Interlaken, the most popular Swiss resort in the Bernese Oberland, was loved by the Victorian gentry, who spent their holidays here in groups. The popularity was so high that in the late 1800s, the name of the town was changed from Aarmühle (meaning “near the mill”) to Interlaken (“between the lake”) because the latter was easier to pronounce.
The town is located between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, overlooking the three famous peaks of Switzerland: Eiger, Munch and Jungfrau. It is a veritable landscape.
In summer, Interlaken gets busy as people use it as a base to explore the surrounding areas. So consider winter vacations and enjoy the quiet atmosphere and roster of exotic adventures in and around Interlaken, from winter kayaking to paragliding.
Kayaking on Lake Brienz in winter (c) High temperature kayaking school
The glacier-fed Lake Brienz is one of the deepest lakes in Switzerland-the deepest is 260m. Its edges are shallow but deepen very quickly, so you cannot see the bottom which is only a few meters from the coast.
This makes it a perfect kayaking lake, because you only need to dip your feet in the water to climb up and then slide across the lake in a few seconds. In winter, you need to wear a dry suit to keep you warm-if you fall, the dry suit should prevent it from getting too wet and too cold.
During our visit, the lake was an oasis of complete calm, with almost no ripples visible.
We are from the high tide kayaking school, and the guides of Dave and Peter let us use a sea kayak with a length of 5m, which is faster than a standard travel kayak. We set off at around 10 in the morning, and then the sun rose completely, over the surrounding mountains, and arrived somewhere on the lake, where the sun first emitted a warm glow in the morning.
After about an hour of kayaking, we stopped for a while and then arrived at Ringgenberg Castle, built in the 1200s. We climbed the steep steps to the top of the castle and drank hot tea and biscuits while looking at the lake.
Take a speedboat across Lake Brienz
We booked a ride on a jet ski-a jet of water spouting from the back of the boat-and thrilling on the lake with the Etlaken Interlaken boat. We reached a speed of 60 kilometers per hour. It has a high octane rating when turning 360 degrees.
During the trip to the small island called Schnecke (“Snail” in German), the drivers Phil and Grizzy introduced us to the history of the area. The island looks like a snail, and there are rumors that snails are farmed here. Then, we drove past Seeburg Castle, which was once used as a nursing home for children in trouble and was rumored to be a haunted house.
Paragliding in Interlaken
Paragliding is the most popular adventure sport in Interlaken. Without previous experience, almost anyone can register, no matter if you are 9 or 90 years old. Interlaken Paraglider organizes a two-person flight every day, which departs from Amisbuel near the town of Beatenberg, about 800 meters above Interlaken.
You will keep in touch with an experienced paraglider instructor and float in the air together, and (if you agree) will perform some high-octane tricks, such as helicopter turns. My instructor, Drew, has completed more than 10,000 flights, so I know I am in a safe condition.
The flight lasts 12 minutes, but depending on the weather, the time varies from 8 minutes to 20 minutes. The instructor will take a lot of photos and videos during the flight, so you will have some memories when you go home.
Explore Lake Thun on foot
While I was running, the beauty of Mount Nissens (c) Lucy Woods
The charming village next to Lake Thun is well worth exploring. Just take the bus (included in your Swiss travel pass) and Lake Merrigan and follow the steep slope up to the church. From here you can drive along mountain roads, or run or walk along trails, while enjoying the beautiful views of lakes and mountains.
Merligen enjoys a Mediterranean climate throughout the year, even if you are in the cold winter weather, you can almost guarantee you have the sun, and wearing multiple layers of clothing is a great way to explore the area on foot.
Interlaken walking tour
Interlaken and its long and colorful history, so book a place with Interlaken Walking Tours run by locals. Our guide was born in Wilderswil nearby. We visited a local cheese shop called Chäs Fritz, a woodcarving shop, a chocolate shop and a local dairy farm.
At Confiserie Schuh, a chocolatier that produces high-quality Swiss chocolate, they are keen to show how to make caramel truffles and even chocolate high heels.
Take a leisurely boat ride on Lake Thun
Book a lunch schedule on BLS Lake Cruises, this is an easy option to take the bus. The cost of the journey is included in the cost of the Swiss Pass. This is a pleasant and gentle trip to Lake Thun. You can spend some time taking pictures from the bow or relaxing with a glass of wine.
In winter (December to February), the center of Interlaken becomes a winter wonderland, with a large ice rink, beer and food hall, and traditional restaurants. Sliding slippery into classic tacky music, spinning with the kids while jumping on the ice while the sun is setting in the distance is really cute.
First drink a glass of mulled wine in the beer hall, and then stuff the traditional cheese fondue in the Swiss chalet restaurant.
Osteria da Pasquale in Hünibach (40 minutes by direct bus from Interlaken) is a traditional Italian restaurant that makes everything from scratch, including its delicious pasta.
If you do not order a bottle of Swiss soft drink Rivella, which tastes like a mixture of Irn-Bru and lemonade, then the trip here is not complete. Surprisingly refreshing.
Beatus Wellness-& Spa Hotel is located on the side of Lake Thun and offers some impressive fitness facilities, including a 35°C outdoor swimming pool, indoor swimming pool and 7 different saunas. You can also rent rowing boats and pedal boats.
If you need a budget, please book a bed/room at the friendly backpacker villa Sonnenhof for as low as £15 per night, including free breakfast and WiFi. Where to stay in Interlaken Trip line tours
Weather: We spent 4 days here in early January and it was cool and sunny every day. Bring warm supplies and a warm jacket, gloves, hat, scarf and sunglasses.
Language: Interlaken is the German-speaking part of Switzerland, but many locals also speak English.
kayakinga small canoe consisting of a light frame made watertight with animal skins; used by EskimosMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)