Considered by many as an Alpine wonderland due to its astonishingly grand natural settings and the abundance of fairytale castles perched atop regal mountains, Interlaken is a feast for the senses, both visually and culturally.
Found between two enormous lakes, the city is surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in the Alps, like the towering Jungfrau.
Interlaken itself is a charming destination with all the temptations of a Swiss holiday spot -such as fondue restaurants and chocolatiers.
This combination means that adrenaline addicts and culture buffs alike arrive in crowds every year to enjoy the atmosphere.
However, the towns, canyons, and gorges in the surrounding region are often where the best attractions can be found, from hiking or skydiving to cross-country skiing – all within easy reach from Interlaken.
Here are some of our favorite day trips.
1. Train to Jungfraujoch
What would a trip to Switzerland be without a visit to the highest train station in Europe? Jungfraujoch is famously known for ticking this box, measuring in at a staggering 3454 meters above sea level.
Not only is it high, but it’s set among the dramatic snowy peaks of the Aletsch Glacier; the station features viewing platforms from which you can see as far as Italy when conditions are clear.
It goes without saying that the best way to soak in the jaw-dropping alpine views is to embark on a train journey that winds its way around the Mönch and Eiger mountains.
Recommended tour: Full-Day Trip to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken
The capital is without a doubt one of the must-see places on our list and is within easy reach of the more rurally-inclined Interlaken.
Zurich is a hotbed of fascinating architecture, cultural attractions, and some of the best eats in the country.
The Old Town is an eclectic mix of historical buildings – like the Peterskirche – and numerous boutiques, chocolatiers, and cafes.
Besides this, you can indulge in as much culture as you can handle at galleries like the Kunsthaus, or do some serious window shopping at Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s premier upmarket shopping street.
A favorite destination for keen hikers and lovers of everything outdoors, Grindelwald is fondly known as the “Glacier Village” because of its supremely majestic settings in plain view of spectacular mountain peaks.
Asides from paragliding, rock climbing, and other extreme activities, Grindelwald is also home to the famous ‘First Flyer.’ Named because of its connection to the First Mountain, the attraction comprises four zip-lines side by side that allow four people to shoot down simultaneously.
At a top speed of 84km per hour, the First Flyer is not for the faint-hearted! The views, however, are even more rewarding than the adrenaline rush.
Less than an hour’s drive to the northeast of Interlaken, you’ll come across the pocket-sized city of Lucerne, with enough crammed into it to keep visitors entertained for days, whilst still retaining an air of natural beauty thanks to its majestic surroundings.
Surrounded by glittering mountain peaks, the city is a hotspot of history and culture.
You can visit the ancient Museggmauer – the wall that protected the city centuries ago – or take a walk across the Chapel Bridge and its old watchtower looking over the river.
Or, if you’re more adventure-inclined, you can visit Lake Lucerne, the jaw-dropping fjord-like lake that boasts the title of the fourth largest in Switzerland.
5. Lütschine River
Winding through the picturesque Grindelwald Valley, the Lütschine River is an unmissable destination for people looking for a charming countryside getaway, or an adrenaline-fuelled adventure down the whitewater sections.
Summer days along the river are positively spellbinding, with elegant chalets lining the banks and alpine forests carpeting the mountainsides.
Hiking and picnic spots are plentiful, but if you’re seeking thrills, embark on a whitewater rafting adventure with one of the many reliable tour operators that’ll end up in the tranquil Lake Brienz.
Suggested trip: From Interlaken: 4-Hour Rafting on Lütschine River
6. Saxeten Gorge
Conveniently close to Interlaken, you’ll find this alpine gorge that flanks the Saxeten River, known as a hotspot for climbers and adrenaline addicts.
Though challenging in parts, the gorgeous views of the faraway mountains and the impressive rock-faces make for an unforgettable experience as you brave the different sections.
Choose between abseiling, rock-climbing, sliding down rock slides into crisp plunge pools – or all of the above! There’s no limit on the number of activities you can do here; working up a sweat in the captivating alpine environment is an unforgettable experience.
Recommended tour: Canyoning in Interlaken
7. Chli Schliere
Embark on a highly personalized tour to the Chli Schliere canyon, another adrenaline-pumping excursion through the rocky passageways of one of Interlaken’s most beautiful canyons.
The best tours to take are the smaller ones with no more than 10 people, meaning you get a personalized experience from your professional guides.
After donning your helmet and wetsuit, you’ll be ready to plunge into the slippery rock chutes and jumps that make up the thrilling canyon.
Just be sure to try and pick a day with favorable weather so you can warm up quickly and enjoy the experience.
Available tour: Canyoning on the Chli Schliere
8. Snowpark Bärgelegg
It wouldn’t be a trip to Switzerland without hitting the slopes and Snowpark Bärgelegg provides ample opportunity.
With runs for all skill levels, the park is extremely accessible to even the most novice skiers.
It’s also known for having gorgeous views of the Jungfrau region if you simply want to head up and spend the day in the snow without renting any gear.
9. Chateau Chillon
A fairytale castle set amongst fairytale surroundings, it’s no surprise that Chillon Castle is one of Switzerland’s most beloved castles, not to mention one of its most beautiful.
Less than two hours drive from Interlaken, Chillon Castle can be found perched on its small island in the waters of the gorgeous Lake Geneva.
With the Alps rising majestically in the background and the castle itself reflected in the tranquil waters of the lake, you couldn’t ask for a more impressive view.
Home to barons and lords over the centuries, the castle has a fascinating history, with one of the highlights being the ominous dungeons!
Also conveniently located on the shores of Lake Geneva – otherwise known as Lac Léman – Montreux is a charmingly vibrant little lakeside town that positively oozes character.
The colorful streets regularly host jazz and arts festivals, though are interesting enough as they are any given day.
Home to a Charlie Chaplin Museum, beautiful flower markets and cozy cafes, Montreux is a hot destination for those looking for an escape from the big city; all its attractions are within easy walking distance from each other.
Be sure to explore the surrounding fields during the summer, as the flowers bloom and provide a spectacular place for a picnic.
Less than two hours from Interlaken lies the picturesque alpine town of Gruyères, over 800 years old and retaining most, if not all, of its original character.
This is part of what makes the town so pleasant to visit: the houses, church, and castle will all make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.
The castle itself is fascinating to explore, while there are other famous points of interest, like the Tibetan Museum, curiously exhibiting one of the best displays of Buddhist artifacts in Europe.
Those who want to indulge will be thrilled to know that Gruyères is considered the cheese capital of Switzerland, therefore, a visit to La Maison du Gruyère is practically mandatory.
12. Lake Thun
In comparison to the fast-paced thrill-ride of the Lütschine River or even a train ride through the Alps – for some, nothing beats the leisurely pace of a boat ride across a lake.
Lake Thun is the perfect place to do this; you can even get there on a cruise from Interlaken itself.
The views from water level are almost incomparable; the grandeur of the surrounding mountains is impossible to ignore and snow-tipped peaks glitter in the distance.
13. St. Beatus Caves
Located just above gorgeous Lake Thun, you’ll find the little-known but fascinating St. Beatus Caves.
Supposedly named after a monk who made his home there almost 2000 years ago, the caves are built into a sheer rock face and have since been developed.
Featuring walkways and entire buildings constructed on the cliff itself, it’s an intriguing place to learn about a slice of the region’s history, as well as being a gorgeously picturesque and unique destination.
At the risk of being a bit of a mouthful to pronounce, Trümmelbachfälle is one of the most spectacular natural escapes in Switzerland.
Though not the only series of waterfalls in the country, it’s certainly one of the most impressive.
Thanks to the glacial composition of the region, its home to some truly jaw-dropping falls – the Trümmelbachfälle are among the very best.
Comprised of 10 distinct falls, you’ll have the opportunity to view them from behind the falling water through a series of caves and pathways.
Possibly the closest destination to Interlaken, clocking in at a convenient half hour from town, prepare to escape the city at the charming little resort of Wengen.
Overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley with its low lying pine forests and mountainous backdrop, the resort is small but beautiful.
Populated by traditional timber houses and surrounded by world-class hiking routes, Wengen is a must for those looking for peace and quiet.