This resort town nestled in the Alps has a Swiss vibe that will make you want to yodel from the mountain tops. A must stop destination if you are an outdoorsy, adrenaline junkie, hiking, adventurer, Gap Mapper. If you want to splurge a little on experience activities, this is the place to do it. With everything from rafting down icy rapids to bungee jumping and sky diving, all of these activities can be done with stunning Swiss scenery to enjoy, but it comes at a pretty penny. For all of the best budget activities, see the below highlights.
Follow The Gap Map itinerary and reach Interlaken by train travel from Salzburg in Austria. This is unfortunately not the easiest or the cheapest route so if you invested in the Eurail pass, this would be the perfect time to use it. The journey takes around 7 hours and requires two changes in Zurich and Bern before arriving in Interlaken. If you would prefer to spend less time on train travel you could obviously stay in Zurich or Bern instead. This would also give you direct access to an airport in order to continue on your Gap Map itinerary to the UK
See train details here.
HarderKulm mountain is located in the centre of Interlaken and has a moderate hiking trail that leads to a peak 1,322 meters above sea level where you can find a restaurant and bar that offers views which simply cannot be beaten. Snowy mountains, crystal blue lakes and green pastures surround the area. Of course the meals are not on the cheap side with mains for about 25 Euro but you can treat yourself to an icy cold beer after you’ve worked up a sweat. If you aren’t up to the hike you can also take the funicular.
Trip tip: wait for a clear day, if it’s foggy you won’t see a thing from the top. Beware if you are afraid of heights, this activity is not for you!
Hiking options for the more confident trekkers are in abundance here. Go to the visitors centre in town to pick up a map and always get briefed on the different trails and the level of ability needed. Always take water and extra layers of clothing as it can get chilly as you start getting higher up the mountain.
Walk or bike ride along the river bank from Interlaken East and you can follow the path that leads all the way up the River Aare. The scenery is beautiful and a nice change from the fast paced town centre. All you can hear when out on the trail is the running water of the river and bells that dangle from the necks of cows grazing in the fields.
Explore the town centre where the main strip of Höheweg is packed with boutiques, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Höhematte is the large green field in the centre of Interlaken where you can lay in the grass and watch the paragliders land. There is a historical church in the field and it is the perfect place to admire the views of the mountains that tower all around this area.
Visit the Unterseen neighbourhood, located close by to Interlaken West train station. This quaint little area is postcard-like with colourful wooden chalets and farm animals looking at you from over picket fences. See the Stadthausplatz square where there are lovely shops and cafes.
Switzerland is not cheap when it comes to accommodation so Couchsurfing is a great way to save money and also meet some locals to give you tips on keeping to your budget in the area.
Or you can receive a discount on your Airbnb booking by using this link.
Happy Inn Lodge usually offers the cheapest accommodation in Interlaken with dorm beds for around 22Euro which is not exactly cheap as far as hostels go. However, they have a kitchen which allows you to make simple meals for yourself to save on eating out and of course there is free wifi. Located right in the city centre there is also a restaurant on the premises with affordable dining (see Brasserie 17 in the eat section).
Rosenstrasse 17, Interlaken, Switzerland.
Eating on a budget in Interlaken consists of three things: schnitzel, rosti and fondue. The well known chicken or veal schnitzel is served in a traditional German fashion here in Interlaken. Rosti is a delicious fried potato dish that can be mixed with all kinds of ingredients including ham, onions and other vegetables, very similar to a large hash brown. Fondue can be found in both cheese and chocolate forms with all kinds of snack foods to dip inside.
Hooters is funnily enough a very family friendly venue in Interlaken. The focus is more on affordable food and a lighthearted atmosphere than the sleazy take in the US. Mains start at around 7 Euro and the menu has a wide variety of non-swiss items if you are ready for a break from schnitzel.
Höhenweg 57, 3800 Interlaken
This sandwich bar has freshly baked bread and gourmet fillings for around 4 Euro where you can get creative with some very interesting combinations. Everything is fresh and home made.
Rosenstrasse 5, Interlaken.
3a Interlaken is the restaurant that is run by the youth hostel. You don’t have to be staying there to access the restaurant and they have one of the most affordable menus in town. There is also an option for all you can eat pasta including a starter, salad and ice-cream dessert for 19 Euro. See the menu here.
Am Bahnhof Ost, 3800, Interlaken.
Hotel Tenne runs a pizzeria serving pizzas and salads for around 15 Euro. Sharing the border with Italy means that you don’t have to feel guilty for giving up on Swiss cuisine. They share much of the same dishes! See the menu here.
Untere Gasse, 3910 Saat-Grund, Schweiz.
Brasserie 17 serves simple and fresh food with a variety of options including soups, burgers , pastas and a daily special for about 13 Euro. See the menu here.
Rosenstrasse 17, CH-3800 Interlaken.
Aarburg restaurant is located in the lovely town of Unterseen (see highlights section). It is not exactly cheap but if you are visiting this area and want to eat out, the Rostis here are delicious and cost around 13 Euro. See the menu here.
Beatenbergstrasse 1, 3800 Unterseen (Interlaken)