Hiking in Interlaken and the surrounding areas is one of the best things to do in Switzerland. It’s an unbelievable hiking destination that offers a variety of trails for a range of fitness levels whilst still providing awe-inspiring and panoramic views over the unbelievable scenery.
I’ve spent almost a month in Interlaken exploring all of the different trails in and around the town, and the hikes on this list are genuinely some of my favourite hikes to date that I can guarantee you’ll also fall in love with.
In this guide, you’ll find some of the very best hikes in Interlaken, ranging from easy to hard.
I’ll let you know some key information about getting to Interlaken and how to travel around, as well as when the best time to visit is.
In addition, you’ll find some information on what you need to pack and recommendations on where to stay.
At the very end of this guide, there is an important section on how to save money on a hiking trip to Interlaken, as the trains and gondolas can quickly add up.
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
Plane | If you’re coming from another country, the closest airport to Interlaken is Bern. It’s approximately a 40-minute drive from the airport to Interlaken, or for those taking the train, it’s about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Whilst Bern is the closest airport, it’s often the most expensive to fly into. Other airports to consider are Geneva and Zurich. If you’ve got enough time on your hands, then travelling to either of these may end up saving you some money.
Check prices: Flights
Train | If you’re heading to Interlaken from another location in Europe or Switzerland, then it’s worth considering the train since there is an extensive high-speed railway network available. These are usually between major cities, and so you’ll need to also catch a connecting smaller train to Interlaken. However, this is definitely worth checking out as this is often quicker and/or cheaper than flying.
For example, Lyon to Interlaken by plane/train is considerably more expensive and takes 1 hour and 30 minutes longer, plus the extra time you’ll need to arrive at the airport.
Check prices: Train
Bus | Taking the bus is usually the longest journey, but the cheapest. For those on a budget, it’s probably the way to go. However, I’d recommend always double-checking this before you leave, as Switzerland seems to be the anomaly compared to other European countries when it comes to prices of public transport.
Sometimes the cost benefit versus the time benefit doesn’t always stack up great.
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
Car | If you’re travelling around Switzerland as a group then the likelihood is that travelling by car will be both cost and time effective. I’ve snagged some pretty cheap deals on car rental over the years in Switzerland (which is highly surprising given the fact that most things are pretty expensive here).
My favourite platform to use is Rentalcars.com as they pull together all of the best deals on the market. This saves heaps of time trawling through different sites and ensures you get the best bang for your buck.
Check prices: Rentalcars.com
Best way to get around
Once you’ve made it to Interlaken for your hiking trip, there are a few different ways to get around, and you’ll likely use multiple, if not all, of them.
Bus | If you’re staying in a hotel, B&B, hostel or campsite for 3 days or longer, then you’ll be given a travel pass that will allow you to explore the Jungfrau Region by bus for free. This is great for hikes that are around the edge of the two Lakes which Interlaken sits between: Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
For hikes which are slightly further away, this will put a strain on time since they take a while to get from A to B. However, if you’re on a budget and have enough time to travel this way, this is a great opportunity to save some money.
Train | If you’re keen to do some of the best hikes in Interlaken and around the Jungfrau Region, then there really is no getting away from the train. For example, the first hike on my list involves travelling by train, unless you want to tag on a super steep mountain climb before you’ve even begun the hike.
You’ll get a small discount on some of these with the travel card I mentioned earlier, but it’s usually worth purchasing one of the other travel cards on offer if you’re exploring the region or country and are wanting to tick off most hikes and attractions on offer. I’ll put a section at the end of this guide where you can read more about that.
Car | Whilst all of these hikes can be reached by public transport, if you’ve got a car then you’ll save quite a bit of time and have much more flexibility. There is car parking available at the beginning of every trailhead and it’s cheap by comparison to countries like the UK.
Walk | Some of these hikes can be reached by foot from the centre of Interlaken. If you don’t want to spend a lot of travel but still want to tackle some of the best hikes in the area, this is certainly is still doable. Often there is a short funicular railway which isn’t too expensive, but if you’re on a budget and got the legs for it, then you can always avoid this cost too.
Best time to go hiking in Interlaken
The hiking season in Interlaken is between the end of May and mid-October.
This is when most of the gondolas and trains will be operating to take hikers to trails which are further up the mountain.
If you are only interested in hiking at lower levels, then some trails will be open in Interlaken in winter, but you should hike with caution since snow and ice will be prevalent outside of these months.
Between June and September, you can expect temperatures to be hot. Either side of these months within the hiking season will be much cooler and perhaps more preferable for those who are heading to Interlaken with the sole purpose of hiking.
8 Best hikes in Interlaken and the surrounding area
The Panorama Trail
Distance: 5.8km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 236 meters | Difficulty: Easy | Route: map
The Panorama Route begins by taking the Schynige Platte Bahn from Wilderswil to the Schynige Platte summit, which is an excellent historic railway experience in itself. Wilderswil is just 5 minutes by train, bus or car from Interlaken, or approximately a 30-minute flat walk.
Once you arrive at Schynige Platte, there are multiple hiking trails to choose from, however, The Panorama Trail is one of the very best hikes in Interlaken that you’ll find up here.
The route begins by leading through the Botanical Alpine Garden which is home to over 750 species of plants – some of which are used for medicinal purposes. It then goes on to undulate along the edge of the mountain, with superb views of the three of the major peaks in the region: Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger.
Eventually, you’ll begin to circulate and be met with panoramic views over Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. The route follows a ridge-like trail with these views for quite some time (hence the name of the hike) before finding an easy stretch of gravel which ultimately leads back to the Schynige Platte Bahn for the return journey to Wilderswill.
Once you arrive at the station, you’ll find some places to eat as well as some other things to do. You can read more about what’s on offer in my complete guide which is linked below.
Check prices: Schynige Platte Bahn
Read the complete guide: Schynige Platte
Kandersteg to Oeschinenesee
Distance: 15.2 km | Time: 4.5 hours | Elevation: 1051 meters | Difficulty: Moderate/Hard | Route: map
The Kandersteg to Oeschinensee hike is one of the very best hikes near Interlaken as well as Switzerland in my opinion. It quite literally makes your jaw drop with its beauty. And, to top it off, you don’t need to take any expensive train or gondola to do it.
The route begins from the charming ski-resort village of Kandersteg. This is approximately a 45-minute drive from Interlaken or a 1 hour and 10-minute train. It’s a hike that is a little further away from Interlaken, but it’s well worth it to see the unmatched beauty of the northern side of the Bernese Alps and Oeschinesee as a pair.
The initial climb is approximately 2 kilometres and it’s mostly through woodland with a number of switchbacks as you head up the mountainside. It’s no mean feat, but at just over 2 kilometres, it’s more than doable for even the novice hiker. However, if you are worried about the climb, then there is a gondola available. But, this isn’t cheap unless you have a travel card (more on that at the end of the guide).
After the initial climb, you’ll be met by the dazzling blue waters of Oeschinensee and the rugged snow-capped mountains which encapsulate it. If you’ve got decent fitness levels and you’re up for a challenge, then you’ll follow the trail which leads around most or all of the lake, before heading back down the same way you came.
Some of the trail around the lake is pretty sketchy, and should only be tackled by advanced hikers.
If you’re not an advanced hiker, then you can still enjoy this walk around some of the lake before turning back. In this case, the hike will be approximately 10 kilometres and much easier to tackle.
There is plenty on offer at Oeschinesee, from canoeing to crazy mountain coasters. You can read my complete guide using the link below.
Read the complete guide: Oeschinensee hike
Harder Kulm Short Loop
Distance: 8.2 km | Time: 2.5 hours | Elevation: 773 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route: map (without the Harder Bahn)
Harder Kulm Hike is a great easy hike from Interlaken. You’ll need to hop on the Harder Bahn which is a funicular railway that is near Interlaken Ost train station and is fairly inexpensive by comparison to other trains and gondolas in the area. It takes just 10 minutes to reach the summit and is primarily used for those visiting the Harder Kulm viewpoint.
Alternatively, you could avoid the Harder Bahn and hike up the mountainside, but this will add some significant elevation to the hike (included in the statistics above).
If you choose to take the funicular railway, you’ll disembark from the Harder Bahn and follow the stream of people heading to the Harder Kulm viewpoint. Here you’ll find some of the best views over Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, as well as a restaurant.
After admiring the spectacular views, you’ll find the woodland trail which zig-zags its way down the side of the mountain. This is mostly covered by trees, which on a hot day, is very welcome. Every now and then there will be a gap which provides the perfect window frame of Interlaken from above.
Overall, this is a great easy trail that both novice and experienced hikers can enjoy.
Read the complete guide: Harder Kulm hike
Book tickets: Harder Bahn
Augstmatthorn Ridge Hike
Distance: 17.6 km | Time: 4-5 hours | Elevation: 981 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route: map (excluding the funicular railway)
Augstmatthorn Ridge hike is one of the best yet most challenging Interlaken hikes that leaves from the edge of the town centre. You’ll need to take the Harder Bahn up the edge of the mountain (unless you’re willing to make this already challenging walk even harder).
After a quick stop at the Harder Kulm viewpoint, the route continues to ascend up the mountain. It’s a long and mostly gradual accent which leads through the forest for most of the way. You’ll get a few gaps in the trees and be able to see Lake Brienz peeping through, but these are few and far between.
Once you’ve made it through the forest, you’ll cross a field with stunning scenic views of the Swiss countryside to the left, whilst the view to the right is still fairly restricted.
As you continue along the trail, you’ll dip in and out of woodland before eventually arriving at the tail end of the Hardergrat ridge that leads to the Augstmatthorn summit. This is by far the most impressive part of the walk, with excellent panoramic views of Lake Brienz and the Bernese Alps.
After a gentle incline along the ridge, it begins to steepen quite drastically and it’s a tough accent to the summit. But, keep pushing on, as the sense of achievement is well worth the challenge.
I did this hike as an out-and-back loop, however, you could also descend into Habkern, Obereid or Brienz if you’re happy with steep descents.
Read the complete guide: Augstmatthorn hike
Book tickets: Harder Bahn
Lauterbrunnen Waterfall Hike
Distance: 8.2 km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 359 meters | Difficulty: Easy | Route: map
Lauterbrunnen Waterfall Hike is a wonderful stroll through the picturesque Lauterbrunnen Valley that leads to two impressive waterfalls: Staubach Falls and Trummelbach Falls.
You’ll need to either catch a 20-minute train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen station or drive 15 minutes and park in the Lauterbrunnen train station car park.
From the station, the route leads through the vibrant village center, where there will be dozens of sweet restaurants, cafes, and souvineer shops. You’ll be able to see the impressive Staubach Falls straight ahead and you’ll follow the path towards it.
Upon arrival to Staubach Falls, you can head up the short but steep pathway to get a closer look, or continue on to Trummelbach Falls along the long and winding country road.
Once you reach Trummelbach Falls, you can head inside for a small fee if you want to, before heading back alongside the river to Lauterbrunnen.
This is a relatively short and easy hike near Interlaken, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most idyllic.
Check prices: train
Read the complete guide: Lauterbrunnen Waterfall hike
Aare Gorge Canyon Walk
Distance: 3.5 km | Time: 1 hour | Elevation: 295 meters | Difficulty: Easy | Route: map
Aare Gorge Canyon Walk is a super cool board walk that leads through Aare Gorge Canyon. It’s a really easy walk near Interlaken that’s great for all of the family, as well as more experienced hikers who need to rest their legs a little.
From Interlaken, it’s approximately 30 minutes by car or 45 minutes by train followed by a 15 minute walk.
Once you’ve paid the small entrance fee, the route begins to lead along a gravel path and deep into the gorge. You’ll reach a point where you’ll be met by a cave. Once you’ve made it through the cave, you’ll then be onto the board walk.
The board walk hugs the edge of the River Aare, dipping in and out of caves for approximately 3.5 kilometers. This is an out and back route that whilst short, is an impressive and unique sight that’s worth spending an hour or two exploring. Hiking in Interlaken doesn’t always have to be challenging to see awesome sights – albeit these are different from the usual views!
Upon return, you’ll also find a restaurant, cafe and bathroom facilities.
Iseltwald to Giessbach Falls
Distance: 11.7 km | Time: 3-4 hours | Elevation: 467 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route: map
The Iseltwald to Giessbach Falls hike is an excellent hike that leads beside Lake Brienz before heading deep into the mountainside forest and finding the impressive Giessbach Falls.
Getting to Iseltwald from Interlaken is easy since it is nearby and is usually a place which is on most travellers’ Interlaken itinerary anyway. It takes just over 10 minutes by car or approximately 20 minutes by bus (which should be free if you’re accommodation provides a travel card for staying 3 or more nights – more on that in the section above ‘best way to get around’ if you missed it earlier).
The hike is easy for the first few kilometres, since you’ll be following the flat trail which leads beside Lake Brienz. It then begins to steepen quite rapidly as you head up the side of the mountain. If this sounds daunting, then there is the option to take the Giessbach Bahn which will avoid most, but not all, of the incline.
After the incline, the route flattens and leads across a bridge to Giessbach Falls. It’s an impressive sight to see it crashing down into Lake Brienz through the perfectly framed window that the forest creates. You’ll also be able to see the Grandhotel Giessbach which is another fantastic sight.
Once you’ve finished admiring the falls and the surrounding views, the route leads back to Iseltwald an alternative way. There are some steep sections, however with the elevation you’ve climbed, these can’t really be avoided.
After you’ve arrived back into Iseltwald, there are plenty of things to do and see, which you can read more about in my complete guide below.
Read the complete guide: Iseltwald
Reichenbach Falls Hike
Distance: 6.9 km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 362 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route: map
Last up on my hiking in Interlaken guide is the Reichenbach Falls Hike. Reichenbach Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the area. In fact, *spoiler alert*, it’s where Sherlock Holmes famously fell to his death.
To begin the hike, you have two options: hike from Meiringen or take the funicular railway and begin your hike from slightly higher up the mountainside. Both are great options, and whichever you choose you’ll not be disappointed since they both lead to Reichenbach Falls.
If you’re looking for an easy trail, then I suggest that you take the funicular railway which is called the Reichenbachfall Bahn and costs 12 Swiss Francs for a return ticket. You can park for free right outside and it’s a super short journey, but a great experience in itself.
Once you arrive at the top, you’ll instantly find Reichenbach Falls and be able to follow the trail which continues to lead up the mountainside.
The trail finds a number of different viewpoints of the falls, all of which are impressive in their own right. Although it’s a steep climb, it’s fairly short-lived and each viewpoint provides an opportunity to rest.
Once you’ve reached the final viewpoint, you can either turn around and walk back the way you came before catching the Reichenbachfalls Bahn back to the base, or you can continue along the trail which zig-zags down the mountain and through the forest.
If you’re wanting to hike from Meiringen, then you’ll also be hiking this forest trail out and back. You’ll find the route map for this trail linked above.
Alternatively, if you want to avoid the funicular railway and you have a car, then it’s possible to drive to Gasthaus Zwirgi and walk just a few minutes to Reichenbach Falls.
Location: Gasthaus Zwirgi
What to pack for your Interlaken hiking trip
What you need to pack for you hiking in Interlaken will depend on what time of year you’re heading out to Switzerland. However, as a general rule of thumb, you will need to pack shorts and t-shirt if you’re hiking in the height of summer, with some waterproofs in case you get hit by the occasional storm – something which is not uncommon in Switzerland in summer!
If you’re hiking in the shoulder season, then you’ll need a coat, as well as a hat and some gloves for the hikes which are higher up the mountain.
Regardless of what time of year you’re heading to Interlaken for a hiking trip, I’d always recommend that you use an app called ‘Accuweather’. In my experience, this is the most accurate weather app and I love the ‘live radar’ function which shows a snapshot of whats going to happen during the next few hours. I’d also recommend that you check the webcam in the location you’re heading to. You can find this with a quick search of your location followed by ‘webcam’.
Where to stay for hiking in Interlaken
If you’re keen to do many of the hiking trails in and around Interlaken, then there are a number of options when it comes to choosing a base.
The obvious place to stay is, ofcourse, Interlaken. And, there is no denying that it is a great base. It’s a relatively big and vibrant town that is at the foothills of many of the hiking trails on this list.
You’ll find that there are a wealth of awesome restaurants to choose from and a number of accommodation options to suit all types of budgets.
My second recommendation of where to stay in the Jungfrau Region is Lauterbrunnen. It’s a small and charming village with a great atmosphere and is where the popular Lauterbrunnen Waterfall Hike begins.
Since growing in popularity, you’ll now find both hotels and hostels in this area. If you prefer picturesque villages to towns and you’ve got a car or you’re happy to spend extra time of public transport, then perhaps consider Lauterbrunnen as your base.
The other popular place to stay in the Jungfrau Region is Grindlewald. It’s famously known for being a popular filming location, with the likes of Star Wars and The Golden Compass at the top of the list.
Besides that, it’s also where one of the best views of the Eiger Mountains North Face can be seen. It’s an idyllic place to stay that’s for sure, but it is slightly further away than the two aforementioned locations.
- Budget: Eiger Lodge Easy
- Mid-range: Hotel Gletscherblick
- Luxury: Bergwelt Grindelwald – Alpine Design Resort
How to save money on your hiking trip
As already mentioned, hiking in Interlaken can be expensive given the fact that you often need to use some method of public transport or a gondola to reach the best hiking spots.
Below are some of the pre-paid tickets which you can purchase ahead of your trip to save a decent chunk of money whilst your hiking in this area.
- 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
Explore Switzerland further
If you enjoyed this guide on hiking in Interlaken and the surrounding area, then some of my other guides may be of use to you. You’ll find all of this content under the category: Switzerland, however a great place to start with is this Interlaken itinerary.
If you are keen to explore more hikes in Switzerland then I’d highly recommend the Appenzell Region. You’ll find some of the best hikes in Switzerland here, such as Schäfler Ridge and Saxer Lücke hike.
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!