In Switzerland for the 1st time: two days in Interlaken

It wouldn’t be a holiday in Switzerland if I didn’t also go to the mountains! The next stop after the beautiful Swiss cities was Interlaken, popular with tourists, not far from the Swiss Alps!

Interlaken served as my second base. Here I booked a hotel and planned day trips. If you ever think about a trip to Switzerland and want to see the cities and the nature, I cannot recommend Interlaken more highly. The town is located 2 hours by train from Zurich and about half an hour by train from the Alps themselves! The town itself is very nice and has a lot to offer.

I was in Interlaken from Tuesday afternoon until Saturday noon. Because the town is located quite close to the Alps and is surrounded by mountains, the weather changed about as often as in Ireland. On Saturday, however, it was really nice – blue sky, sunshine and warmth. My plane didn’t fly until the evening, but unfortunately I didn’t stay to go through Interlaken again or to finally go to Harder Kulm for two reasons: a) I was dying from Friday and the 20 km trek around Grindelwald and I had nowhere to leave my suitcase (I didn’t have the strength to go back to the hotel for it). My hotel was about a 30 minute walk from Interlaken Ost train station and all the lockers were already taken when I got there (same thing in Zurich at the train station – the tourists really took it by storm). I was quite sad when I left, but at least I have a reason to come back.

So what did I do between Tuesday afternoon and Friday? My original plan was to walk through Interlaken on Tuesday afternoon, the next day to go see Grindelwald and then Lauterbrunnen. On the third day, I didn’t have anything planned, I just wanted to chill. This plan ended up paying off due to the weather – Wednesday didn’t look the best and it was supposed to rain all day so I stayed in Interlaken (more on that below), Thursday I headed to Lauterbrunnen (more on that in a future article) and Friday was all about Grindelwald (more on that also in another article). But here you have a taste of the Alps, i.e. the Jungfrau peak 20x differently and a random cute sunset as I observed it from my hotel room:

Since Interlaken is very popular with tourists and is located in the Jungfrau region, finding a hotel at a reasonable price was not easy. In the end, I chose Mattenhof Resort mainly because of its exterior (also because of the price, of course):

The hotel is located in a small village just outside Interlaken, Matten bei Interlaken. It also serves as a hostel, so I probably wouldn’t recommend it during the season, because almost all the rooms face the garden towards the Alps (the views are top notch!), where there is also a sitting area and I guess it can get pretty noisy. On the other hand, the reception is big, there is a bar and some games (pool and so on). But the garden looked very nice and well-kept. I had booked a single room, but when I arrived at the hotel around two in the afternoon (check in was from 4PM), they gave me the key and my room was number 420 on the top floor, with a large bed and a mini balcony with glass doors. From what I saw, the hotel was between seasons and there weren’t many people in it. So I got a free upgrade to a double room with a view of the Alps. And it was really worth it. Unlike Zurich, I got some sleep. The bed was comfortable and no one woke me up at night. I rarely heard the other guests. The hotel was newer than the one in Zurich, but it wasn’t quite modern modern – you’d have to pay big bucks for that.

I found a few videos about Interlaken on YouTube and, as usual, I made a map of the places I would like to see. In the end I only saw Unterseen haha:

Tuesday in Interlaken

Once I checked in, it was time to go to Interlaken. The weather kept changing – there were showers and then the sun was shining again. Along the way, I saw a rainbow several times. From the hotel, I decided to walk along the main road towards the local park, which is famous for its mountain views and paragliding. From there I headed to the center of Interlaken to buy souvenirs and some food for myself at the local Coop. Unfortunately, it was already raining at that moment, but I still headed to Unterseen and went around part of it (and caught some Pokemon). This part makes me sad because it’s really very nice there, but I didn’t want to take out the camera because the rain was really strong and cleaning the lens is a pain. On the other hand, I tried on a new jacket and it held up well.

In the evening, I decided to try a local take away with pizzas and of course had Hawaiian. It was fine, but not 18 CHF fine.

Wednesday in Interlaken

Originally, I planned to spend the day at the hotel, chilling, writing postcards and maybe going for a little walk, because the weather forecast showed rain and rain again. I went out in the morning, it was just between showers and I wanted to go back to Unterseen and take good pictures of the place. However, when I left the hotel and saw that the visibility was not the best and there were clouds on the surrounding mountains, I decided to head towards the Harder Kulm (overlook of Interlaken – you can see the Alps from there, if the visibility is good. You can get there by cable car, like everywhere else in Switzerland.) and take a look there. Finally, I looked at the map and found out that to the east of Unterseen are the Japanese Gardens and then the ruins of the church of St. Peter and it’s on a hill, which means a view!

The Japanese gardens were smaller, but they had such colorful carps and, thanks to the weather, there was a great atmosphere. As for the church, the best thing about it was that I was already about 30 minutes away from the ruins and Google was navigating me along the path around the river. So I enjoyed the nature and the wonderful atmosphere, as you can see from the photos. The trail brought me to a train bridge that has a built-in pedestrian walkway, so I could cross it and enjoy the beautiful views. Mainly to the crazy blue river. I always thought it was edited during photo and video editing, but the color was really there!

Because I stopped a million times a minute to admire, take pictures and film, I reached the church in two hours… yes, I’m worth going on trips with haha From the church, I decided to take a different route – instead of the train bridge, I took the main one to get back to Harder Kulm, because not far from there (along the road) is the Alpenwildpark and they have marmots and ibex aka mountain goats. There is no entrance fee, all the animals are in their enclosures and you can stop and admire them along the way. Now I’m also looking on Google to see that I’ve missed the Hohbühl Pavillon nearby, but the visibility wasn’t great that day, so it doesn’t matter. Be sure to add this place to your itinerary!

If you decide to visit this mini zoo before going to Harder Kulm, keep in mind that Google Maps shows that it is passable, but the reality is different. People coming from Harder Kulm can leave towards the mini zoo, but not the other way around (and it makes sense because the cable car is not free). From the mini zoo, you just have to go back to the main road a little bit and walk carefully (there are no sidewalks) to Interlaken. I would also like to add that the Swiss Travel Pass also works in this region and gives you a discount on the cable car. At the hotel, they also gave me a kind of document that was supposed to serve as a ticket for local transport, but I didn’t use the local buses.

Otherwise, along the entire length of the river on the side that is Harder Kulm, there is a trail around the water that stretches from Brienzersee to Unterseen, and in good weather it is also definitely worth it. Besides the two lakes (there are two, one on each side), there is also the famous Iseltwald. On one of its tips, you will find an idyllic villa – a former castle, which appears in almost every video and photo from Switzerland. Unfortunately, I didn’t visit this place, I didn’t have time. If you are planning to go there, you should know that this village was in some popular South Korean drama and now it is even more crowded with tourists. I think I’ve even read that the one pier that appeared in that series is already charging admission because of its popularity.

What I liked about Interlaken

Overall, I have to say that Interlaken and Unterseen is a very nice place. It may not have quite the Swiss vibes, but if you’re ever there, make sure to make time on your itinerary to check it out. Likewise, the village with the ruins of the church of St. Peter. If you are also traveling by car, there is a lot to see in the area. I would definitely like to return there sometime and stay longer so that I can really enjoy the region. And finally go to Harder Kulm!

What I didn’t like about Interlaken

Honestly, I probably have nothing to complain about. I saw that the locals were fed up with tourists. There was a big difference between the locals from Basel and Zurich and here in Interlaken. But I totally get them. The town survives thanks to tourism, but people still flock there and God knows what impact it has on the local economy in terms of rents for example. Oh, there was no bus between Interlaken Ost train station and my hotel. And believe me, I could use it every day.

If you found this article interesting and would like to read the rest of my Swiss adventures, then simply click/tap on the tag below “switzerland eng” and the blog will show you all available posts.

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