Interlaken, translated into English, means 'between the lakes'. The town is situated in the Aare River valley between Lakes Brienz and Thun. The valley is in the Bernese Highlands and part of the Swiss Alps. A monastery was established there in 1133 and generated income by charging a toll across a bridge on the river. The monastery was secularised during the Reformation and was later used as a hospital, granary and wine cellar. Interlaken has been a tourist destination for more than two centuries and is known as the Adventure Capital of Europe. The surrounding mountains create beautiful vistas and provide opportunities for hiking, skiing and adventure sports.
Hiking is the most popular activity in the area. There are routes for people of all ages and fitness levels to enjoy. Transport options are available for the more strenuous sections and refreshment stops for sustenance. The Rugen route starts a short distance from the town's hostel and takes 30-40 minutes to reach the top. The climb to Harder Kulm has no flat sections and takes 90 minutes each way. The viewing platform at the peak has a glass bottom for spectacular viewing. Lauterbrunnen loops through the valley with alternating flat and steep sections. The reward on the Grindelwald route is the natural infinity pool in the mountains.
For those happy to leave terra firma, there are opportunities for tandem paragliding and skydiving, all year round. The paragliding package includes a hotel or train station pick-up and drop-off, a safety and training talk, the services of a professional pilot and all the equipment necessary for the excursion. The launching point is at Beatenburg, 800m above the landing point at Interlaken. The glide takes 20 minutes for the standard option and 45 minutes for a longer trip. Photos and a video of the glide can be purchased afterwards. There are height and weight limits on passengers.
Höheweg 115, CH-3800 Interlaken, Phone: +41-3-38-23-82-33
The skydiving package has several stages. There is a free pick-up during which time the adventurer is briefed on safety procedures. The scenic flight to the jumping point takes 15 minutes through the mountains. The tandem jump starts with a 45 second freefall at approximately 200 km per hour, followed by a 5-7 minute canopy ride across the lakes before landing. The standard jump is 4000 m but this can be upgraded to 4600 m. A range of video and stills services are offered. There is an option of having a second parachutist to video the entire jump. There are height, weight and age restrictions.
Hauptstrasse 26, 3800 Interlaken
4.Funky Chocolate Club
This small business, run by family and friends, offers a Swiss-made chocolate experience. Visitors learn how to become taste connoisseurs. They are taught to check for types of chocolate, quality and the percentage of cocoa used. In the 'make your own chocolate' workshop, the techniques of tempering, pouring and molding are demonstrated and practised. Aprons, chef's hats and all ingredients are provided. The workshop lasts more than an hour and a further hour is needed for the chocolate to cool. The shop sells a full range of organic chocolate made by professionals on the premises. A variety of dietary requirements are catered for.
Jungfraustrasse 35, 3800 Interlaken, Phone: +41-7-86-06-35-48
5.St. Beatus Caves
© Eva Bocek/stock.adobe.com
Legend has it that these caves were discovered in the 6th century when St Beat hunted a mythical creature which took refuge in them. Access to the entrance is through the forest and past waterfalls. Fourteen kilometers of tunnels have been explored and more than a kilometer of trails has been laid out for visitors. The stalactites, stalagmites and other rock formations are found at approximately 1000m underground. A museum which is situated in a house in the forest, tells the story of the caves. The restaurant offers hot meals and snacks and panoramic views of the Alps and Lake Thun from the balcony.
Beatushöhlen-Genossenschaft, CH-3800 Sundlauenen bei Interlaken, Phone: +41-03-38-41-16-43
At 11332 feet above sea level, Jungfraujoch is the highest railway station in Europe and has the nickname 'The Top of Europe'. It is reached via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, through mountain passes and tunnels. At the destination, there is the Sphinx Observatory and research station, an ice palace, a snow park and several restaurants. There are a number of sculptures of wildlife in the ice palace, which is open all year round. The snow park is open from May to October for skiing, snowboarding, tubing and sledding. There is a 45 minute walk to an overnight hut and an option for a two-day guided hike across the glaciers.
7.The Oberhofen Castle
This castle was built on the shore of Lake Thun by the Eshenbach family in the 13th century. It soon became the property of the Habsburg family. It changed hands several times until it was bought by an American in the early 20th century. He transferred it to the Bernisches Historisches Museum in 1940 and it was opened to the public in 1954. Several of the rooms are decorated to reflect different eras from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Access to the gardens, with its formal gardens, planted arches, statues and lakeside paths, is free.
8.White Water Rafting
The white water rafting excursion takes adventure seekers twenty kilometers away from Interlaken, to the Leutschine River. The half-day outing follows the river through the valley, over class three and four rapids, to the base camp at Lake Brienz. The boats take eight passengers only. Safety briefing, equipment hire and round trip transport from a hotel or the train station, are included in the package. At the base camp, the action is shown on big screens while coffee, beer and refreshments are served. Photographs and videos of the experience are available on departure. A change of clothing is advised.
9.The Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden
The trip to Schynige Platte starts with a train ride from Interlaken to Wilderswil and then a ride up the mountain in a cogwheel railway. The garden is above the treeline, at a height of 1967m. The 700 species, representing two-thirds of the alpine floral kingdom, provide interest in all seasons, including spring flowers, summer grasses and autumn foliage. The kilometer long trail rises only 40 m so provides easy walking. The entrance fee is included in the price of the train ticket and guided tours are available on request. The shop sells postcards, seeds, books and branded merchandise. The gardens are open from June to October.
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10.Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa
© Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa
The history of this five star luxury hotel dates back to the 19th century. The Victoria pension was joined to its neighbor, the Jungfrau hotel in 1899. The hotel has 216 rooms and several conference venues. In 1991, a spa was added which has grown to 5500 square meters and a top place in the luxury hotel market. The Sapori is an Italian pizzeria which is open for late lunches and dinner. The Victoria Bar is rated among the top 20 in Switzerland. Champagne, cocktails and cognac are served with snacks and finger food. Afternoon tea is a tradition observed on the weekends. The Spa Bistro serves healthy options such as organic juices, detox soups and chicken wraps.
Hoeheweg 41, 3800 Interlaken
11.Wineart – Fine Wine and Food Market
Adrian Mala planted 5000 wines on 2 ha in his homeland of Kosovo. From these grapes he produces red and white estate wines for sale in his wine and food market in Interlaken. The wines can be enjoyed in the café with a five course meal, the chef's special or a small snack. They can be imbibed on a hike or picnic, accompanied by fine foods bought from the market's delicatessen. The bar has a stylish ambiance and is available for hire for parties and business functions, for up to 30 people. Catering services are offered for outside functions.
Jungfraustrasse 46, 3800 Interlaken, Phone: +41-03-38-23-73-74
© Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa
The La Terrasse restaurant at the Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa has a subtropical ambiance, much like that found in an orangery. The large windows provided ample light and ventilation for the large plants that create the illusion. The dress code is casual elegance. The simple but creative Mediterranean menu changes seasonally. The restaurant sources the freshest ingredients from local farmers, fishermen and market gardeners, within a radius of 40 km of the hotel. The extensive wine list features wines from France and elsewhere in Europe. La Terrasse is open for dinner only from Tuesday to Saturday.
The Little Thai restaurant was established in 2005 in the Main Road of Interlaken. Thai chefs produce authentic dishes, including stir-fries, curries and noodle dishes. Gluten-free options are available. The restaurant seats 25 patrons inside and 15 outside. The owner has started a complimentary beer brewing enterprise, Mountain Madness Brews. Five of the craft beers are available on tap and a further 20 are bottled.
Main street 19, 3800 Interlaken, Phone: 03-38-21-10-17
In the 1980s this restaurant became a legend on the Swiss music scene. The 'Live at the Anchor' gold, long-playing record on the wall bears testimony to this. Many renowned national and international guest artists have appeared at the restaurant since then. Music still features prominently in the establishment, with regular DJ events, live music entertainment and concerts on the program. Emerging musicians use the platform to gain recognition. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Fresh home-cooked meals are made from fresh, local products. The menu changes often but Swiss classics like rostis, fondues and Toblerone desserts remain.
Marktgasse 57, 3800 Interlaken, Phone: +41-3-38-22-16-72
15.Top o' Met
© Top o’ Met
This restaurant is, as its name suggests, at the top of the 4 star Metropole Hotel. The high rise building has 96 rooms, 84 of which face the mountains, with views of Jungfrau. The restaurant has panoramic views over the lakes and rooftops of the city. It is open daily from 8 am to 11 pm and offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The seasonal a la carte menu offers market-fresh meals. There is also a set menu option. Wines from most win-producing countries in the world can be found on the wine list.
Höheweg 37, 3800 Interlaken, Phone: +41-3-38-28-66-66
© Belvédere Brasserie
This restaurant is part of the Strand Hotel which is more than a hundred years old. To the south there are views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks and to the north is Lake Thun. Guests have access to a portion of the lake shore which is privately owned by the hotel. Meals are prepared with local and regional produce and there is an in-house wine merchant who can advise on pairing. There is an a la carte menu for dinner, a set afternoon tea and light meals for lunch. The Bar and Cigar Lounge sells Cuban and Dominican cigars.
Schachenstrasse 39 | CH-3700 Spiez, Phone: +41-3-36-55-66-66
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This is a beer emporium, with 7 beers on tap and 90 local and international bottled brands served, as well as ciders and single malt whiskeys. There are weekly events, either scheduled by the Bierhaus or commissioned for private functions. Live music, international sport, high days and holidays are celebrated here. Each night of the week the artisan café has a special offering, including Schnitzel, Swiss and 'Pie and Pint. nights. The menu is international. Sausages, snacks, sandwiches and burgers are popular meals. Coffee, cake and pastries are also available.
Postgasse 3, 3800 Interlaken, Switzerland, Phone: +41-3-38-23-23-32
18.Restaurant on the Verandah
This restaurant is part of the 4 star, Royal St George Hotel. The boutique hotel is situated in the center of town and as its name suggests, the restaurant is on the verandah. Its position is ideal for relaxation and people watching. The elegant purple, taupe and sea green décor is striking. The standard menu offers international cuisine with French and Swiss specialties, including röstis and fondues. There are also Halal, gluten-free, vegetarian and children's menus available. The brasserie is open daily, after 6 pm.
Hoeheweg 139, 3800 INTERLAKEN, Phone: +413-38-22-75-75
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19.The 3 Tells
The 3 Tells is an Irish pub and restaurant, situated outside of the town center, in Matten. Hearty meals are the norm, including Guinness beef stew, juicy ribs, chicken wings and fish and chips. Hot breakfasts, weekend brunches and weekly specials are served in a warm and sociable atmosphere. In summer, the sunny terrace is particularly vibrant. Irish and international beers and stouts are available. The establishment is open 7 days a week, all year round.
Hauptstrasse 49, 3800 Matten bei Interlaken, Phone: 03-38-22-18-25
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© Pizzeria Horn
This Italian restaurant was first opened in 1970 and is the oldest pizzeria in Bern. Pizzas, pastas and risottos are the mainstays of the menu which combines tradition with the freshest of ingredients. Gluten-free meals are available. Wines from the cellar and the fine desserts round off the meals. Seating is available indoors, on the verandah or in the gardens. The restaurant caters for private and business functions. Pizzeria Horn runs a loyalty program. For every ten pizzas purchased, the card holder is entitled to an extra one for free.
Harderstrasse 35, CH-3800 Interlaken, Phone: 03-38-22-92-92
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20 Best Romantic Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland
- Hiking, Photo: Kavalenkava/stock.adobe.com
- Paragliding, Photo: 1989STUDIO/stock.adobe.com
- Skydiving, Photo: germanskydive110/stock.adobe.com
- Funky Chocolate Club, Photo: ximich_natali/stock.adobe.com
- St. Beatus Caves, Photo: Eva Bocek/stock.adobe.com
- Jungfraujoch Station, Photo: wenbintong/stock.adobe.com
- The Oberhofen Castle, Photo: swisshippo/stock.adobe.com
- White Water Rafting, Photo: PPstock/stock.adobe.com
- The Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden, Photo: berner51/stock.adobe.com
- Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa, Photo: Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa
- Wineart – Fine Wine and Food Market, Photo: luckybusiness/stock.adobe.com
- La Terrasse, Photo: Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa
- Little Thai, Photo: Pangfolio.com/stock.adobe.com
- Goldener Anker, Photo: Svenja98/stock.adobe.com
- Top o' Met, Photo: Top o’ Met
- Belvédere Brasserie, Photo: Belvédere Brasserie
- Husi Bierhaus, Photo: Wasan/stock.adobe.com
- Restaurant on the Verandah, Photo: JJAVA/stock.adobe.com
- The 3 Tells, Photo: svariophoto/stock.adobe.com
- Pizzeria Horn, Photo: Pizzeria Horn
- Cover Photo: 9mot/stock.adobe.com