This past weekend, my sister-in-law was in town and we wanted to take her somewhere scenic that wasn’t too far away. We were also looking for a trip we hadn’t done before. We had a bit of trouble picking a place because the Montreux Jazz Festival was going on and we weren’t planning on attending, so we wanted to miss any traffic and any crowds nearby. After some debate about what our best options would be, we decided to head to Thun and Interlaken.
It was about a 2 hour drive to Thun from Geneva and we arrived around 1 pm. We had done some research on Thun and looked up the sights online and in one of our guidebooks. We settled on visiting the castle in Thun, so that was our first stop. We parked our car in a public lot and walked up toward the castle. The castle was situated on top of a hill up above the city so we had a bit of an uphill hike along the sidewalk to get to the castle, but we made it, bought our tickets, and headed in.
When we entered the castle, we had to go up a flight of stairs so that we were actually on the 4th floor. This floor was one giant room and is one of the best preserved representation/knights’ halls in Europe. We were able to read about some of the history of the room and see several partial suits of armor and the old hearth. From the knights’ hall, we headed upstairs. On this level, we again saw one massive room, but there were 4 little round rooms in the corners, each part of one of the castle’s towers. This level was almost entirely museum displays which were kind of neat.
We found the ladder staircase heading up to the top floor and went up. The room was really neat. It’s essentially what I would call an attic with exposed roof beams. One of the really interesting things about it was that you could see how the roof shingles were attached. The four corners of this floor also held the towers. If you went down one step and ducked under a ladder you entered a small round room that was used as a prison room way back when. If you went up the ladder, you found yourself at the top of the tower. The windows were just open to the air with no glass and we got a really great view of the city of Thun and Lake Thun and the Alps.
Since none of us are that big on museums, we skipped the other floors of the castle since those were just museum floors and headed into town. At this point, it was almost 2 pm and we were all starving. We found an italian place that was still open and serving food right along the river. The water was beautiful and really blue looking.
After lunch, we didn’t spend much time wandering around Thun since we had heard Interlaken was a much prettier city to wander through. And while there are other things to do in Thun, the main point of our trip was to visit scenic places and we really couldn’t see the mountains or lake very well from inside Thun. On our way back to the car, we did walk through what appeared to be Thun’s old main street with all the touristy shops. It was really neat to walk through and at one point, the sidewalks were several feet up above street level and the flags of Thun, the Canton of Bern, and Switzerland were hanging every so often between the buildings over the street.
It didn’t take us long to get in the car and start on our 20 minute drive to Interlaken. From Thun, you can travel along either side of the lake to reach Interlaken. We decided to take the back way and avoid the interstate (see map above). This meant that our trip was slightly longer, but it was definitely worth it. it was a beautiful drive right along the lake! And if you like to drive, it’s actually a fun road to drive along since its slightly hilly and curvy with a beautiful view.
Upon arrival in Interlaken, we found a parking garage (there were far more places to park here than in Thun) and parked our car. We then headed out into the city to wander around and explore. We started out on the edge of the city park called Hoehe-Matte. The park had some amazing views of mountains on either side of the town. After the park, we wandered through town and toward the Aare River. Once reaching the river, we walked along the bank for a while until we reached a little covered pedestrian bridge and waterfall.
After crossing the bridge and waterfall, we ended up in the part of Interlaken on the other side of the river and in what looked like an old town square. In the town square, there just happened to be a wedding going on and everyone was getting ready to release red, heart-shaped balloons. It was neat to happen upon a tradition like that and the balloon release was pretty to see.
After the balloon release, we wandered back across the river and down a touristy stretch of road with lots of gift shops. My husband and I have been collecting little souvenirs from each place we visit and so we were looking for something to add to our collection. We were hoping to find a bear figurine since the flag/coat of arms for the Canton of Bern has a bear on it. In the end, we ended up getting a miniature cow bell like the ones all the cows wear during the inalpe and desalpe festivals and a small flag with the Bern crest.
After shopping for souvenirs, it was already 5 pm and we had a 2.5 hour drive back home. We were all tired out from walking in the sun, but we really enjoyed the town of Interlaken. It was very beautiful and scenic. We picked up several tourist brochures from the tourist office for our next trip back. There is so much to do around Interlaken, so we’re planning on taking at least a long weekend in the area to explore it further. There are lots of mountaintop panoramic viewpoints accessible by train, fernnicular, and telepherique and plenty of hikes to amazing viewpoints and stunning waterfalls in the area.