During our recent trip to Europe, we visited 4 countries in 15 days, 5 if you count our morning tour at the Vatican. The plan all along was 3 days in Germany, 2 days in Switzerland, and 10 days in Italy, but we added a spontaneous day trip to Austria along the way. This post will cover a 3 day Interlaken Switzerland Itinerary including how to get to Interlaken, where to stay in Interlaken, and things to do in Interlaken. While I suggest at least 3 days, you can use the suggested activities to create a Switzerland Itinerary of any length.
If you’re arriving in Switzerland by air you’re most likely flying to Zurich. The easiest way to get from Zurich to Interlaken is by train. Luckily the rail system throughout Europe is clean, efficient, and easy to navigate. Interlaken is a short 2-hour train ride from Zurich International Airport with some beautiful scenic views along the way. During our trip, we took advantage of a 15-day global Eurail pass. While some destinations require you to make additional seat reservations, many do not, so you just board your train and they stamp your pass. The Eurail app was also very helpful in seeing train timetables and planning our trip accordingly.
Interlaken and the surrounding towns of Grindelwald, Unterseen, and Spiez have plenty of lodging options at all different price levels. Many of the options are smaller independent boutique hotels, which we have found to provide a more intimate experience. I was also surprised how affordable some of the luxury options in and around Interlaken since all we had heard prior to planning our Switzerland itinerary was how expensive Switzerland was. In the end, we opted to stay right in the heart of Interlaken at the Hotel Victoria Jungfrau. You can read my full review of the Hotel Victoria Jungfrau here. I hope the information below will help you decide where to stay when planning your Switzerland itinerary.
Like I said above I was pleasantly surprised with the price-points for the various 4-5 star hotels in Interlaken. Most were in the $150-$300 per night range with breakfast included, and nearly all of them had great views of the cute town and surrounding mountain ranges. Below are some of the top-rated hotels to help you plan your Interlaken, Switzerland itinerary.
Mallory and I both agreed that Hotel Victoria Jungfrau in Interlaken was our favorite hotel during this two-week trip that covered 6 different cities. Hotel Victoria Jungfrau is right in the middle of Interlaken halfway between its two train stations. The rooms on the front of the hotel face the Jungfrau mountain range and the finishing point for all of the paragliders. Half of the hotel has been recently updated, while still keeping its classic Swiss charm.
Its signature restaurant is run by Chef Stefan Beer who has run restaurants for luxury hotel brands all over the world including Singapore and Dubai. His signature tasting menu is a local one where every ingredient is sourced from within 40km of the hotel. We tried it and it was fantastic. You can check pricing and availability for Hotel Victoria Jungfrau here.
The Royal St. Georges Interlaken is part of Accor Hotel’s Luxury Boutique line M Gallery by Sofitel. The Royal St. Georges is a traditional Bernese Mansion that offers stunning panoramic views, modern updates in their rooms, and a lovely bar and brasserie. Check prices and availability for the Royal St. Georges Interlaken here.
Hotel Interlaken is located almost directly across the street from Royal St. Georges. Hotel Interlaken has been in operation since 1491, and has been modernized and renovated under the care of the Beutler family recently. Hotel Interlaken offers both standard and budget rooms, so if you are planning a budget Switzerland Itinerary, Hotel Interlaken may be for you. We ate at the hotel’s Restaurant Taverne our last night in Interlaken and had a wonderful and affordable meal. You can check prices and availability for Hotel Interlaken here.
The Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage certainly is spectacular from the outside, and while we didn’t have an opportunity to go inside during our trip, the inside seems equally as grand from the photos on their website. The hotel offers views of both mountains and the river that runs between the two lakes Interlaken gets its name from. The rooms look large and the whole hotel stays true to its roots of being a Swiss Grand Hotel. You can check prices and availability for the Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage here.
Interlaken is the perfect addition to any Switzerland itinerary year-round. Interlaken’s unique location between to lakes and along the main rail line in Switzerland makes it easy to get to, but even more importantly easy to get to all of the amazing outdoor activities the Bernese highlands have to offer.
If you’re visiting Switzerland in the summer or autumn then you’ll have a chance to experience some really great hiking, biking, and other action sports. If your trip takes you to Switzerland in the late autumn or winter, then there are some great little ski resorts nearby, and you can also take advantage of snowshoeing and cross country ski trails. I was surprised to learn that Interlaken’s most famous activity, paragliding, operates year-round!
If there is one thing that Interlaken is known best for these days it’s paragliding. There is something about the location between mountain ranges that makes the wind consistent and perfect for this scenic adrenaline-filled ride. Rides last between 15 and 20 minutes and you can choose if you want an action-packed ride with big turns or just a smooth scenic ride. Book your paragliding experience now!
Not far from Grindelwald and Mt. First you can find Glacier Canyon. Through millions of years of erosion and movement of the glaciers, you are left with this beautiful masterpiece that has been transformed into six different “worlds”: coincidence, formation, water, glacier, geology, and mysticism. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even climb out over the River Lütschine on a 170 square meter “spiderweb”. You’ll also have an opportunity to try pure glacier water. Pre-book your admission tickets here!
Home to the First Cliffwalk by Tissot and the First flyer zip line, the First Mountain area near Grindelwald is a perfect place for thrills in the summertime and operates from mid-December to the end of March for winter sports! You can buy a ticket for the gondola ride to the top here, but other activities such as the ziplines, scooters, and carts must be purchased separately.
A perfect rafting experience for both beginners or advanced rafter, everyone will learn how to steer the boat through the currents. You’ll be amazed at the power of the water while taking in picturesque views of the Swiss Alps. Book your rafting excursion here.
If you happen to be planning your Switzerland Itinerary during the wintertime or are looking for some indoor activities or day trips these three excursions range from 5 to 8 hours and are mostly indoors. No matter what time of year you’re visiting Interlaken I highly recommend adding Jungfraujoch to your Switzerland itinerary.
If there is one activity/ day-trip you do during your stay in Interlaken it should be the train trip up to Jungfraujoch. We opted to take the first train to the top our second morning in Interlaken and we were so glad we did. While some of the summer activities like the Snowpark and the Omega Hole in One Challenge. It was incredible to go inside the glacier in the Ice Palace, and if we had stayed another half-hour we could have experienced Lindt Chocolate world at 11,782 ft above sea level! Click to book your roundtrip train ticket to Jungfraujoch.
Chocolate and cheese may sound like a weird combination, but don’t worry you don’t have to eat chocolate-covered cheese (if you don’t want to). This full-day tour will take you from Interlaken through Bern to the French part of Switzerland and the historic town of Gruyere where you will get to try some of the world-famous cheese then off to Maison Cailler Chocolate factory to sample their famous chocolate pralines. With several other short stops for scenic photo opportunities, this is a great tour to recover after a day skiing or hiking in the Alps. Check pricing and availability here.
Channel Your Inner Secret Agent with a tour of the filming location for the 1969 film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. This day trip from Interlaken will take you up to 10,000 feet on Schilthorn where you’ll find the James Bond Thrill walk, a rotating restaurant, and the James Bond walk of fame. Check availability and pricing here.
Interlaken is in the heart of the Swiss Alps, so while Interlaken doesn’t have any of its own ski trails, there is no shortage of great skiing nearby. Below are some of the highest-rated places for winter sports near Interlaken.
The skiing closest to Interlaken is the Jungfrau region skiing. It also happens to be the biggest in the Oberland with more than 200km of trails and 2000m of vertical drop! The Jungfrau Top Ski lift ticket covers 45 lifts around Grindelwald, Wengen, and Mürren.
Kandersteg is only about an hour and ten minutes from Interlaken Ost via train. Making it an easy day trip. The resort at Kandersteg is much smaller than the Jungfrau region with only about 800m vertical and about 13 acres of skiable terrain. Kandersteg also has fun outdoor activities in the summertime!
Zermatt is home to Switzerland’s most famous mountain, The Matterhorn. The Matterhorn Ski Paradise is the highest ski resort in the Alps with elevations nearing 4,000 meters. There is more than 300 km of skiable terrain and over 2300 meters of vertical drop. Zermatt is a beautiful car-free town that may be worth planning a few extra days for in your Switzerland Itinerary. You can reach Zermatt via train, which takes approximately 2 hours and fifteen minutes from the Interlaken Ost station.
The stretch of road between Interlaken’s two train stations is lined with small boutiques that are dominated by two themes. Kitschy Swiss souvenirs and high-end Swiss watches. Near the Victoria Jungfrau and the Casino, you’ll also find a couple of small boutiques that offer designer bags and accessories. Mallory and I loved window shopping at all of the watches especially my dream watch a Patek Philippe.
No Switzerland Itinerary would be complete without indulging in some Swiss delicacies of Fondue and Chocolate, but Interlaken has much more to offer than just fondue! The following restaurants come highly recommended and we tried two of them ourselves.
I mentioned this restaurant above, easily my favorite meal during our stay in Switzerland, and in the running for my favorite meal on the entire trip. The cool part is that you know everything is super fresh as Chef Stefan Beer sources his ingredients from within 40km of Hotel Victoria Jungfrau. We had salmon from the local lakes, beef from a local ranch, and most importantly wine from the Bernese Oberland that we thoroughly enjoyed.
Restaurant Taverne has classic Swiss Food. They have a great selection of local meats, beers, and wines, and their fondue is supposed to be one of the best in Interlaken. Prices at Taverne were very reasonable as well, so if you’re trying to stick to a budget Switzerland Itinerary, but want some great local cuisine then check out Restaurant Taverne.
One spot I noticed had great reviews on Yelp, but we didn’t have a chance to try was Hüsi Bierhaus. They have over 80 different beers and homemade Swiss food. This casual spot would be perfect for lunch or dinner and they even have a rotating seasonal craft beer made exclusively for Hüsi Bierhaus.
We found the small convenience store, Migrolino, directly across from the Interlaken West train station to have a great selection of healthy ready-made snacks and meals. I’d highly recommend grabbing a little snack and a couple of beers and heading over to the park directly across from the Hotel Victoria Jungfrau to get a front-row seat to where the paragliders land.
Interlaken is a charming little town with easy access the much of Switzerland thanks to its position along the Swiss Rail System. It’s a paradise for anyone who loves being outdoors year-round. Have you been to Interlaken before? I’d love to hear about where you stayed and any activities you did while you were there in the comments below!