Holy moly, guys. I knew that Switzerland was beautiful, but Interlaken takes it to another level. Between the misty mountains, the electric blue lakes, the moody forests, and the postcard-perfect Swiss towns, the Jungfrau region absolutely kills it. I swear it felt like we fell into a storybook. We were only there a short while, so I am already dreaming of a return trip.
As the name would suggest, Interlaken sits between two lakes in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. Countless valleys cut through the stunning mountains, creating quite the dramatic landscape. The shockingly blue Aare river runs through the city itself. No matter the weather, the mountain peaks always remained covered by wispy cotton candy clouds for the duration of our stay. And it was so green. Everything just seemed so saturated with color. It was magical.
DAYS 1 & 2
Our first full day began as most do: searching for food. The one downside of Switzerland, because there had to be something, was how expensive everything is. We stayed for only three days partly because of that. All bundled up in our barely used winter gear, Dev and I set out with dreams of relatively cheap breakfast snacks. Surprisingly, it only took us a few minutes to find our new favourite café.
Lade Lokal sits on the river with an amazing view of the mountains. We ordered breakfast for two and were greeted by a platter of bread, jam, cheese, meat, and fruit. Not to mention their absolutely magical hot chocolate was served in actual bowls. We were in heaven.
Once full, we wandered around town getting our bearings. The next few hours were spent doing our laundry. Exciting stuff, I know. Lucky for us, there was a café just down the street from the Laundromat, so we were able to sample some Swiss pastries to pass the time. Let me tell you – they didn’t disappoint.
After we schlepped our newly clean clothes back to our hostel room, I decided to take out my camera and go for a photo walk. It was already chilly, and the weather forecast looked rainy for the rest of our time there. I wanted to take advantage of the sun while we had it. I hadn’t really been using my camera at all at this point, but Switzerland was too pretty to pass up.
A short walk with my camera soon turned into a three-hour hike to Lake Thun and back. Luckily for us the rain held out, and we were rewarded with some stunning views across the lake. It was so worth it for that view, though. On the way we stumbled across an old fort in the woods. The first mention of Fort Weissenau appeared in 1298, and it was in use until the 16th century. After that, it was abandoned, and only ruins are left standing today.
Returning to town, we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. The owner was actually Italian, and he was chatting and smiling away as soon as we came through the door. The food was delicious, if a bit expensive, but we had a really good time.
Tired from our trek the day before, day 2 was spent lazily walking around town, taking pictures, and drinking more delicious hot chocolate. Because we wanted to save some money, we went to the store and got some peanut butter and bread for dinner. Fun fact: Swiss peanut butter is so much better than the stuff in the UK.
Our first few days were lovely, but Day 3 was definitely the main event. We finally made our way over to the more touristy side of town. Don’t worry, we made sure to buy plenty of Swiss chocolate to keep us happy for a few days. I dragged Devon to watch adventurous paragliders land in the park, and we even found a Hooters restaurant. That was a bit of a surprise. But all of this simply occupied us until it was time to conquer the summit of Harder Kulm. And by conquer I mean ride the funicular up the side of the mountain for ten minutes and go eat in the restaurant.
Harder Kulm is one of the smaller mountains that rises above the town. Many of the larger mountains in the area can be explored by train. The most famous is called Jungfrau. It is the highest rail station in Europe. Sadly those tickets cost heaps, so we weren’t really willing to give up eating out for a really long train ride up a cloudy mountain. Instead, we decided to get a bird’s eye view of Interlaken itself. This is one of the steepest funicular tracks in the world, and it was originally built during the early 1900s. The mildly terrifying ride up provided some amazing views, and One Direction was serenading us on the radio the whole way up.
We bought dinner tickets which meant we got a free cocktail and meal in the restaurant at the top included in our funicular ticket. My meal was literally just bread and ham smothered in cheese. I was a happy camper. Not to mention the view from the top was amazing. The rain held off, and the clouds cleared. We could see the lakes, the city, and Jungfrau mountain looming in the distance. We watched as the sun set (though the clouds obscured most of it) and the city lights turned on. It was the perfect way to cap off our Swiss experience.
There are so many villages and towns I still want to explore in the surrounding valleys, and so many mountains I want to see close up (by train of course). Even in September, Interlaken looked like a Christmas village, so I can only imagine how perfect it looks in the snow. I guess that will just have to wait until I go back…