After hearing wonderful things, Interlaken has been top on my list of places to visit while in Switzerland. Our only fear was that it would be packed with tourists this time of year. In anticipation of this, we decided to spend just half a day there and then head to nearby Adelboden. Since we only had a morning in Interlaken, we settled on one of the highlights– riding the panorama funicular up Harder Kulm mountain for the best view of the two lakes.
How to get to Interlaken
Interlaken is the largest town in the Bernese Oberland region and from Basel the drive is a little under two hours. You can also take the train for just a tad bit longer. But if you want to explore the small towns outside of Interlaken, a car is essential. After an extremely scenic drive, we arrived to Interlaken just after noon. The first thing we did was walk around, admiring the snow-capped Alps and watching paragliders descend from the sky. Someday I would love to try paragliding in a place like Interlaken! A paraglider’s view of the mountains, lakes, and town in between them must be unparalleled.
History of Interlaken
Interlaken has been a popular tourist destination since the early 1800s when people would come for the mountain air and spas. The completion of the Bernese Oberland Railway in 1890 and the Jungfrau Railway in 1912 caused the town to really take off. Today, luxurious 19th century hotels like the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa and the Lindner Grandhotel Beau Rivage still offer guests the best of Swiss luxury.
The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Click here for current prices.
The Lindner Grandhotel Beau Rivage. Click here for current prices.
For more places to stay in Interlaken for all budgets, check out this awesome post.
Riding the Funicular up Harder Kulm Mountain
After grabbing a bite to eat at the Hotel Interlaken, we set off for Harder Kulm, Interlaken’s local mountain. At 1322 meters (4337 feet) above sea level, the Harder Kulm offers the best views of Interlaken as well as the three mammoth mountains of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
A ride on the panorama funicular will set you back 32 francs (32 USD) but it only takes 10 minutes to reach the top. Otherwise, it’s about a two and a half hour hike. We would’ve liked to have done the hike but since we were on a tight time frame we opted for the easy way up.
Lake Thun and Lake Brienz
Upon exiting the funicular, I was immediately struck by the brilliant blue color of the lakes. The turquoise and emerald hues of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are so vivid they almost don’t look natural. I had never seen that exact shade of blue before, not even in the tropics. I later learned the color results from glacial particles that reflect the blue-green sector of the light spectrum. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy when we were there but luckily the sun came out briefly, illuminating the icy blue water.
The suspended lookout boasts the best view. From it, you can see both lakes, all of Interlaken, and the Alpine triumvirate of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. This is the place to take your selfies, panoramas, and tourist photos. Surprisingly enough, Harder Klum was not packed with tourists and we were able to get all the shots we wanted. Perhaps the predicted thunderstorms scared people away but we were glad we didn’t let the forecasted weather deter us!
After taking loads of photos, we sat for a drink at the Harder Kulm Panoramic Restaurant. Although it’s a tourist trap, we really enjoyed sipping on our drinks with such an incredible view.
After about an hour at the top, it started to rain and so we headed back down the mountain. The rain was almost a blessing because it forced us to abandon the gorgeous vista and forge onto our next destination, the Alpine village of Adelboden. Read about our night at The Cambrian Hotel & Spa in Adelboden here.
For a 2-day itinerary of our weekend in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, including Adelboden and the glam resort town of Gstaad, click here.
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