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INTERLAKEN IN WINTER  – BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE

BEST INTERLAKEN WINTER ACTIVITIES + TIPS FOR YOUR INTERLAKEN WINTER TRIP

Interlaken is best known as the adventure capital of Europe. However, there is much more to it. Interlaken in the winter months is an especially perfect time to visit and explore what the Swiss Alps have to offer.  And if you are wondering about the best things to do in Interlaken in winter, then this post is for you.

The region of Bernese Oberland, where Interlaken is located, is one of the best destinations in Switzerland to visit in winter. From winter sports to more relaxed Interlaken winter activities, there is a lot to do. I visit Switzerland often – at any time of the year and never get enough, winter in Switzerland is unique and so is winter in Interlaken.

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE  – AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. MORE ABOUT IT HERE.

Interlaken in the winter, near the tourism office
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR INTERLAKEN WINTER TRIP

This post is perfect for you if you want to find out about the best winter activities for Interlaken – from winter sports to visiting cute villages, in the region of Interlaken, I tell you about my top recommendations for your winter trip. You will also find many travel tips for your winter vacation in Interlaken – let´s start with the general tips.

Before talking about the best winter Interlaken activities, I’d like to introduce you to the Swiss Travel Pass and the Jungfrau Pass.

Jungfrau Pass VS Swiss Travel Pass

The Swiss Travel Pass is amazing for getting around in Switzerland. It includes a couple of mountain excursions and amazing boat cruises. You get a 50% discount on many other mountain excursions (including some mentioned here). I highly recommend getting the pass if you visit Switzerland for more than 3 days. It can help you save a lot of money – even if the passes are quite expensive. Check out prices here.

Alternatively, getting a Jungfrau Pass is a good idea because you can actually use the Jungfrau Pass for mountain trips. 

You can buy one either for a pedestrian or a skier/snowboarder. You can use all of the trains of the Jungfraubahn (which will get you to places like Interlaken Ost, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Jungfraujoch, etc., as well as up mountain peaks without any extra surcharge, including Männlichen and Grindelwald First). You can choose between two different tickets – one includes a trip to Jungfraujoch, and one does not. 

  • Check out the Jungfrau Pass here, which is available as a 2 to 8-day pass, or a season pass.

How to Get Around Interlaken

Driving in Interlaken is very safe and easy. The streets are well paved, though driving in the mountains might be a bit tricky. For the winter months, however, I recommend getting around via public transportation because of the snowy conditions (if there is snow). 

Public transportation in Interlaken is effortless as buses/trains are frequent, punctual, and reliable. 

If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken, you will get the Interlaken Guest Card, which gives you free bus rides within Interlaken and nearby places (like really close villages like Iseltwald). If you stay in the Thun region, you can even use your Thun Guest Card to get to Interlaken. However, they are not really useful if you rely solely on public transportation and do not have a car because you cannot use trains.

My tip is to get the Swiss Travel Pass or the Jungfrau Pass instead.

Where to Stay

Interlaken is home to some amazing hotels – amazing and expensive. I have a detailed accommodation guide for Interlaken, but you can find some tips below.

  • The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Since I have not stayed there myself, I can only repeat what I heard: This hotel is supposed to be amazing. So if you are looking for a fancy place, this is probably the best pick.
  • I recently stayed at Hotel du Nord and was very positively surprised because the reviews were not great, but since all the rooms were renovated recently, it was a great place to stay. And the breakfast was good, too! This is my choice for a central hotel in the heart of Interlaken. Click here to get the best deals.
  • If you are on a budget, I recommend staying at the gorgeous hostel that I stayed at when I was not traveling with my dog. This hostel is a bit more expensive than other hostels, but one of the best I have stayed at – also in the heart of Interlaken. Check out the hostel here.

Weather

Between December and February, you can expect the weather to be the coldest compared to the other monthly average temperatures. There is no guarantee of snow during these months though because Interlaken itself is located at about 568 meters above sea level.

  • The average expected temperature when visiting around Christmastime in December is 1.2 degrees Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • January has proven to be the coldest month of the year in Bern with temperatures usually lingering around 0.6 degrees Celsius (33 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • And if you’re visiting in February, you can expect temperatures to be settled at around 1.7 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit).

If you visit during any of the above times, the chances of seeing and spending time in the snow are high. Keep it mind that it might be much colder in the mountains.

With temperatures this low, it’s important to pack to stay warm. Here are some essential items you should bring along with you:

  • Snow or winter boots 
  • Thermal undergarments
  • A thick winter coat
  • Winter gloves
  • A warm hat
  • A scarf
  • Warm, full-coverage garments

Winter in Interlaken, Switzerland, Arzo Travels
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TOP THINGS TO DO IN INTERLAKEN IN THE WINTER

Go Skiing and Snowboarding

Though the town of Interlaken itself is not a ski paradise, there are plenty of options to do winter sports in the nearby areas. 

Skiing in Grindelwald
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Niederhorn Mountain, Brienz-Axalp Mountain, Diemtigtal Valley, Schwanden-Sigriswil, Habkern, and Aeschi-Aeschiried are compact and family-friendly. And if you are looking for more difficult slopes, then head to other places nearby like Murren or Grindelwald. There are plenty of opportunities to do all the winter sports!

Have you never tried skiing or snowboarding? No problem, you can take lessons, even as an absolute beginner. Also, you can rent all kinds of equipment in Interlaken, Grindelwald, etc.

Enjoy Some Night Sledding 

What would be a winter vacation without sledding? Sledding is perfect because you do not even need any experience. Whether you enjoy sledding during the day or night, here you can do both.

Night sledding Eiger Run in Grindelwald
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©Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG

There are sledding packages for Niederhorn Mountain or Axalp, with Lake Brienz views included. But there are also many more areas you can sled – including night sledding at Eiger Run.

  • Make sure to wrap up warm and if you do not have your own sled, you can rent a sled at one of the many rental stores. 

Visit Lauterbrunnen

While Lauterbrunnen is not necessarily a winter wonderland, I still recommend visiting this small valley, which is one of the most famous destinations in Switzerland. 

Lauterbrunnen with Staubbach Waterfalls in the background
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There may or may not be snow in Lauterbrunnen, but there is the world-famous waterfall Staubbach Waterfall and you can explore one of the cutest villages in Switzerland. Check out my Lauterbrunnen guide for more information. 

And from Lauterbrunnen, it is not far to some of the best winter/snow destinations in Switzerland – namely Muerren and Wengen.

Explore Muerren / Schilthorn

Mürren (or Muerren) is a paradise for winter sports lovers. It´s here that you can enjoy endless days of winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe hiking, and more. Due to its elevated location (1650 meters above sea level) Muerren is heaven for anyone who enjoys a winter wonderland.

Views in Murren, Switzerland
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And not only is it perfect for winter sports lovers, but also for anyone who enjoys strolling in a nice winter atmosphere. As if that is not enough, the ride from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen, and then to Grütschalp and Mürren, is one of the most scenic, most stunning, most amazing train rides in Switzerland, at any time of the year – but especially in the winter months. Check out my Muerren post for more information.

View from train to Mürren
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Once at Muerren, also make sure to go up further and visit stunning Schilthorn Mountain, which gained fame because it was a movie location for one of the 007 movies (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). 

Swiss Panorama in Schilthorn
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If you visit now, you will have the chance to see some settings and play with some 007-film requisites.

Also, you have great views of the Swiss Skyline (a spectacular panorama that consists of looking at the three mountains: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau) and you can walk the “Thrill Walk” (a pathway along the rock massif). 

I visited Schilthorn in summer and winter, and winter was even more impressive because there was snow everywhere – a real winter wonderland. Check out my Schilthorn guide for more information. 

ICE Magic Interlaken

What about open-air ice skating in Interlaken? Sounds good? Then visit Ice Magic, where you have an ice rink at Höhenmatte, which is in the heart of Interlaken. Besides skating, you can try Bavarian curling, have some mulled wine or punch, or just enjoy the festive atmosphere at ICE MAGIC.

Ice Magic in Interlaken in December
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  • If you do not have skates with you, you can just rent some.
  • IMPORTANT: For the year 2022/2023 there will be no Snow Magic.

Winter Hikes

Hiking is not only for the summer season – you will find a whole range of snowy tours for all levels in the region of Interlaken, with a total of 220 km of winter trails.

Swiss Skyline and Lauberhorn at Mannlichen Mountain
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Discover the stunning scenery by going on hikes. One of my favorite winter hikes was at Männlichen Mountain, known as the Royal Walk, which leads from the Mannlichen gondola station, at 2221 meters, to the summit of Mannlichen, at 2343 meters of altitude – an easy 1-hour walk with incredible views.

  • Depending on the hikes, you will need proper hiking boots or even snow shoes. Other equipment can also be rented at the sports shops in the area. 

Kayaking at Lake Brienz 

Stunning Lake Brienz in winter means there are no (or very rare) boat cruises – so, how to get on Lake Brienz regardless? Here is the answer: kayaking. Kayaking at Lake Brienz is a unique winter experience. 

Lake Brienz in winter
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Kayaking in winter? Yes, that’s right. Lake Brienz offers you an enchanting alternative to skiing and snowboarding where you can escape the busy slopes.

Known as one of the most incredible lakes in Switzerland, this turquoise-colored lake is always worth a visit, and yet in winter, it is especially popular with kayakers.

While you could bring your own kayak, you can also book a guided tour, which is suitable for all levels. This (group) activity gives you a chance to bond, have fun, and enjoy the lake, which you have almost all to yourself – no boats, no swimmers (at least I have never seen any in the winter) – just a few other kayakers. 

Lake Thun Boat Tour

Lake Brienz is off for boat cruises (with a few exceptions) in the winter, but you can enjoy a wonderful winter boat cruise on Lake Thun that is almost as stunning as Lake Brienz.

Lake Thun boat cruise in winter, January
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The towns and villages along the shores of the lakes are actually even more gorgeous, and whether it is a cold or sunny day, you can do a 2-hour-long boat cruise or get out at one of the stops, like Spiez or Thun.

Do not worry about the cold – you can sit indoors and sip on your warm drink while looking out and enjoying the scenery – or do as I do and switch between some outdoor and indoor sitting! 

  • You can buy day tickets for Lake Thun (or single tickets) – boat cruises are free with your Swiss Travel Pass.

Visit Bern Christmas Markets 

For some great Christmas Markets at the end of November until Christmas (or even until the end of the year), head to the capital of Switzerland – Bern. There are several markets that you can visit in a day – eat your weight in yummy food and mulled wine, or buy some Christmas gifts for yourself or your loved ones while enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Sternenmark in Bern in December
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My favorite Christmas Market in Bern is the Sternenmarket. The Stars Market is located at the “Kleine Schanze“ park. Why the name, you might wonder?! Well, it is because of the star decoration, but you will also find 80 stalls that offer food and products – from traditional craftsmanship and lifestyle items to modern design. 

  • Spend the rest of the day, exploring the beautiful city of Bern – it is the prettiest city in Switzerland (in my opinion).

Have Some Adventures at Grindelwald First 

Situated 2184 meters above sea level, Grindelwald First is a summit located north of the village of Grindelwald near Interlaken. 

First Cliff Walk in Grindewald
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It’s known as the “Top of Adventure” because there are so many exciting things to do there. Of course, needless to say, the views from First are incredible, so it’s a great place even if you only have a snack outside, or a meal at the restaurant while admiring the panorama. The Bernese Alps, including the famous Eiger Mountain, make the view pretty perfect.

In winter, First is one of the best areas for skiing and snowboarding. There are 56 km of pistes in what is probably the sunniest resort in the whole region. Snowboarders, in particular, should check out the snow park to practice and show off their skills.

If you want to be active, but are not into winter sports, you can hike from First to Bachalpsee. It takes about an hour to reach this small, gorgeous lake with a wonderful panorama.

First Glider in Winter
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There are also some adventures to experience on Grindewald First – like walking on the platforms of the First Cliff Walk, First Flieger, or with the eagle-shaped First Glider

Try Velo Gemel 

It looks quite unbelievable, but I’m telling you, it’s real: There is something called a Velo Gemel. 

Eiger Run Velo Gemel with Arzo Travels
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People in Grindelwald have been riding a snow bike since 1911. It’s made of wood, you can steer it, but it has no pedals and no wheels! It looks like a bike frame placed on two wooden skates, similar to a sled. It is really fun to “bike” down a ski slope on such a weird and special bike.

Whether you use the velo gemel to ride down the Eiger Run or from Eigergletscher to Kleine Scheidegg, you will have plenty of options to try out your new favorite vehicle. 

Grindelwald velo gemel at night
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  • You can rent these velo gemels at the rental stations throughout Grindelwald or at the tourism office at the train station. And if you decide to take one of these special bikes home, you can actually buy one for around 600 CHF. Renting is obviously much cheaper :).

Have a Traditional Swiss Dinner

Nothing beats a wonderful, cozy dinner in one of the typical chalets after a day in the snow. The choices for such wooden chalet restaurants are endless.

Restaurant Brandegg is a popular choice – stop there before sledding all the way down to Grindelwald Grund (as mentioned above). This popular alpine mountain restaurant, nestled in the Swiss Alps, just opened in 2021 and you can get delicious local dishes there, such as various kinds of Rösti or cheese fondue.

Cheese Fondue in Grindelwald in winter
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As you might know, I do not consume a lot of animal products and thus Swiss food has always been a red flag for me. Believe it or not, I just tried Swiss cheese fondue at Restaurant Brandegg for the first time.

I might switch back to vegan food again next time, but if you have traditional Swiss food, then do it in the mountains in the Bernese Oberland.

Get up Jungfraujoch

Oh, one of the most unique travel experiences is going up Jungfraujoch – also known as the “Top of Europe.“ At the highest train station in Europe – at around 3500 meters above sea level – you will have some fantastic views and can enjoy many unique activities. This trip is a popular day trip from Interlaken – at any time of the year.

View from Eismeer Station on the way to Jungfraujoch
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After enjoying the views from the Sphinx Observatory (one of the highest observatories in the world), walk the Ice Palace and learn about the history of the Jungfraujoch at the Alpine Sensation.

Arzo Travels at Jungfraujoch
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Ice tunnel at Jungfraujoch
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Several restaurants offer plenty of different cuisines, and those with a sweet tooth can get chocolate at the Lindt Shop at Jungfraujoch.

I have been to Jungfraujoch in summer and winter – and winter is the best time to enjoy the panorama! The views of the snowcapped mountains, the Aletsch Glacier (the longest glacier in the Alps), and the many activities you can do up there are worth the trip. Here is more information on my trip to Jungfraujoch.

  • However, this trip is quite expensive and can cost up to about 200 CHF (yep) if you do not have any discounts (Swiss Travel Pass or Juli or a winter Jungfrau Pass).

FINAL THOUGHTS ON A WINTER VACATION IN INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND

Interlaken in the winter is a great place to visit. In a short amount of time, you can be at many places that offer stunning winter activities. Also, Interlaken itself has things to offer, like ice skating. And even if you are not into winter sports, you have plenty of other activities to choose from, like the Christmas Markets in Bern. 

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