What to do in and around Interlaken, Switzerland

The popular Swiss resort town of Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland region was much loved by the Victorian gentry who holidayed here in their droves. It was so popular that the town’s name was changed from Aarmühle (meaning “near the mill”) to Interlaken (“between lakes”) in the late 1800s, as the latter was easier to pronounce.

The town is nestled between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and overlooks Switzerland’s famous three peaks: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau a veritable insta-worthy landscape.

Interlaken gets busy in the summer as people use it as a base to explore nearby regions.  So consider a winter and enjoy the quieter vibe and roster of fantastic adventure activities in and around Interlaken, from winter kayaking to paragliding. 

Winter kayaking

The glacier-fed Lake Brienz is one of Switzerland’s deepest lakes – 260m at its deepest point. It is shallow at the edges but rapidly deepening so you can’t see the bottom just a few meters from the shore. 

This makes it a perfect lake for kayaking as you can climb in with only your feet submerged in water and within seconds be gliding over the lake. During the winter you’ll need to wear a dry suit to keep you– if you fall in your drysuit should prevent you from getting too wet and cold.

During our visit the lake was an oasis of perfect calm with barely a ripple in sight.

Our guides from Hightide Kayak School Dave and Peter let us use the sea kayaks which are around 5m in length and faster than the standard touring kayaks. We set off at around 10am before the sun had risen fully over the surrounding mountains to a spot on the lake where the sun first casts its glow in the morning.

We stopped for a short break after an hour or so of kayaking and made our way up to Ringgenberg Castle which dates back to the 1200s. We climbed the steep steps to the top of the castle and enjoyed some fruit tea and a biscuit as we looked out onto the lake.

Jetboat ride across Lake Brienz

We booked a ride on a water-propelled jet boat – a jet of water ejected from the back of the boat – for a thrilling jaunt across the lake with Jet boat Interlaken. We reached speeds 60 kilometres per hour. Its pretty high-octane when doing 360° turns.

On the journey to a small island called Schnecke (German for “snail”), drivers Phil and Grizzy told us about the region’s. The island looks like a snail from above and there’s also a rumour that snails were farmed for food here way back when. We then sailed passed Seeburg Castle, which was once used as a sanatorium for troubled children and rumoured.

Paragliding over Interlaken

Paragliding is Interlaken’s most popular adventure sport. No previous experience and pretty much anyone can sign up whether you’re nine or ninety. Paragliding Interlaken organises daily tandem flights that take off from Amisbuel near the town of Beatenberg around 800m above Interlaken.

You’ll be attached to an experienced paragliding instructor and together you float through the air and will also (if you agree) perform some high-octane tricks such as helicopter turns. My instructor Drew has completed more than 10,000 flights so I knew I was in safe hands.

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