While it’s not one of Switzerland’s busiest or most diverse areas, this place is quaint, relaxing, and full of adventure. Take in its unique cobblestone streets, and drink a glass of wine at one of its many quaint cafes while you watch the view of the mountains. Interlaken is a great place for mountain-related sports. The beautiful scenery and large number of pubs makes this a popular backpacker destination during the summertime.
Hostel prices – Rates start at $28 USD per night for a dorm room, but average around $35 USD. The two most popular backpacker hostels are Balmers and Funny Farm. Balmers does run a “tent city” hostel off site that is open from May-September. A 6 bed tent is about $28 USD, and there is a bar and jacuzzi.
Budget hotel prices – Although Interlaken is a touristy town, you can find a decent hotel, starting at $75 USD per night for a double room, although closer to $100 USD is more average.
Average cost of food – Dinner is usually $28 USD at a decent restaurant. Consider going to Migros next to the train station for local and cheap dishes at a fraction of the cost. You can get a small meal for $12 USD, and Balmers Hostel has a restaurant/bar and meals start at around $15 USD.
Transportation costs – Interlaken is small enough to walk or ride a bicycle anywhere you need to go. You don’t need to pay for transportation around town. You can rent a bike from Daniel’s Fun Rental for $18 USD for 3 hours or $33 USD for the full day.
Money Saving Tips
Visit in the summer – During the summertime, there are a lot of free activities to do here. There’s hiking, climbing, running, swimming, going to the lakes, and much more. Switzerland is very expensive, so the best time to come is in the summer when you don’t have to pay for much.
Cook your meals – Cook your own meals, as food is super expensive and will kill your budget. There is a COOP market right across from the main train station, Interlaken Ost. The hostels have kitchens for guest use.
Top Things to See and Do
Visit the Giessbach Waterfalls – Rent a bike, and cycle to the beautiful cascading Giessbach Waterfalls. On your way back, ride around Lake Brienz for an added treat.
Try an adventure sport – Interlaken is filled with outdoor activities. Other than the ordinary, they also have bungee jumping, skydiving, rock climbing, river rafting, and paragliding. This is a place to be active when you are traveling around Europe, especially during the summer time.
Visit the lakes – Interlaken is full of lakes (hence, the name). Spend a day at Lake Thun, Lake Brienz, or the Aere River – go for a swim, have a picnic, get a tan, or hike the surrounding trails.
Take a boat trip – Boats traveling the Thunersee allow you to see many of the surrounding towns and countryside. A boat trip makes for a beautiful day. Plus, the boat is free if you have the Swiss rail pass.
Enjoy the nightlife – Interlaken is a big destination for backpackers to enjoy nature, relax, and drink big steins of beer. During the summer, this place is booked far in advance, and people spend their days exploring the mountains and their nights exploring how much they can drink.
Ride the Jungfrau Railway – This mountain railway takes passengers up Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch – the highest train station on the continent. The amount of snow in these mountains is just incredible, and the ride offers stunning views.
Go caving – The St. Beatus Caves are a network of caves that lie above Lake Thun. Legend has it that St. Beatus took refuge in the caves in the 6th century, and drove out the dragon that lived there. You can take guided tours of the caves and visit the little museum they have set up there.
Visit Bönigen – This tiny village is quiet, but has some great bakeries and chocolate shops. Stop by the museum to see exhibits with household items and furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Watch a folk music concert – If you’re in town during the summer, head down to the lakeside to catch a concert. Choirs dressed in traditional clothing sing or perform music, and are sometimes even accompanied by alphorns and yodelers.
Go night sledding – For something fun and different, book a night sledding excursion. At $100 USD, prices aren’t cheap, but the excursion includes a fondue dinner at a restaurant after the dinner. Have fun and unleash your inner child. If you need a more budget option, simply rent a wooden sled for about $8 USD, and head out on your own.