Alpine wonderland in Interlaken
You know the Ricola advert about the alpine flowers on endless alps? Well, that’s all real when you come to Switzerland. It is a landlocked country and it’s surrounded by alps! Loads and loads of it.
Interlaken is the place where people usually come to see the alps as it’s alps wonderland. Here, you can head up to
Jungfrau, the top of Europe.
Schilton, where James Bond was filmed.
Schynigge Platte – boasting wonderful hikes and alpine gardens and fabulous views of both the lakes and Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch.
Handegg where you can take the steepest railway, the Gelmerbahn.
Further south, take the train for 2 hours to the taller than Jungfrau Matterhorn, the icon of Switzerland as its so iconic.
Interlaken is also a good place to see the glacier falls and there are 4 you can easily get to in less than 60 minutes.
Spoiler alert: Interlaken is very touristy because people come to Switzerland to do the alps! It shouldn’t deter you from coming though, because the alps are a must do here as it’s really beautiful and different alps have different things to do.
Interlaken has 2 main train stations, Ost and west. I stayed at an Airbnb apartment in between both with a very nice lady Paula. Her apartment is a short walk to both stations and almost anywhere in Interlaken, you can view the alps from your balcony or doorway. It is that amazing. Btw, if you’re an Airbnb virgin, use my referral code to get $50 off your first stay. That’s enough savings for almost 1 night of stay in Switzerland.
Ok the alps!
Jungfrau. Jungfraujoch is the top of Europe because the cablecar goes to its highest in Europe here. It also boasts the highest chocolate shop, highest post box etc. but it’s not the hugest peak. The highest is Dufourspitze of Monte Rosa. However, the highest hut is at 2800m. So Jungfrau tops it at 3454m, which is the highest in Europe.
When I was up there it was very cold and windy so please do bring snow gear. It started to snow too and it was super cloudy so I couldn’t see anything else. Do check the weather for clear skies before you head up else you would wasted more than 100CHF to get up. At the summit, you can buy Lindt chocolate. It’s cheaper here than below. Not sure why considering it’s so touristy. I regretted not buying more. There is an ice palace and u can also rent ski and floats to play with. The metrological station also looks like a space craft so that’s pretty cool!
The train ride up was very beautiful and you can also hike around the lower portions of Jungfrau. I did the Eiger walk, which you can get off at the station before and hike down from there, or like me, coz I fell asleep, I got off at Kleine Schiedegg and then walk up and back again. The views are amazing, I promise. Remember to head to the artificial lake because it’s a nice rest stop. You can also do the 3-5 hour long hike to Mannlichen and then just head back from there. I bought the ticket that goes up to Jungfrau via Laterbrunnen and back via Grindelwel so you go one round and see different sights. They’re about the same price.
Schynigge Platte was a hikers dream. A lot of Swiss old people do this. They’re more fit than me as they do it almost weekly. You can choose 3 trails or the fourth ones gets you to Grindeweld first which is another mountain. The trails are clearly marked and range from 1 -2.5 hours and they all start at the alpine garden. They have a lot of cows there so remember to stand at the correct place so you don’t fall off when they pass you. 😂 the views of you do the 2.5 hour hike is breathtaking. You see the alps Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch, the 2 lakes and just feel like you’re on top of the world. It’s nice and warm too so it’s a good hike. I took 4 hours coz I did it really slowly and rested a lot to take photos and bees and butterflies.
The Gelmerbahn at Handegg is a must do. My friend drove us here so I can’t say how it is to get here but I did see buses and I’m sure there is a train connection somewhere. Switzerland is so well connected its amazing and they’re efficient and always on time. You should try to buy tickets online because we went at 12m and got tickets for 2pm and came down at 5. By the time it was 2pm, the tickets were sold out. We were lucky to have gotten tickets. The ride up is 15 minutes and it looks like a really old train but so fun. Here is the time lapse video for you. It’s steep! The world’s steepest!
At the top, hike the lake it’s beautiful and you can easily spend 2-3 hours there. Even at the bottom, there are things to do like walk on the suspension bridge and admire the views and waterfalls. We stayed over night at Nature Resort Handeck and the food there was great and it had a spa too. It’s also walkable from the start of the Gelmerbahn. More info here
Matterhorn was a very amazing hiking journey. On my 2 hour train ride there, I was very very lucky to see a group of ladies in their 50s-60s who hike once a month together and they invited me to join them on their hike. Without them, I would have done Klein Matterhorn like all the other tourists. Instead, I hiked like what all the Swiss people do – to the 5 lakes. Stellisee, the first lake has the most amazing reflection on the lake of Matterhorn on a windless day. It’s also what you see on the advertisement for Matterhorn. To get up to this point, walk 8 minutes to the cable car station in Zermatt from Zermatt Bahnhof. Follow the Swiss people, they all go there. Buy your ticket up to Blauherd and come back down from Sunnegga so you don’t have to hike back all the way up! You can also do the opposite direction if you want a better workout! 😂 The ticket will only cost you 19CHF if you have the Swiss travel Pass instead of 100CHF if you went to Klein Matterhorn.
The hike is also very clearly marked so you won’t lose your way. There is 1 rest stop, restaurant a short hike up from Stellisee. We had our picnic at the green lake, which is the third out of the 5 lakes. The whole hike will take about 5-6 hours with rest in between. The views are amazing of Matterhorn as you see it change with the clouds and angle and landscape as you hike. This hike was moderately difficult and when it’s windy, it can get cold so bring a wind breaker.
As with any hike you do, bring energy giving food like fruits, nuts and beef jerky that won’t go bad in the heat and lots of water! Switzerland is so amazing they have water fountains on some of the trails so bring your bottle for refills.
I didn’t manage to do Schilton, which James Bond did, but I did the round trip for the water and Glacier falls.
First you will want to take the steam/lake boat on Brianzersee from interlaken Ost See (see is lake) to Giessbach and walk the falls. You can also take the Sherlock Holmes Bahn if you don’t wanna walk up to the falls. It’s only a 15 minutes hike up. Once you’re there, take some time to explore the many trails they have. I had lunch at the Hotel that the bahn stops at and the burger was great. You will spend the whole morning till lunch here. You can either take the steamboat back to interlaken or take to Brienz, one stop after Giessbach and take the train back to Interlaken Ost. If you have an entire day, you can hike along the lake to Iseltwald.
If you do all 3 falls like me, then you have to head back to interlaken Ost to take the train to Lauterbrunnen. From there, you hike to Staubbach falls. That should take you about 20 minutes to walk to. Do climb up the steps as you can walk behind the falls and that is an amazing experience for me. Remember to hold on to the rails as it can be slippery and wet.
There after, you can either walk for about 40 minutes or take the bus to Trummelbachfalle. Trummelbachfalle is an amazing glacier waterfall. It’s caused by the melting of glaciers from Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch, so imagine the amount of water and power this is. Do take the lift up to fall 6. And from there, walk up further. Thenafter, walk down all the way. It only takes you 10 minutes or less. You can also hike up and down without the lift 💪🏼. This attraction closes at 6 so remember to reach here before 5pm.
Once finished, cross the road and take the bus to Stechelberg so you can take the cable car to Gimmewald and Murren. This cable cars take you almost all the way up to Schilton if you want to do the James Bond thing or you can come back down via Murren so you can go back to Lauterbrunnen and then Interlaken. Murren is a beautiful town too. You have to walk past this town to change cable cars back down. All these cable car rides are free and they’re incredible on the Swiss travel pass. More information at sbb.ch
The 3 falls will take you the whole day from 9am to about 7pm. It’s fun and you should definitely do this if you’re in Interlaken. If you only have time to do one, do Trummelbachfalle, take the bus there from Lauterbrunnen station. Also bring a poncho or hoodie so you don’t get wet when you’re at the falls as they do splash.
Next up, I head up to Lucerne which is a picturesque town with medieval buildings and walls, hike up Pilatus, Titlis and Rigi.
The train ride from Interlaken to Lucerne is very scenic as it’s on the golden pass line. It passes through 5 lakes and a few waterfalls along the way so don’t fall asleep during the 2 hour train ride. Stay tuned to my next post!