As the adventure capital of Switzerland, no trip to Interlaken is complete without stepping out of your comfort zone and participating in some form of fear-inducing alpine activity. Whether it is white-water rafting, caving, bungee jumping, hang gliding or paragliding – if you are in Interlaken you need to do something a little crazy! We chose paragliding and can’t recommend it enough. In this article, we’ll explain what it’s really like to go paragliding in Interlaken to help you decide if it’s right for you.
- Overview | Paragliding in Interlaken
- Paragliding vs. Hang Gliding
- Choosing a tour company
- How much does paragliding in Interlaken cost?
- What to wear for paragliding
- Detail | Paragliding in Interlaken
- Why you should go paragliding in Interlaken
About Paragliding in Interlaken
Paragliding is almost an indescribable experience. From the exhilaration of running down the side of a mountain, the wind slowly lifting you off the ground, and gliding through the fresh mountain air with Interlaken stretched out below, it really is an unforgettable experience. And to our surprise, easier and safer than you’d think!
If you are in the Interlaken area, definitely check paragliding off your bucket list.
Paragliding vs. Hang Gliding
Many adventure sports companies offer both paragliding and hang gliding. So what is the difference and which is right for you?
There are a few key differences between paragliding and hanggliding:
- Shape of the kite | Hang gliding uses a v-shaped kite that resembles wings, while the paragliding kite is more like a parachute.
- Body position | In hang gliding you lie horizontal to the ground, parallel with the wings, while in paragliding you sit upright.
- Cost | Paragliding tends to be less expensive than hang gliding. At most places in Interlaken, hang gliding will cost you $80 more per person for a flight of the same length.
- Speed | Hang gliders are more aerodynamic and therefore allow you to glide much faster. Once in the air, paragliding is fairly slow and peaceful.
- Safety | Along with the speed comes more risk. Hang gliding is typically considered more dangerous than paragliding.
If you are a serious adrenaline junkie, hang gliding may be for you. We chose paragliding because we couldn’t justify the price difference, and we found paragliding to be just the right amount of thrill. It was exhilarating, but not terrifying.
Choosing a Tour Company
There are many companies in Interlaken that offer paragliding, so you have some options. Here are a few popular paragliding companies:
We found that most these companies offer flights at almost exactly the same price for comparable flight times, so cost isn’t really a helpful factor in deciding which company to go with. We ultimately chose AlpinAir because they had good reviews and would pick us up from near our Airbnb, and we were not disappointed.
Picking Your Flight
With most paragliding companies, the most popular flight takes off in Beatenberg and lands in a field in the center of Interlaken. The flight we took with AlpinAir was called the Top Flight. The in-flight time ranges from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the wind speed, and the entire trip from pickup to landing takes around 75 minutes.
- You can purchase tickets for the Beatenburg to Interlaken flight here.
How much does it cost to go Paragliding in Interlaken?
The flight we choose with AlpinAir cost $180 per person, and we’ve found that other tour companies offered very similar prices for comparable flight times. It may seem like a lot for a 20 minute air time, but we thought the entire experience was 100% worth it.
Beatenburg to Interlaken Flight
Standard Flight Cost: 170 CHF ($180) per person
Double airtime: +100 CHF ($113) per person
AlpinAir offers a few other flight options that cost more than the Top Flight, such as the Sunset Flight which has a longer flight time of 20-30 minutes, and the Great James Bond which takes off from Schilthorn and has a total flight time of 30-40 minutes (side note: when we visited Schilthorn, we saw people doing this flight and it looked epic!)
Will I be flying alone?
No, as a first-time paraglider, you will have to fly tandem. Your guide will help you set up your parachute, give you instructions on how to help take off and steer for flight and landing. With AlpinAir, your guide will carry a go-pro and take pictures and video of the entire journey that you can purchase for an additional fee of 40 CHF at the end of your flight.
What to bring paragliding in Interlaken
You really can’t bring anything with you during the flight, so pack lightly. The tour company will store a small purse, bag or backpack for you while you fly and meet you at the bottom when you land, so you can leave your phone and wallet in a safe place. You cannot bring your own camera with you on the flight, so this also will need to be left behind. You will also need to wear a helmet for the flight, so leave hats behind.
What to wear paragliding
To keep yourself safe and comfortable during flight, its important to dress appropriately:
- Tennis shoes/hiking boots | To takeoff, you will run quickly down a hill, so you need to wear appropriate closed-toed shoes for running. We’d recommend tennis shoes or hiking boots.
- Pants that at least go to your knees | You have to wear a harness, so it’s most comfortable if your thighs are covered. These Athleta Headlands pants are my absolute favorite – great for exercise and the pockets make them more stylish.
- Layers | It can be colder at the top of the mountain and in flight, so we’d recommend packing layers. A warm quarter zip should suffice during the summer. In the spring or fall, you’ll likely want something warmer, like a down jacket.
- Sunglasses | Just make sure you have a strap to secure them. Our favorite sunglasses are Goodr, because they are cheap and non-slip, meaning they stay in place during activity – perfect for adventures like paragliding!
Details | Paragliding in Interlaken
In this section, we’ll give you all the details on our experience paragliding in Interlaken so you know what to expect for planning your own trip.
Pickup from Interlaken
Our tour guides picked us up from a hotel right next to our Airbnb. They offer a long list of different pickup points around Interlaken and Unterseen, so there is likely an option nearby to where you staying. They picked us up in a van, along with 4 other people and 4 corresponding guides, and drove us about 20 minutes to Beatenberg, where we would be taking flight.
During the drive, they discuss safety guidelines and pair you up with a guide.
Fun fact: Switzerland has four official national language: German, French, Italian, and Romansh, meaning the Swiss speak different languages in different parts of the country. My guide was from eastern Switzerland and spoke German but not French, while Matt’s guide was from western Switzerland and spoke French but not German. They communicated with each other in English!
Preparing for Takeoff
Upon arrival, we took a quick 5-minute walk to a wide open field on the edge of the mountain, where we set up our parachutes. Before taking flight, you’ll get clipped into your harness, fitted for a helmet, and help spread your parachute out on the hill making sure the cords are untangled.
I woke up the morning of our flight feeling so anxious, and the nervous excitement continued to build as we stood at the top of the mountain, watching other paragliders before us to take off.
Just before takeoff, you and your guide get into position standing in front of your parachute facing down the mountain. Then, on your guide’s word, you take off running full-speed down the hill until your parachute catches wind. You will start to feel upward pressure and suddenly your feet are no longer touching the ground! Those first few moments when you realize you are flying are exhilarating!
Once your feet leave the ground, the flight actually becomes very smooth and you can settle into your seat. As soon as you get past the initial shock that you are flying, you will be stunned by the aerial view of Interlaken and it’s vibrant teal lakes.
Even though I was so anxious beforehand, my nerves subsided once in flight and I immediately felt more comfortable. Its hard to stay nervous when you have such an incredible sight to distract you.
During the flight, you have the option to try out some spins and flips. If you absolutely don’t want to flip, your guide will respect that choice, but if you are looking for a little thrill you should give it a try.
Your guide will navigate the flips by pulling on either side of the parachute.
Your flight will land in a large field in the center of Interlaken. The landing can be a little bumpy, as your feet touch the ground and skid for a few moments across the field.
Matt landed just before me and got to watch me land. We were all smiles after we touched down, as we swapped stories about our flights and marveled over the unforgettable feeling of flying.
We both agreed that it was much less scary than we expected and that we would do it again in a heartbeat!
Why should you go paragliding in Interlaken?
If these pictures haven’t convinced you yet, let us summarize the things we loved most about paragliding in Interlaken:
- The views. The pictures can’t even do it just. You really can’t beat the view looking straight down over Interlaken.
- The thrill. If you are looking for a little adrenaline, paragliding will satisfy your craving (but maybe leaving you wanting more…)
- Its really not that scary. Even if you aren’t an adrenaline junky, paragliding is really not as scary as it seems. While the initial takeoff can be intimidating, the flight itself is really quite smooth.
- Its fun. We had a blast! When we landed, I seriously would have driven right back to Beatenberg and done it all over again.
Other useful resources
Planning a trip to Switzerland? Be sure to check our the following guides to help you plan your trip:
- Interlaken | How to Spend 2 Adventurous Days in Interlaken
- Interlaken | Murren, Gimmelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Schilthorn: An Epic Day Trip for Interlaken
- Lucerne | How to Take an Day Trip to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne
- Lucerne | Best Things to Do in Lucerne, Switzerland on a Budget
- Zermatt | A Compete Guide to Hiking the Five Lakes Trail for the Best Matterhorn Views
- Itinerary | The Ultimate One Week Switzerland Itinerary for Adventure Lovers
For all things Switzerland: Switzerland Travel Guide
Have you been paragliding? Let us know if you have questions about our experience paragliding in Interlaken in the comments below.