Bringing to life the best of Swiss Railways
06/07/2020 · By Katie Shaw
If you're looking for the perfect destination for a scenic rail escape, few places tick the box quite as well as Switzerland.Read more
As its name suggests, the popular resort of Interlaken is situated between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz in the Bern region of central Switzerland. The town's history can be traced back to a monastery which was established in this area of typically breath-taking tranquillity and beauty during the twelfth century.
An agricultural village, Aarmühle, grew around a nearby mill on the River Aare in the fourteenth century at which the now prosperous Interlaken Abbey held weekly and annual markets. By the eighteenth century, Aarmühle had expanded significantly and a century later began to gain a reputation as an international resort. The establishment of a Swiss cultural festival, a health spa and hotels followed. The arrival of the railway in 1872 cemented the town's popularity as a tourist destination and in 1891 the name Interlaken was officially adopted.
Since then Interlaken has built upon its success and is considered one of Switzerland's best destinations for winter sports and adventure sports enthusiasts. However, Interlaken is also an historic town at heart and its compact size means that highlights such as the town's medieval monastery and castle, the ancient and beautiful Stadthausplatz (town hall square) and a host of other attractions are delightful to discover and to explore on foot.
The Heimwehfluh is a hill which overlooks Interlaken and Lake Thun and whilst it is possible to hike to the summit, the most fun way of ascending the hill is via the Heimwehfluh's vintage funicular railway which began operation in 1906. The base station is five minutes' walk from the Interlaken West railway station, whilst atop the hill there is an observation point, children's adventure playground and toboggan run.
Close to Interlaken's monastery, Switzerland's first authentic Japanese garden, a gift from the town of Otsu with which Interlaken was twinned in 1978, is a place of beauty and calm at the heart of the town. Designed in accordance with the principles of Japanese horticulture the garden has a spiritual quality and is a delightful spot in which to rest whilst exploring Interlaken.
The beauty and power of the River Aare which flows through Interlaken can be viewed in all of its magnificence at the town's historic sluice gate. This timber gate, installed in 1854, sits at the ancient boundary between Interlaken and its suburb village Unterseen. Accessible at all time of the year, the sluice gate is located near the Goldey Bridge.