This is my third season working on the Inghams Lakes and Mountains programme and this year I have made my way over to Switzerland. Interlaken is my new home and it’s a fantastic base for exploring both the Bernese Oberland and the hugely impressive Jungfrau Region. These are my top 5 excursions for if you’re in the area.
The Jungfraujoch, which reaches up to the peak of Europe, is probably the biggest must see if you are new to Interlaken and Bernese Oberland. The journey to the Junfraujoch is probably one of the most marvellous train journeys you will ever experience taking you to 3,466 metres (11,333ft) above sea level. The journey starts in Wengen or Grindelwald, you can pick which way you go, but both routes lead up to Kleine Scheidegg, where you board the famous red trains of the Junfraubhan. Along the route you make your way through the Eiger North Wall and Mönch with 2 fantastic viewing points for you to stop. At the summit you will have unparalleled views of the Aletsch Glacier and on a clear day you can even make out the Black Forest in Germany. Whilst there, you can explore the Ice Palace, visit the Lindt Exhibition and even go skiing!
Shilthorn – Piz Gloria
The Shilthorn is probably one of my favourites days out here in Interlaken. For those of you who are fans of the James Bond films, you’ll recognise the revolving restaurant, the Piz Gloria as being from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. Most of the action from the film took place at this location and it now hosts a fantastic James Bond Interactive exhibit where you can learn all about the film, how it was made and how the filming affected locals. Again sitting high above the region at 2970 metres (9744 ft), this gives you unrivalled views onto the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks. Best of all, the restaurant serves some fantastic local cuisine and with your table ever rotating round the building, you will get that amazing 360 degree view of the alps.
Lakes Brienz and Thun
I’m cheating a bit here, but another great day out is to explore both the local lakes of Brienz and Thun. Interlaken has boat services for both lakes at both railway stations respectively.
Lake Thun is Switzerland’s 6th larges lake which lies to the west of Interlaken. This lake is also very popular amongst sailing enthusiasts. Along the way you will pass castles, picturesque villages, gardens and villas along the shores. A great place to stop is at Beatenburg where you can take the funicular up the Niederhorn.
Lake Brienz is to the east of Interlaken, and has much more dramatic scenery than that of Thun. What you will also notice is that Brienz Lake is a vivid turquoise. A fantastic feature along Lake Brienz is the Giessbach Falls, which come crashing down into the water close to the boat station. At the end of the Lake you will find Brienz itself, a beautiful village famous for wood carving.
A short stroll away from Interlaken Ost Station is the Harder Kulm Gondola. A funicular takes you up to the top of Interlaken’s own mountain and at the top of the Harder (1321m), you are rewarded with a birds eye view onto Interlaken as well as both of the Lakes; Thun and Brienz. For avid walkers, you can walk all the way to the top, or vice versa, the most recent reps record of getting to the top being 1 hour and 10 minutes. We welcome your challenge! From the top of here, you can also see the paragliders taking off nearby and see them soar across the valley, down into the town centre.
Something new this year for the Harder Kulm is that it is now open until 21:40, so if after dinner you have time, take a journey up and watch the sunlight fade away over the town as well as the Junfraujoch.
Finally we have the Schynige Platte, a place where there is a little bit of something for everyone. The journey starts from Wilderswil where you board the historical cog railway. Built in 1893, the train battles the steep ascent to take you to 2076 metres above sea level. At the top of the Schynige Paltte there’s plenty of opportunity for guests to stretch their legs, whether it be for a short stroll or longer distances; for experienced walkers one of the most popular walks is to the mountain area of First. There are many marked walks within the local area which offer fantastic views onto Interlaken and Grindelwald as well as the Lauterbrunnen Valley and Lake Brienz. Another attraction is the Alpine Garden which features over 600 different varieties of plants growing in their natural environment.
Words by John Gates, Resort Manager in Interlaken.