Set out on a tour of discovery in the Interlaken holiday region. Marvel at the majestic mountains and the world-famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peak trio which stand sentinel over Lakes Thun and Brienz. Together, mountains and lakes form the striking landscape of the Interlaken holiday region.
Easy peak access by mountain railway and cableway
Interlaken's home peak, the Harder, is just an eight-minute ride away on the funicular railway. Once you reach the top, the restaurant has culinary treats and sublime panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains in store for you. The Two Lakes Footbridge affords breathtaking views of the Interlaken holiday region ranging from Brienz to the east, across both lakes and almost as far as Thun to the west.
The excursion destinations around Interlaken are as varied as the region itself. The best known is without question the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. The Jungfrau Railway takes you to Europe's highest train station nestled in high-alpine world of glaciers and peaks.
On the opposite side of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, a cableway whisks you up to the summit of the Schilthorn – Piz Gloria, the film location of the iconic James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". Bond fever still reigns supreme here: hone your Secret Agent 007 skills and immerse yourself in the world of the 1969 movie at the interactive Bond World exhibition in the summit building.
The nostalgic trip by vintage rack railway up to the Schynige Platte transports you straight back to the Belle Epoque. The small train climbs indefatigably through dense forests and alongside sheer slopes and cliffs as it makes its way to the top. Fill your lungs with clean and healthy alpine air as you enjoy the ride in the vintage, open-air carriage.
On the Brienz Rothorn Railway, the sounds and smells of steam prevail.
As in bygone days, most of the trains still huff and puff their way to the summit. Besides offering unrivaled views, this is also a starting point for the high-altitude hike along the Brienzergrat ridge. You will need to be an experienced and surefooted mountain-goer with a real head for heights. This demanding ridge top trail high above Lake Brienz leads via the Tannhorn and Augstmatthorn peaks to the Harder and is extremely exposed in parts.
Pyramid-shaped Mount Niesen is constantly in your view from Lake Thun. Board the funicular railway for the almost die-straight, steep ascent, and you will be welcomed at the top by fabulous 360-degree vistas.
On the opposite lake shore lies Mount Niederhorn, where a gondola cableway whisks you high above lush meadows and deep-green forests up to the mountain guesthouse. Hike towards the Gemmenalphorn and, with a little luck, you might even catch a glimpse of ibex or marmots.
The other side of the peak is by contrast verdant and gentle. Cliffs fall steeply away to the Justistal valley below. In autumn, during the deer rut, you might even hear belling bucks. This area is a federal game reserve where hunting is prohibited.
The first thing you might notice about Thun is Mount Stockhorn, a giant rock thumb rising regally above the town below. So it comes as no surprise that the views from the cliff-face balcony of the town below are similar impressive.
A tip: follow the Stockhorn culinary trail and enjoy a three-course menu with regionally sourced ingredients at three different mountain restaurants and guesthouses along the way, combined with a leisurely scenic hike from the Stockhorn to the Chrindi middle station.
Lakes, streams and water galore
If you wish to experience water in its myriad forms, you'll be spoiled for choice in the Interlaken holiday region. Mountain streams burble and splash at every twist and turn. Waterfalls roar and rush inexorably to the depths. The many fountains offer clean drinking water of the highest quality. In fact, all you have to do is turn on a tap to benefit from first-rate potable water. Not only is it healthy, sustainable and tastes great – it's also good for the environment.
It is common knowledge that mountain spring water is good for the soul - generations of Alpine dwellers can vouch for this. So it's no coincidence that many spots in the vicinity of waterfalls and mountain streams are known as 'power places', i.e. spots that emanate powerful energy. You can feel this force of nature up close in the spray and roar of the Giessbach Falls, the Pochten Falls in the Suldtal valley or the Milibach Falls above Brienz, to name but a few. The clean mountain air also enhances your sense of well-being.
Crystal-clear mountain lakes nestle as if cleverly concealed in hollows and heights. Cows graze peacefully on their shores. With a little luck, you might observe chamois, ibex or marmots. Many of these small hidden waters are within easy reach.
One such gem is Hinterburgsee lake on Axalp above the village of Brienz, where hand-carved wood sculptures can be admired along the hiking trail and shoreline. Other examples are the moraine lakes that were formed after the last ice age between the Stockental valley and Thun. Not to mention the two larger lakes that lie either side of Interlaken at the heart of the region.
To the east lies Lake Brienz, its turquoise waters glittering like a jewel. To the west lies the no less sparkling, deep blue Lake Thun. A cruise service operates on both waters. The paddle steamer SS Lötschberg takes passengers from Interlaken to Brienz, a voyage past steep cliffs near Iseltwald and the majestic Giessbach Falls. There is also a steamship plying the waters of Lake Thun: the stately DS Blüemlisalp glides past five splendid castles on its way to Thun.
In addition to cruises, both lakes offer plenty of bathing opportunities, and water sports lovers can enjoy sailing, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, pedal boating and kayaking to their hearts' content. And of course there are many excellent restaurants and spots to end a wonderful day with a dramatic red sunset.
Interlaken is Europe's No. 1 adventure destination
Daredevils like to exit the Stockhorn Cableway at 134 metres above ground. If you're an adrenaline addict, a free fall bungee jump from the cable car down to Hinterstockensee lake is sure to get your heart pumping. And this is just one of myriad adventure activities in the Interlaken holiday region.
Without a doubt, the most popular are the colorful tandem canopies under which professional pilots fly you down to the valley are an integral part of the Interlaken townscape. Appearing in the sky above the Harder peak, they glide gently down to land on the lush Höhematte meadow in the center of Interlaken. Skydivers land at the former airbase on the town's outskirts. Hang gliding is equally popular.
Secured by a rope at all times, you can climb, balance, whizz along zip lines and swing from treetop to treetop at Interlaken Rope Park. Other popular recreational activities include bicycle tours and scenic hikes. The sky is literally the limit when it comes to exciting activity options to suit all tastes in the Interlaken holiday region.
From dry land to the cool wet stuff - adventures galore await you on and in the water, too. Take your pick: there's canyoning, whitewater rafting, SUP tours, exciting boat rides and kayaking. You can even enjoy the latter in winter - thanks to waterproof thermal suits, winter kayaking on Lake Brienz is an exhilarating experience even in sub-zero temperatures.
Are you ready for unforgettable moments amidst mountains and lakes? Experience the Interlaken holiday region in all its glory and spend a long weekend in this multifaceted destination. Enjoy good food and active recreation in beautiful natural surroundings – we can't think of a better way to unwind and recharge your batteries.
(This post is sponsored by Interlaken Tourism.)