Interlaken : Arrival, orientation and information
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The town hasn’t much more to offer than its long main street, Höheweg, with a train station at each end. Mainline trains from Bern and Luzern terminate at Interlaken Ost station, 1km east of the centre, but those coming from the Bern direction pass first through Interlaken West station, a much more useful place to get off since it’s right beside the centre. (Be aware that branch-line trains into the mountains depart only from Ost station.) Boats from the Brienzersee dock directly behind Ost station, those from the Thunersee behind West station. Ost and West stations are linked by trains and city buses, running roughly every ten minutes from one to the other. With your own vehicle, Interlaken is well signposted from Bern and Thun; approaching from the south, use the car-carrying train through the Lötschbergtunnel, signposted between Brig and Sierre, to bring you through to Kandersteg, from where a spur road joins the Thun–Interlaken highway at Spiez.

Strictly speaking, Interlaken is only one of five communities on the neck of land between the two lakes: to the west is Unterseen; to the south are Matten and, a little further out, Wilderswil; to the east is Böningen. Although Interlaken overshadows them all, and the built-up area is contiguous from one to another, all five retain their individual identity and postal codes: if you go looking for something on Hauptstrasse, you should know that Unterseen’s Hauptstrasse is a long way from Matten’s Hauptstrasse.

The tourist office is in the heart of town, at Höheweg 37 (Mon–Fri 8am–noon & 1.30–6pm, Sat 8am–noon; June & Sept also Sat noon–5pm; July & Aug also Sat noon–5pm & Sun 5–7pm; 033/822 21 21, www.interlakentourism.ch). Faced by such an onslaught of business, they remain surprisingly cheerful and helpful, and can load you down with more maps, brochures and information about Interlaken and the whole Jungfrau region than you could ever possibly want, including details on the hundreds of hiking trails around and about and the useful Jungfrau Magazine with ideas for excursions. They also have a guided walking tour of the town (June–Sept daily 6pm; Fr.10, or free if you hold a ticket for the Jungfraujoch). Radio Berner Oberland broadcasts a half-hour of tourist information and weather reports in English (Mon–Fri 8am, Sat 9am; Interlaken 96.8FM, Lauterbrunnen & Grindelwald 95.9FM).

With Interlaken as one of the country’s premier tourist resorts, there’s a host of packages available through the tourist office. As a sample, you can book a night in a two-star hotel with breakfast, plus a return ticket to Jungfraujoch and a walking tour of Interlaken for Fr.171 per person sharing a double in the summer high season – a bargain since the Jungfraujoch ticket alone will set you back Fr.159 each. Many of the town’s hotels also have cut-price deals for multi-night stays – if you’re planning to stay more than a couple of days, it’s always worth asking for any discounts, especially in the low seasons.

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