Switzerland. Europe version of New Zealand, I’d say, is one of the countries my friends and I chose as part of our route in Europe. Well, I never knew Switzerland before and only knew New Zealand, which is closer to my country so… pardon me lol While a lot of Indonesian picks Zurich as their base, we chose Interlaken as ours.
Interlaken, as the name suggest, is a town located in between 2 lakes: Lake Thun (Thunersee) and Lake Brienz (Brienzersee). The town is known for adrenaline activities, like toboggan run, flyer, paragliding, etc. But of course, you’ll have to prepare more money to get the experience. We spent almost 5 days here and we only focused in Bernese-Oberland Area.
Turns out this country is known for Summer Vacation Heaven in Europe. I never knew that Switzerland was Heaven on Earth. Like…seriously, even looking only at the pictures spread all over the internet is enough to makes you excited. When we finally set our feet on this country, we can only be amazed by its beauty. Anywhere you look is photo worthy. At one point, we were just like “can it stop being beautiful? It’s too tiring to take photos endlessly!” A good pain, I guess? 😂
During the 5 days we were there, we didn’t use the usual Switzerland Pass. After some calculation and a lot of contemplating 🙈, instead we used a 4 days regional pass named Bernese-Oberland Pass. Just like JR Pass in Japan, it allows us to go freely to any city in this region and discounts on A LOT of activities. Very convenient, huh?
So, what about the one day we have no pass? Well, I’m gonna tell you that Switzerland is a generous country which give traveller a city pass for your stay in the country. Most of accommodation facilities, either hotel or camping sites, will give you the pass when you check in (you need to check it before hand, in case your preferred hotel/hostel doesn’t provide it). In other words, when you book a place to stay, you’ll also get free pass to use buses and discounts on some activities in the city you choose to stay. No kidding!
Along with the great dreamy-like nature experience, it comes with a price. I must say in this first Europe experience of mine, almost half of the budget was spent in Switzerland. Everything is super expensive here. As the official #1 most expensive nation to live on earth, you’ll have to pay a huge attention to planning if you want to save a lot in this country. People says Japan is an expensive country, but Switzerland is another level, I tell ya 😂
5 Days Itinerary in Interlaken
Let’s just get into it, shall we?
Day 1: Interlaken
Relaxing day. No rush to get to any destination. Enjoy the city (and the camping site) you’ll stay for a few days before advancing to heavier activities ahead. Renting a bike is a good way for you to get to know this city. With city pass from your accommodation, you can even get a discount in some rental-bike shops 😆
One thing that caught my attention was the river. Can you believe a river could be that blue, that turquoise? The river flow through the town, blended in with the buildings, but somehow without being awkward. After all, the snowy mountains were also there as the background, accompanying the river.
Getting ready for the sunset, we went to higher ground of Harder Kulm. There is a restaurant up on the top of Harder Kulm and there was some occasional event held. We can listen to their story telling and also Matterhorn, Switzerland’s traditional music.
From there, you can clearly see the town go side by side with the lakes. Especially just after sunset, it struck us so dazzlingly. The sky colour of pink, purple, and yellow blended so well above the greenery town, white glacier mountains, and the blue lakes. So much colours at a time you can’t believe your eyes can actually absorbs them all.
Day 2: Schilthorn Mountain and Lauterbrunnen
What else Switzerland is known for if not the glacier mountains? Especially in this Bernese-Oberland region, there are a lot of snowy mountains you can choose from. Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch are the well-known mountains in the area. But, even Titlis is within reach for a day trip from Interlaken.
Mountain excursion: Schilthorn
After much deliberation, our choice fell into Schilthorn. The consideration includes free rides all the way to the mountain and back as well as discount for the entry ticket with our chosen Bernese-Oberland Pass.
Schilthorn Mountain is known for being the shooting location of one of James Bond’s films. It was already a long time ago, but it’s still used as the marketing gimmick to this day. It works well, tho. You can even find an interactive museum specifically for the James Bond films.
The weather was clear, we made sure it’d be, with our weather apps. So, yeap, you should check your weather app to plan your days, especially to go to any of these snow mountains, or you could meet only disasters.
Actually, it was my first experience with snow (yeah tropical kids 🙈) so I couldn’t hide my excitement that day. I was the only one playing with snow, as all my other friends have experienced winter before. I couldn’t believe my senses. The cold air, the white mountains, even with the shivering hands, all felt surreal. Everything I only saw on the TV, within my senses.
We had our fill of the breathtaking view and, of course, photos. We also had a thrill walk there right on the side of the cliff, one of Schilthorn specialities. It’s safe, of course🤩
Hiking down through Gimmelwald
To go down from Schilthorn Mountain, there are two choices: getting into gondola all the way down or make a stop in the middle and hiking down the mountain. Being a hiking lover, I chose the 2nd option. My friend wanted to use the gondola, but I got her to hike down with excuse of “we can’t make it to the gondola on time for the nearest departure”. Not entirely a lie, I swear 🙈
We were rewarded with the best view to be experienced in Switzerland. It was here in between Schilthorn Mountain and Lauterbrunnen! You can see the valley and the high snowy mountain as you walk down the street. Honestly it easily became my Top 3 views in the country.
Actually, there are more hiking route in this area, but we didn’t have much time there so I picked just the one possible for our schedule as part of our way back from the mountain.
Day 3: Brienz
We picked this city to be the destination for day 3 as we saw in weather forecast that it’s going to be raining that day. Basically, Switzerland is an outdoor country, especially in Bernese-Oberland. But if we had to choose one activity to spend in a rainy day, our choice fell into this town. Our main activity was a 2-hours ride with Rothorbahn, a classic coal fueled locomotive train. Emphasize on classic 😎
It was drizzling when we get into the Rothorbahn, but it was nowhere close to the condition when we were at the top station. Getting closer to the top, it’s starting to rain a lot and getting misty. I could only see as far as 2-3 meters. Beyond that? All white. I could only imagine it must’ve been magnificent to see greenery landscape with sparkling turquoise Lake Brienz as the background from the window and locomotive sound at the back of your ears.
At the top, it was literally hailstorm. Again, as tropical kids, we were so cold up there and we did everything we could think of to keep ourselves warm, even dancing and taking (warm) shelter in the restroom. Well, fortunately it was clean so we can only be grateful for the warmth 😂
It was a nice experience even with the stormy weather and turns out the storm only happened at the top. When we got back to the town, we could only feel that refreshing air after the rain. We actually planned to go to Bellenberg Outdoor Museum to try making cheese on one of its workshops, but saving on the budget and time, we eventually leave it out and just enjoyed the city taking a stroll. Indeed, it was a serene town perfect for a relaxing day.
Day 4: Grindelwald
Active day! Well, it was supposed to, but we only managed to experience Pfinstegg Toboggan Run in this town. We also planned to try First Glider (much like a flying fox), but unfortunately it was sold out for that day. Lesson learnt: book for it the very first thing as you arrive in Grindelwald.
It was unpredictable turn of event, so we had quite a lot of time to spare until the time to catch our train back to Interlaken. We decided to just stroll around the town (yes, again! 😆) to spend our time. We went to a tourist information center to ask for a walking/hiking route. Best decision everrr. Not many people come to this town for a walk (as it’s mostly known for adrenaline activities), but it was one of the best walks we’ve done in the country. I can vouch that this is the town you should look for if you’re thinking of the greenery landscape of Switzerland. I think this town is also perfect for a base.
Day 5: Blausee
Our last day in Switzerland before going to Milan, Italy. Our luggages was already with us. We bid ourselves goodbye to our lovely campsite very early in the morning as we still had one more agenda. In between Interlaken and Milan, we chose to have a transit in Kandersteg to visit Blausee. Put our luggages in lockers, and we went to Blausee with a 30 mins bus ride.
Blausee—blau (blue) and see (lake)—is truly a treat to our eyes. You could find a lot of turquoise lakes in Interlaken or even all over Switzerland, but not here. At this lake, you’ll see a crystal-clear blue-ish water, just like its name, with its well-known trout fishes swim all over the lake.
This is one of the most mesmerizing landscape I’ve ever seen in my life. Everything is beautiful in Switzerland, but it’s just different here. The lake was so clear, it felt so honest. I don’t know how I came to this thought (maybe that’s the mystery?). I didn’t know something so honest can be felt so sincere and so beautiful (if that make sense to you). But the beauty of this place already doesn’t make any sense. Even to this day, I feel like my pictures couldn’t do any justice to this serene place.