Interlaken is a small town of only 7,000 people nestled in the Swiss Alps. It is a popular tourist spot in both the winter and summer seasons and was one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever been. Everywhere you go, you have a view of the mountains and these mountains don’t compare to the ones in Vermont where I attend college. The Alps make Vermont look like they only have hills. There are lots of things to do in Interlaken: skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, skydiving, sledding, fondue, etc. I wanted to do it all but the problem is that it all costs money. And lots of money. In a recent article by the Huffington Post Switzerland was ranked as the country with the highest cost of living, making it not the cheapest weekend escape for a college student. So I’ll share here my recommendations on what to do while in Switzerland and how to save money.
1. Paragliding! I couldn’t do everything and paragliding was what I picked. It was recommended to me because it is a much cheaper alternative to skydiving and is equally awesome. Rather than jumping out of a plane with a parachute on, you run off a cliff with a parachute on (literally). It was one of those things I wasn’t going to tell my mom I was doing. Beforehand I was so nervous but it was hands down one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. It was such an amazing experience and totally worth it.
2. Go up into the Swiss Alps. Anyone who goes skiing or snowboarding does and although I opted not to ski because I’m not that good and thought the Swiss Alps might be too challenging, I did take the train up into the Swiss Alps! A friend had told me even if you don’t go skiing, go to the top of the mountain. Although it was a little pricey, I thought it was worth it. The train ride was an hour long and the whole time you got to look out the window at the Alps and all of the cute little cottages. The ride was beautiful but the view at the top was the real treat.
3. Go see the lakes. There are two big lakes, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, and they are famous for their spectacular blue color. Some even refer to them as the Gatorade lakes because the water looks like blue Gatorade. The blue color comes from minerals found in the mountains. You can bus to the lakes or walk. From where I was staying, Lake Brienz was closer and I walked along the river to get there. The walk was beautiful and I would highly recommend it.
4. Go to Funky Chocolate. Order their hot chocolate. It was the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my life. Promise. I even went back and got a second that same day.
5. Stay at Balmers Herberge. Yes it was a hostel and it kind of felt like grandma’s house with the wood paneling and red checked duvet covers, but it was clean and came with perks. You had two options for breakfast: plain corn flakes or toast (but it was really good toast and bonus, there was jam). Like I said before, Interlaken is a pretty small town so another perk – the biggest night club in Interlaken is conveniently located right downstairs. Other people had to walk in the cold, so they needed a coat and then had to pay to check their coat. Staying at Balmers makes your life that much easier and it’s ranked as one of Europe’s top 10 hostels.
6. Wander into every chocolate shop. They all have free samples and the longer you roam around and make it look like you’re going to pay $10 for a bar of chocolate, the more samples you will get. And there are a bunch of shops in close proximity so you can just go sample hopping. Above, the nicest shop owner posed for a picture with two of my beautiful friends and me.
7. Prepare yourself to spend a ridiculous amount of money on food. Food is very expensive and there is almost no way around this unless you bring food from home to last you the weekend.