Interlaken – the gateway to the Bernese Oberland

David Jackson
David Jackson 4 Min Read

Interlaken literally means ‘between the lakes’ and the town is indeed situated between two beautiful lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz which are connected by the river Aare. The town Interlacus grew up from the 12th century onwards around an Augustinian monastery.

Today, Interlaken is an important and popular tourist destination attracting visitors from all corners of the world.  Its location puts it right at the heart of some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe and is the starting point for numerous mountain and lake excursions. There are also many villages within the vicinity of Interlaken; one we recommend to check out is Wilderswil.


The town is framed between the small wooded ranges of the Harder and the Rugen with the long main street, the Hôhweg, linking the Ost (East) and the West railway stations.

Moving up the main street from the Ost station on the left hand side, there is a sizeable expanse of open grassland, the Hôhematte, lined with benches and overlooked by the spectacular snowy peak of the majestic Jungfrau. Across the road from the Hôhematte stands the imposing 150 year old luxury hotel, the Victoria Jungfrau. Do not be surprised to see para-gliders coming into land on the Hôhematte, with the bright colours of their parachutes providing a vibrant contrast to the white of the Jungfrau range and the clear blue of the sky.

Further on along the Hôheweg in small well tended gardens which feature a flower bed clock, stands the town’s casino. Near by, you will find the public open air swimming pool and mini golf course. The pool, surrounded by an expansive lawned area, is a magnet on hot days for sun worshippers.


The Hôheweg is lined with hotels, gift shops and cafés which give plenty of opportunity to rest a while and sample a Swiss patisserie or one of the delicious ice cream sundaes.

At the end of the Hôheweg, across the river and in sharp contrast to the modern town of Interlaken, lies the oldest part of Interlaken, Unterseen, with its cobbled streets and flower decked wooden chalets.

A visit to the hill top restaurant of the Harder Kulm, whose funicular station is located across the river from the Ost railway station, is a must. At 1,322m Interlaken’s home mountain delivers spectacular views of the two lakes of Thun and Brienz and the Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch mountain range. Alternatively, the restaurant on the 18th floor of the Hotel Metropole gives 360 degree views across the town and beyond.

For train enthusiasts or families with young children, the Model Railway Exhibition, housed near to the West railway station, offers an interesting and enjoyable experience.

The boats which cruise Lake Brienz, the smaller of the two lakes, are boarded near to the Ost railway station. The boats for Lake Thun are located near to the West railway station.

lake brienz boat

Both fleets of lake cruisers include a vintage paddle steamer. One of the cruisers is named the “Jungfrau”.

The bus station in Interlaken is adjacent to the West railway station, with buses to Thun and a number of local villages. The majority of locations in the area are reachable by train or bus. The boats offer a scenic alternative and call at many lakeside towns en route to the larger destinations of Thun and Brienz.

Sightseeing opportunities abound in the area and excellent public transport facilities make this possible.

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David lectured in Science at a Midland college (UK) for many years. He now writes about places he visits regularly with the intention of providing useful information for visitors.