Interlaken sits perfectly nestled between the two lakes of Brienz and Thun. Both lakes offer full days out in their own respect so we’ve brought together a few highlights not to miss:
The pretty fishing village of Iseltwald is built on a peninsular which juts out towards the centre of Lake Brienz. The regular steamers from Interlaken to Brienz pull up at the outmost point of the village, offering an opportunity to get off, explore the village and perhaps have lunch on one of the picturesque lake side restaurants before catching the next boat on towards Giessbach.
A short ride on the vintage funicular (over 125 years old) takes you from the boat stop of Giessbach, up to the Grand Giessbach Hotel. Built at the foot of the most dramatic section of the fall, the hotel dates back to the 1850s. From there, you can spend hours on the terrace looking up to the waterfalls in one direction, and down to the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz in the other. The more actively inclined can also follow the footpath climbing up alongside and behind the waterfalls for even more spectacular views. If you are pass through this route, don’t forget to take your camera!
The crown jewel of Lake Brienz lies at the far end of the lake. The boats from Interlaken take you to Brienz itself where a quick change sees you climbing high above the lake on a steam train to the top of the Brienzer Rothorn. Dating back to 1892, it is the highest regular steam train in Switzerland. The journey takes roughly an hour to climb to 2,244 meters but you are rewarded with a truly spectacular view back over Lake Brienz towards Interlaken and the Jungfrau Triumvirate.
Lovers of gardens will revel in the park surrounding the castle at Oberhofen. Built on the lakeshore the castle dates back to the 13th century and houses a historic museum. The surrounding 6.2 acres of parkland are free to visit and are open until 9 pm during peak season.
The old town of Thun lies at the far end of Lake Thun in the opposite direction from Interlaken. The medieval cobbled streets wind their way up from the lakefront to the Castle, perched, as you may expect, at the highest point in town. Local markets are held every Wednesday and Saturday on the pedestrianized Baliz, a small island in the river Aare.
Spiez’s sunny location on the southern shore of Lake Thun makes it ideal for the production of wine. The beautiful castle here is nestled on the lakefront surrounded by the Rebbau Spiez vineyards. Wine tasting evenings are run on Wednesdays and Fridays offering a chance to try the local produce.
St Beatus’s caves are a top destination if the weather turns cloudy, though don’t get me wrong, they’re well worth a visit whatever the weather! This network of caves are over 14km long in total and 1 km of the caves has been made accessible by walkways and electric lighting and for the adventurers, can be explored without a guide.
Words by Toby Galtress, Resort Representative in Interlaken.