Nestled between two lakes and several mountains is Interlaken. An essential stop off for any European backpacker… especially those with a thrill seeker edge.
I was invited out here by Outdoor Interlaken. I’d never been to Switzerland before and as per usually didn’t read up on it. I booked cheap flights with Swiss Airlines from London City and off I went to Zurich. The 2 hour train from Zurich to Interlaken via Bern was rather painless. Second class seating in Switzerland is rather pleasant and I spent much of the journey looking at the scenery with the quaint houses with the carved wooden shutters. It really did remind me of the time I spent backpacking New Zealand.
I was set to stay at Balmers, which after much success over the years (they started in 1907) opened a Tent Village to accommodate it’s growing popularity. You can get off at either Interlaken West or Interlaken Ost, its equidistant to Balmers. I got a taxi but in retrospect you can walk it easy. Whether you are staying at the main hostel or at the tent village you still need to head to the main hostel to check in. Getting to the village is easy after that as you are presented by their friendly staff with a free bus pass to get around (there are two buses an hour in either direction). The vibe in the village is seriously chill. I did a daily triathlon of sitting at the bar, swaying in a hammock or looking at the cold mountains from the outdoor hot tub.
You don’t have to use your imagination here, I recorded a short video from the hot tub to show you the tent village and information about Balmers Herberge.
I really enjoyed my time here and the town has such a great friendly vibe. A lot of people breeze through on a tour bus but if you have the time stay at little longer. You’ll find the locals and the seasonal staff warm and friendly and it really does become a small world. On my final night here one of the hostel workers invited me to dinner at his barn (as you do) and I was genuinely sad to leave. Great town and excellent for adventure sports for those who can’t make it all the way to Queenstown, New Zealand.
Interlaken Top Tips
- Head to Outdoor Interlaken (one over from the Balmers Hostel) to book on to some incredible adventure sport activities such as Sky Diving, Bungy Jumping, Canyoning and White Water Rafting.
- There are a few pubs around Interlaken but the best nightlife is found attached to Balmers in the form of the Metro Bar and Nightclub.
- Visit the Top of Europe by heading to Jungfraujoch via either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. A real swiss Alpine experience with stunning views.
- The surrounding areas of Interlaken are a hikers paradise. Take a quick bus to Wilderswil, hop on a train to Lauterbrunnen and follow the trail to see some stunning waterfalls.
- Interlaken is surrounded by two lakes; Brienzersee and Thunersee. Either one is scenic and ideal for a walk or a cycle.
- There is always a festival going on in Interlaken. In the three weekends I was there, there was a Rock Festival, Jodlerfest and a Monster Truck Convention!
Amar was born and raised in England and embarked on an 11-country round-the-world gap year after graduation and then became well and truly hooked. The first gap year inspired a second, which ended up being a 23-country down-the-world trip from Canada to Antarctica. Since then, Amar has spent the last 14 years traveling the 7 continents.