A semester abroad in Europe isn’t complete without spending a winter weekend in Switzerland. Switzerland is centrally-located within Europe, and is known for its world-renowned watches, chocolate, and the Swiss Alps of course! A weekend getaway in Switzerland is a nice change of scenery from the hustle & bustle of Europe’s major cities. I recommend visiting the Alps and challenging yourself to an adrenaline rush from the adventure in Interlaken!
How to Get to Interlaken
Many student travel companies offer weekend trips to Interlaken. I traveled here with SmartTrip, but I know that EuroAdventures and Bus2Alps offer weekend trips with similar itineraries.
Interlaken is centrally located in Switzerland. Interlaken got its name because it’s nestled in a valley between two lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. It’s known for being one of the adventure capitals of the world! You can count on seeing skydivers, paragliders, and hang gliders in the sky each day! This city has numerous hiking and skiing trails, cute shops, laid-back restaurants, and cosy cottages, giving you the perfect slice of Swiss culture.
Adventure in Interlaken
Aside from exploring the shops and restaurants downtown, I recommend challenging yourself to an adventure in Interlaken. I had planned on skydiving, but found it to be too expensive, so I chose to go paragliding instead… and absolutely loved it! I signed up with the company Twin Paragliding (link here) and was in great hands.
We took a van to the top of a nearby ski mountain and got geared up in the snow. When we were ready, my guide told me to run as fast and hard as I could until we had enough momentum to lift off. Once we were in the air and my guide was steering us over the Alps below, I actually began to cry because it was one of the most amazing feelings that I’ve ever felt. I truly felt like I was flying. The scenic flight lasted about 12 minutes before I safely touched the ground.
If you are interested in paragliding, I recommend this company. You can get pictures and videos of your flight too. If you choose not to paraglide, hang gliding and skydiving are also common as there are many companies in Interlaken to choose from.
Additionally, I didn’t get the chance to ski when I was in Switzerland (opening day isn’t until mid-November), but if you can time your trip around it, I would definitely do so!
Activities in Interlaken
I also recommend either hiking or opting for the vernacular to take you to the top of HarderKulm mountain. Located in downtown Interlaken, there is a cool restaurant on top and an amazing view of the lakes and city below.
Another activity that I did during my time in Switzerland that I highly recommend doing is a chocolate making class! The one that my friends and I did was by the Funky Chocolate Club right downtown (link here). Not only do they have the BEST hot chocolate, the class was very entertaining. I learned so much about the chocolate making process and got to make three of my own chocolate bars to take home!
Day Trip to Bern from Interlaken
Most of the student tour companies provide you with the opportunity to take a day trip to the nearby capital, Bern. I did this because I felt like I didn’t need a full three days in Interlaken. The ride to Bern was only an hour long and was one of the most charming cities that I visited. The city is surrounded by a river and has several beautiful bridges and medieval style architecture. Since it is the capital, the government buildings are also quite spectacular. I learned that Bern means “bear” so we checked out the bear pit and the flea market that was going on at the time.
Tips for Staying in Interlaken
While in Interlaken, I stayed at the Funny Farm Hostel. For dinner, I recommend eating at the Happy Inn and ordering one of their burgers and eating a traditional fondue dinner at the Balmers Inn.
I hope that your time in the Swiss Alps leaves you feeling full of bliss!
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