Interlaken, situated in between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, is a jumping off point for fun things to do in the Bernese Oberland, and is less than two hours by train from Zurich.
Tip: Hotels provide you with a visitor's card for free transport during your stay for the Interlaken, for local buses and trains between Interlaken East and West train stations (Bahnhof). In addition, the card provides discounts for bike rentals, mini-golf, Bodelibad, Jungfrau Park, paragliding, and more.
William Tell Open-Air Theater (Tell-Freilichtspiele) - The Swiss legend of William Tell comes alive at performances in this open-air theater, staged outdoors with authentic costumes, 13th century style buildings, and a large cast. In the play, a tyrannical Austrian governor unfairly arrests William Tell and demands he shoot an apple off his son's head at hundred paces. Performances are on Thursdays and Saturdays, free for kids under 6.
- Choose a clear day to set out on a cruise around Lake Thun or Lake Brienz and you'll be treated to spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. For cruises on Lake Thun, pick up the boat at Interlaken Westbahnhof, or at Neuhaus. Lake Brienz lake cruises leave from the Interlaken Ostbahnhof and Bonigen. Here's the schedule
Lake fun - Go out on the lakes in a pedal boat, kayak, row boat or paddle boards. Waterskiing, tube riding and boats with a private driver are also available for rent. Boat rentals are located at Neuhaus on Lake Thun, or Bonigen beach on Lake Brienze.
Walks - It's great to just get out and walk with the kids. Stop into the tourist office and ask for the free Interlaken "Wandern" walking and hiking map. The map has over 60 different hikes in the area. .
Here's just three different walks:
Aare River walk
- Start at Bahnhof West train station and walk across the Aare River. Just past the Central Hotel is a sign that says “Wanderweg” - go right, follow path through little island in the Aare, then cross over to the north side, and continue walking along the river on the wide promenade (look for swans and ducks in the water), as far as you like.
- At the southwest edge of Interlaken are two forested hills. You can ride the Heimwehfluh funicular up, or it's also a short lovely walk through the forest to the top of hill - just follow the yellow Wanderweg signs up the hill for Heimwehfluh and Grosser Rugen. At the top is a mini-bob sled ride
, model railways, children's playground, cafe, and views of lakes and mountains.
Kleiner Rugen - Instead of hiking up the hill to Heimwehfluh and Grosse Rugen, take the trail that goes to the left, Klein ("little" Rugen). At the beginning of the trail is a nice picnic area with wooden tables in the shade. The trail is a loop trail that goes around hillside, takes 1 -2 hours.
Lake Thun walk
- From Interlaken, drive or take the bus to Neuhaus. From Seestrasse, follow the paved path that goes around the lake.
Go paragliding - Teens and older kids will want to take flight, in tandem with an instructor, gliding down from high up , with incredible views of the peaks and lakes, landing back down in Interlaken on the big grassy field (Hohematte) in the center of town. For kids 6 and up, helmets and jackets are provided.
Bodelibad Interlaken - Everyone in the family can relax at this water park with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, two children's pools, snack bar, and 18 holes of miniature golf. (The indoor pool is open year round.)
Horse trekking - Go for a 1 1/2 hour ride in the forests behind Interlaken, pony rides for younger kids. No experience required, helmets provided, but wear closed toed shoes.
Jungfrau Park - If weather turns gray, Jungfrau Park has an indoor and outdoor playground with slides, climbing structures, ball pit, bouncy house, water play area, for younger kids, plus bungee trampoline, go-karts, movie theaters with 360 degree panorama shows of the Swiss Alps, and laser shows. April to October.
Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels, all styles and price ranges, convenient to fun things to do with kids in Interlaken: