Gorgeously blue waters can be found both east and west of Interlaken, though Lake Brienz is most popular when it comes to lake bathing. The natural lidos around the perimeter invite you to immerse yourself in the invigorating waters and cool off from the summer sun. And unless there are signs telling you not to, you can swim anywhere you want in both Brienz and Thun.
There are quite a few man-made and natural lidos on Lake Brienz, including Bönigen Lido, which is kitted out with inflatable water trampolines and even a heated outdoor swimming pool - ideal if you're not too keen on the freshwater. Burgseeli Natural Lido is known for its sunbathing meadow, barbeque facilities and unusually warm waters, which can reach up to 26ºC
Similar to Lake Brienz, Lake Thun has numerous bathing areas around its edges that are very popular in summer. However, it's a pretty big lake, so unless you're prepared to walk or get public transport, you're better off sticking to the beaches in Brienz.
Shopping in Interlaken is diverse, but for high-street buys, the Oberland Shopping Centre will be your best bet. The Höheweg is also home to a range of middle-of-the-road shops, selling a variety of typically Swiss goods, including wood-carved children's toys, Swiss army knives and the most important product of all - chocolate.
It wouldn't be Switzerland without watches. The Höheweg, the main shopping street in town, is the location for all the prestigious jewellers and watch merchants, from Rolex and Tissot to Omega and Swarovski.
Catch a movie at the cinema or hone your skills with a game of billiards - the possibilities are endless. If you prefer an even quieter night, opt for a stroll around the town before having a drink at your hotel bar.
Partygoers will find a selection of lively bars and clubs either down south on the Hauptstrasse, or to the west of Interlaken on the Rosenstrasse. The locals, though, usually head over to Matten. For a more cultural atmosphere, make sure you're around for one of the various music, art and theatre festivals that take place throughout the summer, or tag along to a gig at one of the local venues.
Interlaken is said to have the widest selection of traditional and regional cuisines in the whole of Switzerland, lots of them on the Marktgasse and the streets that surround the central roundabout. The promenade at Lake Brienz has a small choice of restaurants if you want some stunning lake views, though you may prefer to get a bus up there as it's quite a walk from the centre of town.
In a beautiful building on the Marktgasse is the Café de Paris, offering traditional French cuisine with a few local twists. You can enjoy dinner outside under the canopy, or inside for a more intimate experience. Tartare de boeuf is a speciality dish here, among other brasserie-style options.
Part of the Hotel Royal St Georges, Brasserie St Georges is an elegant and spacious restaurant serving up modern Swiss dishes. The cheese fondue is a popular appetiser choice.
Just outside of town is Little Thai, a small and simple Thai restaurant with a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. The food is truly authentic and their portions are generous.
Take a relaxed walk on the waterfront of Lake Thun or Lake Brienz, or stroll up the Höheweg, which links the urban Interlaken West with the quieter Interlaken East.
Ferries are available on both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. They depart around once an hour and travel to towns like Iseltwald and Oberhofen. It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the far side of Lake Brienz, so on the way you’ll be able to take in the beautiful scenery and waterfalls. Ferries on Lake Thun do not start until 11.10am.
Interlaken has two railway stations - East and West. From these stations you can access mountains and major cities and towns. Trains that run up to the Jungfrau region depart every 30 minutes from Interlaken East, and intercity and regional trains run between 6am and 1am. There’s also a tourist train that operates around Interlaken, departing every 30 minutes from outside the Victoria-Jungfrau Hotel, opposite the casino entrance. And take advantage of your Swiss Half Fare Card that you get as part of your holiday for up to 50% off Swiss train journeys during your stay.
Both Interlaken East and West have bus stations. Buses run every 30 minutes between 8am and 8pm and can take you around the town to the Höheweg, to both lakes and to Unterseen and Matten. And your Swiss Half Fare Card that you get as part of your holiday gives you up to 50% off the buses too.
You can catch the Niederhornbahn from Beatenberg, which takes under 20 minutes to reach the top of the Niederhorn Mountain.
Nestled in the Jungfrau region, Interlaken is flat and easy to walk around. Strollers will love the gentle paths to Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, both of which offer stunning scenery. There are also specialised guided walks, such as the ‘Story of Switzerland’ and the ‘Food and Culture’ tours. Those with a head for heights should take the funicular to Harder Kulm, Interlaken’s highest peak, for breathtaking views and access to a handful of marked trails. Really keen walkers might prefer to head to Grindelwald or Wengen and use the gondolas to reach a wider range of trails – such as those to Lake Bachalpsee and the Schynigge Platte.
Get to know the town and its surroundings with this easy route. From Interlaken Ost boat station, wander past the dock and follow the path along the river. It usually takes around 45 minutes to reach Bönigen and the shores of Lake Brienz. After spending some time enjoying the scenery, it’s up to you whether you walk back or catch the bus.
A longer route to really stretch your legs, this one is just as gentle. From the boat station at Interlaken West, head along the Kanalpromenade – a really scenic path that will take you past the Weissenau ruins, a former moated castle, and through the Weissenau nature reserve. When you reach Neuhaus you can stop for lunch or even go for a swim or paddle to cool down. Then walk back to Interlaken along the Lombach river.
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