Author Archives: Brett Simpson

Interlaken, Switzerland

The town of Interlaken makes a perfect home base for exploring the beautiful mountains all around the central region of Switzerland. In this segment we will take a quick look at what Interlaken has to offer. The advantages of staying in Interlaken are the many hotels, restaurants and shops, and wonderful train and bus connections to get up to the mountain sites. Some of the world’s most spectacular mountain scenery is waiting for you just outside of Interlaken in the heart of the Swiss Alps.

Europe’s longest glacier – four famous mountain peaks: the Monk, Eiger, Jungfrau and Shilthorn – astonishingly beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley, my favorite – Europe’s highest railroad station, delightful mountain villages of Grindelwald, Wengen and Murren – two large lakes with tour boat service – and some fascinating nearby cities. We have many other movies about the surrounding mountains and valleys you can find on our YouTube channel and on our website. All of these attractions are close to the town of Interlaken which makes a perfect base from which to explore the region. There are nearly 100 hotels and guest houses in all price ranges in the city. While Interlaken is attractive with excellent supply of these hotels shops and restaurants, and there’s a pretty park in the middle, frankly it is not one of Switzerland’s really quaint and traditional villages.

You don’t come to this area just to see Interlaken. Instead, it’s a practical tourist center with fine support services, excellent rail and boat connections, and compactness that makes for easy walking anywhere in town. There’s also a large casino filled with slot machines for some evening amusement and online slots included.

The nearby surrounding peaks and valleys are your main reason for being in Interlaken so your time in town is mostly for eating and sleeping, doing a little shopping, in order to gear up for the excursions into the mountains. For the more adventurous you can go paragliding. That’s right even if you don’t know anything about it you can go with a pilot and enjoy tandem paraglide ride. They’ll drive you up to the hills and then you do a little walking, hike up further up on the slope, and you jump off, and the payoff is you get to glide down and enjoy a fantastic view. Or for something less adventurous you can just rent a bicycle and go peddle around. There’s a lot to see in the Interlaken area.

The town itself is relatively flat and you can peddle through the shopping areas and up into the residential zones. As you can see the main activity in town is shopping – all sorts of souvenirs for sale, clothing, you can buy some hiking gear. It’s a great place for backpacks, for boots, hats, clothing of all kinds, walking sticks and a T-shirt that says Interlaken.

There’s not much of a pedestrian zone that’s free of automobiles here but they do have one little lane that’s for pedestrians. But the rest of town is very friendly for walking around, the sidewalks are wide and there’s always things to look at and things to do. While you have many lovely hotels to pick from there’s no question that one of them stands out above all the others. It’s the Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa Five-Star, ultra-deluxe. Even if you cannot afford to spend the night here you might enjoy a meal in one of their various restaurants and you can even have a nice meal on their front terrace with a view looking up towards the Jungfrau.

This great meadow is right next to the one major street of town, the Hohweg, which is beautifully landscaped and kept in a semi-natural state with flowers and trees and the meadow along one side and grand hotels on the other. If you’re a gambler, of course, there is a casino like there is in most Swiss towns and it’s an elegant place. It’s part of the Kursal complex which for 100 years has been a cultural center of the city, set in a beautiful park with fountains and flowers. Tourists have been coming to Interlaken and the area since about 1800 when it was first popularized by some romantic painters and then tourism really increased in the 1890s and early 1900s with the opening of railway service. There is a quiet residential area behind the main commercial town. Population of Interlaken is quite small, just about 5000 people, many of them living in traditional chalet-style houses that really make something for you to have a look at.

So that’s another nice activity – take a stroll in the residential neighborhood. Up there you might find a restaurant that is geared as much to locals as to tourists such as Restaurant Tenne specializing in Italian food if you have enough of Swiss food already, quit good. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes to walk here from most of the hotels.

One of the most famous restaurants in town is the Grand Café Restaurant Schuh which is located right next to the meadow on the main street in town, and they have been in business here since 1818. They’ve got nice entertainment while you dine, you can sit outdoors on the terrace with a view of the meadow, or indoors, take your pick and they specialize in chocolates along with fine dining. My first visit to Interlaken was in 1985 and I stayed in a very inexpensive bed-and-breakfast. They still have got 41 bed-and-breakfasts listed for example in Trip Advisor, or stay in a hotel – there’s a variety ranging from one star up to five stars. You’re looking at the large modern youth hostel.

It’s got private rooms, group rooms and they rent tents, with a real popular bar in the basement open to everybody. On Trip Advisor they list 25 different hotels in Interlaken, so you can see there is a big range of choice and it’s really one of the main reasons for staying here so that you can have a decent hotel and great access to the mountains. We’re having a lovely breakfast at our Hotel Carlton which I can highly recommend. It’s located down towards the East train station which is very convenient for getting the mountain railroads up to the Jungfrau and into Lauterbrunnen Valley, and you can walk to the town center in about 10 minutes.

And when it’s time to go, as we are doing now, you just walk over to the train station. It takes a couple minutes and get right on, and catch the train on to your next destination. It’s so easy and scenic to get around Switzerland by train.