Snow covered houses along the river in Interlaken, Switzerland

Planning a trip to Interlaken in winter? Here are our top picks...

Stay: Savoy 26

Transport pass: Swiss Travel Pass

Experience: Paragliding over the Swiss Alps

Bike tour: Winter bike ride

Activity: Kayaking on Lake Brienz

Day trip: Jungfraujoch

Interlaken is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with stunning lakes, towering mountains, and easy access to some of the top sights in Switzerland. In winter, the town comes into its own with many activities that just aren’t possible in the summer months.

In warmer months, Interlaken’s draw-cards are paragliding, canyoning, bungee jumping, and canyon swings, as well as jet boat rides around the stunning Lake Brienz, but there are equally exhilarating options in winter.

Not only do you have the same amazing opportunities to visit the stunning valley of Lauterbrunnen, the ‘Top of Europe’ at Jungfraujoch, and the Bond villain hideout at the Schilthorn, but you also get the added beauty and fun of snow and ice-based activities.

Snow-covered houses and trees along a river in Interlaken, Switzerland

Is it worth visiting Interlaken in winter?

The winter season in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland runs from December to February, with an average temperature of 0 degrees centigrade.

There are usually around 3-4 days of snowfall per month, and February can be a little colder with more snow, making it the peak month for the ski season.

January is the cheapest and quietest month to visit, while December in Interlaken is a wonderful time to explore Christmas markets and join in with the festivities.

Interlaken Christmas Market

One of the main reasons to visit Interlaken in winter, apart from skiing and snowboarding, is the Interlaken Christmas Market.

Located in the picturesque Höheweg Park, the market transforms the town each year into a winter wonderland with hot ‘Gluehwein’ (mulled wine), stalls full of handmade and artisan gifts, and delightfully festive sweet treats.

The location, atmosphere, and friendly faces make it one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, and much less busy than places like Prague or Vienna.

While you’re here don’t miss a stroll down the Höheweg Promenade. The path crosses the main street of Interlaken with impressive views of the snow-capped mountains of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

The still waters of Lake Brienz in winter

Things to do in Interlaken in winter

Winter kayaking

Taking to the waters on Lake Brienz is one of the best things to do in Interlaken at any time of the year, but it’s especially beautiful in winter.

Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, a thin crust of ice covers the lake's calm waters. The peaceful experience of being on the water in winter is truly unique and unforgettable.

You will be kitted out in full dry suits and boots, so there’s no need to worry about getting cold - unless you decide to take the icy plunge into the lake for a swim at the end! You can either rent a kayak or take a guided tour, which usually takes around 3 hours. A small group Winter Kayak Tour on Lake Brienz costs from CHF 130 per person

Sledging in Interlaken

Not just for kids, there are over 70 kilometres of sledging runs crisscrossing all over the Interlaken region.

For beginners, head to Saxteen in the heart of Interlaken where you will find gentle slopes and well-maintained tracks. Sled down the snowy slopes with magnificent views of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. With plenty of facilities, it’s a great spot for families and beginners alike.

If you want to up the excitement, head a few minutes out of town to the Axalp sledging run for a fast-paced 4.5-kilometer descent through the alpine hills.

Another great option is the 3.5-kilometer sledging run from Vorsass to Beatenberg, where you can also go night time sledding under the stars and see the landscape in a whole new perspective.

Interlaken Hot Tug

For something a bit more relaxing, one of the best things to do in Interlaken in winter is hopping onto the one-of-a-kind floating hot tub on Lake Brienz.

Glide along the lake's surface as you simmer in warm 38°C waters. Tours last for 90 minutes and cost CHF 190 based on two people (up to six can book at a time). Hot Tug tours of Lake Brienz can be booked via Captains Cove.

If dry land is more your thing, HotPot Brienz offers unique covered hot tub pods with stunning views over the lake. They accommodate between two to eight people, with the added bonus that you can order drinks and delicious Swiss fondue! You can book a HotPot for two people starting from CHF 155.00.

Ice skating in Interlaken

Another fantastic way to spend the afternoon in Interlaken is to go Ice Skating at one of the natural or artificial ice rinks.

Each winter Höhematte Park transforms into a wintry wonderland known as ‘Ice Magic’. Open day and night, visitors can enjoy ice skating on a silky smooth rink, as well as activities such as Bavarian Curling. To warm up you can also make use of the indoor restaurant serving traditional Swiss food.

If you’re lucky enough to visit during a cold winter, part of Lake Brienz completely freezes over making it the perfect spot for winter sports. It generally opens up to ice skating between the months of December and February but of course is dependent on the thickness of the natural ice rink.

Another spot where you can ice skate on a natural rink and even enjoy a spot of ice hockey is Lake Hinterstocken, at the "Chrindi" middle station of the Stockhorn. Find out more on the official Interlaken website.

Ski fields in the Alps near Interlaken

Snow sports near Interlaken

Skiing and snowboarding from Interlaken

Of course, the Jungfrau Region’s main attractions in winter are the famous ski areas such as Grindelwald, Wengen, and Mürren.

These ski resorts are easily accessible from Interlaken by train and cable car, with a wide range of ski and snowboard slopes suitable for both beginners and advanced levels. Head to Kleine Scheidegg or Männlichen for spectacular views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains.

The options are almost endless when it comes to ski slopes in the area. Interlaken is the perfect spot to stay in to make use of the town's great restaurants and transport links while still being in close reach of the snowy Swiss Alps.

Snowshoeing from Interlaken

If you want to try something a bit different, snowshoeing is gaining popularity as a fun alternative to skiing or hiking in the Jungfrau Region in winter.

Strap on a pair of snowshoes, and bound across the powder in one of the prettiest regions in Switzerland. Some of the most popular routes are the Grindelwald-First Snowshoe Trail, the Männlichen Snowshoe Trail, and the Sulwald Snowshoe Trail.

There are also guided tours available, like the 4 hour off-the-beaten-track Guided Snowshoe Tour around Isenfluh - from CHF 99 per person.

Heli-skiing or heli-boarding from Interlaken

One of the most extreme things to do in Interlaken in winter is heli-skiing or heli-boarding. This pastime doesn’t come cheap as it involves using a helicopter to access remote and untouched terrain high up in the mountains - away from the crowds of the more popular ski runs.

Tours run to either Petersgrat at 3207 metres above sea level, or to the Ebnefluh at an altitude of 3910 metres. The helicopter drops you off and you will follow an experienced mountain guide through powdery fresh deep snow.

Swiss Helicopter offer heli-ski tours and packages from CHF 350.00 - experience and additional equipment is required.

A carriage in a snowy scene in Interlaken, Switzerland

Where to stay in Interlaken

One of the best places to stay in Interlaken is the fairy-tale-like Savoy 26. The large apartments are great for couples of groups, with the additional bonus of having a private kitchen to save on the costs of eating out in Switzerland. The large gardens and mountain views make it the perfect setting, while the free parking and easy access to town means that it’s convenient too.

For a touch of luxury and history, stay at the 4-star Hotel Interlaken - one of the oldest hotels in Switzerland that opened in 1323. It’s in a great location too, right next to the Japanese Gardens you can easily walk to everything in town.

The hotel is full of Swiss character, and the on-site Restaurant Taverne provides high quality dining options for breakfast and dinner.

A red train en route to Interlaken, Switzerland.

Getting around Interlaken

The rail network in Switzerland is first-class and a great way to travel sustainably. To get there take a fast and direct train from several major towns like Zurich, Lucerne and or Bern or from other parts of Europe.

You can get unlimited rides on trains, buses, and boats throughout Switzerland with a Swiss Travel Pass. It also offers discounts to many museums and up to 50% off mountain excursions - prices start at 232 CHF for 3 days.

You don’t really need a car when visiting Interlaken as the town can easily be explored on foot. For day trips, cable cars and trains connect the sites (if hiring a car, take note that some roads aren’t always accessible in winter due to snow).

A network of trains from Interlaken will take you into the mountains to sights like Jungfraujoch and the Schilthorn. Local buses are also frequent, while boats to Lake Brienz and Lake Thun depart from the two Interlaken train stations (West and Ost).

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Jo Williams

Author - Jo Williams

Jo Williams is a freelance writer with 10 years' experience working in travel and tourism. A Brit who got fed up with the 9 to 5 corporate life, she sold everything to become a full-time wanderer.

Jo has travelled to over 70 countries and worked throughout Europe for a major tour operator. She hopes to inspire you to work less and travel more.

Last Updated 26 March 2024

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