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In a nation of charming chalets and villages, Interlaken still manages to stand out with its unique setting. It sits between the aquamarine waters of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, and has views of some of the highest mountains in the Alps. The town is ideal for exploring Switzerland's scenic Bernese Oberland – take a cable car for jaw-dropping panoramas. It's mainly known for its outdoor sports, such as hiking and mountain biking. There's no shortage of adrenaline-fuelled activities either, including paragliding and rock climbing.
When it comes to choosing where to stay, the top Interlaken hostels are, first and foremost, hikers' hubs with tons of information on the top treks in the area. Some have river or lake views, while others put on all-you-can-eat continental breakfasts. If you're after a traditionally Swiss experience, choose an Interlaken hostel in an alpine lodge or inside a chateau-esque building. You can also find hostels in Interlaken with an outdoor terrace, a barbecue and even a hot tub – bliss after a long trek – while others offer kayaks and bike rental.
Interlaken is compact, so the whole town – a pretty collection of pastel-coloured buildings – is easy to get around by foot. In the central area you'll be mere metres away from small shops selling essentials (think Swiss cheese and chocolate) and the top tips from the knowledgeable staff at the information office. There are also several small villages on the outskirts, like Iseltwald.
There's plenty to do here, whether you want to take to the water, fly through the skies or stay on solid ground. The 2.5-hour trek up to Harder Kulm, starting from right by Interlaken Ost train station, is a worthy hike for views down over the two lakes. You can also take the funicular (to save your legs). For more high-energy activities, there's skydiving, paragliding and even bungeeing out of a gondola. On the rushing waterways, canyoning and rafting trips are popular.
You can rent a car to travel around Interlaken and its many outlying villages and mountain ranges. Many sights are also easy to get to by train, like Grindelwald with its views of the Eiger mountain's famous north face, a 33-minute journey from Interlaken Ost. The nearest airport to the town is Bern Belp, an hour and 20 minutes' drive away. The city of Bern is an hour away by train.