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A Complete Guide for Visiting Interlaken, Switzerland

  • Post last modified:March 7, 2024
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There are so many epic and exciting things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland, which is exactly what makes it such an incredible destination.


As one of the top popular tourist hot spots in the country, we're here to help you make the most of visiting Interlaken.


In this guide we're going to share how to get there, the best ways to get around, and all of the best things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland, so that you can have as epic of a trip as we did!

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Where is Interlaken in Switzerland?

Interlaken is located in the heart of Switzerland in the Bernese Highlands. The town is situated between two large lakes, Lake Brienz to the East, and Lake Thun to the West.


How to Get to Interlaken, Switzerland

Now that you know where Interlaken is in Switzerland, let's look at the different options for traveling there.


What is the Best Way to Get to Interlaken?

Being so centrally located, Interlaken is actually very well-connected with many cities in Switzerland, and can most easily be reached by train.


Here are some of the most popular routes to Interlaken, Switzerland:

How Do I Get to Interlaken From the USA?

In order to get to Interlaken, Switzerland you can fly into either Geneva or Zurich directly from the US. Geneva has direct flights from New York and Washington DC, while Zurich has flights from Boston, ChicagoLas VegasLos AngelesMiamiNew York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington DC.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for Switzerland flights!


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Entry Requirements for Interlaken, Switzerland

Now that you know how to get to Interlaken, Switzerland, let's look at the requirements for entering and staying in the country.


Visa Entry Requirements for Switzerland

Switzerland is part of the Schengen Zone, which means that  if you plan on visiting as a tourist to Europe for an extended period of time you will need to keep the 90/180 rule in mind.


The 90/180 Rule

The 90/180 rule states that all countries which belong to the Schengen Zone have free travel amongst one another. Tourists (those not from the Schengen Zone) can visit for a total of 90 days within a 180-day period. 


This is important to keep in mind because if you go to other countries which are inside the Schengen Zone before Switzerland, you will have to subtract those days from your travel allowance.


For example: you are going on a road trip, and spend 75 days traveling through FranceSpain, and Italy (which are all in the Schengen Zone).


You now only have 15 days left in the Schengen Zone, or days that you could potentially stay in Switzerland. After leaving the country, if you have used all 90 of these days, you will then have to spend 90 days outside of the Schengen Zone before you will be able to re-enter.


We spend a lot of time in Europe every year, so we always use the Schengen Visa Calculator to make sure that we are staying within the allowed time period. (It is a serious offense if you spend even 91 days within the 180-day period, so it's crucial that you stay in compliance).


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Local Adjustments for Interlaken, Switzerland

One of the most important parts fo traveling is making sure that you know the basics for visiting before you go! Things such as the language, currency, and tipping culture are included in all of our travel guides for this reason. Here are a few of the local adjustments for visiting Interlaken, Switzerland.


Language in Interlaken, Switzerland

The offiical language in Interlaken, Switzerland is Swiss German.


Do They Speak English in Interlaken?

As Interlaken, Switzerland is heavily trafficked by tourists, it's quite common to find people who do speak English. It definitely helps if you do pick up some of the basics of German though.


Currency in Switzerland

The currency used in Interlaken, Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (CHF). It is a very strong currency, and worth more than both the euro and the dollar. Currently, (March 2024) 1 CHF is equivalent to $1.13 USD, 1.05 EUR, or .90 GDP.


Can You Use Euros in Interlaken?

Euros are typically not accepted in Switzerland. However, there are certain places that may be willing to accept euros if you are luckily. Most things in Interlaken can be paid by credit card, but if you need cash we suggest withdrawing money from a local ATM.


Is it Expensive in Interlaken?

Interlaken, Switzerland is very expensive to visit. But, that doesn't mean you can't do it on a budget! We have a few tips for saving money while visiting Switzerland, as well as other pricey countries in one our article "how to travel to expensive countries on a budget".


Electrical Plugs in Interlaken

Interlaken, Switzerland uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C (with 2 round pins) & J (with 2 round pins and a third underneath). The standard voltage in Switzerland is 230 V with a standard frequency of 50 Hz.


If you are coming from the US, the UK, or Australia, you will need to get a travel adapter for Switzerland.


Can You Drink Tap Water in Interlaken?

Switzerland has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world! Bottled water is quite expensive in Interlaken, and is completely unecessary. We definitely suggest bringing a reusable water bottle with you, and filling up from the tap.


Are Your Expected to Tip in Switzerland?

It is not customary to tip in Switzerland, as servers make a regular wage. Many restaurants in Interlaken, Switzerland do however add a service charge on the bill, which is typically around 10%.

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Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland

Now that you know the basics, let's go over all of the fun things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland.


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Interlaken, Switzerland travel guide pin
Interlaken, Switzerland travel guide pin

Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #1: Take in the Views from Harder Kulm

The number one tourist attraction, and a major reason people visit Interlaken is for the views at Harder Kulm. Located right in the heart of town, this is one of the most popular viewpoints for tourists visiting Switzerland.


Harder Kulm has a large triangular platform, which overlooks the entire city of Interlaken, and has panoramic views of both Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. It can be reached by funicular from right between the lakes, or you can hiking up to it.


views of Interlaken,Switzerland
views of Interlaken, good places to go in Switzerland
Harder Kulm cable car in Interlaken, Switzerland

Harder Kulm offers some of the best views of Interlaken.


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #2: Visit Beatus Caves

Just outside of the town of Interlaken town you can find a true hidden gem of Switzerland, St Beatus Caves.


The system of caves is really unique, as it has tunnels, chambers, and waterfalls coming down from it. Not only that, but it has gorgeous views of Lake Thun below it, as well as a museum you can check out.

Beatus Caves, things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland
Beatus Caves, things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland
Beatus Caves, things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #3: Check out Oberhofen Castle

In our opinion, this is the most beautiful castle in Switzerland when it comes to architecture.


Located right along Lake Thun, you can admire the castle from a variety of different angles, including a swim in the waters right in front of it!

Oberhofen Castle on Lake Thun, things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland

Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #4: Explore Spiez Castle

Also located on Lake Thun (the other side of the lake), is Spiez Castle, which is another of our favorites in the area.


It has incredible views, large gardens, and a beautiful outdoor cafe that you can enjoy. You can also pay to enter inside and tour the castle itself, which has various exhibits for all ages.


Spiez Castle, things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland
Spiez Castle, things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland
Spiez Castle, things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #5: Stroll Around the Town of Thun

Thun Lake has plenty of beautiful spots along it, but our absolute favorite is the town of Thun itself. It is full of flowers, bridges, and charming streets hugging the lake, and it also has a castle worth visiting.


Thun, Interlaken, Switzerland
Thun, Interlaken, Switzerland
Thun, Interlaken, Switzerland
Thun, Interlaken, Switzerland


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #6: Take a Scenic Boat Ride

One of the best ways to explore the scenery around Interlaken is to go on a boat ride. You can take a scenic boat ride on Lake Brienz or sign up for the boat cruises day pass to experience the best of both of the lakes.

boat ride in Interlaken, Switzerland

Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #7: Go on a Bicycle Tour

Another one of the great ways to explore all around the lakes and Interlaken is by bicycle. We found a great bicycle tour that has a local guiding you along the lakes and through the forests to experience the variety of nature that the area has to offer.


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #8: Go Paragliding

With such stunning views around Interlaken, it really is special seeing everything from above. Paragliding is the perfect activity for those that want a bit of adventure, and to appreciate the Swiss landscapes from a different perspective.

paragliding in Interlaken, Switzerland

Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #9: Take a Kayak Tour

While we love a good boat tour, we really enjoy kayaking, and find that it is a really serene way to enjoy the different sites around Interlaken, Switzerland. The kayaking tour along Lake Brienz is really peaceful, and is inclusive of all different skill levels.


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #10: Visit the Waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen

If you're looking for one of the most pictureque places in Switzerland, then you won't want to miss out on Lauterbrunnen! 


Known as the village of waterfalls, the adorable town is tucked between the mountains, and of course, is surrounded with waterfalls. This place seriously looks like it came straight out of a fairytale, and is a must-visit for your trip to Interlaken, Switzerland.

Lauterbrunnen, good places to go in Switzerland

Lauterbrunnen is just 15 minutes south of Interlaken, and can easily be reached by either train or one of the various day trips below.

Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #11: Do an Epic Via Ferrata in Murren

Another incredible village south of Interlaken is Murren, which is known for being home to one of the most epic via ferratas in the world! The iconic views and long suspension bridge from one mountain to another make it a true bucket list spot.


You can reach the town of Murren a really beautiful cable car ride from Lauterbrunnen, followed by a scenic train ride. Despite being a journey to get to, it is truly one of our top recommendations while in Interlaken, Switzerland. Just make sure you book your via ferrata equipment in advance.


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #13: Go Canyoning

Canyoning is a sport which combines several outdoor sports like rock climbing, hiking, swimming, and rappelling. It's a popular activity in Interlaken, and is the perfect excursion for those looking for a bit of adventure during their trip.


Here are a few different canyoning excursions you can sign up for in Interlaken, Switzerland:

Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #13: Try a Canyon Swing in Grindelwald

See those awesome pictures above? Well, that's a popular activity you can find called a canyon swing, and it can be done most popularly in Grindelwald. If you don't want a full day excursion canyoning, you can skip to the wild part and sign up for the Grindelwald Canyon Swing, which is a 90-meter freefall at 120 km per hour between the canyon walls.


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #14: Visit the "Top of Europe"

Experience the "top of Europe" right outside Interlaken, Switzerland. The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting the Monch and Jungfrau, which are two of the major 4,000ers within the Bernese Alps. It has a super iconic view, and is definitely one for the bucket list!


We're going to be honest though- this is the most expensive cable car you'll ever take. At 200 euros, we decided to sit this one out. However, if you have the cash to blow, it's definitely one of the best things to do near Interlaken.

Jungfraujoch, good places to go in Switzerland

Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #15: Go White Water Rafting

Looking for some more fun on the water? Well, Interlaken offers a variety of white water rafting excursions, from family-friendly rafting to intense rapids for the adventure enthusiasts.


Here are a few of the most popular rafting tours you can take:

Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #16: Try Skydiving

There is no shortage of adventure in Switzerland! If paragliding is too relaxed for you, then you can take it to the next level by going skydiving in Interlaken. It's the perfect mix of adrenaline and gorgeous views.


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #17: Take the Kids to the Rope Park

Looking for more family-friendly activities? Well, the Interlaken Rope Park is great for kids, and has 9 courses including a forest playground with wooden bridges, Tarzan swings, and zip lines.


Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland #18: Take a Day Trip to One of the Stunning Lakes Nearby

It's no secret that Interlaken, Switzerland has some pretty incredible nature. Well, after exploring Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, there are a couple more nearby lakes that will blow you away with their beauty.


Two of these are the Blue Lake and Oeschinen Lake, which can combined on this Lake Hiking Tour.


If you don't want a tour though, you can also go there on your own like we did! Check out our Oeschinen Lake travel guide to learn more.

Oeschinen Lake in Switzerland

Oeschinen Lake is a great day trip from Interlaken.


Local Food & Drink in Interlaken, Switzerland

As you can see, there are so many great things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland! Not only are there a variety of activities and natural site to see, but they are also known for a few different Swiss specialties that you can experience.


What Food is Interlaken Known For?

Interlaken is a great place to be able to enjoy special culinary experiences. Here are a few musts while you are in the area!


Cheese

The Swiss love their cheese, and there are a ton of local cheeses that you can indulge in while in Interlaken. Check out the cheese factory tours, take a Swiss Fondue class, go raclette rafting, or have dinner at a local's home. There are so many great cheese experiences in Interlaken, and if you're there in the fall make sure to check out the Autumn cheese festival!

swiss fondue

Chocolate

Switzerland has some of the best chocolate in the world, and trying a chocolate fondue is a must! Well, Interlaken has a pretty unique chocolate experience that you can't find elsewhere, and it's a chocolate fondue float!


Wine

As if delicious chocolate and cheese weren't enough, Interlaken also is known for having some great wineries around it. Enjoy the vineyards of Oberhofen, Hilterfingen, Merligen-Stampbach, Thun, Steffisburg, Gunten, Wilderswil and Spiez, which are all right around Interlaken, Switzerland, and have fantastic views.


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How Do You Get Around in Interlaken, Switzerland?

Now that you know all of the great things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland, it's time to go over how to get around the area!


Is Interlaken Walkable?

The town of Interlaken itself is walkable, and doesn't require any transportation. However, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun are very large, and in order to explore all that the area has to offer, you will certainly need another form of transportation.


Do You Need a Car for Interlaken?

For the town of Interlaken itself, it definitely isn't necessary to have a car. However, we really loved having a car for having the flexibility of visiting all of the nearby attractions.


That being said, parking is a bit difficult in and around Interlaken, so we would recommend using the train system in Switzerland instead, unless you plan on visiting areas out in nature or traveling a bit more off the beaten path.


The Swiss Pass

If you do want to see a lot outside of Interlaken, and don't want to rent a car, you should definitely look into getting the Swiss Pass, which includes unlimited train rides, as well as discounts on a lot of activities and attactions around the country.


Here are some of the packages you can purchase for the Swiss Pass:

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Interlaken, Switzerland: Where to Stay

If you don't have a car, we definitely suggest staying in the center of Interlaken. This way you can easily walk to different points of interest, as well as be close to the train station to visit all of the nearby attractions.


If you want a quieter and more quaint stay, or do have your own car, we would suggest staying along one of the lakes outside of Interlaken.


Interlaken, Switzerland: Best Hotels to Stay at

Here are some of the top recommendations we have for Interlaken, Switzerland, for a variety of traveler and budget types.

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Is Interlaken Safe?

Interlaken, as well as the whole country of Switzerland is very safe, with low crime rates. It has actually been rated one of the safest countries in the world, and it is very well set up for tourism, especially in Interlaken.


Is it Safe to Walk in Interlaken at Night?

Interlaken does not have a lot of action at night, but it is very safe, so there is no problem walking around as a tourist after the sun has gone down.


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Other Things to Know About Visiting Interlaken, Switzerland

Now you almost have all of the info you need for visiting Interlaken, Switzerland! But don't go anywhere, because we have a few other things to share with you so that you can plan the perfect trip.


Weather in Interlaken, Switzerland

Interlaken, Switzerland experiences all 4 seasons, with mild and sunny summers, and cold, snowy winters.


The weather in Switzerland is honestly one of the craziest you can experience. As it is surrounded by mountains, it can be hot and sunny one minute, and cold and windy the next.


The weather changes so much actually, that Swiss people don't rely on the traditional weather apps like the majority of us do. They actually have their own app! We suggest downloading it once you get there, so that you can plan your outdoor activities around Interlaken accordingly.


Which Month is Best for Interlaken?

Interlaken, Switzerland is beautiful to visit year-round! It really depends on what kind of trip you are looking to have, but we think the two best seasons to visit Switzerland in general are either in the winter or the summer.


We particularly like the summer for Interlaken though, as this is when there is beautiful weather and is the perfect time for hiking, and swimming in the lakes. If you'd like fewer crowds though, we would suggest visiting Interlaken, Switzerland in either June or early September.

Interlaken in the summer

Interlaken is a great destination for the summertime.

Packing For a Trip to Interlaken, Switzerland

Here are some of the things we brought on trip to Interlaken, Switzerland, that we think will be helpful for you as well.

  • Sunscreen (if you visit in the summer)
  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Umbrella and a Poncho
  • Sneakers (for the hikes)
  • Hiking Shoes (for the bigger hikes like Murren)
  • Bathing Suits 
  • Towel
  • Athletic clothing
  • Jacket and layers
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack (to secure your belongings) - take a look at these backpacks for travelers!
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and has incredible quality. We would also suggest getting Mavic 3 Pro for up in the mountains due to the wind)
  • Action Camera (we use the Insta 360 X3 because it's small & waterproof)
  • Travel Adapter

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Is Interlaken Worth Seeing?

Even though Interlaken can get a bit touristy, we definitely think it is worth visiting! It is full of incredible views, beautiful castles, and a perfect location for visiting a lot of other cool spots around Switzerland.


How Many Days in Interlaken is Enough?

You could honestly do most of the highlights in Interlaken in a full day trip. However, you could also easily spend up to a week there if you have it as a base and choose to really enjoy all of the different activities it has to offer.


We suggest spending 2-3 days in Interlaken, Switzerland, so that you can get a real taste of what the area has to offer.

Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland