Located in the German-speaking heart of Switzerland, Interlaken offers winter sport’s fans access to some of the most spectacular skiing in the Alps, with their base in a service-packed small city in a spectacular lakeside setting. Traditionally a ‘Summer’ resort, Interlaken had long been attractive to winter sports enthusiasts because of its prime location and the fact that its excellent hotels and other facilities offer very low rates during the winter. Its status became ‘official’, however with the launch of The Jungfrau Top Ski Region, containing more than 160 Km (100 miles) of trails in ski centers above Grindelwald, all linked to Interlaken by a mountain railway included in a ski pass. The average length of runs in the area is a remarkable six – 12 KM (four – nine miles). With the pass, it’s possible to ski a different ski area every day for a week.
The name ‘Interlaken’ actually means “between the lakes” – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz to be precise and water is omnipresent throughout the area with idyllic clear mountain streams and waterfalls running off the hills and into the lakes. The resort offers dozens of water-based activities, throughout the year. If you ever got bored of sliding on the cold white variety you can always enjoy anything from a cruise on a lake steamer to just feeding the ducks or even frog watching.
Visitors first started arriving at Interlaken long before downhill skiing was conceived. One of them, Lord Byron, famously remarked “it’s a dream” on first seeing the town. The first hotels opened their doors in 1806, complementing the existing monastery hospice (now the four star hotel Interlaken) with the boom years beginning in the 1860s. Much of the beautiful architecture and grand design date from this 50-year era up to the First World War, but the impressive exteriors hide equally impressive fully modernized interiors, enabling Interlaken to offer the best of old and new. In the early days, when the likes of Goethe and Mendelssohn popped by, Interlaken was promoted for its healthy climate, as well as the spectacular views.