The Harder Kulm hike is a short but steep hike out of Interlaken.
It’s a relatively quiet walk as many prefer to catch the funicular railway to the top for the restaurant and amazing views from the viewpoint.
The walk will take you up many switchbacks through the woods and provide you with sneak peeks of the view to come as you make your way up.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know ahead of this walk, including a trail map.
We’ll also let you know what to expect on the day, and give you some top tips ahead of your trip.
If you’ve not already decided on where to stay, you’ll also find some suggestions at the end of this guide.
Harder Kulm Hike FAQ
What is Harder Kulm?
Harder Kulm is a viewpoint on the Harder mountain in Unterseen that resides at 1,332m above sea level within the Jungfrau Region of the Bernese Alps.
It provides the perfect view of Interlaken and of the two lakes on either side, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
You can also see the peaks of the big 3 mountains in the area, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
It also has a restaurant and a viewing platform that takes you out over the edge for the best view possible.
It can be accessed by foot or funicular railway as already mentioned.
Quick fact: Harderbahn, the Funicular railway, is over 100 years old having opened in 1908!
Where is Harder Kulm?
The start of the hike can be found on the North side of the river Aare in Interlaken and begins at the base of the funicular railway.
The Harder Kulm viewpoint is technically in Unterseen.
Exact location: Harder Kulm viewpoint
What’s the best time to do the Harder Kulm hike?
The best time of year to walk up to Harder Kulm is between May and September.
This is the summer season where you’re guaranteed to not lose access due to snowfall.
The later in the year you do it the hotter it will be! If you want to just get the viewpoint by funicular then this is open from Mid-April to Mid-November.
The funicular will take around 8 minutes each way.
How to get to Harder Kulm hike trailhead
If you’re staying in either Interlaken or Unterseen then we’d recommend you park at Parkplatz, which is the primary car park for the train station.
This is an inexpensive, open-to-all parking zone that takes card.
It’s only a 5-10 minute walk from here to the start of the hike which will also take you over the River Aare, a sight in itself!
Our recommended car park location is Parkplatz
By public transport
There isn’t a bus that takes you to the start of the Harder Kulm but there are currently 5 bus routes that will stop off at the Interlaken train station, called Interlaken Ost, Bahnhof.
The train station is slightly closer to the start of the walk than the parking recommended above, but will still take between 5 & 10 minutes.
Quick note: It is worth noting that if you are staying in any Interlaken hotel, caravan site or hostel, then you will be provided with a ‘Guest Pass‘ by your accommodation, this pass will provide you with free access to all buses in Interlaken. It will also provide you discounts to many local amenities in the surrounding area!
Harder Kulm hike: key details
Distance of the hike
The total distance of this hike is 8.2 kilometers/5.1 miles.
Duration of the hike
It takes most hikers between 4 hours to complete this hike.
With the aggressive gradient and so many great photo opportunities, this isn’t surprising for just 8km.
As a rough guide, we jogged half of the descent whilst stopping to take the odd photo and the full descent took us 1 hour 15.
Elevation of the hike
The total elevation of this hike is 773 meters.
This is all covered in the first half of the hike and can be off-putting, hence the funicular.
Take it from us, the views are worth the grind!
Difficulty of the hike
This hike is classed as moderately challenging due to the elevation covered over the short distance.
I would not say this is a technical hike, so if you feel you are fit enough then definitely don’t be put off!
Harder Kulm hike: what to expect on the day of your hike
After starting the hike (and after making the right choice to not get the funicular!) within a couple of hundred meters, the first point of interest is the Alpenwildpark Interlaken.
This is home to both Ibex & a colony of Marmots which can be seen in their two separate enclosures.
The Ibex is an iconic animal for the area and you’ll be lucky to see one in the wild so ensure you take a photo or two of the males with their huge curved horns!
As you leave the animal park you’ll soon immediately begin to climb up amongst the trees on a steady incline which will now persist all the way to the top.
As you make your way up you’ll be able to catch a number of glimpses between the trees to appreciate your elevation gain and warm you up for the view at the top.
You’ll be taken through a number of switchbacks before getting to the first viewpoint of Hardermandii.
This is a great place to take a quick break with a fantastic view before making the final push to the top.
Just before you get to Harder Kulm you’ll again be taken through a number of switchbacks that will spit you out into the outside seating area of the Harder Kulm restaurant and viewing platform.
Now you can enjoy the hard-earned view of both the Lakes and Interlaken.
Once you’ve taken your photos you can now resume the walk or get the funicular back down.
If you’ve again made the right decision to not take the funicular then you will need to walk through the outside seating area.
This will take you towards another viewpoint just behind the restaurant if you want to complete the loop hike.
If you would prefer you could retrace your steps for a slightly shorter walk.
This second viewpoint offers a different view with the opportunity to get the aesthetic restaurant in the picture.
From this second viewpoint, the trail resumes its incline whilst presenting you with further brilliant views of Interlaken and Lake Brienz.
The loop peaks at 1,339m before taking you on the descent at about 4.5km into the hike.
It is now all downhill from here!
The trail will take you through a couple of long switchbacks before dropping you off halfway down the trail you just walked up.
From here it’s about taking it steady through the slightly technical sections and getting down safely.
Once you’ve been through to say hi again to the Ibex & Marmots you can now either return to your car, continue with a walk down the River Aare or check out one of Interlaken’s many cafes for a well-earned treat.
To access the route map, we’d suggest downloading AllTrails.
This is our go-to platform when it comes to navigating our way around a walk as you’re able to download the map ahead of time.
Route map: Harder Kulm Loop Trail
Tips for the Harder Kulm Hike
Wear proper hiking shoes
As you’ve just read, there is a long descent to handle and without the correct footwear, this could cause a large amount of discomfort for both your ankles and feet.
There are also a large number of roots and rocks which could cause your ankle to roll.
Supportive footwear will help to prevent this from occurring.
Remember to take food and water
As the hike has a demanding first half and the summers in Interlaken can be above 30 degrees it would be unwise to tackle this hike without the correct amount of fluids and nutrition.
You will be able to re-fill your water bottles at the restaurant (or treat yourself to a beer) at the top.
Go for a dip in Lake Brienz
If you fancy a wild swim, then Lake Brienz is the perfect spot.
After a long hike, you won’t regret it and there are plenty of spots around the lake close to the town that offers easy access!
Where to stay for hiking Harder Kulm
Interlaken is the obvious place to stay if you’re looking to explore Harder Kulm and the two surrounding lakes.
This is a great hub if you’re using public transport due to the many bus routes and train stations.
It may be a bit expensive and we wouldn’t class this as a budget location but it has everything you will need for your stay from lake access to luxury watch shops!
Wilderswil is a small village just outside of Interlaken as you head South, only a 5-minute drive from the centre of Interlaken.
It is a quiet village that has small convenience shops and restaurants as well as a train station.
It has the benefit of having Interlaken as its neighbour without the buzz, so it depends on what kind of break you’re after!
Explore beyond the Harder Kulm Hike
If you like the sound of this Harder Kulm hike, then we think you’ll also enjoy some of the other great activities nearby.
You’ll be able to find other activities in the area on our site, however, below are some of our favourites which are similar to this hike in Interlaken.
Explore the Jungfrau Region further
- Schynige Platte / one of the most spectacular areas in the Jungfrau Region with more than just hiking trails to explore
- Lauterbrunnen hike / an easy walk to the waterfalls in one of the most idyllic villages in Switzerland
- Augstmatthorn hike / one of the most challenging yet highly rewarding trails in Switzerland with unbelievable views
- Adventures in Interlaken / all the tips for an awesome stay in Interlaken
- Oeschinensee Hike / a stunning panoramic hike around Lake Oeschinen
Explore the unbelievable Appenzell Region
- Schäfler ridge hike / an impressive snake-like trail around the rugged mountains in Appenzell
- Seealpsee hike / a waterfall trail to one of the most accessible lakes in the area
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