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How to explore Interlaken, Switzerland’s adventure capital

In this Swiss town nestled between glacier-fed lakes, exploring on the water, in the mountains or even in the air reveals a region rich in natural beauty — and it’s open to beginners and intrepid adventurers alike.

By Interlaken Tourism
Published 1 Jun 2021, 09:45 BST
The Swiss town of Interlaken (meaning ‘between the lakes’) is an adventure playground.

The Swiss town of Interlaken (meaning ‘between the lakes’) is an adventure playground.

Photograph by Callum Snape, Interlaken Tourism

On the valley floor tucked in between Lakes Thun and Brienz and surrounded by the Bernese Alps, the town of Interlaken (meaning ‘between the lakes’) is an adventure playground for beginners and experts. The snow-capped peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau frame the town, with plenty of activities awaiting in the surrounding mountains, as well as on the lakes and land. This is the heart of the region, with plenty of accommodation styles to suit, from luxury hotels and B&Bs to camping sites. A great time to make the most of Interlaken is in the summer, when an average temperature of 18.5C makes conditions ideal for abseiling waterfalls, hiking, skydiving above the summits and more. Below, discover three ways to explore this diverse region.

On the water

Thanks to the fresh, turquoise waters flowing through the surrounding mountains of the Jungfrau Region, plus canyons and the two lakes, Interlaken has a wide range of watersports at varying levels of intensity. The River Lütschine offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the Swiss Alps, as does the River Simme, while the calmer nature of River Aare makes it better suited for family rafting. Canyoning — whether through the Grimsel gorge, or the more physically demanding Chli Schliere gorge — is also prevalent throughout the region, with high rappels, fast slides and big jumps to get your adrenalin flowing.

The River Lütschine offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the Swiss Alps, as does the River Simme, while the calmer nature of River Aare makes it better suited for family rafting.

Photograph by Interlaken Tourism

Aside from the relaxing beaches, pools and lidos that surround Lakes Thun and Brienz, there are opportunities for a range of heart-pumping activities, from wakeboarding and wind surfing to stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. Try the kayaking route from the cliffs of Iseltwald to the Giessbach Falls for a particularly scenic journey, or for something a little different, try surf-skiing — a style of paddling that lets you hit the waves at higher speed.

In the mountains

The pearly tops of the famous three peaks (Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau) of the Bernese Oberland are visible from the shores of the lakes in Interlaken and from almost everywhere else in the town. They’re a short trip away on one of the mountain railways, offering panoramic views at the top. Well-maintained hiking trails weave throughout the peaks, where it’s possible to see chamois, ibex and marmot, but it’s also possible to explore in a more leisurely way via the newly opened Eiger Express cable cars, which traverse Jungfraujoch, the saddle that connects Jungfrau and Mönch.

Interlaken’s own mountain, Harder Kulm, is also accessible by funicular railway, reaching the top in under 10 minutes, where there’s a glass-floored viewing platform and panoramic restaurant. The revolving restaurant Piz Gloria at the peak of Schilthorn features in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and can be reached by cable car or a brisk five-hour hike. Schynige Platte, meanwhile, is a small mountain ridge that has a great viewpoint of the Bernese Oberland. From Lake Brienz, it’s also possible to catch a steam train to Brienz Rothorn, the highest summit of the Emmental Alps.

In addition to hiking trails, there are also beautiful routes for mountain biking and e-biking in the mountains as well as closer to the ground level, through lush forests and meadows, as well as on quiet roads.

Up in the air

With sweeping views of the Bernese Oberland and Lake Thun, plus the dramatic Grindelwald gorge to discover, the mountains and towns of Interlaken can be explored from the skies, too. Paragliding, bungee jumping, canyon swinging and even freefalling from a helicopter are all popular activities in the region.

Summer may be when to experience Interlaken from all angles, but experiences in the air are available year-round. There’s a number of adventure styles to try as well as sightseeing trips. Closer to the land, the Adventure Park Interlaken also has courses and obstacles amid the treetops.

Discover more about the region via Interlaken Tourism

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