Above the Clouds

by Joseph Sutton (Syracuse University)

If you like mountain views and skiing, Interlaken is for you.

Interlaken is a traditional Swiss village nestled between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. Tourists from all over the world come to enjoy the picturesque views of the famous trio of peaks that are the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Whether you are looking for inspiring beauty or an action-packed weekend, you will find it at 566 meters of elevation in Interlaken.

Here are some quick tips you should know before your stay:

  • Interlaken is a German, English, and French speaking part of Switzerland.
  • The currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (SFr).
  • Book your hostel/hotel reservations in advance.
  • Pack warm clothing because most activities are outdoors and it gets chilly at night.
  • Drinks and meals in Interlaken’s town and on the mountain are expensive, so click here to find cheap eats in Interlaken.
  • If you’d like to ski/snowboard, you can rent all your gear from the Outdoor Interlaken
  • Get the most out of your day by waking up early, since the trip from the hostel to the top of the mountain could be about an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Interlaken is considered one of the quietest and safest cities in Europe.
  • When dining at restaurants, there is a service charge already included in the total bill. Leaving additional cash as a reward is not common.

There are so many adventurous and exciting activities in Interlaken, that it would be disappointing not to experience some of them. Skiing/snowboarding, paragliding, and skydiving (don’t tell mom) are the more common outings. Night sledding, ice skating, snowshoe trekking, and The Chocolate Show (Swiss chocolate, mmm…) are other exciting tours. After a lively day, sit back and relax at the Victoria-Jungfrau Spa or devour a cheese fondue dinner with a friend.

The Top of the Jungfrau (3,454 meters above sea level) is a view you must see – take the train up to the top. It happens to be Europe’s highest-altitude railway station! On this train your heart will melt as you take in the views of the 13.6 mile ice stream and Ice Palace.

Photo: Grindelwald mountain. That’s me in the bottom-right corner!

If you can get to the Grindelwald village (about a 35-minute train ride from Interlaken), you won’t regret a pit stop at Pizzeria da Salvi (located on the ground level of Hotel Steinbock), just steps away from the gondola. I ordered the margherita pizza, topped with arugula and cheese, paired with a pint of Rugenbräu Lager Beer (4.8% ABV). This is Interlaken’s famous and most popular beer.

Photo: Margherita pizza & Rugenbräu Lager Beer.

My trip to Interlaken was one that I won’t forget. The food was delicious, the locals were super friendly, and the scenic views of the Jungfrau were sublime. The Interlaken village was lovely and I highly recommend taking a photo by the lake. I booked my trip through the Bus2Alps program and stayed at Balmers, a charming hostel with free breakfast laid on. If you’re an avid skier, I highly recommend going to Interlaken on a weekend when snow has just fallen, so check out the Jungfrau snow report before heading up to the slopes. The trails can be confusing so definitely grab a map of the mountain. My friends and I got to ski in powder up to our knees!

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