By Hannah Greenberg — November 11, 2015 —
Interlaken was at the top of my list of places to visit while studying abroad, and I must say — it did not disappoint. In fact, this Swiss town was by far one of my favorite trips!
This is a great destination because, unlike other cities in Europe such as Rome where the main attraction is exploring the sights and history of a dense urban city, Interlaken is a place for outdoor activities. This opportunity for adventure is a nice way to add some variety to your travels.
The best decision I made on this trip was booking through the travel operator Bus2Alps. I had heard of the company from a friend during the fall before my study abroad semester. They offer several discounted trips during the year and I was lucky enough to book Interlaken at 50% off the original price of €200, which was awesome! So for the low price of €100 I got 3 nights at Backpackers Villa hostel (I highly recommend this hostel over Balmer’s — it’s much cleaner/newer and quiet at night), a ride to and from the Geneva airport, and assistance booking activities all weekend. I also booked my trip far in advance (in December) which helped me to get a super cheap flight. I decided to book my trip for the last weekend in February. This timing turned out to be perfect in terms of both weather and activity options.
Activities in Interlaken
There are a ton of different activities available in Interlaken during winter and summer. Here a just a few:
Skydiving (winter and summer) – Although the price is steep (between CHF 400 and 600 depending on whether or not you get pictures/video) I highly recommend this activity. Because I had already been skydiving in the United States, I didn’t do so in Switzerland. Some of my friends did, however, and their videos are incredible.
Snow Shoeing – I absolutely loved this activity! It was offered through Outdoor Interlaken, which is a store centrally located in town (near Balmer’s). The cost was only CHF100 including ski pants, shoe boots, snow shoes, and a guided walk through the mountains. The terrain included quite a bit of uphill walking, but I’m extremely out of shape and I still had a blast. Plus our guide was super cute so that was a good motivator….hahaha.
Snow Skiing – This activity was the most expensive that I participated in, but if you like to snow ski/snowboard, you absolutely MUST do this! It, too, is offered through Outdoor Interlaken. The cost was CHF 200 for lift ticket, ski and boot rental, clothing rental (jacket, pants, gloves, etc.), and train ticket. I recommend either renting your equipment the night before your ski day, or arriving early in the morning in order to avoid long lines (ideally 20 minutes before opening). Lockers are available for leaving any belongings that you don’t want to take on the mountain. After receiving your equipment, you walk down the street a short distance to the bus stop, which takes you to the train station. From there, you get on the train that goes up the mountain. You stay on for a few stops, and getting off at the right one is easy. The time from Outdoor Interlaken to the base of the ski area is about an hour and fifteen minutes (or perhaps a bit more, depending on the crowd), so the earlier you leave the better it is in terms of getting the most time on the mountain. Tip: Make sure to take cash with you because most restaurants on the mountain don’t take credit cards. Also, take snacks to avoid spending a ton of money on food during the day.
Paragliding (winter and summer) – I did not do this activity but again, a friend did and loved it. It’s about CHF 200. You take off from Beatenberg, which has amazing views of the mountains as well as both lakes of Interlaken. Absolutely beautiful! For some, this option is more appealing than skydiving and you get (nearly) the same adrenaline-rush.
Other fun stuff
If you don’t want to spend money on the expensive activities, there are plenty of other great things to do in Interlaken. For example, just walking around the cute town is a lot of fun, especially when it’s covered in snow. You can also walk to both Lake Thun and Brienz, which are beautiful. There is a big ice skating rink in the middle of town and the price is only CHF 15.
Another must is to eat Swiss fondue! There are several places to go, although it is a bit expensive. If you aren’t down to spend CHF 40 on a fondue dinner, this might not be for you. Having said that, in my opinion it was definitely worth the cost just for the experience. Plus, it the fondue was delicious!
I hope this short summary helps if you are wondering what to do in Interlaken.
Enjoy your trip and please add any details that I might have missed!