Welcome to Interlaken, the Paris of the Alps

June 28, 2021, 30 Comments

I like Interlaken. There, I’ve said it. I might not agree with Hans Christian Andersen, who called it ‘the Paris of the Alps’, and it probably would struggle to win a beauty competition, but there’s something about the town between the lakes that appeals to me – and to the countless visitors who have come here over the years, decades and centuries.

All this week I’ll be writing about Interlaken so that you can have a taste of what it’s like. Maybe you’ve never been or came merely to change trains. Or perhaps you like it and want to come back. Either way, there are great prizes on offer every day! Today’s prize is two day passes for travel on both lakes – read to the end for more details.

Location is Interlaken’s big trump card. Framed by Lakes Thun and Brienz (hence its name) and with the mountains of the Bernese Oberland on its doorstep, it’s hard to imagine a better base for a holiday. Trains go here, there and everywhere while boats paddle off across the water and hiking paths lead in all directions. Or you can simply relax by the river.

Yes, there are parts which grate on my eyes a little: the elegant Hotel Victoria Jungfrau sandwiched between a concrete tower and a Hooters bar. Possibly not what Mr Andersen was referring to. But go around the corner and there’s a clutch of handsome 19th-century buildings and, away from the main street, almost no people.

The best part of town is Unterseen, and yes I know it’s technically a separate municipality but it will always be Interlaken to me (their names mean the same thing, after all). Cross the River Aare, and you’re in a medieval town with cobbled main square, chunky church tower and houses with overhangs right out of a Grimms’ fairy tale.

Rain isn’t Interlaken’s friend as this is very much an outdoors sort of place. When the clouds descend, it’s time to go shopping. My two favourites are Heimatwerk, with funky Swiss gifts, and Woodpecker, full of carved wooden creations. All are made from European wood and some are carved in the shop by Gabriela, who doesn’t mind you watching her at work.

Some people go for very adventurous activities like paragliding or whitewater rafting; I prefer to take a paddle-steamer and glide gracefully across either lake, or both if I have all day. Lake Thun is bigger and has grandstand views of castles and mountains, but I love the rugged beauty of Lake Brienz and its milky turquoise water.

This is the first in a series of articles about Interlaken and the Bernese Oberland. For more information on Interlaken, visit the tourist board’s website.

30 Comments on "Welcome to Interlaken, the Paris of the Alps"

  1. Giselle Roberts Monday June 28th, 2021 at 11:28 AM · Reply

    I would love to win this prize! School holidays are coming up.

  2. Anne-Marie Sharma Monday June 28th, 2021 at 11:39 AM · Reply

    I love your writing style. Dry sense of humour included! Made me smile. You are right – we only changed trains at Interlaken on our way to Montreux (I’m a Freddie Mercury idoliser) but as we passed by Lake Brienz and Lake Thun we were absolutely mesmerized by the beautiful lakes and the panoramic views in front of us. So much so that our son kept saying “let’s get off at Spienz? and stay here” I want to swim and ride on the lake and mummy I can see things that looks like caves. I said ‘some other time son, we have all the time in the world being new expats’. We are captivated. ❤️

  3. Simon Newsome Monday June 28th, 2021 at 11:55 AM · Reply

    I’ve only been to Interlaken once. I’d love to go back!

  4. Margaret Lambert Monday June 28th, 2021 at 12:04 PM · Reply

    I’ve been visiting Interlaken and the Bernese Oberland every year since 1964 (except last year and probably this year!). There’s nowhere like it!! Love relaxing on the Lakes between days walking in the Alps.

  5. Rachel H Monday June 28th, 2021 at 12:14 PM · Reply

    We visited Interlaken for the first time last summer and we all loved it. My children ask at least twice a week when we are going back!

  6. Anne-Marie Sharma Monday June 28th, 2021 at 12:15 PM · Reply

    We would love to win this prize especially with the school summer holidays coming up. 🙂

  7. Gillian Monday June 28th, 2021 at 12:53 PM · Reply

    We are so looking forward to enjoying our family summer holiday near Interlaken for a second summer in a row. It makes such a difference not to have quite so many tourists in the area! But who can blame people for wanting to visit this spectacular place. So much to see and do. Simply breathtaking scenery!

  8. Jaqueline Newman Monday June 28th, 2021 at 12:54 PM · Reply

    Interlaken is a beautiful jewel. My mother is arriving and I would love to take her on the boat ride. Thanks very much for considering us!

  9. Jo Monday June 28th, 2021 at 01:55 PM · Reply

    We love Interlaken but have never arrived by boat which would be rather lovely, especially 1st class 🙂

  10. Jim Schwoerer Monday June 28th, 2021 at 10:12 PM · Reply

    Our family has stayed in Interlaken in a past visit. Absolutely loved it, We spent a week and didn’t see all there is to offer. Would love to go back and take a boat trip.

  11. Martin Monday June 28th, 2021 at 10:24 PM · Reply

    Great article. I would love to visit Interlaken some day! I have already visit a lot of other parts of Switzerland. Stunning country. And I love your books! Informative and entertaining to read!

  12. Fabian Tuesday June 29th, 2021 at 11:33 AM · Reply

    Interlaken also offers many possibilities for train.rides on different gauges! That’s one of the best things besides the nice views!

  13. Ma. Tiffany Orapa Tuesday June 29th, 2021 at 04:58 PM · Reply

    Hello, I would love to win this prize so I can give my partner a surprise for our coming 2nd year anniversary. Would be really great to see Interlaken! ❤️❤️❤️

  14. Gabrielle Wednesday June 30th, 2021 at 10:56 PM · Reply

    My nephews and nieces are obsessed with these ships 🙂

  15. Sarah Giles Thursday July 1st, 2021 at 10:19 AM · Reply

    Thanks for this article. I‘m looking for days out during the summer holidays and Interlaken sounds perfect. Thirteen years in Switzerland and I haven‘t been there. Time to change that.

  16. Tanya Deans Friday July 2nd, 2021 at 04:44 PM · Reply

    I would love to win these tickets. Boats rides in Switzerland are the best.

  17. Ben Lucyon Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 09:24 AM · Reply

    I”d love to give Interlaken another chance, I’ve always skipped it as something of a tourist trap, and an ugly one at that, but I would love to be proven wrong. And boy, is that steamboat a beauty.

  18. Andrew Wood Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 09:44 AM · Reply

    Looking forward to being able to get back to Switzerland. Interlaken makes a great base to explore from.

  19. Claire Forster Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 10:18 AM · Reply

    We’ve recently moved to Switzerland, this would be a great chance to explore the area, there is just so much to see and do!

  20. Nandi Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 11:16 AM · Reply

    Just beautiful! I NEED to visit Interlaken!

  21. Geeta Mirchandani Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 03:53 PM · Reply

    Dear BLS, Interlaken Tourism and Mr Bewes, these passes would make a great 18th birthday gift for my daughter who loves Interlaken, particularly the turquoise lakes of Brienz and Thun which she has always wanted to traverse. It would be a well-deserved treat too, during what’s been a stressful A’Level year in the UK, when she comes home to Bern for a visit during school holidays.

  22. Tim Dawson-Townsend Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 04:30 PM · Reply

    I have been on Lake Thun, but not Lake Brienz!

  23. Tim Osborn Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 06:38 PM · Reply

    Wonderful article to read. I can’t wait to get back to Switzerland to explore. I have many happy memories exploring the country with my Swiss Grandfather

  24. Lorraine Curran-Vu Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 08:46 PM · Reply

    What a great idea.Do I butter you up or play on your sympathy irvus winnjngvyotallt random?

    I love the Bernese Oberland and would be so grateful to win this contest. Thank you.

  25. Lel Johnson Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 10:02 PM · Reply

    Love Interkaken and plan to return next year. Boat trip Yes please!

  26. Chloé Wednesday July 7th, 2021 at 04:08 PM · Reply

    I run the Facebook group Budget Buys CH – because not everyone who emigrates here was able to secure a 6 figure income.
    We love travelling – but on a budget and we have stayed at some of the campsites in the area. We, my husband and 2 sons would love to win! I am totally thinking of starting blogging for mini holidays / weekend trips on a budget and this would be a wonderful start! Enjoying the beauty of the world shouldn’t only be for those who have lots of money spare’

  27. Ally Young Wednesday July 7th, 2021 at 05:07 PM · Reply

    Just reading Swiss Watching and realised I already followed you on Facebook! Would love to win the tickets, we are regular visitors to Switzerland but never yet been to Interlaken!

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