Interlaken is one of Switzerland’s most visited towns, located at the base of great mountains, surrounded by divine blue lakes and easily accessible by bus or train, it is a travellers dream. Although many know that Switzerland is expensive, countless tourists I spoke with whilst abroad agreed that this is a place that certain warnings should be known prior to arrival. Not so say that this is not an amazing place- it is. I have never had such a big smile while dancing through wildflowers underneath snow-capped mountains, but here are five little things you really do need to know when planning your next Swiss Alp getaway.
1. It is very expensive
I am not talking slightly overpriced, I am talking $50 USD for a steak and salad. It can blow out any budget. Many sights are not free, with a minimum of about 20 Swiss Franc charged per person to hiking trails and waterfalls so budget for at least $100-200 USD a day (without activities like paragliding or accommodation!).
2. The best sights are not in the city itself
Interlaken is a central hub, but not really an attraction itself. Aside from the little Casino and Hooters, the town is really just used for accommodation and transport, so don’t make a plan to ‘sightsee’ the town for a day- it takes a few minutes!
3. It is an activity based tourism destination
Interlaken is for adventurous, hikers and energy bunnies. Everything fun here revolves around the high altitude sports, paragliding and abseiling, canyoning and rafting- so if you don’t like this sort of activity- don’t plan on heading to Interlaken! Check out Grindlewald or Lauterbrunnen instead! On top of this, expect to pay quite reasonably for each activity- most are between $150-$300 USD for a full day inc. lunch. One thing NOT to miss however is the Jungfrau Train. You get the cutest little trains through stunning valleys to reach the highest train station in Europe at the top of a snow capped ridge- absolutely unforgettable!
4. Accommodation varies greatly based on budget and season
Everyone knows the more you pay, the better your accommodation will be. In Interlaken the scale of bad to amazing is HUGE, so an ‘average’ hotel anywhere else (3*) will be horrible. Opt for anything 4-5* or a decent backpackers such as the Funny Farm or Balmers.
5. The low season is Summer
I was very surprised how quite the 35-degree-celcius Interlaken was in July! Do remember, this is a place for adventurers and much of these activities need snow, but there is still an abundance to do in Summer, which I personally prefer!