Hostelworld Guide for Interlaken

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Buried deep in the Swiss Alps, and nestled neatly in between two lakes, Interlaken is a tale of two cities. First there's Interlaken in the winter, quieter than the summer months but one of the best places in Europe to engage in adrenalin-pumping outdoor winter sports. Then there's Interlaken in the summer, a livelier city with even more outdoor sports and some great hiking. If you're not the outdoorsy type, don't fret. Thanks to the surrounding mountains and lakes, it's worth visiting for the scenery alone.




 

 

In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop






 The Essentials


 Climate


Getting There

By plane: Interlaken doesn't have an airport. The nearest airports are Zurich which is 2 hours 20 minutes away by train, and Geneva which is 3 hours away by train.

By train: Interlaken has two train stations - Interlaken West and Interlaken Ost. Both have excellent connections with the rest of Switzerland and some German cities also. West is the most central of the two.

By bus: If you travel to Interlaken by bus, your journey will end at one of the city's train stations.

Getting Around

On foot: Interlaken is a very small city and is easy to walk around. Covering the city in its entirety is easily achievable.

By bus: There is a bus service operating in Interlaken, although the only time you will need to use it is to visit nearby Lake Brienz at the small town of Bonigen.

By taxi: During the winter months it can get quite cold, in which case you'll be able to flag down a taxi if you can't face walking.

 Interlaken facts

Name: Interlaken used to be known as Aarmühle until the late 19th century.

Location: The town is located between Lake Brienz and Lake Thune in the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland.

Population: The population of Interlaken is approximately 5,500 people.


Interlaken's climate is sub-alpine yet mild. This is largely due to the surrounding glaciers and forests. Winters are cold and the city sees lots of snowfall. In summers though, temperatures occasionally reach 20°C.

climatechart

 Good to know...

Language: Swiss-German, French, English
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
Electricity: 230 Volts, 50 cycles
Telephone Code: +41 (Switzerland), 033 (Interlaken)
Emergency Codes: Ambulance 144 / Fire 118 / Police 117
Time Zone: GMT + 1
Central Post Office: Corner of Bahnhofstrasse and Marktgrasse
Main Tourist Office: Höheweg 37

Embassies / Consulate Generals

USA: +41 (0)31 357 7011*
UK: +41 (0)31 359 7700*
Canada: +41 (0)31 357 3200*
Australia: +41 (0)22 799 9100**
South Africa: +41 (0)31 350 1313*
Ireland: +41 (0)31 352 1442*
Germany: +41 (0)31 359 4111*
Spain: +41 (0)31 350 5252*
Italy: +41 (0)31 350 0777*
New Zealand: +41 (0)22 929 0350**
France: +41 (0)31 359 2111*

* Embassy in Bern
** Consulate General in Geneva
*** Consulate General in Zurich

 
Hostelworld Guide for Interlaken www.hostelworld.com

 Cheap Eats


 After Dark


Bebbi's, Bahnhofstrasse 16 Once the man 'Bebbi' himself is there, no meal in his restaurant is a boring one. A bit of a character, he is very accommodating and can alter any dish in any way. On the menu you have everything ranging from salad sandwiches to chicken schnitzels to choose from. Open daily from 10.30am-11pm.

Pizpaz, Centralstrasse 1 Unmissable thanks to the fairy lights in the window and the elaborate sign over the door, Pizpaz is one of Interlaken's better Italian restaurants. Pizzas, pastas and meat dishes are all on the menu. They also cater for those with slightly smaller appetites, offering pizzas in small or medium sizes. Open daily from 11.30am-10pm.

 DIY dinner

Fondue, various locations No trip to Switzerland is complete without trying a 'fondue'. This is a communal dish served in a pot over a small burner. There are different types of fondue, the most popular being cheese. Those eating the fondue dip different things (on most occasions bread) into the pot. Simple! Chalet Oberland (Postgasse 1) is a good place to try it, while the aforementioned Bebbi's is the only place in town where you can try chocolate fondue.

Michel, cnr Scheidgasse & Hauptstrasse This is a dainty little bakery that is just perfect for lunch. While it caters mainly for those guilty of possessing a sweet tooth, they have a small selection of sandwiches too. Open 6am-6.30pm Mon-Fri, to 4pm Sat, closed Sun.

Sandwich Bar, Rosenstrasse 5 The people here take sandwich-making seriously. On their menu they even explain where the word 'sandwich' derives from. Prices are extremely reasonable and they have a wide variety of fillings to choose from. Open Mon-Fri 7.30am-7pm, Sat 8am-5pm, closed Sun.


Brasserie 17, Rosenstrasse 17 Brasserie 17 is a place in Interlaken that epitomises the 'pub' atmosphere. It's smoky, there are locals drinking at the counter on their own, and there are others chatting to the bar staff. The best place to relax and chat over a beer, they treat their patrons to live music every Thursday night. Open Mon-Sat 8.30am-12.30am, Sun 5pm-12.30am.

Positiv Einfach, Centralstrasse 11 In the mood for a cocktail or two? Look no further...Positiv Einfach serves the best mojitos, pina coladas and Harvey Wallbangers in town. It's a small bar but the cocktail menu is big, and they sometimes have live music at weekends. Open daily from 10am-12.30am.

Riverside Bar, Marktgrasse 59 Enjoying a picturesque location along the banks of Interlaken's River Aare, Riverside Bar is famous for two things - rum cocktails and Rugen Beer. It is particularly popular during the summer months. Open Mon-Sat 8.30am-12.30am, Sun 5pm-12.30am.

 Balmers' backpacker bar

Metro Bar, Hauptstrasee 23 Next door to Balmers Herberge, Metro Bar is undoubtedly the city's most happening place. Not only attracting backpackers from the adjoining hostel, this is where all the cool kids from Interlaken come to let their hair down at weekends. The DJ keeps everybody happy, playing grunge, hip hop, house music and more. Open Wed-Sun 9pm-2.30am.

Club Caverne, Hauptstrasse 36 The other club in town, Club Caverne isn't as popular as Metro. In saying that, if you're in Interlaken for a number of days it may be worth checking out if you're looking for a change of scenery or if you fancy playing some table sports - they have a foosball table at the back. Open Wed-Sun from 10.30pm-2.30am.


 Don't Miss


 Budget Tips


Skiing / snowboarding One dates back almost 5,000 years, the other to the 1960s. When visting during the ski-season, either has to be tried. If you only have a day to spare, opt for skiing - you won't fall over as much. If you relish a challenge though, try snowboarding - it's that little bit more difficult. If relentless falling over dampens your mood, the views of the alps will surely cheer you up.

 There's only one way down

Skydiving Thanks to two lakes and surrounding snow-capped mountains, Interlaken is one of the most spectacular places in Europe to jump out of a plane while strapped to another person. Here you can jump at 15,000ft, giving you 55 seconds of freefall and a whole lot of adrenalin.

Night sledding It's hard to think of a better way to spend a night in Interlaken than under the stars, hurtling down the side of a mountain on a sled, using only the contrast between the snow and the forest as an indication of whether you're on the track or not. This tour/activity ends with a cheese fondue in a chalet at the end of the track.

Canyoning / white-water rafting Lovers of water visiting during summer months will love either of these adrenalin sports. The former involves sliding down waterfalls and swimming through hidden pools. The latter is fairly explanatory. Interlaken offers the best of both sports in Europe.

Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe) If you've got money to burn but don't fancy spending it on jumping out of planes or over waterfalls, you may choose to hop on a train to Jungfraubahn, Europe's highest train station at Jungfraujoch. Check local times; return tickets from 181.80CHF

To book activities visit www.hostelworld.com/tours and click on 'Switzerland tours'.


Pick up an Interlaken Visitor's Card Available from all hostels, the Interlaken Visitor's Card is an integral part of anybody's trip to the Swiss city. Not only does it entitle you to free transport on Interlaken's bus network (which includes the journey to Bonigen where Lake Brienz is located), with it you can embark on a guided walk for free as well receive discounts at many attractions.

Buy a 'Jungfrau Region Sport Pass' To get to surrounding resorts such as Wengen can cost you up to CHF60 return. But buying a 'Jungfrau Region Sport Pass' will cost just CHF6 more and not only will you be able to visit the one resort, upon your return to Interlaken, the ticket will also entitle you to transport within the region for the rest of the day.

 Truly breathtaking

Visit Lake Brienz Overlooked by Mt Faulhorn and Mt Rothorn, your first visit to Lake Brienz will leave you breathless. Thanks to wooded slopes which surround the lake, it is extremely picturesque. The lake itself is 9 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and is regarded as the cleanest lake in Switzerland. The bus journey there is free thanks to the Interlaken Visitor's Card.

Go hiking for the day Surrounding Interlaken are some of Switzerland's best hiking trails. You need to drive to some of the trails but one, the Harder Kulm, can be started on foot from the city. Once you reach the end of the trail you are treated to a bird's-eye view of the entire Jungfrau Region.

Rent a mountain bike for the day If you want to see as much of the region as possible but don't want to spend too much time on public transport, or too much money on rail travel (it can get expensive in Switzerland) rent a bike for the day. Starting at around CHF35 for the day, you'll get to see lots in a day.

 
Hostelworld Guide for Interlaken www.hostelworld.com