Interlaken, Switzerland. Nestled in the gorgeous Swiss Mountains, my surreal visit to Interlaken and its surrounding highland towns of Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, and Gimmelwald was absolute bliss. I was expecting unreal beauty from this place, but to be there in person was a true spiritual experience. The one downside is the expensive cost of everything. But don’t fret, for there are plenty of ways to save money and maximize your time in this pocket of heaven … keep reading to learn how I did it!
Yes, I am crazy because I did another overnight train. Do I regret it? Heck no! Me and my friends left from Lux around 8 pm on Thursday and arrived in Interlaken around 9 am Friday morning. It cost ~€120 both ways, and we booked last minute. I’d recommend taking a train from Lux –> Interlaken, but perhaps splitting it up into shorter increments (a possibility is staying a night in Basel, Switzerland).
I HIGHLY recommend staying a night in Gimmelwald. It is this tiny town only accessible by cable car (they call it a gondola), and you get the feeling of being one with the mountains when strolling through. There are more horses & mountain goats than people, and we were lucky enough to find the coziest Airbnb called Chalet Keller. Walking up the mountain to the Airbnb felt like a scene from a movie. Soft cowbell echos and breathing the clean air overflowed my senses. Me and my friend couldn’t stop jumping up and down and dancing in the streets because it was that beautiful! It cost ~€50 each for one night. If you’d rather not stay in an Airbnb, I’d recommend the Mountain Hostel. It was closed when we went but we wandered around its grounds and it looks amazing!
The public transportation is efficient but expensive. Use the Sbb timetable online to book tickets directly (saves energy trying to find a ticket counter). It cost ~€30 to get one-way from the base of Interlaken to the top mountain town we visited, Mürren.
I advise you to bring food with you! Protein bars, bananas, apples, nuts, pretzels, and other snacks will get you through breakfast and any hikes without having to spend tons of money in Switzerland! You could even bring pasta and sauce to have a dinner in one night. Also, bring a water bottle! There are free water spouts with fresh, clean water everywhere in Interlaken.
Warning: Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc currency. Mostly everywhere takes card but we did run into a few instances of needing cash, so be sure to take out some either before you go or while you’re there within distance of an ATM.
One great free activity is exploring the stunning waterfalls around Lauterbrunnen. Staubbachfalls has a great, short hike that will make you feel the burn! After the hike, walk around the charming town, snap some photos, and enjoy the stunning mountainous backdrop. Trummelbach falls was closed when we went in November, but this is another great option for a free waterfall hike in Lauterbrunnen.
The Harder Kulm – Top of Interlaken hike is a must for your time in Interlaken. We didn’t have much time so we rode the cable car up (cost ~€10) and hiked 1.5 hours down. The viewing platform at the top is incredible. I could have stayed up there people-watching and admiring the view above the clouds for hours. The hike down was very steep and a bit challenging, so beware!
Perhaps the most picturesque activity we did (if you can believe that!) was the Hightide Kayak School. We took a 10 minute bus from Interlaken Ost to Bonigen for ~€3 and suited up in these hilarious dry suits with an amazing instructor. Up to six people can be in a group, and me and my friends couldn’t stop smiling the whole 3 hours. The water was a GORGEOUS teal color, and with the mountains in the back and sunshine on our faces, life was good on the lake. No kayaking experience is needed for this adventure. It was a little pricey at ~€130, but the memories are invaluable (+ they take photos for you!) Highly recommend you do this because the Hightide Kayak School is open year-round.
Go to Stäger Stübli in Mürren. The cable car is free from Gimmelwald –> Mürren, and you will find the amazing fondue restaurant Stäger Stübli only a 10 minute walk from the cable station. I sat outside in the sun and ordered a glass of Prosecco and cheese fondue, so I was really living the good life! Snow-capped mountains floated in the background as I dipped delicious bread into a sizzling bowl of Swiss cheese. Can you ask for anything better in the entire world?? My meal was ~€35, so be sure to budget for this one because I easily could have spent another €50 here! There is also a lot more to see in Mürren as it is a bigger town, so after your meal stroll around for a while.
Our kayak guide recommended the restaurant Husi Bierhaus near Interlaken West. This place had the BEST atmosphere and delicious food! The waiters were hilarious, the festive beer refreshing, and Poulet burger and salad to-die for! After a long day of hiking and kayaking, this is the perfect place to wind down. Reserve a table ahead of time because it gets super busy.
Additional tip: Buy Swiss chocolate bars from the grocery store Coop! Coops are everywhere in Interlaken and the chocolate is much cheaper (and just as delicious!) than the gift shops. These Swiss chocolate bars also make great gifts for loved ones back home.
I hope these tips helped you plan for your Switzerland dream trip. You must visit sometime in your life — the views are otherworldly and the ambience has an ethereal quality to it. You can’t take my word for it … you must see it for yourself! Follow @city_savvy_lux for more tips on travel and life around Lux.