Where in the World is Interlaken?

View of the Jungfrau from the Grindenwald cemetery. (Photo by Lauren Klamm.)
View of the Jungfrau from the Grindenwald cemetery. (Photo by Lauren Klamm.)

Interlaken is a small town in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps. It is nestled in a valley along the Aar River that runs between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

Interlaken is a popular destination for backpackers and has several different hostels that accommodate this type of traveling.

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Although the town is small, Interlaken is known for many extreme sports including skydiving, canyoning, hang gliding, paragliding, and skiing.

If you get a chance to stay in Interlaken be sure to also visit Grindenwald. This is a quick train ride into a more tourist town, but there are many souvenir shops and views you can gape at for hours. You can also take a train from Grindenwald up the Jungfrau which gives you a better view of the Alps.

Gridnenwald is within the Jungfrau region that is home to three impressive peaks including the Jungfrau at 13,642 ft., the Mönch at 13,474 ft. and the Eiger at 13,020 ft. As a Colorado native, I thought 13 thousand feet would be somewhat impressive…but I was in for a doozey. These three peaks are incredibly remarkable!  I took an entire day to stare at them. From the bottom of the Jungfrau to the summit is a vertical increase of almost 12 thousand feet.

Another big surprise for me in Switzerland was the trains. I had never traveled by train before so I was somewhat expecting a squeaky, creaky, old rust bucket with metal seats. But the trains in Switzerland have impeccable timing and are clean and quiet. The trains show up about one minute early, close their doors five seconds before their departure time, and leave right on the dot. Once you are inside, the trains don’t seem old fashion but futuristic, and offer very comfortable accommodations.

I was also surprised by the atmosphere of Switzerland. After coming from Prague which is not known for their friendliness or cleanliness, coming to Interlaken was a big change of pace. EVERYBODY in Switzerland was nice (I asked a woman if she knew where I could buy a train ticket, and she walked me to the ticket booth and then ran to her train!) Even if we didn’t speak the same language, people were willing to try and answer our questions. Traveling is also easy because everything seemed to be so well organized.

HELPFUL HINT: If you buy wine with a twist off cap in Europe, don’t be surprised if everyone in the checkout line teases you (yes, even the old Swiss man who doesn’t speak English…he will point and laugh too)