When I first went to Interlaken, it was by accident. I thought it was “off the trail” so to speak & I thought I was one of the cool kids seeing it first. Someone told us about it on a train and we detoured to see what the fuss was about. Turns out, everyone and their mother had been there. Even now, it seems like every week I see a new Facebook friend hang-gliding or canyoning in the freezing glacier water of Interlaken.
But, is Interlaken too touristy?
I always re-enforce the beauty of Interlaken and assure travelers that even if it’s becoming quite the tourist stop, it is SO worth it. The lake water is beyond tempting to jump in with its clear blue tiny ripples of waves.
The tiny town is like something out of a movie; even the bars still have curfews for noise. Plus, the mountain views of the “virgin, monk, and ogre” peaks will blow your mind. They say the monk protects the virgin from the ogre. The virgin is the mountain peak that is snow white, while the ogre has a black peak.
Canyoning in the glaciers of the Swiss Alps is still one of the most thrilling things I have ever done (it’s up there with whitewater rafting grade 5’s in the Nile and bungee jumping). Canyoning Saxeteen is a fun but scary mix of cliff jumping, repelling, and slipping down natural made water slides. Luckily, there was a wetsuit to keep me from freezing- it was still cold. The guides chose names for us all to wear on our helmets. I was dubbed “barbie”.
There have been cases of flash flooding causing many lives to be lost at once which is horribly tragic, so make sure you think about the risk involved. The danger makes it all that more appealing to some, like me. The cliff jumping is difficult to work up courage because of how shallow that water is. On multiple occasions more than half the group would choose not to jump. I plan to take on Europe by train again and will for sure do canyoning in Interlaken again. I’d like to try a new canyon.
The other kick-ass outdoor activity I did was hang-gliding. A “ticket to fly” was put in my shoe, with my signature, basically saying if I die, it was my fault. Super. After a couple beers and helping put together my glider I was running off the top of a mountain tandem with my guide, Bernie at www.hangglidinginterlaken.com.
Insanely exhilarating to get the running start of the moutain. To be honest though, in the air it wasn’t that scary. The views were amazing and make it well worth it on their own.After much floating around having Bernie snap photos, he dove head first to give me the feeling of free fall. After landing with drool over my face and yelling obscenities, I had a stupid grin on my face all day.
Other options including hiking, sky diving, riding quads, boating, kayaking, and ice climbing. I HAVE to go back just for the ice climbing. There was an avalanche the day I was meant to go and I still haven’t recovered entirely from that disappointment.
There aren’t as many hostels to choose from in Interlaken, as you’ll see when you search. Almost everyone I’ve met on the road stayed at the same one: Balmers. It’s popular, cute, you’ll meet loads of people, and they set up tours for you. Because we loved the town, we wanted to stay longer but our hostel was booked. Luckily in the quaint little town, a bar was nice enough to let us sleep in the attic. The kindness of strangers always comes in handy. Click here for rates and availability.
if you’re not into any of the activities I’ve mentioned, spend the day hanging out at the local pool
Interlaken is THE place to do the outdoor activities you’re seeking but be prepared to spend a decent chunk of money. In my experience, it’s no more than you would spend in the states (about 200 an activity once you buy the CD of photos they take). No matter how many people go to Interlaken, it won’t take away that special place in my heart. It might be touristy, but so is seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris and that doesn’t stop anyone! At the time I went to Interlaken, I had never seen anything more beautiful. That’s exactly how I will remember it.
Did you love Interlaken? Is there anywhere you went that exceeded your expectations?