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This image shows a girl standing on the Harderkulm viewpoint
Harder Kulm viewpoint

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

A view from the viewpoint of the town of Interlaken with Jungfrau in the background
View of Interlaken from the Harder Kulm viewpoint

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.

A view of Lake Thun & mountains from the Harder kulm hike
View on the way up to Harder Kulm viewpoint

How to get to Harder Kulm hike trailhead

By car

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

A view of Lake Brienz and the west part of Interlaken from the viewpoint on the Harder Kulm Hike
Lake Brienz & Interlaken West

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

A photo of the Harderkulm restaurant with Lake Thun and mountains In the background
Harderkulm restaurant with Lake Thun

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.

A wooden statue along the Harder kulm hike playing the traditional long horn with Lake Brienz in the background
Harder Kulm statue
A wooden statue carrying cheese wheels along the Harder kulm hike with Lake Thun in the background
Statue Harder Kulm

Decision Point

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.

A woman taking a photo of Lake Brienz and the surrounding mountains
Lake Brienz

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.

Route map

A photo of the Harderkulm viewing platform with mountains and Lake Brienz in the background
Harder Kulm viewing platform

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!

A photo of the restaurant with the Swiss Flag
Harder Kulm restaurant

Where to stay for hiking Harder Kulm

Harder kulm funicular station with mountains and Lake Brienz in the background
Harder Kulm station


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!

Recommended stays:


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!

Recommended stays:

Explore beyond the Harder Kulm Hike

A man looking down onto Interlaken from the viewpoint found on the Harder Kulm Hike
Looking down on Interlaken

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

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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