SEE THE BEST OF INTERLAKEN IN 1 DAY – LAKE BRIENZ + BRIENZER ROTHORN
Are you wondering about the perfect 1-day Interlaken itinerary? Then read on – this post will help you find out about what to do in one day in Interlaken.
Interlaken is the epitome of breathtaking scenery: The Swiss Alps are stunning, the (mountain) lakes are out of this world, and the possibilities of activities are endless… There is no shortage of things to do. However, if you have only one day in Interlaken, you have to decide what you want to do. And this will be a hard decision – it is really hard.
I have visited Interlaken so many times, yet I always fall in love with new places. And when I talk about Interlaken, I do not mean the town only but the whole area of Interlaken (and Jungfrau).
There is the Jungfraujoch, Lauterbrunnen, Lake Brienz, Lake Thun, Sigriswil, St. Beatus Caves, Trift Bridge, and much, much more. So, how do you decide? While I cannot say this is the very best 1-day Interlaken itinerary for everyone out there, my suggestions here are based on a very special day I had.
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A PERFECT 1 DAY IN INTERLAKEN
Here is how to have a relaxed and still fun perfect day in Interlaken. This itinerary is perfect for those who like to take it very easily and avoid physical exercise, but it is also a great itinerary for active people. You can include a hike and have some nice exercise with amazing views.
This itinerary includes a couple of highlights I have had in Interlaken/Switzerland.
One of my all times travel highlights, was actually my trip to Brienzer Rothorn Mountain (about 2300m above sea level). It was one of those experiences I will not forget.
The Brienz Rothorn Railway promises “an experience of a lifetime” when visiting Brienzer Rothorn Mountain in the region Interlaken. I can say that they definitely do not promise too much.
So, I actually repeated that experience, and it did not even disappoint me the second time.
Boat Tour Lake Brienz
Start your day with a boat tour of Lake Brienz and get a good overview of the lake. The lake is located northeast of Interlaken – if you stay in Interlaken you are at the lake within minutes.
First of all, I should mention that Lake Brienz is one of the most beautiful lakes with an awesome color. It is a quite large lake with an area of 29.8 square kilometers. It is approximately 14 km long, 2.8 km wide, and 260 meters deep. At the surface, Lake Brienz is 564 meters above sea level.
I have seen smaller lakes with a more special color but never a lake of this size that mesmerizing. That lake is definitely one of my favorites ever, if not my most favorite lake. This alone will make the boat trip a highlight. P.s. I keep coming back and have done probably 5 boat cruises on Lake Brienz.
I am obsessed with boat cruises, and if you are not, this might change your views on boat cruises. Take the boat from Interlaken East to Brienz. It does not start spectacularly, but it will become amazing. There are several stops along the way. I suggest staying on the boat until you reach the Giessbach Waterfalls.
If you have time, get out at the Giessbach Waterfall which is on the southern shores of the lake. Enjoy this unique waterfall and take a short hike up there.
The Giessbach Falls tumble right past the Grandhotel Giessbach in 14 tiers, plunging 400 meters into the depths in thunderous cascades of white. You can hike up to the waterfall (it should take anywhere between 10-20 minutes) and have a coffee at the hotel’s terrace.
Alternatively, there is a funicular that gets you up to the hotel. It is just a short ride and you have to pay a fee. It does not run all the time (it belongs to the hotel at the top).
Then, you could go even further up and walk behind the waterfall. This is another uphill but easy hike and should take an additional 10-20 minutes. There is no funicular taking you up all the way behind the waterfall though.
- Take the next boat (though they don’t regularly go, so I would definitely check it out beforehand) and continue your journey.
TIP: By now, you have probably spent a few hours if you get out at Giessbach Waterfalls. If you are short on time, you can just admire it from the boat without getting out.
Then it is time to continue your boat cruise and get to Brienz. It is a cute little village on the northeast shore of Lake Brienz with a beautiful boat station.
You will find 18th-century wooden chalets and sculptures throughout the village which are testimonials to the woodcarving tradition of Brienz.
Stroll Brienz for a while or get up straight to Brienzer Rothorn and explore the beauty of Brienz once you are back from the mountain peak. Here is more about what to do in Brienz.
TIP: Check out what time the steam locomotive leaves from Brienz. It is always annoying if you just miss it because you strolled Brienz for a minute too long.
Then it is time to get up Brienzer Rothorn. It is a mountain of the Emmental Alps at 2,350 meters (7,709 feet) of elevation, which makes it the highest summit of the range.
There are different ways to reach the top:
- Hike up (some parts or all the way to the summit), or
- take the ride and enjoy a one-hour journey with a steam locomotive (almost 8km) that offers spectacular views.
In this post, I will start with the steam locomotive first and later talk about the hike.
IF YOU GET UP VIA STEAM LOCOMOTIVE:
- The train station is located next to the boat station in Brienz. It is impossible to miss the “Brienz Rothorn” sign and station.
- Buy your ticket directly at the ticket shop. I suggest buying a ticket first and then going and exploring the village of Brienz. On busy days, you are not guaranteed to get a seat on the train you wish to take. You could buy a seat guarantee online or at the counter. It could happen, that the loc is full and you might have to wait for the next one (especially on clear days) without the seat guarantee.
- When you buy the ticket, you have to decide whether you want to use the train for the whole distance or just for some parts. There are several stops along the way, where you could get out/in.
- You should arrive at the station at least 30 minutes early.
- Daily from 3. June to 22.October 2023.
Once you sit on the train, it starts to get amazing.
Interestingly, the steam locomotives are the same that were used when the railway opened back in 1892. So, this also makes everything even more special, and be prepared that it is quite loud if you sit close to the driver.
I have gotten up many mountain peaks via cable car/gondola or funiculars. However, this was the most impressive ride. And believe me, I have been to almost all mountain peaks in Switzerland that are accessible via cable car, etc.
It is an hour-long journey (if you do not disembark) – and you will pass some beautiful little houses, and many tunnels, and you get to see almost untouched nature.
Then, at some point, you will get the first glimpse of Lake Brienz from above. It gets magical then. Since I got up twice, the views were different. The first time, it was still a bit foggy, and on my second trip, the sky was clear, and the views were even more spectacular. At the top of Brienzer Rothorn, you have stunning views of the lake and an impressive panorama of no fewer than 693 peaks! This is what you call a magnificent view!
Up on the top, you will also find a restaurant and hotel.
The trip up to Brienzer Rothorn was an incredible trip with spectacular views and definitely an “experience of a lifetime. “
- Return ticket for adults: about 96 CHF (about 93€ – 85$ ) – half-fare with your Swiss Travel Pass, GA, etc.
- Kids (under the age of 6) and dogs don´t have to pay. Kids between 6-15 years pay a small fee.
- Check out their website for more information.
If you take the locomotive, I suggest planning in about 4 hours at least for this mountain experience.
HIKING TO/FROM BRIENZ TO BRIENZER ROTHORN:
Alternatively, you can also hike from Brienz to the top of the Brienzer Rothorn. If you decide to do the full uphill hike, you should know the ascent is about 1,750 meters (5,741 feet) and it is about 9 km (5,6 miles) long. Though the ascent is a lot, it is – according to reviews – still doable because it is a slow ascent. This hike should take about 5-6 hours one way.
You could also get up via the steam loc for some stops and just hike parts of it.
Or, this is how I would do it these days, get up via steam loc and then hike down. Since it is a quite gradual downhill hike, it should not be too bad for the knees, so that is possible for many people.
The hike is recommended between the months of June to October.
Dinner in Interlaken
After enjoying this fantastic panorama, it will be time for dinner. For this, I have a few suggestions for you.
I suggest heading back to the town Interlaken (which is on the other side of Lake Brienz) and having dinner there. Take the train (fastest way) from Brienz to Interlaken.
The town center of Interlaken itself is not spectacular (in terms of being a very pretty town with historic buildings). Still, if you have dinner around Höhenmatte (a beautiful park area), you will have a fantastic place to end your day.
Buy something and have a picnic at the meadow while watching paragliders (on clear days, there will be many), or pick one of the numerous restaurants in the town center.
- Here are more activities and things to do around Lake Thun. This is the other lake located next to Interlaken.
- Click here for my tips on where to stay in Interlaken.
- Here are more fun things to do in Interlaken.
UNFORTUNATELY, this Interlaken itinerary is – I want to be totally honest – not ideal in the winter months. The steam loc does not operate in the winter.
It is the best day I can imagine for the months of April to the end of October. For the other months, we need different itineraries. But no worries here is my post with the best day trips from Interlaken. You can use many of these ideas for the cold winter months, too.
GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR INTERLAKEN
After talking about a perfect day in Interlaken, here are some travel tips for Interlaken, so you are well-prepared for your trip!
Language in Interlaken
Though Germany is the main language, most people speak basic English.
There are many Arabic, Chinese, and Indian restaurants as Interlaken is extremely popular amongst tourists from those places.
How to Get Around Interlaken
Driving in Interlaken is very safe and easy (the streets are well paved, driving in the mountains might be a bit tricky, though). Public transportation in Interlaken is effortless as buses/trains go often, are punctual and reliable, so I recommend getting around by public transportation.
If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken, you will get the Interlaken Guest Card – giving you free bus rides within Interlaken and close places by (like really close villages like Iseltwald). If you stay in the region of Thun, you can even use your Thun Guest Card to get to Interlaken.
For this trip, I suggest using public transportation (Swiss Travel Pass if you stay for a few days) as you can hop on the boat without paying extra, and you do pay 50% only for using the steam locomotive to get up Brienzer Rothorn.
Where to Stay / Best Hotels in Interlaken
Interlaken is home to some amazing hotels – amazing and expensive. I have a detailed accommodation guide for Interlaken but find some tips below.
- The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Since I have not started there myself, I can 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.
- One of my favorite hotels – ever – is the beautiful 4* hotel Grandhotel Giessbach. You can probably see why. However, it is not open during the winter months.
- I recently stayed in the newly renovated Hotel du Nord. I actually was very positively surprised (the reviews were not great, but since all rooms were renovated lately, it is a great place to stay). Click here to get the best deals.
- If you are on a budget, I recommend staying at this 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 the best I have stayed at (even though I relay missed curtains in front of my bed) and they also offer free parking. Check out the hostel here.
Security in Interlaken
Interlaken – and the region – is very safe and secure. With common sense, you should be fine. I have always traveled solo to Interlaken (sometimes accompanied by my little dog) and never felt unsafe. Keep valuables close to you, and you should be fine!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST ITINERARY FOR INTERLAKEN IN 1 DAY
Interlaken is so incredibly beautiful – there are so many stunning, fantastic, and crazy things to do in and around Interlaken. And I want to be honest – this is not the only way to have an epic one day in Interlaken.
But it is a pretty great itinerary for a day. If you stay longer or prefer something more adventurous, check out my many posts on Switzerland and Interlaken in particular, as I have written quite a lot on the area!