as the main ingredient, together with eggs and tomatoes. The dish looks a bit like a potato pancake, but better! Swiss have it usually in the form of morning breakfast, but you can also have it for dinner.
Switzerland is one of the top destinations in Central Europe. Interlaken is a must-visit when you visit it, and you have to include it in your itinerary. The region is one of the richest in the country in terms of nature. It is one of the best places I have seen in the world.
If you guys have been there and have other suggestions or recommendations, do let me know in the comments! I will then update this post accordingly. Also, if you are looking for more travel inspiration, look at On A voyagé Pour Vous on Instagram.