How to Spend 2 Days in Istanbul

two days in instanbul itinerary topkapi palace

Istanbul: The City where East meets West

For years now I’ve been dying to go to Istanbul, the city where East meets West. Its cultural heritage spans from an ancient Greek civilization through Persian, Greek, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires to the modern nation-state. This convergence of civilizations has shaped Istanbul into one of the world’s most culturally rich cities and I was eager to experience it first-hand. Although we only had one weekend to explore Istanbul, we were able to see most of the city’s highlights with the help of our Turkish friend. If you only have two days in Istanbul and want to make the best of your time there, this guide is for you…

hagia sophia two days in instanbul itinerary

Getting to Istanbul

Istanbul has two airports, the Ataturk Airport on the European side of the city and the Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the Asian side of the city. Though we were staying on the European side (where the main tourist attractions are), we flew into Sabiha Gokcen Airport because the tickets were much cheaper. The only downside was the long cab ride to our hotel which took over an hour in traffic. Weigh the pros and cons before choosing which airport to fly into.

DwD Tip: Before going, make sure to check whether or not your country requires a visa to visit Turkey. For Americans, a visa is required but it’s just a matter of paying $30 upon arrival.

airport map two days in instanbul itinerary

How to Spend 2 Days (and 2 nights) in Istanbul

Night 1:

Check in to hotel

If you want to stay somewhere special while in Istanbul, choose a hotel along the beautiful Bosphorus Strait. With the recent turndown in tourism, hotels are cheaper than ever and rooms that normally would’ve been out of our price range were surprisingly affordable.

We stayed at the Shangri-La Bosphorus largely because of its great location and view of the Bosphorus. The Shangri-La is conveniently located in the financial and entertainment district of Besiktas. This was the perfect area for us because it’s very close to the trendy neighborhood of Bebek and only a tram ride away to the historic Old City.

*Click here to see current prices at the Shangri-La Bosphorus.

Shangri-La Bosphorus hotel two days in instanbul itinerary

Luxe lobby of the Shangri-La Bosphorus

Experience the city’s nightlife in Bebek

Begin your night with dinner at Lucca, a local hotspot in the hip neighborhood of Bebek. The cool thing about Lucca is it’s a cafe by day and one of the hottest bars in Istanbul by night. Around midnight the last plates are cleared and the party starts. The music is fantastic with a DJ who has everyone singing and dancing. It’s the perfect way to kick off your trip and dive straight into the local culture.

lucca cafe and bar two days in instanbul itinerary

Day 1 Itinerary:

  • Blue Mosque
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Topkapi Palace

Touring the Old City

The Blue Mosque

The beautiful Blue Mosque is an absolute must-do while in Istanbul. Today, the Blue Mosque still functions as a place of worship and Muslims from around the world come here to pray. I was struck by the serenity and beauty of this grand mosque. I especially loved the stained glass windows and immense, intricately tiled domes.

two days in instanbul itinerary blue mosque

DwD Tip: When visiting mosques in Istanbul make sure to dress somewhat conservatively out of respect. The Blue Mosque asks that both men and women cover their legs and shoulders and that women cover their hair. However, a long robe and an attached headscarf are provided for those who, like me, did not bring their own. Also, all visitors must take off their shoes upon entrance in keeping with Islamic tradition. 

istanbul blue mosque two days in instanbul itinerary

Admiring the mosque’s stained glass windows in the robe and head scarf provided for visitors

istanbul blue mosque two days in instanbul itinerary

two days in instanbul itinerary blue mosque

Photo of the Blue Mosque taken from a window in the Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Directly across from the Blue Mosque is the great Hagia Sophia. The history of Hagia Sophia (whose name means “holy wisdom” in Greek) is extremely interesting and reflects the many drastic changes Istanbul has undergone over the last millennia. If you have some time, read up on it! If not, here’s the short version: Built in 537 by a Byzantine emperor, it served as the focal point of the Greek Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years. In 1453, the city was conquered by the Ottomans and it was converted into a mosque. Then in 1935, Ataturk, the first Turkish President and founder of the Republic of Turkey, transformed the it into a museum.

hagia sophia two days in instanbul itinerary

Today, Arabic calligraphic panes hang next to 6th century murals of Mary, Christ, and the Saints, resulting in a fascinating confluence of Christian and Islamic iconography. Although it’s currently undergoing extensive repairs, don’t let this deter you from visiting. Standing under Hagia Sophia’s 55 meter dome is a humbling experience unlike any other.

hagia sophia two days in instanbul itinerary

Topkapi Palace

Our final site for the day was Topkapi Palace, the residence of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years. Perched on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn, Topkapi Palace was strategically built to have the best view of the Bosphorus and surrounding city. Allow some time here because there are four courtyards, a harem, mosques, a hospital, bakeries, a mint, and beautiful gardens to see. There are also several museums where you will find elaborate Ottoman weaponry, an extensive collection of Japanese, Chinese, and European porcelain, and many other imperial treasures.

topkapi palace two days in instanbul itinerary

Entrance to the palace

topkapi palace two days in instanbul itinerary

For a blue and white lover like me, Topkapi Palace was a dream. The palace is covered in blue and white Iznik tiles with the most beautiful designs and I left with major design inspiration!

We visited Topkapi  in late afternoon and stayed until sunset. At golden hour, the palace was bathed in the most magnificent light, illuminating its tiled walls and the city below. Watching the sunset from the palace balcony, I couldn’t help but feel like an Ottoman princess. 😀

Night 2:

Dinner at Sunset

Saturday night have dinner at Sunset Grill & Bar in the posh neighborhood of Ulus. This classy restaurant sits on a hill with a fantastic view of the Bosphorus. In addition to Turkish dishes, Sunset serves international and Japanese cuisine and everything is delicious.

sunset restaurant two days in instanbul itinerary

Day 2 Itinerary: 

  • Brunch along the Bosphorus 
  • Dolmabahce Palace
  • Spice Bazaar
  • The Golden Horn
  • Galata Tower

Brunch along the Bosphorus 

Begin your second day in Istanbul with brunch at Lokma, a local favorite along the Bosphorus. Request a window table in order to enjoy the view. Then settle in for a knock-your-socks-off traditional Turkish breakfast. Feast on countless varieties of cheese, eggs, savory Turkish pastries, fresh vegetables and juices. Make sure to try simit (the Turkish equivalent to a bagel) with honey, kaymak (Turkish clotted cream), and jam. I could eat that all day!

two days in instanbul itinerary bosphorus

View of the Bosphorus from our table

Dolmabahce Palace

After a stroll along the Bosphorus, set off for Dolmabahce Palace. In 1856, the Ottomans abandoned Topkaki for Dolmabahce, a palace modeled after the great palaces of Europe. Dolmabahce is a clear example of the confluence of East and West in Istanbul. While the palace contains Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical elements, it also retains elements of traditional Ottoman palace life such as having separate living quarters for the men and women.

Dolmabahce Palace two days in instanbul itinerary

Dolmabahce Palace two days in instanbul itinerary

One of the palace’s ornate gates to the Bosphorus

Both Topkaki and Dolmabahce Palace are worth seeing because they are completely different stylistically and reflect very different eras. With 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths, and 68 toilets, Dolmabahce is extravagance personified. In fact, the exorbitant expense incurred by its construction contributed to the deteriorating financial situation of the Ottoman Empire and eventually its demise.

Dolmabahce Palace two days in instanbul itinerary

You’re not allowed to take photos in the palace but I managed to snag a few 😉 But to get a real sense of the opulence of this palace you must see it for yourself!

Dolmabahce Palace two days in instanbul itinerary

The Ceremonial Hall with a 36 m (118 ft) high dome and a chandelier weighing 4.5 tons!!

Spice Bazaar

From Dolmabahce, hop on the tram and head to the famous Spice Bazaar in the Old City. The Spice Market was once the last stop for the camel caravans that travelled the Silk Road from China. Stepping into the covered market, you’ll feel as though you’ve walked into Ottoman-era Istanbul. There are hundreds of vendors selling fragrant, vividly colored spices alongside countless varieties of lokum, or Turkish Delight, and dried fruits. 

two days in instanbul itinerary spice market

Warning: The Spice Bazaar can be a bit overwhelming with countless vendors competing for your attention.

two days in instanbul itinerary spice market

DwD Tip: The vendors are happy to give you a pinch of their spices or a piece of lokum so don’t be shy to ask! 

two days in instanbul itinerary spice market

The Spice Bazaar is the perfect place to pick up treats for your friends and family.

two days in instanbul itinerary spice market

two days in instanbul itinerary turkish towel shop

I bought two bright-colored Turkish towels here which I absolutely love.

The Golden Horn

From the Spice Market, walk along the Golden Horn, the primary inlet of the Bosphorus. In the early evening, the docks are teeming with activity. Stop for a few minutes to watch the fisherman and enjoy the warm, salty air. Afterwards, make your way across Galata Bridge to Galata Tower.

two days in instanbul itinerary fishing golden horn

Galata Tower

Built by a Byzantine emperor in 528, Galata Tower is one of the oldest surviving towers in the world. Over the years, the tower has served many purposes and has witnessed even more changes. Originally built as a lighthouse, the tower later became a military stronghold, an astronomical observation point, and prison. An early aviator even used it as his launching pad to fly over the Bosphorus! Today, Galata Tower offers visitors a spectacular 360 degree view of the city and is definitely a tourist trap worth going to. To grasp Istanbul’s immense size and beauty, you really must see it from the sky.

two days in instanbul itinerary galata tower

Hope you enjoyed this two-day Istanbul itinerary! If you found it useful, please let me know in the comments below!

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Where to eat (and drink!) in Basel

When Julian and I moved to Basel, we found ourselves faced with a plethora of dining options. The only problem was, it was a bit of a struggle figuring out where to go. In Switzerland, eating out is outrageously expensive so we wanted to make sure that when we did eat out, it was worth the price. It took us several months to find those special places that we kept returning to time and time again. Now I want to pass our carefully curated list of where to eat and drink in Basel including our favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and bars to you!

Best Coffee Shops in Basel

Kaffe 1777– This cafe is tucked away in a beautiful cobblestoned courtyard right off of the city square. When the weather is nice, it’s the perfect place to work outdoors. They model themselves after the Viennese coffee houses and and make a killer cappuccino. Bonus: Kaffe 1777 is attached to a lovely library so if the weather turns or it gets too busy, you can easily take refuge there. Extra bonus: On many days, you’ll hear the sounds of a nearby orchestra practicing.

where to eat in basel kaffe 1777 basel

Mitte– Located in what was once the Swiss National Bank, Mitte is a spacious establishment where you can hang out, work, have lunch and get coffee. But don’t feel obligated to buy anything, Mitte is a nonprofit with a mission to support the local community and culture so they are happy for you to just enjoy the space. They take their coffee seriously and make one of the best cappuccinos I’ve ever had.

where to eat in basel mitte cafe

Where to Eat in Basel

Best Brunch in Basel

Les Garecons– It took us a while to find a good brunch place that didn’t break the bank. But once we tried Les Garecons we knew we’d discovered our new go-to brunch spot. Located in in the Badischer Bahnhoff railway station, they have everything you could want, from inventive egg dishes to waffles, meat and cheese plates, and fresh juices.

where to eat in basel les garecons restaurant

Zum Kuss When it’s too beautiful to be indoors, head to Zum Kuss. It’s located on a charming little park and you can sit outside and enjoy their mouth-watering cakes in the sunshine.  

where to eat in basel zum kuss

Best Lunch Spots in Basel

Kaffe 1777– In addition to being an ideal work spot, Kaffe 1777 is also one of my favorite places for lunch. Their build-your-own baguette and salad menus are full of yummy options. All of the ingredients are fresh and local and their bread is to die for. Don’t skip their iced tea!

where to eat in basel kaffe 1777

Kombüse– In the summer, Kombuse opens as part of the Mitte establishment (see photo above). They serve regional, seasonal and organic lunches such as paninis, pizza, salads and a special of the day. Sit outside and people watch as you enjoy your lunch. Get there early or you’ll miss out!

Piadina Stand– Every weekday Marktplatz (the city square) is transformed into a market full of fresh produce, flowers, meats and cheeses, and food stands. Piadina is one of these stands. They serve up their namesake, Piadina, a thin Italian flatbread with cheese, meat and vegetables. A prosciutto Piadina (my favorite) will run you about $15 but that’s about the cheapest lunch you’ll find in Basel.

where to eat in basel marktplatz piadina

The Piadina stand in Marktplatz

Zum Schmale Wurf– Go here to enjoy the view of the Rhine on a nice day. They serve delicious pastas and salads on a pleasant terrace.

where to eat in basel rhine bicycles

Noohn– If you’re craving Asian, Noohn is the place for you. Noohn is a swanky, beautifully designed space with a bar, lounge, sushi bar, restaurant garden, and a roof terrace. They have a large selection of Asian fusion dishes, from sushi to flavorful curries, and their portions are generous. It also makes for a quick lunch as you pick up your food as soon as it’s ready.

noohn restaurant where to eat in basel

Best Dinner Restaurants in Basel

Cheval Blanc– Dining at this three-Michelin-star restaurant in the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois was such an incredible culinary experience, I wrote a whole post on it! Cheval Blanc is one of my all-time favorite restaurants but it should definitely be reserved for special occasions.

cheval blanc Les Trois Rois where to eat in basel

La Brasserie – Also located in Les Trois Rois, La Brasserie is a little more low-key than Cheval Blanc but still a fine dining experience. This romantic restaurant offers incredible dishes and a view of the Rhine at night. Their pork dish is simply sublime.

Les Trois Rois la brasserie where to eat in basel

Walliser Kanne Our local friend took us here promising the best Wiener Schnitzel in Switzerland and this traditional Swiss restaurant certainly delivered. FYI their Wiener Schnitzel is absolutely enormous so I’d recommend splitting with a friend.

walliser kanne wiener schnitzel where to eat in basel

Krafft Basel – On summer nights, Krafft is the most popular restaurant along the Rhine. With their perfectly cooked filets, flavorful pasta, and extensive wine list, it’s easy to see why. Their large terrace also offers fantastic people watching on the promenade and a breathtaking view of the river.

krafft restaurant where to eat in basel

Acqua– This trendy Italian restaurant in a renovated old water plant is the place to see and be seen in Basel. The rustic brick walls, opulent chandeliers, and slick modern furnitures create a posh and romantic space and the food does not disappoint.

acqua restaurant where to eat in basel

Bon Vivant – The concept of Bon Vivant is simple: a constantly changing daily menu prepared in an open kitchen using the region’s best seasonal ingredients. Take a date here or go with friends and sit back and relax. Word of advice: Go with the recommended wine pairings, you won’t regret it.

bon vivant restaurant where to eat in basel

Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen This restaurant is located in a completely intact 13th century castle just outside of Basel. It’s an intimate, upscale restaurant serving inspired French cuisine. Go here on a date because what’s more romantic than dining in a castle??

bottmingen castle switzerland where to eat in basel

Where to Drink in Basel

Best Bars in Basel

Werk 8– Located in an old machine factory, this hip restaurant and bar is a great place to bring a big group. The bartenders are true experts at their craft and they mix up the best cocktails in town. Go for sunset and climb the old factory stairs up, up, up for an awesome view of the city. The food is also really good.

werk 8 bar where to drink in basel

Sandoase– As a beach girl, I was a bit skeptical of a tropical beach bar in Basel but it totally works! At Sandoase, enjoy the chill vibes with a drink in your hand and your feet in the sand. You’ll immediately feel transported to the tropics.

sandoase where to drink in basel

Landestelle– This open-air restaurant and bar is Basel’s happening spot in the summer. Located in the industrial part of the city, it’s off of the main thoroughfare but well worth the trek. Food and beer are served in little wooden sheds by the river and the vibe is hip and relaxed. Get the regional plate full of fresh local veggies, hummus and meat to share with a friend and leave feeling happy and satisfied.

landestelle where to drink in basel

Buvettes along the Rhine The buvettes, or refreshment stalls, open up for the summer season to serve Baselers enjoying the Rhine. They always have a few local beers on tap and some serve bar food such as burgers and fries. A word of warning, the lines can get very long when the weather is nice so we soon learned to BYOB!

Flora Buvette where to drink in basel

Check out my top 10 things to do in Basel here!

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where to eat and drink in basel

where to eat and drink in basel

If you found this guide helpful or have something to add, I’d love to hear from you!

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Bernese Oberland Weekend Itinerary

Saturday morning, Julian and I set off bright and early for a weekend of exploring the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss AlpsThe Berner Oberland (“oberland” means highlands in German) is the higher part of the canton of Bern, Switzerland. While you may not have heard of the Bernese Oberland before, I bet you have heard of Interlaken. Visiting the famous lake town of Interlaken was high on our list of must-dos while living in Switzerland. While in the area, we decided to check out the neighboring Alpine village of Adelboden and the glam resort town of Gstaad as well. Below you’ll find our 2-day itinerary in this breathtaking region.

Bernese Oberland Itinerary:

Day 1- Intlerlaken & Adelboden

Day 2- Gstaad & Feutersoey

Day 1

Interlaken

Interlaken is a traditional resort town known for its emerald-colored lakes and numerous hiking and skiing trailsFrom Basel (our home for five months), 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.  

interlaken paraglide Bernese Oberland Itinerary

interlaken Bernese Oberland Itinerary

Snow-capped Alps blending into the clouds

History of Interlaken

Interlaken has been a popular tourist destination since the early 1800s when people would come for the fresh 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 interlaken Bernese Oberland Itinerary

The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Click here for current prices.

Lindner Grandhotel Beau Rivage interlaken Bernese Oberland Itinerary

The Lindner Grandhotel Beau Rivage. Click here for current prices.

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, 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 preferred to hike but since we were on a tight time frame we opted for the easy way up.

harder kulm interlaken funicular Bernese Oberland Itinerary

harder kulm interlaken Bernese Oberland Itinerary

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.  

harder kulm interlaken Bernese Oberland Itinerary

The suspended lookout boasts the best view. From it, you can see both lakes and the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. This is the place to take your selfies, panoramas, and 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!

harder kulm interlaken lookout bridge Bernese Oberland Itinerary

harder kulm interlaken panorama Bernese Oberland Itinerary

harder kulm interlaken Bernese Oberland Itinerary

After taking loads of photos, we sat for a drink at the Harder Kulm Panoramic Restaurant. Although it’s a tourist trap, we enjoyed sipping on our drinks with such an incredible view.

harder kulm Bernese Oberland Itinerary

gstaad Bernese Oberland Itinerary

After about an hour at the top, we headed back down the mountain to our next destination.

Adelboden

By car, Adelboden is less than a hour from Interlaken. We left Interlaken mid-afternoon and had a few hours to explore before sun down.

adelboden Bernese Oberland Itinerary

The Cambrian Hotel & Spa

When planning a trip, I usually decide on the destination and then find accommodations. In this case, however, it was the reverse. We’d been having some difficulty finding a reasonably priced place to stay in Interlaken so we expanded our search to the surrounding area. As soon as we discovered The Cambrian, we knew we’d found our hotel.

cambrian hotel adelboden Bernese Oberland Itinerary

The Cambrian is one of the only design hotels in the Swiss Alps and it was built to showcase the natural beauty surrounding it. We later learned Adelboden has much to offer and were so glad The Cambrian led us to this charming village.

the cambrian hotel adelboden Bernese Oberland Itinerary

cambrian hotel adelboden Bernese Oberland Itinerary

View from our room

*Click here for availability and current prices at The Cambrian. For a four-star Swiss design hotel, the prices are quite reasonable!

Engstligen Falls

While Adelboden does not have any lakes, it does have some amazing waterfalls. We were determined to see the Engstligen Falls, the second highest waterfalls in Switzerland, before nightfall. After a ten minute drive from the hotel and a short hike, we had arrived.

Engstligen Falls drone Bernese Oberland Itinerary

From a long way off, you can see the 600 meter (1969 feet) falls. But it’s not until you’re right underneath them that you truly grasp their immense size and force. Next to the thunderous falls and towering rocks, I felt very small. For a long while I stood on the bridge over the base of the falls in awe of their power.
Engstligen Falls Bernese Oberland Itinerary

Unfortunately, we were too late to take the cable car to the top of the falls. However, with Julian’s drone we were able to get the same perspective of the raging falls, expansive meadowlands, and dense pine forest below. Once the sun began to set, we knew it was time to head back. 

drone adelboden Engstligen Falls Bernese Oberland Itinerary

drone adelboden

drone Engstligen Falls Bernese Oberland Itinerary

Until Next Time…

Back at our hotel we enjoyed a delicious, fresh dinner at The Cambrian’s restaurantIf we’d had more time, I would’ve loved to have taken greater advantage of The Cambrian’s amenities. I was dying to take a dip in its gorgeous infinity pool and enjoy the spa. But I guess that’ll just have to wait until next time 🙂

the cambrian hotel switzerland Bernese Oberland Itinerary

This will be me on my next visit! Photo courtesy of The Cambrian

Day 2

Feutersoey

Sunday morning, Julian and I woke up early to visit our friend Linda at her home in the Swiss Alps. Linda grew up in the village of Feutersoey in the mountains outside of Gstaad. Her family owns a dairy farm there, making Linda a real-life cowgirl. If you’d like to read about our morning spent learning how to make cheese, having a farm-to-table lunch in a traditional Swiss chalet, and hiking Gumm mountain, click here!

gumm mountain swiss alps aerial drone chalet Bernese Oberland Itinerary

Linda’s family’s chalet

Bernese Oberland Itinerary alps

Linda and I hiking Gumm mountain

Gstaad is two hours from Adelboden and it’s well worth the trip. But before visiting Gstaad, I’d recommend hiking the magnificent mountains outside of the town.  You’ll enjoy views such as these and get a glimpse of life in the Swiss Alps. And if you’re lucky, you’ll come across local wildlife such as mountain goats and marmots (small animals similar to a groundhog).

gumm mountain swiss alps Bernese Oberland Itinerary

Traditional Alpine chalets dotting the lush, green mountains

gumm mountain swiss alps cows dog Bernese Oberland Itinerary

 

Gstaad — Ski Resort of the Rich & Famous 

Since the 60s, Gstaad has been an exclusive ski destination for the rich and famous. Madonna, Kofi Annan, Valentino, Prince Charles and Princess Diana are just a few who have frequented Gstaad over the years. Today, Gstaad is more popular than ever among international jetsetters and it’s easy to see why. In Gstaad, we walked through the charming streets and browsed the high-end boutiques. I couldn’t get over the fact that the banks, restaurants, and stores are all housed in the most adorable chalets. 

gstaad palace hotel Bernese Oberland Itinerary

gstaad louis vuitton chalet Bernese Oberland Itinerary

gstaad church Bernese Oberland Itinerary

While we managed to see quite a lot during our weekend in the Bernese Oberland, there’s still much we didn’t see. In the future, I’d love to visit the hikers’ paradise of Grindelwald, the wood carving town of Brienz, and take a train to the top of JungfrauBut I leave eager to return one day to explore more of this exquisite region of Switzerland.

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Have you been to the Bernese Oberland or any other parts of Switzerland?? Let me know in the comments!

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A night in Adelboden at The Cambrian

the cambrian hotel adelboden

When planning a trip, I usually decide on the destination and then find accommodations. For our weekend getaway to the Swiss Alps, however, it was the reverse. We’d been having some difficulty finding a reasonably priced place to stay in Interlaken so we expanded our search to the surrounding area. As soon as we discovered The Cambrian, we knew we’d found our hotel.

The Cambrian Hotel

The Cambrian is one of the only design hotels in the Swiss Alps and it was built to showcase the natural beauty surrounding it. We later learned Adelboden has much to offer and were so glad The Cambrian led us to this charming Alpine village.

cambrian hotel adelboden

cambrian hotel adelboden

View from our room

*Click here for availability and current prices at The Cambrian. For a four-star Swiss design hotel, the prices are quite reasonable!

Interlaken & Adelboden in a day

By car, Adelboden is less than a hour from Interlaken. If you have limited time, it’s definitely possible to see both Interlaken and Adelboden in one day. We set off from Basel early Saturday morning and were in Interlaken by mid-day. Read about our afternoon in Interlaken here. We then left Interlaken mid-afternoon and had a few hours to explore Adelboden before sun down.

adelboden

The town of Adelboden

Engstligen Falls

While Adelboden does not have any lakes, it does have some amazing waterfalls. We were determined to see the Engstligen Falls, the second highest waterfalls in Switzerland, before nightfall. After a ten minute drive from the hotel and a short hike, we had arrived.

Engstligen Falls drone

From a long way off, you can see the 600 meter (1969 feet) falls. But it’s not until you’re right underneath them that you truly grasp their immense size and force. Next to the thunderous falls and towering rocks, I felt very small. For a long while I stood on the bridge over the base of the falls in awe of their power.

Engstligen Falls

Unfortunately, we were too late to take the cable car to the top of the falls. However, with Julian’s drone we were able to get the same perspective of the raging falls, expansive meadowlands, and dense pine forest below.

drone adelboden Engstligen Falls

drone adelboden

Once the sun began to set, we knew it was time to head back. One thing I underestimated was the temperature difference in the mountains. In Interlaken, it was over 32° C (90° F) but once we got high into the Bernese Oberlands, the temperature dropped dramatically. 

drone Engstligen Falls

Until Next Time…

Back at our hotel we enjoyed a delicious, fresh dinner at The Cambrian’s restaurantThe next morning we rose early as we had another full day in front of us. We were off to visit our friend Linda at her home in the mountains outside of Gstaad, Switzerland. Her family owns a dairy farm there and they had promised to show us the wonders of life in the Swiss Alps. Read all about our day spent making cheese, hiking, and exploring the glam resort town of Gstaad here.

If we’d had more time, I would’ve loved to have taken greater advantage of The Cambrian’s amenities. I was dying to take a dip in its gorgeous infinity pool and enjoy the spa. But I guess that’ll just have to wait until next time 🙂

the cambrian hotel switzerland

This will be me on my next visit! Photo courtesy of The Cambrian


For a 2-day itinerary of our weekend in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alpsincluding Interlaken and the glam resort town of Gstaad, click here.

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the cambrian hotel adelboden switzerland

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Harder Kulm Mountain — Top of Interlaken

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.  

interlaken paraglide

interlaken

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 interlaken

The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Click here for current prices.

Lindner Grandhotel Beau Rivage interlakenThe 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.

harder kulm interlaken funicular

harder kulm interlaken

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.  

harder kulm interlaken

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!

harder kulm interlaken lookout bridge

harder kulm interlaken panorama

harder kulm interlaken

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.

harder kulm

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 Alpsincluding Adelboden and the glam resort town of Gstaad, click here.


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