Interlaken Top 5 hiking, here you have! I’ve been planning to write this piece, like, forever, but only now I found the time to put down all the necessary details (read: found the patience to count the distances and times and verticals for the suggested tours).
So sorry for the delay, but better late than ever. Please note that these are the ultimate favourites of mine around Interlaken, the best of the best, and you can do each of them from Interlaken on the same day, in daylight, and maybe even catch a train to the other towns in Switzerland, or abroad, after.
I’ve myself done all the tours or at least some variation of each, once or even twice. All of them are summer tours, obviously, the best season from June to September. All of them also follow the swiss yellow and red signaled trails, aka wander– and bergwanderwege, for which a pair of light hiking shoes (like these) and a day tour backpack is a good choice of gear, along with hiking poles (if wanted, not necessary), clothes according to the weather, a hat, sunnies and sunscreen.
It’s good if you aren’t a total beginner when going for these, as some of these have steep lightly technical parts, and most of them require many hours and lots of vertical to tackle. But in general, these aren’t the most demanding nor the most easiest tours, meaning you can easily enjoy both the journey and the magnificent views, as well as the not the most crowded paths of Switzerland, if and when you have some experience of hiking/trekking in varied terrain and have what it takes to hike 2 to 6 hours/day.
Oh and don’t forget your camera/phone/GoPro – all of the tour suggestions offer plenty of views to capture (and in front of which to pose like the ibexes up there) – nor the cash for all the food and beers along the path and especially after the tours.(But please can we agree that you don’t drop your selfie stick in nature. Nor your water bottle. Nor basically anything. Leave no trace, please, and I’m happy to provide you more tips from here to eternity.)
Read forward, make your pick, do one or all of them, and tell me afterwards how it went.
And if you need more information on the tour(s), just drop your lines and questions below, and I’ll do my best answering.
Top 5 Hiking Day Tours Around Interlaken
1. Hardergrat = Habkern – Augstmatthorn – Harderkulm/Interlaken
~ 15/20 km ~ ascent 1200m ~descent 800m/1600m ~ 6h/7h ~
Views, ibexes and ridges.
My (and every Instagram -celebrity’s) ultimate favourite, the Augstmatthorn (2137m) in the Emmentaler Alps. With the narrow ridge and breathtaking views, it’s not for the faint-hearted, but definitely worth the effort. This tour offers the best views and overall experience in the area, and if you are lucky, the tour will be topped with the local ibex colony greeting you by the trail, like it happened to me.
There are some variations for the tour to choose from, and for example, I still have to go and do the whole Hardergrat, all the way from Brienzer Rothorn to Harder Kulm, or the other way round. But I can highly recommend the tour I’ve taken already two times, which is to take the PostBus from Interlaken West to Habkern (Post) and doing the hike itself from Habkern up to Augstmathorn and then from there to Harder Kulm, from where you can either take the Harderbahn or hike back down the steep trail.
Please note there’s not many, if any, water posts nor shadow on the way, so fill your bottle(s) in Habkern.
2. Schynige Platte – Faulhorn – First/Grindelwald
~ 16/22km ~ ascent 800m ~ descent 900m/1800m ~ 5h/6,6h ~
Old school (and slow) trains, excellent views and possibility for a really long day tour.
For this hike, I suggest you to first take the train from Interlaken to Wilderswill, in where you should change into the old school train, which takes you up to Schynige Platte (2076m). From there, after admiring the views, you can start the hike itself, to Faulhorn (2681m) and First, past the Bachssee and all the amazing views, and then either take the cable car from First or walk all the way down to Grindelwald, from where you can take the train back to Interlaken (after beer or two).
Excellent view-, resting- and extra activity points on this tour are Schynige Platte, Berghaus Männdlenen, Berggasthaus Faulhorn (and top of Faulhorn itself), Bachsee (more pics in my MTB story of the area in here), First cable car station, and First Cliff Walk.
Please note that Schynige Platte itself offers many day tour options and is also suitable for tours with kids. So if and when not into the long hike and with the little or very old ones, choose your tour of the trails in and around Schynige Platte and return to Interlaken the same way you came up.
3. Saxeten – Morgenberghorn – Leissigen/Därligen
~14km ~ ascent 1200m ~descent 1200m ~ 7h ~
Amazing views, enough vertical and distance.
Morgenberghorn (2249m) offers one of the best, if not the best, views to Lake Thun and the mountains of Jungfrau Region. It’s also an excellent multisport tour, as you can finish the tour by the lake, in Därligen or Leissigen, and dip yourself in the lake, before taking the train back to Interlaken or somewhere else in Switzerland. It’s also a good mountain to go to, like Augstmatthorn, because there’s no cable car bringing people up (trust me, the cable car is always a bad sign).
My suggestion for the tour is to take the PostBus from Wilderswill station to Saxeten, and start the tour from there. This way, you’ll first climb up to Morgenberghorn, enjoy the views, then descent to Brunnihütte (food and drinks available) and choose from the many options your way down to Leissigen or Därligen, maybe even through the Panorama Bridge Leissigen (Panoramabrücke Leissigen in the map). This tour can be done the other way round as well or combined with the other tour options and trails in the area, but I would say with my suggestion you get the most for your money.
But please be careful up there, the trail is a bit technical near the top of Morgenberghorn, while still offering wires for a little help. So it’s a bit challenging but not too challenging tour.
4. Niederhorn – Beatenberg – Habkern
~10km ~ascent 400m ~ descent 1200m ~ 3,5h
Not as technical as the first but still awesome.
Niederhorn to Habkern or the other way round. Niederhorn – Beatenberg – Habkern & co. offers a wide network of trails from which to combine a good day tour, and good connections to Interlaken and Lake Thun by the PostBus (Habkern & Beatenbuch) or funicular ( Beatenbuch – Beatenberg) and cable car (Beatenberg – Niederhorn). It’s also a good place to hike with kids, and if you’re lucky you’ll see some marmots, deer and ibexes.
I have done the hike from the top station of Niederhorn Cable Car (1950m) to Habkern, the trail highest on the Niederhorn ridge, via Gemmelnalphorn (2069m) – (more of the trip in here). Next time I’d hike the trail the other way round though, starting from Habkern and ending in Niederhorn.
Because uphills are way funnier than downhill, in hiking and life in general (yes I’m strange).
5. Harder Kulm
~4km ~ ascent 800m ~ 2h (see Strava for the running records) ~
Harder Kulm (1322m) aka the hausberg of Interlaken offers kinda easily* majestic views to Jungfrau & gang, a restaurant and Harder Railway for the ones not into earning their beer in the uphill and/or hurting their knees in the downhill.
*This is steep, this is short, this is cruel, if and when you don’t take the Harderbahn, but definitely a day tour worth doing. For the ones in Strava, this also offers a good opportunity to see how fast the best mountain runners of the world do the almost 1000m vertical ascent – and yes, definitely worth a run too.
Please note that as it is the hausberg and reachable by the Harderbahn, the top part and the restaurant are damn busy during the high season and weekends. Luckily though the masses don’t like steep uphills so the trail is kinda doable even during the high season. Nevertheless, I recommend doing this early in the morning, late in the evening or off-season.
+ Bonus: By the Lakes and Rivers – Aare, Thunersee and Brienzersee
Inbetween mighty mountains, as in Interlaken, it’s easy to forget that a good old basic hike is fun too.
In Interlaken, excellent options for that are hiking by the Aare river and the shorelines of the two magnificent lakes, Thun and Brienz. In the chilly Aare river runs traces of glacier water from the Jungfrau Mountains, and the lakes with their clear turquoise waters, two of the best ones of their kind, are both a delight for the eye and nice for a dip, also after the other tours.
My own favourite is a walk, run or bike to the lake Thunersee in the morning, or especially just before the sunset, and taking a dip there.
On a very sunny and warm day, a good idea is also to take a walk (or bus) from Interlaken to Merligen, maybe stopping by in the Beatus caves on the way, and ending the tour in either the Hotel Beatus (has a sauna) or in the public badi (infinity pool included) by the lake Thun.
But that’s not all. Hah. Because here’s a little fact box for Interlaken, for the ones who don’t know. You’ll also find below a link to a map in which I have collected all the tours and other tips of mine for Interlaken. Take a look, go and leave your comments and questions below.
Interlaken is in Switzerland (obviously), located in the Canton of Bern, 2h train ride from Bern itself. Closest airports: Zürich (train ride 2h), Basel EuroAirport (train ride 2,5 h), Geneva (train ride 3h), Milan (train ride 3h).
You’ll find plenty of places to choose from in Interlaken and the neighbouring towns like Unterseen, Wilderswill etc. from simple hostels, b2b’s to Airbnb’s and 5* hotels.
Little Thai (Asian), El Aztek (South American) & Bären (Swiss).
PostBus is a good (and cheap) option to get a bit closer to the peaks and higher routes around Interlaken. I’m always taken and taking the bus either from the Interlaken West station or Wilderwsill station, from where the buses brings you to Habkern, Saxeten, Thunersee (Nauhaus), Beatenberg etc.
For the ones staying and sleeping in Interlaken or in the nearby towns, the price of the ticket is included in the tourist tax, for which the accommodation provides you with so-called city ticket with which to travel “free” with the buses.
*It was funny to browse the pics, most of which from 2016, and notice how my style and skills have improved since then. Ok, I also have a better camera now, but still, this whole journey of having my own blog, even as just a tiny sidekick, has done good to me. In other words, sorry for the inconsistency and quality, I try to get back to there trails soon and get better pics for you. And for the ibexes – poor ones, not showing them or their home in the best light.