Interlaken is a small, laid back town located in the Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland that serves as a hub for outdoor adventure activities, from hiking and kayaking to paragliding and base jumping. Literally translating to “between lakes,” Interlaken is wedged between two stunning lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Bienz. And yes, the water really is that blue! The lakes get their color from the minerals in the glacial runoff from surrounding mountains.
2 Days in Interlaken | Itinerary Overview
This 2-day Interlaken itinerary may stand on its own, or fit into days three and four of our One-Week Switzerland Itinerary. Below you will find the highlights for each day:
- Day 1:
- Day 2:
To kick off your time in Interlaken, day one is jam-packed with adventure! You will get to see Interlaken’s lakes from two different perspectives: up close on the water and from a bird’s eye view high above on Harder Kulm.
Here’s are the major highlights on day one:
- Arrive in Interlaken
- Kayak on Lake Thun (before lunch)
- Hike Harder Kulm (early afternoon)
- Boat ride on Lake Brienz (late afternoon)
Plan to arrive in Interlaken in the morning. The train ride to Interlaken takes roughly 2 hours 20 minutes from Lucerne or Zurich.
Kayak on Lake Thun
- Time frame | 1 – 2 hours
- Cost | $20 per person
After checking into your hotel or Airbnb, start your morning in Interlaken with a kayaking excursion on Lake Thun. We recommend renting kayaks from Mountain Surf, conveniently located right on the banks of Lake Thun.
Kayak rentals cost $20 per hour for an individual kayak. Mountain Surf also offers paddleboards, paddle boats and motor boat rentals. You can walk from central Interlaken to Lake Thun in about 30 minutes, or take a 10 minute bus ride from Interlaken (covered by the Swiss Pass).
- Timeframe | 3 – 4 hours
Harder Kulm is a mountain outside Interlaken that provides unmatched views of Lake Thun, Lake Brienz, Jungfrau, and everything in between. It is the tallest peak in the Interlaken area, at an altitude of 1,321 meters (4,334 feet). You can reach Harder Kulm by taking a cable car or via a 2.3 mile (one-way) hike.
Upon our Airbnb host’s recommendation, we hiked the back way up to Harder Kulm, and we highly recommend you do the same! This route is less trafficked than the more popular Harder Kulm Loop Trail, so we were able to enjoy the views in peace. We also got to see paragliders flying right overhead, a close-up glimpse into our adventure for the next day!
For complete details on how to hike the back way to Harder Kulm, see our post:
Boat Ride on Lake Brienz
- Time frame | 1 hour
- Ticket Cost | Lake Day Pass: 35 CHF ($39), included wwith Swiss Pass
Find time tables, tickets costs and more details here.
End your day with a relaxing boat ride on Lake Brienz. The cruise leaves from the port behind the Interlaken Ost train station and takes around 1 hour roundtrip. With a Swiss Pass, you can ride any boat on Lake Brienz and Lake Thun for free. Without a Swiss Pass, you will want to purchase a day pass for 35 CHF which gives you unlimited boat rides on both lakes.
The cruise gives you a complete tour of Lake Brienz – you’ll see quaint little villages that line the shore, spot the beautiful Iseltwald castle, and unwind with a view of the lake’s neon-teal water.
If you have time, you can get off at any stop to explore the village or tour the castles, and you have the option to take a train back to Interlaken if you do choose to get off the boat.
Evening in Interlaken
The town of Interlaken itself is relatively small and there isn’t a ton to see. Spend whatever remaining time you have in the evening exploring the town.
Tip: We loved the Kama Citra, a pale ale from local Swiss Haarige Kuh Brauerei, pictured to the right. We ordered this whenever we saw it on the menu! There aren’t a ton of hoppy beers on the Swiss beer scene, so if you’re looking for something with a little more flavor, we highly recommend trying this.
Day two is another busy and exciting day! Highlights of today include:
- Day trip to Schilthorn
- Birg Thrill Walk
- Villages of Murren, Gimmelwald, Lauterbrunnen
Paragliding in Interlaken
- Time frame | 90 minutes
- Purchase tickets for paragliding in Interlaken here.
Get your day started with a rush of adrenaline to wake up your senses. Paragliding is an exhilarating experience: running down the side of a mountain, the wind slowing lifting you off the ground, and gliding through the fresh mountain air with Interlaken stretched out below.
Although we were nervous before our flight, paragliding is actually easier and safer than you’d think! If you are in the Interlaken area, definitely check paragliding off your bucket list.
The most popular paragliding trip starts in Beatenburg and flies to the center of Interlaken for a total flight time of 10-20 minutes. Tickets cost $180 per person, and even though its a bit pricey, if you splurge on one thing during your trip to Switzerland, paragliding should be it!
For help deciding whether paragliding is for you, we lay out all the details you need to know about paragliding in Interlaken in this post:
Day Trip to Schilthorn & Interlaken Mountainside
- Time frame | 5 – 6 hours
- Cost | $48 – $120
The rest of day two is spent venturing to Schilthorn mountain for a panoramic view of the Monch, Eiger, and Jungfrau and exploring several small classic Swiss villages in the mountainside surrounding Interlaken.
The journey starts in Lauterbrunnen, located about 20 minutes by train from Interlaken. From Lauterbrunnen, take a quick gondola ride to Grutshap where you can take a beautiful 2.7 mile hike to Murren. From Murren you will take a gondola up to Schilthorn, stopping in Birg, and back.
After visiting Schilthorn, hike another 1.7 miles to Gimmelwald, beforing descending to Stechelberg via Gondola. From Stechelberg, hike 2 miles back to Lauterbrunnen through the stunning Lauterbrunnen Valley, stopping at Trummelbach Falls along the way.
Here is an overview of the places you’ll stop:
- Lauterbrunnen: A small town nestled in the valley between stunning sharp cliffs, known for its 72 waterfalls.
- Murren: A charming village with classic Swiss chalets located at the base of Schilthorn that is not accessible by car.
- Birg: Quick stop between Murren and Schilthorn for the Birg Thrill Walk, a platform built into the side of the mountain with sections of glass floor, mesh tunnels, and wire net hanging high above the valley.
- Schilthorn Peak: One of the tallest peaks in the area featuring 360 degree views of the Swiss Alps, including the Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau.
- Gimmelwald: Another small quaint town located between Murren and Stechelberg.
- Trummelbach Falls: 10 glacier waterfalls carved inside a cave in the side of the mountain.
Schilthorn is one of the highest peaks in the region at an altitude of 2,970 m (9,744 feet). Schilthorn features a stunning view of the Monch, Eiger, and Jungfrau and is known for being the filming location of the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Tickets to Schilthorn cost $96 or $48 with a Swiss Pass.
For everything you need to know about the day trip to Schilthorn, Murren, Gimmelwald, and Lauterbrunnen, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide, complete with ticket information and transportation details.
Logistics | Planning Your Trip to Interlaken
In the section below, we’ll help you plan the details of your trip to Interlaken, from when to visit to how to get around and what to pack!
When is the best time to visit Interlaken
The best time to visit Interlaken depends on what you are interested in doing:
- For hiking, kayaking, paragliding and water sports, the best time to visit in the summer: June through August,
- For skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and other winter activities, the best time to visit is December through February.
Note that June through August is peak season in Interlaken, so expect crowds. If you are willing to risk unpredictable weather for fewer crowds, May or September could also be good options.
How to Get to Interlaken
Interlaken is conveniently located in central Switzerland and easy to get to by train from many other Swiss cities. You can travel by train from:
- Bern in 1 hour
- Lucerne in 2 hours
- Zurich in 2 hours
- Zermat in 2 hours 20 minutes
- Geneva in 3 hours
Its also possible, but more expensive, to rent a car and drive to Interlaken.
Getting around in Interlaken
Interlaken itself is a small town that can be easily explored by foot. However, you may want to use public transporation to get between Interlaken and Unterseen, as well as between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. There are multiple buses which connect Interlaken, Unterseen, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. Bus tickets are covered by the Swiss Pass.
To get between Interlaken and Unterseen, you can also take a quick 10 minute train between Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West, also covered by the Swiss Pass.
Lastly, there are ferries on both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz which connect to the smaller villages around the edge of the lakes.
If you are staying in Interlaken, you will be given a complementary Interlaken Guest Card, which grants you free use of public transportation in Interlaken and gives you special discounts on other attractions, including the Harder Kulm funicular. Find more details about the Interlaken Guest Card here.
Find more details on public transportation in Interlaken here.
Interlaken packing list
Below is a list of gear we’d recommend adding to your packing list for adventures in Interlaken:
- Swiss Travel Pass | makes day trips from Interlaken easier and cheaper.
- Hiking poles (Black Diamond Distance Z poles) | useful if you plan to hike to Harder Kulm
- Backpack with bladder (Hers: CamelBak Helena 20L, His: Camelback Rim Runner 22L)
- Hiking boots (Hers: Danner Mountain 600s, His: Salomon Ultra 4 Mid GTX)
- Hiking pants (Hers: Athleta Headlands pants, His: PrAna Stretch Zion Pants)
- Long sleeve base layers (Hers: Smartwool All Season Baselayer)
- Sunglasses (Goodr) | good to have for paragliding.
- Dry bag | for keeping your phone and valuables dry if you plan to go kayaking.
- Microspikes | if you plan to hike earlier in the summer or later in the fall
- Gloves and hats
- Rain Jacket (Hers: Patagonia Torrentshell)
- Camera (Nikon Z6) with Peak Design Camera Clip and Matador Camera Bag
Read More about SwitzerlandLooking for more awesome outdoor adventures in Switzerland?! You may also be interested in these resources.
Have you been to Interlaken? Did you love it as much as we did? Let us know in the comments below!