We recently returned to Frankfurt from a week-long train trip with three friends who were visiting from the States. Three countries, seven days, and countless buses and trains. Our first stop was Interlaken, Switzerland, and I probably could have stayed there for the entire week… or possibly forever.
Lexi has always, always said she is a beach and summer kind of girl. Although I do love lounging on a beach, drinking margaritas in the sun, the past 25 years of 110-degree Texas summers have left me a little scarred and longing for cooler temperatures. Except it was 45 degrees in Bad Homburg today and I thought I was going to freeze, so maybe not too cold.
My family traveled to Colorado quite frequently when we were younger, but it wasn’t until recent trips to Denver/Vail, Colorado, and Salt Lake City/Park City, Utah, I remembered how truly breathtaking the mountains are. The fresh, crisp air is something that can’t be rivaled. There really is a sense of serenity and peace that comes over you in the mountains – except, maybe, when you’re me trying (failing) to ski down the mountain. Nonetheless, I’m not sure how you could not appreciate that type of natural beauty.
Interlaken’s natural beauty is astonishing. I had always heard that Switzerland is a beautiful country, but pictures and words do not do it justice. Interlaken is hands-down the most beautiful place I have ever visited – the snow-capped Alps, the glass-like lakes, and the quaint houses with window boxes full of colorful flowers – it’s like a fairytale. Also, how could you not love the country that is the birthplace of Gruyere..?!
We were only in Interlaken for two nights and the town was shifting from summer-to-winter activities. Interlaken is a wonderful town to visit if you enjoy outdoor activities, as there are plenty to choose from – canyoning, paragliding, skydiving, cycling, rock climbing, the list goes on. If you want to have a more relaxing stay, there are various train and boat rides to choose from. We chose both. The Jungfraujoch, which is dubbed the “Top of Europe” is one of the main mountain train rides to take from Interlaken – however, it is quite expensive, at about 300 Swiss Francs for a roundtrip ticket. If you’re balling on a budget though (like me), you can easily take other, less expensive train rides up to different parts of the mountains, which is what we chose to do, selecting a 70 Swiss Franc trip to Kleine Scheidegg. If you can budget it, we heard the Jungraujoch is worth the price tag, and I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be.
I think one of the main reservations about visiting Switzerland is that it is one of the more expensive places to visit – we were charged 12 CHF (about $14) for a large, plastic bottle of water at a restaurant one day, and when you’re used to receiving water free of charge in the States, it’s a little startling. However, we really didn’t find Interlaken to be as expensive as we thought. For the most part, two of us would split meals at dinner (the portions are huge), and our hotel (which was amazing and on top of a pub) gave us a visitor’s card, which allowed us free public transportation and discounts for other activities. Free public transportation really is a money saver, considering how much it can cost in other cities, like London.
Switzerland, and Interlaken specifically, is definitely worth the trip and the money. I would love to go back during the winter to see the Alps completely covered in snow. If you can, take a train into the country or up the mountain, the views are breathtaking.
- Outdoor activities: several to choose from, and there are several stores within Interlaken that are dedicated to planning excursions. Some of the more popular ones are canyoning, paragliding, and skydiving. Just make sure you go at the right time of year.
- Jungraujoch: the Top of Europe is accessible via train on the Jungfrau line, which leaves from the Interlaken Ost station. There are several activities at the top, as well as an observation deck, which is said to have amazing views of the Alps and Switzerland.
- Kleine Scheidegg: accessible via the Jungfrau line, and is the last stop before going all the way up to the Jungfraujoch. You can go through either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen to get there, which are both quaint ski towns. Kleine Scheidegg has a couple of restaurants and a hotel, as well as beautiful views.
- Lake Thun and Lake Brienz: the two lakes in Interlaken, both of which are absolutely beautiful and offer several activities, such as boat rides, paddling, kayaking, etc. If you go in the summer, or up until the beginning-mid October, the majority of the lake activities are still available.
- Hotel Tell: where we stayed, which was a charming hotel on top of a pretty popular Irish pub. We stayed on the top floor, which was a rather large apartment and was perfect for 5 of us. Not to mention, there were two balconies with mountain views. There are other rooms in the hotel for those traveling with a smaller pack.
- Balmer’s Hostel: the oldest hostel in Switzerland, located near Hotel Tell. It looked like a pretty large place that offered activities for its guests. If you’re looking for the hostel route, I suggest this place!
- There are several other hotels in the area, though.
- Airbnb also has several beautiful listings
- Fondue: one of the traditional Swiss dishes, and for good reason. The cheese… oh, the cheese. Mainly Gruyere. SO GOOD.
- Chocolate: you may also eat the chocolate in fondue form. Also a good idea.
- Rösti: a traditional Swiss potato dish. It’s basically crispy hash browns with a variety of toppings – cheese, vegetables, meat. All delicious things.
- Döner kebabs: no matter what European country you’re in, these are a good idea, but they were especially delicious in Interlaken.
- Bus system: phenomenal and easy to use
- Trains: will take you up the mountains
After writing this, I’m now trying to plan a ski trip to Switzerland as soon as possible. Anyone want to join?!