Interlaken is located right between the two lakes- Lake Thun and Lake Breinz. It would not be wrong to call it the Lake town. It makes for a perfect base in Switzerland if you are looking to stay out of the hustle bustle of a city and have a country side experience yet have the amenities of a mid size city. I loved the laid back and slow pace of this town which puts you instantly at comfort and ease slipping you into a perfect holiday mood.
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Apart from the capturing beauty of this place, the location of this town is perfect. It’s located in the central part of Switzerland and makes it ideal if you want to move around and explore the country. Not only that, it is right at the base of the “Top of Europe- Jungfraujoch”. The best way to move around is Euro Rail. In Switzerland, there is no need of an additional reservation if you hold Euro Rail pass. This pass also entitles you to various discounts on streamers, train to jungfraujoch. Just keep checking with the service provider.
Best time to visit Switzerland is, well, almost entire year! But to narrow it down, if you are a Ski and snow games enthusiast, then make it during winters, Jan to March. However, it gets extremely cold with temperatures falling well below zero. In summers, you can visit during May through August.
Interlaken – The Jewel Itself
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You can start your trip with exploring this quaint little town. I would recommend walking through the streets. The small two storied wooden houses with a stream flowing through the town. Evening can be spent taking a walk around the lakes certain to put you in a blissful state. There are cruises arranged on the lakes with dining facility. If you want a more intimate experience, then you can hop on to the paddling boats. Evenings can be spent in various pubs like Las Rocas, Klosterbar, Babajaga Café’ Bar and many more around the town . There is also a Casino “Kursaal” for those who want to try their luck and even the one who just want to visit and watch! .
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If you are in Interlaken during New year’s time, then you can witness fireworks on 31st and music Bands playing on 1st Jan with a stage erected on the road and people milling around the food stalls and drinks during the day. As far as the food is concerned, Interlaken serves everyone’s plate, right from an ever present Mc Donald’s to Chinese and Indian Cuisine. There is one Indian Restaurant called Spice India which is part of Hotel City Oberland complex. The supermarket chain “Migros” has one mall at the heart of the town where you can get food, over the counter with numerous options in wines and Liquor. Even the streets side stalls cater to the hunger pangs serving burgers, Hot Dogs for a quick Snack. However, do not miss the Swiss Fondue while in Switzerland.
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Jungfraujoch is situated at Eleven thousand feet and is the highest peak of Europe. Carry heavy woolens there as it is covered with snow throughout the year. Every day trains leave for Jungfraujoch from Interlaken OST station. There are a few changeovers in between which you can very easily understand with a map available at the Ticket counters. Make sure you avail of the discount on the fare if you hold a Euro Rail pass. Kindly note that this is the costliest rail head in Europe and the ticket can cost up to Hundred Euros per person. The route upwards is complete experience of a paradise. In winters there is thick snow cover on the ground, Houses and trees whereas summers witness a colorful riot of flowers on the green carpet over the valley.
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The way to Jungfraujoch needs a change of trains at Grindelwald and then at Klein Scheidegg. From Klein Scheidegg, the train trip is largely through tunnels, right upto Jungfraujoch with frequent stops at view points, also helping the passengers to acclimatize. The Jungfraujoch complex houses Ice Palace, Ice Bar, Sphinx Observatory, restaurants, and Souvenir shops. There are arrangements for Walk on Glacier and one can get on the terrace to witness the spectacular view of Jungfraujoch under the open Sky. You can also rent ski or snow boards here. During winters the entire area around Jungfraujoch, even the lower areas are good for Skiing.
Places around Interlaken
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Due to its location, it is wonderfully convenient to move to other places in Switzerland from Interlaken. My Hot Picks are Bern and Lucern. Bern is the capital of Switzerland. So it has the glamour of a modern city with the touch of old architecture. The Parliament house, Bundeshaus , sits on the bank of Aare River with its Big green dome rising to the sky and is complete with various art works. Then there is timeless and imposing Munstral Cathedral, the highest in Switzerland with a height of almost 100 Meters. It’s an Art piece in itself and was constructed in 1421. While you do all this, make sure to take a stroll in the old city of Bern. There is Einstein’s house now turned into museum located in this part of the city. The clock tower (Zytglogge) is also one of the attractions to be seen in the old city. It dates back to 15th Century and has six floors.
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Lucern also has the feel of a city with the concrete buildings around the lake yet it has preserved its old heritage with the water tower and Chapel Bridge. This place has always been thronged by the tourists for its picturesque scenery and serenity. The water tower and bridge are right outside the station and you cannot miss them. The place also boasts of the beautiful lake lucern and its cruises. There are seating areas and gardens around the lake where you can find walkers all through the day. One more landmark on the bank of Lucern is the Hofkirche Abbey Court Church. It has two towers and trail of stairs leading to it. Its an eighth Century church dating back to Renaissance. The interiors of this church are breathtaking. There’s a plaque and statues done in the golden hue that imposes an entire wall and looks rich. Lucern with all these places to see is almost an entire day’s affair.
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So this summer you can head to the Swiss Alps or save it for the Christmas, New year extravaganza. Whatever time you decide to visit Interlaken it is going to fill you with delight and transport you to a different world that would instantly put you in the happy state of mind. Of course with so much beauty around there is no other way you can feel. One last tip to help you, carry a German to English Dictionary or just download it on your phone. German is a language widely used here and can be really helpful.