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City Guide: Interlaken

Interlaken is a tiny Swiss city located about an hour away from Zurich, between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. In this city guide, we’ll explain what you should see when in the city!

Switzerland is a country that is on many people’s bucket list and this shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are amazing mountain panoramas, beautiful lakes and charming villages. Interlaken is a good example as it combines many of the Swiss highlights in one place. The great location in the center of the country makes it pretty accessible, at the same time you can venture to the mountains as well as the most beautiful lakes in a matter of just a few minutes or hours from here. Let’s dive into what Interlaken has to offer and why visiting is worth it!

The beautiful views of the area from Harder Kulm

While Interlaken is also known as the departure point for going to the Jungfraujoch, I’m not going to focus on ‘The Top of Europe’ as it is marketed in this guide. Instead, I’ll stick to the places “in” or immediately around Interlaken. This is including the Harder Kulm, which you reach by a quick ride with a rack railway.

Interlaken Harderbahn

Once up the mountain, you will see a cute little house, which houses a restaurant.

Interlaken Harder Kulm Building

However, the highlight is the incredible viewpoint, which is oh-so picture worthy!

Interlaken Harder Kulm Viewpoint

The location of Harder Kulm is so particularly special as you can see both lakes from here in perfection. To the right, there’s Lake Thun.

Interlaken Harder Kulm Lake Thun

To the left, there’s Lake Brience and I’d be honest: It’s really tought to make the decision, which of the two is nicer.

Interlaken Harder Kulm Lake Brienz

Both are embedded in a mountain panorama (when the weather is perfect, you can even see the Jungfrau from here!). If you are up on Harder Kulm, you can eitehr hike back to town, take the rack railway down or go hiking on the mountain a bit – which is quite nice as well.

Interlaken Harder Kulm Hiking

In my opinion, Harder Kulm definitely is a must-visit when in Interlaken!

River Aare and the two beautiful lakes near Interlaken

Water is generally a theme that plays an important role in Interlaken, even though the city isn’t located right by a lake. Instead, the river Aare crosses the city, even though it’s much smaller here than in Bern.

Interlaken Aare

It’s pretty lovely to have a walk along the river with its crystal blue water. Both ends of the river also come with a highlight as the Aare connects the two rivers here. On one side, you’ll reach the charming Lake Brienz.

Interlaken Lake Brienz

While the other side is home to the as beautiful Lake Thun, which is a bit further away from the city, but still can be reached with a (long) leisurely walk in about an hour.

Interlaken Lake Thun

Lake Thun is interesting for another reason as well as there are some castle ruins left close to the lake – from here you can also catch a nice view.

Interlaken Weissenau Castle

Even though it might involve some sportiness, I’d highly recommend checking out both lake shores when in Interlaken!

Höhematte and the Interlaken Castle

The city center of Interlaken as such isn’t the most beautiful one in Switzerland and definitely not comparable to cities like Geneva or Lausanne. However, there a couple of nice areas. Right in the middle of the city, there is the Höhematte for example.

Interlaken Höhematte

This is basically a massive green patch, from where you can enjoy views of the mountain scenery. It feels a bit odd as you don’t find something like that in the middle of a city usually, but it’s an important landing spot for paragliding, for example. There’s also a ferries wheel located here.

Interlaken Höhematte

Not far from here, you can also find a nice church, which is the most historic one in town.

Church Interlaken

Right next to it, Interlaken Castle is located. You shouldn’t expect too much as this is basically a historic building that doesn’t feel like a castle very much.

Interlaken Castle

Nevertheless, it’s worth passing by as you can visit for free and really just takes a couple of minutes. Also, worth noting is the cute like Interlaken Casino, which is a good reminder of mass tourism in Interlaken.

Interlaken Casino

Generally speaking, the city center area of Interlaken isn’t something you definitely need to visit, but at least Höhematte is a nice spot, in my opinion.

Interlaken Zoo and the historic Unterseen district

Another spot you can briefly visit when in Interlaken is the “Zoo”. This was a proper zoo at one point, but today is free to visit as it only comes with two reserves. Yet, it’s quite cute as you see some marmots playing around.

Interlaken Zoo Marmots

Furthermore, there are a couple of Ibex standing around. As you don’t see these animals in nature all that often, it’s worth checking it out, particularly as the zoo is located right by the Harderbahn.

Interlaken Zoo Ibex

Last but not least, I’d definitely recommend visiting Unterseen. This is the historic part of town and is really beautiful, in my opinion.

Interlaken Unterseen

There are plenty of historic buildings, some of them located right by the river. Definitely worth visiting!

Interlaken Unterseen

That’s basically it when it comes to sights in Interlaken, but there is a lot more to explore around the city, including places like Brienz or Spiez!

Overall impressions of Interlaken

Interlaken isn’t the most beautiful city as only Unterseen is pretty nice and historic. However, the whole area around Interlaken is a real highlight. The mountain panorama is fascinating, the lakes are oh-so-beautiful and walking along the Aare river in-between the lakes is very relaxing. Going up the mountains and enjoying the views or going hiking is another highlight. Thus, I’d definitely recommend visiting Interlaken if you love nature and nice scenaries.

Do you have any questions about Interlaken? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!

Check here for more reviews of cities all around the world!

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