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Mountains or Lake: 36 Hours in Interlaken

I’m Elizabeth.
I'm a girl who lives for adventure. An overachiever, chief encourager health enthusiast and lover of all things personal growth. I'm obsessed with sunshine and afternoon naps. My mission? To empower others to build the life they truly desire!
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Isn’t it funny just how easy we forget—even when it comes to the things we love to do?! When I visited Switzerland on a recent work trip, I quizzed a local colleague to ask for recommendations on how to spend a weekend while in Switzerland. He recommended a place called Interlaken.

Interlaken, which means “between the lakes”, is a small village in the Bernese Alps that is situated between the lakes of Thun (to the West) and Brienz (to the East). It is a well-known tourist destination in Switzerland. Together with several other villages in the area, Interlaken offers stunningly beautiful (and traditional!) Swiss scenery with a host of mountain and lake activities to choose from.

My visit to Interlaken came at the end of my trip. I spent two nights and one full day of sightseeing here (with the other two being travel days). While my time there was short, it was a great introduction to the Swiss alps and a wonderful way to round off 10 days in Switzerland.

So here is what I got up to.


Interlaken is about a 2 hour and 15 minute train journey away from Zurich. So after a quick breakfast at my hotel on Friday morning, I set off for my weekend getaway. Arriving well before check-in time, I dropped my bags off at the lodge and headed straight for the mountains. Having kept an eye on the weather a few days in advance of my trip, I knew that my best chance of getting a good view of the Jungfrau valley was to do so on my first day. The weather can be a bit temperamental in the mountains and the last thing you want, is to get to the top and not be able to enjoy the beautiful views because of cloud cover.

My first stop was the village of Grindelwald. I did not spend too much time in Grindelwald but having arrived around lunchtime, I grabbed a toasted sandwich from a cute food truck and a gelato from the gelato stand outside the Sunstar Hotel Grindelwald (hello, summer is almost over!) before catching the 25 minute Gindelwald-First gondola ride to First.

Being outside of ski season (I visited in early September), there were no lines and no need to share a cable car with anyone else. The journey was a fantastic and peaceful experience with spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains. I even heard the cows grazing in the fields below with their traditional swiss cow bells. One of the highlights of the trip.

Once I arrived at First gondola station, which is the last stop on the line (there are two other stations you pass—Bort and Schreckfeld), the start of the Grindelwald-First cliff walk was a short distance away. The Grindelwald-First cliff walk is an elevated walkway perched to the side of the First mountain (at about 7,112 ft). It is considered one of the top attractions to visit in the Jungfrau region. It has two entrance points. One starting at the restaurant where you will visit the viewing platform first before doing the cliff walk. Or from the other side which can be reached from the direction of the Bachalpsee Lake. I took the latter path which ended with the magnificent views of the valley from the elevated viewing platform.

Next, I took the trail from First to the Bachalpsee Lake. It is an easy 3 kilometer hike (one-way) which takes about an hour to complete. I did not pack any special hiking gear for this trip and I was well prepared in a pair of stretchy trousers and my running trainers. The route was flat and well sign-posted. It was here that I also had my first personal (and very friendly!) encounter with a few swiss cows. I only read afterwards that it is best advised to keep your distance from them, especially if they have young calves. Luckily I did not need the advance advice as these cows were super friendly. They even “galloped” across the field in search for some human interaction. I wouldn’t be surprised if visitors feed them which is probably what they were looking for.


On Saturday I took the time to explore a few of the villages in the Jungfrau region. My first stop was the village of Lauterbrunnen in the Lauterbrunnen valley. The Lauterbrunnen valley is also known as the valley of the 72 waterfalls. It is here where I made a quick stop at the Staubbach Waterfall which is within short walking distance of the center of the village. Make sure to check out the Staubbachfall Viewpoint. It offers one of the best views of the village and the waterfall!

From here I took the scenic train ride to the village of Wengen. The short 10 minute journey was a “pinch me” moment as we crawled up the side of the mountain surrounded by the most stunning of scenery. Another highlight of my weekend!

In Wengen, I hopped in a cable car—the Männlichenbahn lift—to the top of the Männlichen mountain. The mountain sits in the heart of the Jungfrau region (at 7,687 ft). From here I could take in the breathtaking views of the valley and its surrounding mountains—Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. There are several hiking trails from Männlichen and I opted for the popular route leading to Kleine Scheidegg (about an hour away).


Sunday came around quickly. As I reflected on my weekend of sightseeing, I realised that I had naturally gravitated towards mountain activities. I was pleased to see that my feet were led by my soul and grateful for the reminder that my heart will always choose the mountains first.

Want to read about more of my travel adventures?

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I'm an expert at human behaviour change and my obsession is to help others activate their potential so that they can live the life they truly desire (without compromising on the important stuff!).

I’m Elizabeth Pepler.