Until recently I’ve always been more of a beach person than a mountain person but this summer I took a trip to Banff and fell in love with it. When I got home, I decided I needed to explore more mountain destinations.
To be totally honest, Switzerland hadn’t been on my bucket list before my Banff trip but when I came home and started browsing mountain photos on Instagram and Pinterest, stunning shots of Switzerland kept coming up…..so of course I had to go.
Since I was already planning to go to Europe at the end of August, I decided to include Switzerland as part of the trip, which also included Prague and a close friend’s wedding in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, this meant I would only have 5 days in Switzerland so wouldn’t be able to cover the whole country!! In the weeks leading up to our trip, I was all over google trying to decide which part of Switzerland I should spend time in. It was a really tough decision – I know most people decide between Geneva, Zurich or Zermott but I live in New York so the appeal of a big city isn’t a major draw. But once I stumbled across images of Lucerne and Interlaken I knew that’s where I absolutely had to go.
Lucerne is about about an hour south of Zurich and Interlaken is about an hour south of Lucerne so our first stop was the amazing Bürgenstock Resort overlooking Lake Lucerne where I would spend 3 nights before heading down to Interlaken. Bürgenstock Resort was totally incredible so I’ve broken our stay there at the Waldhotel into a separate post which you should definitely check out!!
Interlaken is a small city located between two lakes, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. Because of its central location, Interlaken is a popular spot for tourists to stay and it has some very, very nice hotels. But to be totally honest with you, I found the small villages surrounding the lakes to be a bit more charming than Interlaken itself.
Travel Tip: Since many people describe all the villages around the two lakes as part of Interlaken, searching for hotels in the actual city of Interlaken is generally more expensive than staying in the other lake towns. I made the mistake of staying in Interlaken instead of a smaller village like Iseltwald.
When we left Bürgenstock Resort we didn’t have a set itinerary which was perfect since it allowed us to explore the area and stop when I saw something that looked super cute. Driving around Switzerland is a breeze – the highways are well marked and smooth and the tourist sites are generally well marked. On top of that, the people could not be nicer.
The highlight of the drive around the lakes was a stop in a small town on Lake Brienz named Iseltwald. I loved this town so much that we actually stopped on the way to Interlaken and again on the way back to Zurich! Iseltwald is a tiny village on the edge of the lake with an absolutely gorgeous chateau, the Seeburg Chateau, sitting on the end of a peninsula in Lake Brienz. The shoreline provides the perfect setting to relax and have a drink and admire the blue glacial water and marvel at how close the mountains are to the lake’s edge. And on top of all that, if you walk north from the town center, there are a few great spots to admire Seeburg Chatea from.
Iseltwald also has a number of cute restaurants, and a handful of hotels and hostels. Honestly, I think it was probably the most stunning town I’ve ever seen!!
Not to far from Lake Brienz is Lake Blausee, a small forest lake with the clearest water I’ve ever seen. There is a small entry fee and a 5 minute hike before you get to the actual lake. Once you get there, you’ll realize the lake is very small – I walked all the way around it in about 15 minutes and the path is well maintained so I was able to ‘hike’ it in wedges and sandals (of course two choices for pictures). I loved this location for pictures and also stopped in the cute little cafe for a drink. I went to Lake Blausee at sunset which I highly recommend since the golden hour lighting really makes the lake look mesmerizing and there were fewer tourists than earlier in the day.
One thing I didn’t do that I wish I had was see the region by ferry. I didn’t have enough time to do this but people there told me this was a great option and one of the best ways to see multiple villages and get a unique view of some of the regions best castles and chateaus.
Despite only having 36 hours to explore the Interlaken area, I got to do basically everything I wanted to do. I would strongly encourage anyone going to Switzerland to squeeze in a day or two here.