Anyone that knows me knows that I am undeniably a “mountain momma.” There’s something about the crisp air, aggressive peaks, and comfy hollows that makes the hills feel like home. If you are like me, then look no further than Switzerland. Throughout my months in Europe, Switzerland was one of the few countries worth a second visit, and there’s one main reason why: Interlaken.
Meaning “between lakes,” Interlaken is a sleepy mountain town nestled in a valley surrounded by glacial lakes in the Jungfrau region. Known as the extreme sports capital of Europe, it is not uncommon to see paragliders, skydivers, and other daredevils attacking this fiercely stunning landscape. In fact, the geography is so impressive that nearby Schilthorn served as the backdrop for the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, so you know it’s legitimate. For those that are seeking a thrill, check out Scenic Air AG for skydiving, but know that you must book your reservations in advance. For the rest of us, there is a seasonal cable car called Harder Kulm that rides over the Alps, particularly the Monch, Jungfrau, and Ogre – the three famous peaks that tell the story of the damsel “young maiden,” the villainous “ogre,” and the protector “monk.” While it is a bit steep (pun intended) at $170 euros, the views are absolutely priceless. A Eurail will work for most of the local trains. I rose at 5:00 a.m. and took the train a few stops away from Interlaken Ost (the East railway station), so I could enjoy a nice long run along the well-groomed trails weaving in and out of the villages nestled between the lake and the foothills. Those mornings remain some of my favorite memories and are the reason that I refer to Interlaken as “my happy place.” Even if you aren’t a runner, the trails are gentle enough for a lovely stroll through the landscape. There are opportunities to park your car along the road below, making it accessible and convenient.
Aside from Interlaken, the capital city of Bern is bursting with culture and is completely doable for a shorter trip. Nestled in the mountains, city parks and bridges offer stunning views of the landscape, which I was lucky enough to experience dressed up with autumn foliage. We stopped at the Albert Einstein museum, which for a math nerd like me, was a real treat. The museum also offers historical art and artifacts dating back to medieval times – I highly recommend this if you have a rainy day in the region. If science isn’t your thing, there are plenty of chocolate shops that can appeal to your sweet tooth.
While there is much more to mention when speaking about what Switzerland has to offer, it truly warrants a trip to see for yourself. There are no words that quite capture the power and beauty of the Swiss Alps, the texture of Swiss chocolate, and the warmth of the Swiss people. For the adventurous and tame alike, there is something for everyone in this gorgeous slice of Europe.