The popular Swiss resort town of Interlaken, in the Bernese Oberland region, was much loved by the Victorian gentry who holidayed here in their droves. It was so popular that the town’s name was changed from Aarmühle (meaning “near the mill”) to Interlaken (“between lakes”) in the late 1800s, as the latter was easier to pronounce.
The town is nestled between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and overlooks Switzerland’s famous three peaks: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau a veritable insta-worthy landscape.
Interlaken gets busy in the summer, as people use it as a base to explore nearby regions. So consider a winter jaunt and enjoy the quieter vibe and roster of fantastic adventure activities in and around Interlaken, from winter kayaking to paragliding.
The glacier-fed Lake Brienz is one of Switzerland’s deepest lakes – 260m at its deepest point. It is shallow at the edges but rapidly deepening so you can’t see the bottom just a few meters from the shore.
This makes it a perfect lake for kayaking, as you can climb in with only your feet submerged in water and within seconds be gliding over the lake. During the winter you’ll need to wear a dry suit to keep you warm – if you fall in, your drysuit should prevent you from getting too wet and cold.
Jetboat ride across Lake Brienz
We booked a ride on a water-propelled jetboat – a jet of water ejected from the back of the boat – for a thrilling jaunt across the lake with Jetboat Interlaken. We reached speeds 60 kilometres per hour. Its pretty high-octane when doing 360° turns.
On the journey to a small island called Schnecke (German for “snail”), drivers Phil and Grizzy told us about the region’s history. The island looks like a snail from above and there’s also a rumour that snails were farmed for food here way back when. We then sailed passed Seeburg Castle, which was once used as a sanatorium for troubled children, and rumoured to be haunted.
Paragliding over Interlaken
Paragliding is Interlaken’s most popular adventure sport. No previous experience and pretty much anyone can sign up, whether you’re nine or ninety. Paragliding Interlaken organises daily tandem flights that take off from Amisbuel, near the town of Beatenberg, around 800m above Interlaken.
You’ll be attached to an experienced paragliding instructor and together you float through the air and will also (if you agree) perform some high-octane tricks such as helicopter turns. My instructor, Drew, has completed more than 10,000 flights so I knew I was in safe hands.
Flights last 12 minutes, but this can vary anywhere from eight minutes to 20, depending on weather conditions. The instructor takes plenty of pictures and videos during the flight, so you have some mementoes when you get home.
Discover Lake Thun on foot
The charming villages that border Lake Thun are well worth exploring. Just hop on a bus (included with your Swiss travel pass) and to lake Merligen, and walk up the steep incline the church. From here you can take a mountain path and either run or walk along the trail while taking in the beautiful views of the lake and mountains.
Merligen enjoys a Mediterranean climate year-round, so you’re almost guaranteed sunshine even though there is a winter chill in the air and with layered clothing it makes for a wonderful way to explore the area on foot.