Interlaken is one of the most picturesque towns in Switzerland that’s nestled between two spectacular turquoise lakes: Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. With mountains on either side and a plethora of once-in-a-lifetime things to do, this is a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
After spending just under a month in here, I’ve collated all of the highlights of the trip and squeezed them into this 3 day Interlaken itinerary. Not only will you find some of the best things to do and see in this guide, but also the best places to stay, regardless of your budget. I’ll also cover key information such as how to get there and travel around, as well as how you can save some money exploring this famously expensive country.
Where is Interlaken
Interlaken is situated in the Bernese Oberland canton of Switzerland. Within the Bernese Oberland canton, Interlaken sits in the Jungfrau region. The major city in this region is Bern, which is approximately 45 minutes away.
Below is an interactive map of the exact location.
How to get to Interlaken
The best airport to fly into for those visiting Interlaken is Bern. From Bern, you’ll need to either rent a car, catch the train or jump on the bus.
Whilst Bern is undoubtedly the closest airport to fly into, it’s not always the cheapest. The two other airports to consider are Zurich and Geneva airport. The latter is the furthest away, but often the cheapest to fly into.
Check prices: Flights
Check prices: Train
Check prices: Bus
Hopping on the bus is without a doubt one of the cheapest ways to travel between destinations across Europe. It will almost certainly take longer, but for those travelling around on a budget, this is a great option to consider.
For certain routes, the cost-benefit versus the time benefit actually doesn’t stack up too well.
For example, if you’re travelling by train from Zurich to Geneva, a ticket is approximately £60 and the journey time is around 2 hours 45 minutes. Whereas a bus is approximately £20 and the journey time is around 3 hours and 10 minutes. The time difference isn’t significant, whereas the cost is, so you may opt for the bus in this case.
Check prices: Bus
If you’re heading to Interlaken from another city across Europe, then a great alternative to flying is catching the train. There is an extensive high-speed rail network between many of the major cities in Europe that make travelling between countries super easy and relatively quick.
Whichever major city you arrive in, you’ll need to catch a connecting train to Interlaken.
Check prices: Train
If you’ve got limited time in Switzerland or you’re travelling as a group, then renting a car is often the quickest and cheapest way to travel. Parking around Interlaken is also incredibly cheap compared to the major cities in the UK.
If you’re wondering where to rent a car from, then Rentalcars.com are one of my go-to platforms that show all of the best deals on the market so that you can get the most bang for your buck.
Best time to visit Interlaken
Interlaken is a place that can be visited all year round. Each season brings a different version of the town and all of these are fantastic.
However, many of the activities on this 3 day Interlaken itinerary involve being outside. As such, the best time of year to visit Interlaken if you’re following this itinerary is between May and September.
Below is what you can expect to see throughout the year.
June, July and August see some hot temperatures in Interlaken. At the start of the season, you can expect temperatures to creep up from the low 20s to the high 20s and by July, these can be up to the mid-30s. August can also see hot days, but gradually the temperatures start to dip again towards the end of the season.
Interlaken will also be quite busy during the summer months. You’ll want to make sure you book ahead to secure accommodation, as well as any popular experiences you wish to do here.
September, October and November see temperatures which begin to fall significantly as the year goes on. At the start of the season, most of the hiking trails will still be open and the temperatures will be comfortable. However, as you creep into October, access becomes restricted to the lower levels. By November, snow is beginning to fall regularly.
For those looking for fewer crowds and cooler temperatures, then September through to mid-October is recommended. You’ll see some excellent autumnal colours across the town and will almost certainly be able to snag a last-minute trip quite easily.
December, January and February will see snow on the ground, with Interlaken in winter transforming into a stunning and magical festive hub. If you’re considering heading here during these months, then there will still be plenty of things to do, but you’ll need to swap out some of the hiking trips included in this itinerary for something like skiing or snowshoeing instead.
The town will be much quieter than in the summer months as people don’t tend to spend as much time outside due to the weather. However, there is still a great atmosphere and a wealth of winter activities to get involved in.
March, April and May see temperatures almost double from the beginning to the end of the season. You can expect it to reach 20 degrees once May comes around and the flowers to be in full bloom. Access to hiking trails further up the mountain begin to open and locals start to prepare for the influx of tourists over the summer season.
For those looking to beat the crowds and avoid the summer heat, then May is a great time to head to Interlaken.
How to get around
When travelling around Interlaken and the surrounding area, you’ll likely take most, if not all, of the below methods of transport at some point (unless you have a car).
If you’re staying in a hotel, B&B or at a campsite in Interlaken for 3 or more days, you will be given a free travel card by your accommodation provider which gives you free access to the bus network in the area and provides you with a discount on various activities.
This is an excellent way to save money in Switzerland since almost everything else here is quite expensive.
Interlaken has two stations: Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West.
When you’re travelling to and from nearby towns and villages in the Jungfrau Region, you’ll most likely want to travel by train as they’re typically much faster. And, if you’ve only got 3 days in Interlaken, then you’ll want to use transport that’s efficient.
However, this will come at a cost – which isn’t cheap in Switzerland. Luckily, there are some excellent travel passes that can be purchased ahead of your trip that will save you heaps of money in the long run.
Below are some options to consider depending on your trip:
- Jungfrau Travel Pass: Unlimited Transportation Ticket
This is best suited to those that are going to be exploring the Jungfrau Region for 3-8 days. A lot of the popular things to do in Interlaken involve taking some kind of railway up the mountain, and so if you want to have any fun here, then you’ll need to bite the bullet and get one of these tickets.
If you’re following this itinerary, you’ll quickly realise that ticking off just a few of the activities will be the cost of this ticket, so it’s well worth getting one ahead of your trip.
Check prices: Jungfrau Travel Pass: Unlimited Transportation Ticket
- Swiss Travel Pass: Unlimited Travel on Train, Bus & Boat
If you’re exploring a number of locations across Switzerland then you’ll want to purchase this ticket over the one above. It’s only a little bit more expensive and gives you unlimited travel on all public transport (including gondolas) for up to 15 days. In addition, you’ll also get free entry to over 500 museums and up to 50% discount on a number of excursions.
Check prices: Swiss Travel Pass: Unlimited Travel on Train, Bus & Boat
Cyling around the area is very common and a great way to stay active and explore on your own timetable, whilst still getting from A to B relatively quickly. I had my bike with me on this trip, but if you need to rent a bike then you won’t struggle to find somewhere in the town.
Whilst Interlaken is completely flat, the surrounding areas of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun are hilly. Cycling around Lake Brienz is manageable if you don’t mind the odd hill climb, but Lake Thun will require some serious fitness.
You’ll notice that most cyclists around the town have an e-bike. If you’re not a keen cyclist, then I’d recommend opting for an e-bike over a regular bike.
You’ll also notice that many people don’t bother to lock their bikes up around the town. I personally always did, as you just never know, but it’s nice to be in a place where locals obviously don’t feel the need to.
Check prices: Bike rental
Interlaken itself is a relatively small town that can be explored on foot easily enough by those without any mobility issues. Although it’s set among the mountains, there are no hills in the town itself. When you’re heading out for some food or popping to the shops, you’ll be able to do this by foot.
Are 3 days in Interlaken enough?
If you’re doing a road trip through Switzerland then 3 days in Interlaken will allow you to see all of the best bits.
However, the list of things to see and do in the area is extensive and you could easily spend a month here and still not have ticked everything off your list. It’s such a stunning place that even after spending almost a month here myself, I will be heading back in the future for sure.
This itinerary crams as much as possible in with little time for relaxation. If you prefer to travel a little slower with some afternoons to chill, then you should consider staying in Interlaken for 4 or 5 days.
3 day Interlaken Itinerary
Interlaken itinerary day 1
Harder Kulm/Augstmatthorn hike
Heading to the Harder Kulm viewpoint is one of the most popular things to do in the area. There are unbelievable views over Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, as well as the surrounding snow-capped mountains.
There is a funicular railway to the Harder Kulm viewpoint which you can purchase a return ticket for ahead of time or on the day.
Alternatively, you could take the funicular railway to the viewpoint, before hiking back down to Interlaken. This is a great hike in Interlaken that most novice hikers can handle and halves the price of the funicular railway since you’ll only be taking a one-way trip.
Read the complete guide: Harder Kulm hike
Book tickets: Funicular Railway to Harder Kulm
For those who are up for a challenge, then the Augstmattorn hike is an extension of Harder Kulm and is one of the best routes in the region. You’ll need to purchase a return ticket for the funicular railway since the hike begins at the Harder Kulm viewpoint. It then leads along one of the most spectacular ridgelines and provides breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding scenery.
Read the complete guide: Augstmatthorn hike
If you’ve opted for some hiking earlier in the day, then an afternoon in Iseltwald will be just what you need. It’s a small and picturesque village on the southern shore of Lake Brienz and it couldn’t be any more idyllic.
To get there without a car, you’ll need to cycle or hop on one of the regular buses. It’s will take around 30 minutes to cycle, or approximately 20 minutes by bus.
Once you’ve arrived, you’re free to wander the lanes around the village, swim in Lake Brienz, kayak, pootle on a paddle board or rent a canoe. Whichever you choose, you’ll be in magical surroundings that feel almost fairy-tale-like.
Check prices: Kayak tour
Read the complete guide: Iseltwald
Chocolate making class
For a bit of post-dinner fun, head to Funky Chocolate Club and throw on your chef’s apron and hat before creating your very own chocolate bars.
Switzerland is renowned for its chocolate and this experience will provide you with some excellent knowledge and tips whilst having a laugh with others in the group.
Your host – Tatiana – is a chocolate enthusiast and is super passionate about chocolate. She will have everything set up ahead of your arrival and be eager to share her knowledge on chocolate. And, some facts may surprise you. You’ll then do some chocolate tasting, before whipping up your very own chocolate bars and decorating them with whatever takes your fancy.
Whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple, or in a group, this activity is thoroughly enjoyable and a great laugh.
Check prices: Chocolate workshop
Interlaken itinerary day 2
Schynige Platte is one of the very best mountain ridges with dozens of hiking trails, a restaurant, a hotel, a botanical garden, alphorn players and much more. It’s most commonly reached by taking a historic railway which is an experience in itself.
To get to Schynige Platte, you’ll need to head to Wilderswill Station. The quickest and easiest way to get there is by train from Interlaken Ost which takes approximately 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can drive which takes 5 minutes, cycle which takes 10 minutes, or walk which takes 30 minutes.
Once you’ve arrives at Wilderswill Station, you’ll need to take the Schynige Platte Bahn to the summit which takes 50-minutes.
You could easily spend all day up here, however, I recommend doing The Panorama Trail. This is a 6-kilometre loop which is mostly flat, yet offers some of the best views in the area. This trail also leads through the botanical garden and passes the alphorn players which perform between 11 am and 2 pm every day.
Read the complete guide: Schynige Platte
Lauterbrunnen is one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland that should not be missed.
It’s approximately 30 minutes by train from Interlaken Ost and is home to one of the most photographed waterfalls in Switzerland: Staubbach Falls.
You can simply roam the toy-like village before returning back to Interlaken, or you can head on a short walk through the valley to Staubbach and Trummelbach Falls. I highly recommend doing this, since you’ll get the opportunity to see the waterfalls up close and replicate the famous desktop-background picture that you’ll no doubt recognise.
It’s worth noting that Staubach Falls is free to see, however, Trummelbach Falls is a paid attraction.
Read the complete guide: Lauterbrunnen waterfall hike
Mürren is a 10-minute bus ride and an 11-minute gondola away from Lauterbrunnen. It’s another sweet little village in the mountains that’s pedestrianised.
Besides being a cute place to wander around, Mürren is home to one of the best Via Ferrata’s in Switzerland. For those brave enough, this is an absolute must. If you’re a first-timer, then I’d recommend doing this trip with a guide as it’s pretty sketchy in places. If you’ve done one before and feel confident enough, then you can rent your gear from Intersport which is just next to the exit point of the Schilthornbahn gondola.
Either way, you’ll head up ladders, across tight ropes and over some gnarly bridges for just over 2 kilometres which takes a few hours to complete. You’ll finish up in Grimmelwald where you can hop back on the Schilthornbahn gondola before making the return journey back to Interlaken via Lauterbrunnen.
Check prices: Guided Mürren Via Ferrata
Sunset at Mount Niesen
If you’ve got any energy left after this full-on day of adventures, then it’s worth heading up to the summit of Mount Niesen for sunset. Don’t worry, you don’t have to hike this one. You can take the Niessenbahn from Mülenen which is a 25-minute car journey or a 50-minute train ride from Interlaken.
The Niessenbahn operates on some evenings at certain times of the year, so you’ll need to check the latest timetable to ensure that you’re not going to get caught at the summit and have to hike down the mountain in the dark.
Operating times: Timetable
Interlaken itinerary day 3
Option 1: Paragliding
Paragliding in Interlaken is one of the most popular things to do in the area. There will be a consistent stream of people landing in the field next to the town which is an amazing sight in itself.
This bucket list activity is for sure one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had, not least because of the epic views and stunning birds-eye view of the twin lakes in the area.
If you’ve got what it takes to hurtle yourself off of a nearby mountainside, then you’ll be dangling in the air for approximately 15 minutes and have the opportunity to purchase photos and videos of the core memory you’ve just secured.
Check prices: Tandem Paragliding
Option 2: E-bike hire
Alternatively, if Paragliding is out of your comfort zone, then hiring some e-bikes are a great alternative that will allow you to see more of the Jungfrau region from the ground rather than the sky.
If you’re interested in taking a guided tour, then the Lauterbrunnen Valley of the Seven Waterfalls excursion is one of the best out there. However, this is a 6-hour tour, so you will need to be up and out early to fit this into your final day in Interlaken.
Check prices: Guided e-bike tour to Lauterbrunnen 72 Waterfalls Valley
Another great option is a 3-hour tour around Interlaken and its surrounding areas, including a section around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. This tour also stops in quaint towns and villages, as well as a traditional farm where you will get to try some fresh milk.
Check prices: Interlaken Guided E-Bike Tour
If you’d rather venture off on your own, then you can rent an e-bike and explore the thousands of cycling trails in the area. I highly recommend cycling around at least one of the lakes, however, you’ll need to bear in mind that Lake Thun will be more of a challenge – even on an e-bike – whereas Lake Brienz will be much easier. But, with more challenge comes more reward, so it’s one to consider on the day.
Check prices: E-bike hire
Kandersteg and Oeschinensee day trip
The final major activity in your itinerary is a day trip to Kandersteg and Oeschinensee. Regardless of whether you love hiking, eating, thrill-seeking or simply relaxing, this one is not to be missed off of this 3 day Interlaken itinerary.
Kandersteg is a charming ski-resort village in the mountains with lots of sweet hotels and restaurants. However, it’s best known as being the starting point to reach Oeschinensee, also known as Lake Oeschinen.
Oeschinensee is one of the most spectacular lakes in the world, with awe-inspiring mountains surrounding it. It has a phenomenal colour to it and the rugged snow-capped mountains as the backdrop are the cherry on top. It’s truly one of the best sights I’ve seen in my life.
To reach the lake, you’ll either need to take the Oeschinensee Gondola or hike uphill for a few kilometres.
Once you arrive at the Oeschinensee, you’ll find stunning viewpoints, restaurants, a mountain slide, canoeing and heaps of hiking trails.
I’ve got a hiking guide which you can navigate to by clicking on the below link. Whilst this is primarily a hiking guide, you’ll also find other key information about getting to Oeschinensee and what else is available to do there.
Read the complete guide: Oeschinensee
Where to stay for 3 days in Interlaken
Why Interlaken is a better base than Grindlewald and Lauterbrunnen
Interlaken is a better base than Grindewald and Lauterbrunnen for those without a car since it’s a well-connected town that allows you to easily reach nearby attractions. In addition, it’s picturesque, whilst still bustling with people which brings a vibrant atmosphere.
For those who have a car and don’t mind travelling a little further to places and prefer to stay in more remote locations, then Grindlewald and Lauterbrunnen are great places to stay. Both of these villages have a great atmosphere, they’re just much smaller.
Alplodge is a fantastic budget-friendly place to say that offers mixed dormitories and private rooms. It’s situated on the River Aare which runs through Interlaken and is just a short walk to the town centre.
This clean, comfortable and picturesque-looking accommodation is hard to beat for a cheap stay in Interlaken.
Check prices: Alplodge
Mid-range: Hotel Du Nord
Hotel Du Nord is a 4-star hotel that’s in a prime location for exploring Interlaken and its surrounding areas. It’s situated at the very end of the main high street in the town and is just a few minutes walk from the main train station. It’s also directly opposite the field where the paragliders land.
The rooms are simple yet stylish with mountain views, and breakfast is also included.
Check prices: Hotel Du Nord
Luxury: Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa
The Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa is one of – if not the – best hotel in Interlaken. It’s a 5-star hotel and is one of the grandest buildings in the town that stands out from a mile away. Inside, the presentation doesn’t stop. Everything you see is high quality and decorated to perfection.
If you’re planning a special trip to Interlaken, then staying in this hotel is a perfect choice.
Check prices: Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa
Explore more of Switzerland
If you enjoyed this 3 day Interlaken itinerary and you’re looking to discover more of Switzerland, then I’ve got heaps of guides that may help you. To discover these, head to the Switzerland category page or use the search bar if you’re looking for somewhere specific.
If like me, you love exploring the outdoors, then I’d highly recommend Appenzell. Some of the best hikes I’ve done in Switzerland are based here, such as Schäfler ridge and Saxer Lücke. These show a completely different landscape to Interlaken, but they’re just as astonishing.
Stay Wild Travels.
Disclosure: just a heads up that every now and then I collaborate with companies I really believe in to share how awesome they are. This may mean that some links within my guides are affiliated and I will receive a small commission if you book using these links. This supports me being able to continue to bring you new guides about epic locations, so a massive thanks if you do book anything through these!