Situated between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, my first week in Interlaken consisted of many breathtaking hikes. From peaceful strolls along the Aare River to the painful steep incline of reaching Harder Kulm – a summer to improve my navigational skills!
Iseltwald: Find the goats
After a short walk to the Interlaken Ost station with my visitors card in hand, I simply hopped onto a free bus to Mühle, Iseltwald. Gazing out of the window across Lake Brienz made the 20 minute bus journey fly by. Winding around narrow roads on the mountain-side, I was amused by the bus horn that ensured no head-on collisions with oncoming traffic.
“Don’t walk onto the highway!!!” – words of warning from Vera, my host in Interlaken.
The journey up the mountain required walking on a busy roadside before a steep hike to the animal sanctuary . Imagine my sense of relief when I heard a goat bell!
It became a running joke to survive traffic on my ventures out of Interlaken.
A dream- the animal sanctuary overlooked the lake of tranquil emerald water.
My legs certainly appreciated the smooth descent into the picturesque village of Iseltwalt. I find goats wherever I go and I had a great selfie opportunity with the ibex (wild goat) statue. I plan to return to Iseltwalt to visit the Giessbach Falls along the Riverside path.
However, I did not anticipate the blazing heat exceeding 30 ºC, I returned with unforgettable memories along with a lovely sunburn.
Interlaken walking tour
Joining The Interlaken Free Walking Tour one evening was a no brainer! 2 hours with a local expert guide to learn about the history and culture of Interlaken with travellers from around the world. Thunderstorms could not stop us having an educational entertaining exploration of the town.
I was introduced to the ibex, the wild goat with majestic horns to outcompete any Golden Guernsey goat.
Lake Thun: multiple days
Having explored Lake Brienz, Lake Thun was next to tick off the ‘to hike to’ list.
A top tip: walk alongside the meandering Aare River so even incompetent place-finders like myself can never get lost en route to the lakes. Again, I enjoyed spotting some of the local livestock and feeling like Doctor Dolittle. I returned on a few occasions to visit the cattle and sheep.
Maybe I did get a little lost… but you never know what is around the corner.
I stumbled upon Weissenau Castle in Unterseen. Following the gloomy staircase up the ruins was a brilliant decision, I was surprised to find a hidden platform to capture the most incredible view of Lake Thun surrounded by mountains.
Another unexpected moment was when I reached the edge of Lake Thun a tourist was perched taking photographs of the impressive landscape, a photo opportunity for a solo hiker.
Spot the Pyramid of Niesen in the distance.
“Hard” for sure. The 8 minute funicular ride is often opted by tourists to reach the 1,322m high viewing platform over the 2 hour steep ascent.
Competitive and determined, the 2 things an amateur hiker needs to be to reach the top during a heatwave. A lesson from working on a husky farm in Finland – never underestimate mental strength in comparison to physical strength. I knew that my face would be the colour of my T-shirt by the time I had reached the top.
No surprise that I misunderstood the signs along the trail and hiked too far up the mountain than the viewing point. Always creating additional challenges for myself!
Everything happens for a reason.
After asking hikers for directions we ended up talking about England, our travels, goats, university… we reached the viewing point together. A group photo, drink in the sun, and taking the funicular down the mountain was the ultimate reward.
Lake Thun hike in storm
Thunderstorm! Another hike to Lake Thun.
Note to self: avoid all trees during lightning.
After a few days of intense heat, the rapid release of rain was a relief – typical Northern England weather anyway. Walking during the storm was relaxing even with the funny looks from tourists for wearing shorts.
St. Beatus Caves
Another hike to appreciate the wonders of Lake Thun.
I took a more scenic route on the 8km hike to St. Beatus Caves, avoiding the busy traffic and sharp bends of the roads. After following the river to Neuhaus I hiked a section of the picturesque Pilgrims’ Path (Pilgerweg) which was clearly signposted.
An impressive guided tour, a not so impressive 5 CHF coke zero. I will never forget to take my water bottle with me around Switzerland again.
Interlaken Ost – Wilderswil – Lauterbrunnen – Grütschalp – Mürren – Gimmelwald – Stechelberg – Interlaken
Whilst the cable car to Grütschalp was not the idyllic mode of transport I envisioned, the hike to Mürren was an incredible day of walking. An alternative to the expensive ticket for Jungfrau is viewing Mönch, Eiger, and Jungfrau from Mürren.
Shout out to Sarah from New Zealand… after asking Sarah to take a photo of me in Grütschalp, we hiked to Mürren together and had the best time!
“Find life experiences and swallow them whole. Travel. Meet many people. Go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys. Try everything. Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.” – LAWRENCE K. FISH
I advise other solo travellers to speak to strangers to make new friends even if you are a fellow introvert.
LIFE BEGINS AT THE END OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE!