INTERLAKEN — Excursions from Interlaken

Interlaken is at the centre of several regions that are easily visited in half-day or whole day excursions.

The following are some of the excursions that you can take from Interlaken:
Neuhaus
St Beatus Caves
Beatenberg-Niederhorn
Spiez
Thun
Habkern-Lombachalp
Brienz
Meiringen
Schynige Platte
Burgseeli
Grindelwald
Wengen
Lauterbrunnen
Kleine Scheidegg
Mürren
Gimmelwald
Jungfraujoch

Neuhaus

Neuhaus
You can walk to this village which is close to Interlaken. You start the walk from Interlaken West and then walk alongside the boat canal past the Weissenau ruins which were a former moated castle and then through the Weissenau nature reserve. It will take you around an hour and a quarter to reach Neuhaus. Once there you can swim if the weather is warm enough or there is a restaurant with a sunny terrace. Walk back along the River Lombach via Brand in Unterseen and reach Interlaken again at Goldey on the banks of the River Aare.

St Beatus Caves

St Beatus Caves
These caves are found quite close to Interlaken and can be reached on foot along the historic Pilgrim Route. It will take you about an hour and a half to walk but you can also take a short boat ride as the caves are found on the northeastern shore of Lake Thun. There is around one kilometre of lit caves that are easy to get around and contain stalactites, underground gorges, magnificent halls and underground lakes. You can also view a prehistoric settlement and the cell of St Beatus in the caves. There is a legend attached to these caves where apparently St Beatus, a 6th century monk sheltered here and had to battle the dragon that lived in the caves. On the site is a park with a waterfall and a wonderful playground with a dragon slide. There is also a fable house with a special exhibit and a cave museum found at the entrance to the St Beatus Grotto. If you get hungry while visiting here you can find a restaurant at the entrance to the caves.
For more information about the caves visit the website at: http://www.beatushoehlen.ch/index.php?lg=3&id=3
For more information about the boat to Lake Thun visit the following website at: http://www.bls.ch/e/schifffahrt/schifffahrt.php

Beatenberg-Niederhorn

Beatenberg-Niederhorn
This is a great winter or summer area and is one of the most popular vantage points in the Bernese Oberland with panoramic views over the lakes and mountains. In the winter there is skiing with five runs graded from easy to moderately difficult. The main skiing area is between the mid-station Vorsass (1580m) and the Niederhorn (1950m) where there is one ski lift and gondola. There are mountain restaurants at Vorsass and on the Niederhorn. There is also a sledge run and winter hiking paths. In the summer people come here to hike the many trails that are available but there are other activities as well such as picnic spots, dirt scooters and playgrounds. You can get here by railway, by boat, by bus, by funicular and by aerial cableway and information about this area and how to get here can be found on the website at: http://www.niederhorn.ch/en/summer/niederhorn-heute.html

Spiez<

Spiez
Spiez is a small town located on the south shore of Lake Thun. From the town there are spectacular views across the lake as well as to the Niederhorn Range which is found above Spiez. There is plenty to do in Spiez with its kilometres of hiking and biking trails both around the shoreline and in the surrounding countryside; tennis; mini golf; a fitness course; fishing; a skating rink; windsurfing; sailing and swimming in the outdoor pool or lakeside swimming cove. There is also the medieval castle with its thousand-year-old castle church to visit. This early Romanesque castle church has an elevated presbytery, crypt and frescoes. The medieval fortress includes a fortified tower with graffiti from the 13th century and a palace with gothic rooms and kitchen. The interior is Baroque style and has a ballroom with stucco work, furniture and paintings. It is open from Easter to mid-October from 10am until 5pm daily. You can get to Spiez by train or boat
For information about the Spiez Castle visit the website at http://www.schloss-spiez.ch
For information about the trains visit the website at http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html
For more information about the boats visit the following website at: http://www.bls.ch/e/schifffahrt/schifffahrt.php

Thun

Thun
This beautiful town which is about 30 minutes from Interlaken has a picturesque setting on Lake Thun. There is plenty to visit here including a picturesque castle and a medieval centre as well as having some splendid views of the Bernese Alps. The Old Town is found about one kilometre from the lake and dates back to the 12th century. Some of the sights to see in the Old Town include the town church with its 14th century tower, the 16th century town hall and the castle. This castle was built by the Dukes of Zähringen in the 12th century and is now home to a museum that displays medieval objects, weapons and uniforms from the 18th and 19th centuries, a ceramic collection and a toy exhibition. A highlight of the castle is the restored 12th century Knight’s Hall. There is also the Thun Panorama to visit. This is a circular painting of the town of Thun and dates from around 1814 making it one of the oldest of these kinds of paintings still in existence. It is found in a rotunda in Schadaupark and it costs CHF6. Lake Thun is a great place to swim and participate in many water sports. There is a great walking path around the edge of the lake so that you can take in some of the wonderful views. You can get to Thun by train or by boat.
For information about the trains visit the website at http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html
For more information about the boats visit the following website at: http://www.bls.ch/e/schifffahrt/schifffahrt.php

Traveller's Tip

A good place to start your visit to Thun might be at the tourist centre found in the Welcome Centre at the train station. They can give you lots of information on what you can do in Thun. It is open from Monday to Friday from 9am until 6.30pm and on Saturday from 9am until 4pm.
Habkern-Lombachalp

Habkern-Lombachalp
The Habkern-Lombachalp area is found in the most picturesque of settings. In summer hiking is a popular attraction and in winter it is a popular skiing and snowboarding area. There are also places to visit in or near the village including a cheese factory — Alp Heubühlen which is found about an hour’s walk away from the village; a museum; Habkergranit which is a huge boulder found in a meadow and on Augustmatthorn you may be lucky to see the Ibex colony. From Interlaken West train station take bus 601 to Habkern and then travel by shuttle bus to Lombachalp. There is a tourist office in the village of Habkern which is a good place to visit for information.
For information about the bus visit the following website at http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

Brienz

Brienz
Brienz is known as the ‘village of carving’ and has a long tradition in wood processing. You will find lots of shops selling wooden carvings and there are also several life-sized carvings scattered around the village. Another highlight of this village is Brunngasse which is a street dating back to the 18th century with its beautiful houses decorated with wood carvings. Brienz is found on Lake Brienz which means there are lots of picturesque lakeside walks that you can take from here. Just outside Brienz is the Ballenberg Open Air Museum which will give you an insight into what life would have been like in agricultural Switzerland between the 16th and 19th centuries with its reconstructed houses and farms. You get to Brienz by train from Interlaken or by boat.
For information about the Ballenberg open-Air Museum visit the website at http://www.ballenberg.ch/en/Welcome
For information about the trains visit the website at http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html
For more information about the boats visit the following website at: http://www.bls.ch/e/schifffahrt/schifffahrt.php

Traveller's Tip

A pleasant way to visit Brienz is to take the boat on the way there and then take the train on the way home. The train hugs the coast for much of the way and you can see the villages along the lake from a different perspective.
Reichenbach Falls

Meiringen
The town of Meiringen is the starting point for a lot of trips to some scenic spots around the Hasli Valley area. One of the best trips from Meiringen is to Reichenbach Falls. To reach these falls you can take a funicular from the southern end of the town to a scenic lookout just below the falls. The funicular runs from May to October. From the falls you can hike through a forest to reach the village of Zwirgi which is found at the foot of the Reichenbach Valley. There are lots of hiking trails around this area that you can take depending on your interest and fitness level. A few kilometres east of Meiringen is Aareschlucht (Aare Gorge) which is a 200-metre deep narrow gorge with steep-sided walls and a river at the bottom. It is a fascinating place to visit and is easily reached by safe bridges and tunnels. You can get to Aare Gorge by train or bus from Meiringen to Innertkirchen and then you walk to the entrance.
For information about the trains visit the website at: http://www.sbb.ch/en
For information about getting to the Reichenbach Falls and the related costs visit the website at: http://www.reichenbachfall.ch/images/stories/dokumente/Englisch.pdf
For information about getting to the Aare Gorge and the related costs visit the website at: http://www.aareschlucht.ch/english/willkommen_e.php

Traveller's Tip

The best time to visit the falls is in the Spring after the winter snow melt when the falls are at their most dramatic.
  • Aare Gorge is floodlit at night during July and August from 9pm until 11pm.
  • In the summer months you can take tours by bus from Meiringen which run once or twice a week. You will need to reserve a seat in advance at any bus station. The route crosses several Alpine passes and the views are stunning.
    For information about these tours visit the following website at: http://www.postbus.ch/pag-startseite.htm
    Schynige Platte

    Schynige Platte
    Schynige Platte is home to one of Switzerland’s major Alpine Gardens which was established in the 1930s. It is well worth visiting to see the 500 or so alpine flowers such as edelweiss, gentian, or fire lilies between June and the end of September. The view from the plateau is quite spectacular of the surrounding mountains as well as looking back towards the two lakes of Thun and Brienz. You can reach this area by taking a train or bus to Wilderswill and from there you take the cog railway for a 50 minute journey to Schynige Platte. There are several walks that you can take once you reach the plateau.
    For information about the trains to Wilderswill visit the following website at: http://www.sbb.ch/en
    For information about the cog railway to Schynige Platte and the related costs visit the following website at: http://shop.jungfrau.ch/en/bergbahn

    Burgseeli

    Burgseeli
    This natural bathing beach is found near Interlaken between Riggenberg and Goldswill, on the northern shore of Lake Brienz. Here you will find lots of facilities including a BBQ area, lawn for sunbathing and sitting, a restaurant and at certain times of the year events are held here. You can reach Burgseeli from Interlaken by taking a train or boat to Riggenberg and then a bus. Riggenberg is a lovely little village to visit with its castle church, castle ruins and village museum which holds special exhibitions during the summer months. There are also lots of walks to take around the lakeside.
    For more information about trains to Riggenberg as well as the bus from Riggenburg to Burgseeli visit the website at: http://www.sbb.ch/en
    For more information about the boats to Riggenberg visit the following website at: http://www.bls.ch/e/schifffahrt/schifffahrt.php

    Grindelwald

    Grindelwald
    This village lies in a valley surrounded by the mountains of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. It is a very popular resort both in the summer when people visit here to hike the 300 or so walking trails and in the winter to ski. There is also a museum found next to the church which gives a history of the area. From Grindelwald you can take a cable car up to Männlichen where there are various activities to do such as hiking in the summer months and skiing activities in the winter months.
    For information about getting to Grindelwald and its various activities visit the website at http://www.grindelwald.travel/en/welcome.cfm
    For information about getting to Männlichen and its various activities visit the website at http://www.maennlichen.ch

    Wengen

    Wengen
    This is another village that lies at the foot of the trio of mountains — Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The activities here are the same as other villages in the area with hiking in summer and skiing in winter. Wengen is the starting point of the train ride to Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe). The village is known for its pure mountain air and because it is in a sheltered area it enjoys lots of sunshine.
    For information about Wengen visit the website at http://www.mywengen.ch/en/welcome.cfm

    Lauterbrunnen

    Lauterbrunnen
    Lauterbrunnen is found in a dramatic setting between huge rock faces and mountain peaks. There are around 72 waterfalls found in this area as well as secluded valleys and lovely alpine meadows full of wildflowers. The Lauterbrunnen Valley is one of the largest nature conservation areas in Switzerland. The most famous waterfall in this area is Staubbach Falls which is 300 metres high and is one of the highest free-falling waterfalls in Europe. Another impressive waterfall is the Trümmelbach Falls that can only be reached in summer by a tunnel lift. Lauterbrunnen is the starting point for the cog railway that takes you to the Jungfraujoch.
    For information about Lauterbrunnen visit the website at http://www.mylauterbrunnen.com/en/welcome.cfm?

    Kleine Scheidegg

    Kleine Scheidegg
    The mountain pass of Kleine Scheidegg connects the Lütschinen Valleys with the villages of Wengen and Grindelwald. It is the heart of the Jungfrau region and is only accessible by the cog railway. It is the starting point for the second cog railway to Jungfraujoch. There are a few facilities such as restaurants and a hotel.
    For more information about Kleine Scheidegg visit the website at: http://www.bahnhof-scheidegg.ch/default.asp?itemid=19&lang=e

    Traveller's Tip

    Kleine Scheidegg is a good place to acclimatise yourself to the altitude for a couple of hours before you continue on to the Jungfraujoch.
    Mürren

    Mürren
    Another of these villages with glorious views of the trio of mountains — Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Mürren is a former settlement of people from the Lötschen Valley in the Valais which can still be seen today in the design of the houses and the pronunciation of the dialect spoken here. It is the highest, continually inhabited village settlement in this area. It is a good starting point for easy as well as some more demanding hikes that you can do in the summer months and there are the usual winter sports as well. You can take a funicular to the Allmendhubel which is found above the village or you can visit the well-known hiking and skiing area around the Schilthorn mountain which is just a cableway ride away. You get to Mürren by taking either the Stechelberg-Mürren-Schilthorn Aerial Cableway from Stechelberg or via the mountain cog railway from Lauterbrunnen.
    For information about getting to Mürren visit the following website at http://shop.jungfrau.ch/en/bergbahn/angebote/winteregg-muerren
    For information about Mürren and what activities are available here visit the following websites at: http://www.muerren.ch and http://www.mymuerren.ch

    Traveller's Tip

    On the Schiltorn mountain there is a very famous restaurant called Piz Gloria that was made so by the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This revolving restaurant, considered futuristic at the time (the 1960s) and the cableway were used in the film and the scenes involving the imaginary ‘Piz Gloria’ were shot here as well.
    For information about Schiltorn and the revolving restaurant visit the website at: http://www.schilthorn.ch/en/schilthorn
    Gimmelwald

    Gimmelwald
    You can only reach this very small mountain village by gondola and there isn’t much to see in the village itself but the scenery is stunning with the huge sheer cliff face that you can see across the valley which is known as the Schwarzmönch or Black Monk. This quaint village is one of the few underdeveloped villages in this area and if peace and quiet as well as an unhurried pace of life is what you are after then this is the place for you. To get to Gimmelwald you must take a bus from Lauterbrunnen to the Stechelberg gondola station and then you ride the gondola up one station to Gimmelwald. If you are feeling very energetic you can hike to Gimmelwald from Stechelberg but it will take you around an hour and a half. There are many spectacular hikes around this area with some beautiful scenery and one of the better known ones is the one to Schiltorn which you can do in bits and take a gondola the rest of the way if you get tired. The hike in its entirety takes around 5 hours and it is all uphill but if you prefer you could take the gondola up and hike down. The hike down is very steep and you will probably need hiking poles to help you keep your balance. There are less strenuous hikes to Allmendhubel and Winteregg which are on more level paths but the views are still good.
    For information about the trains visit the website at http://www.sbb.ch/en

    Traveller's Tip

    You can buy one ticket from Interlaken East station that includes the train to Lauterbrunnen and the bus and gondola as well. Be aware that the train that you take from Interlaken has two parts — the first part goes to Lauterbrunnen and the second part to Grindelwald. The cars are marked but make sure you get in the correct one.
  • There is no food store at Gimmelwald so if you want to picnic when you get here then take food with you or you can visit the neighbouring village of Mürren which is 30 minutes away.
    Jungfraujoch

    Jungfraujoch
    The journey to the Jungfraujoch involves a whole day trip from Interlaken but the scenery is unbelievable and well worth the effort in getting there. Many visitors consider it a highlight of their visit to Switzerland. First you will need to take a train from Interlaken East to Lauterbrunnen and from there take the cog railway to Kleine Scheidegg. From here take another cog railway to the Jungfraujoch. The journey from Kleine Scheidegg climbs nearly 1,400 metres in height and covers a distance of more than seven kilometres in tunnels along the nine kilometre long stretch. The views along the first part of the journey are just stunning and the ride itself is very relaxing but the second half of the train journey is mostly through tunnels but there are some stops where you are allowed to get out to see the view. The Jungfraujoch railway station is Europe’s highest altitude station. From the station you take a lift to the peak which is called ‘Sphinx’ and here you will find an observatory and observation platform. From the observation platform you will have a magnificent view of the snow-covered Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains and the Aletsch Glacier. This area was the first Unesco World Natural Heritage Site in the entire Alpine region. Further sights include the Ice Palace, the Ski and Snowboard Park and the glacier restaurant.
    For information about getting to the Jungfraujoch and what to see there visit the website at http://www.jungfrau.ch/en/tourism/places-to-visit/jungfraujoch-top-of-europe

    Traveller's Tip

    The altitude at the Jungfraujoch can affect many people and cause altitude sickness. Be aware that this could happen to you and come prepared. It can strike you in many ways such as extreme fatigue so take things easy or it can give you a headache or make you feel nauseous and dizzy. You could lessen the effects by spending some time at the Kleine Scheidegg station to try and acclimatise yourself a little before continuing your journey.
  • There is permanent snow and ice at the Jungfraujoch so if you venture outside it will be quite cold and possibly slippery so you will need to be dressed appropriately and have the correct footwear.