This review is in no way sponsored. I have zero affiliation with Outdoor Interlaken; it is based entirely on my own experiences and is 100% my own recommendation.
In a way, Interlaken was a part of my life years before I first visited it. The tiny Swiss town first came to my attention at the age of 15 through my research into possible gap year destinations that would cater to my love for outdoors adventure. It was inevitable, then, that Interlaken’s status as one of the “adventure capitals of the world” immediately captured my interest. As soon as I started to look into it, I wanted to go. I pored over pictures of the Bernese Oberland, where Interlaken is situated: panoramas of blue skies and mountain ranges interrupted by the odd paraglider, skiers carving up clouds of snow in the winter, sparkling glacier lakes and sweeping Alpine pastures strewn with flowers in the summer. This was also when I discovered the region is home to some of Europe’s mightiest mountains: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
The gap year never happened – my parents wouldn’t allow it – but my desire to visit Interlaken didn’t fade. Time seems to have a way of either totally erasing the things you want, or making you want them even more. I thought about it every year – in every dull class at school, then university, and in every moment that I wanted to be somewhere else – with an almost Gatsby-esque yearning; my little green light at the end of the dock.
When I finally visited in March of 2018, it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Surrounded by the snow-capped Bernese alps and sandwiched between the brilliant turquoise lakes of Breinz and Thun, Interlaken truly is the perfect base for anyone wanting to explore more of the stunning Bernese Oberland. It feels youthful, energetic and alive, and the genuine hospitality of its residents is unforgettable. I won’t go into all the details of my first trip, but it ratified my love for the place enough that I booked tickets to return two months later – and this time I was going to do all the summer activities I had always wanted to do here.
The Best Adventure Package for Thrill-seekers
Designed to help adventurous visitors get the most bang for their buck, Outdoor Interlaken’s Ultimate Adventure package combines 5 of the best adrenaline-fuelled activities the region has to offer at a discounted rate. You save over 100CHF from the normal price. (Around 85 euros / 75 pounds) The activities are:
*The £ and euros are the approximate value according to exchange rate at time of writing.
You can also choose to add on photo/video services for a discounted rate if you pre-book them. If time is of the essence, never fear – the company says it’s possible to complete all these activities in 2 days, but they recommend a stay of 3. (I agree – 2 is a push, if you’re really pressed for time just go with 3.) I chose to do it across 4 days; it was still decently full-on, with the activities being virtually back to back on a couple days, but it suited my schedule perfectly. I was in Interlaken for a week and was able to spend my spare days hiking/exploring the surrounding areas before heading back to London.
Of all the activities, I only had previous experience in white water rafting and skydiving. This meant I was doing a few things I’d never done before: canyoning, bungy jumping, and the canyon swing.
For my notes on each of the activities, read on:
- At 134m, this is the seventh highest bungy jump in the world – not to mention one of the most breath-taking and unusual. You go up in a gondola and jump out of it over a lake, where you’re collected by a boat.
- For me, this was by far the biggest adrenaline rush of all activities. Yep, even more than skydiving. Why? Depth perception. You can see everything rushing towards you, much closer up than if you were skydiving, which puts your situation into context. The stomach-dropping sense of freefall also seems to last longer as unlike skydiving you don’t reach terminal velocity. There’s also something about having to push yourself off the edge… It’s just not something your body is programmed to want to do, so overriding that natural survival instinct feels crazy. Since the bungy cord is only attached to your feet, and the rest of your body is free, you feel extra ‘vulnerable’.
- I’ll say the same thing for any activity involving jumping – GO FIRST! (Or at least close to first). The longer you wait your turn, the crazier the suspense. I hate waiting – I like to get things over and done with before nerves can even come into the question
- There were beers waiting for us at the bottom. I’m a fan.
- I’ve skydived before and I absolutely love it. I was interested to see how this one would compare to my most recent experience skydiving above the ocean in Western Australia. No doubt: Skydive Switzerland blew it out the water. (Pun intended)
- I enjoyed the most incredible views on the way up, surrounded by mountains, and went falling through big puffy clouds on the way down. The instructors were all amazingly friendly, but then they always are with skydiving. I mean, imagine a nervous first-time skydiver having a super intimidating tandem master. That would be the worst.
- The feeling standing and waiting at the top of the canyon swing is insanely suspenseful but the jump itself was the easiest I enjoyed on the whole trip. To be fair, I had jumped off so many surfaces by this point that I’m not sure I felt adrenaline like a regular person anymore – I might have been a little numb.
- As I recall, there were only a couple seconds of freefall before I felt the tension of the rope and the ride became the nice big swing it’s supposed to be.
- The real rush is being so close to the water below and the canyon walls! Certainly a unique experience.
- Again, with all these jumping things my advice is to go first. The longer you wait to jump, the more the suspense freaks you out. Get it out the way so you can laugh at / cheer on the rest!
White water rafting
- Probably the least challenging one in terms of ‘comfort zone’ if I’m being honest – again, a very personal opinion – but still lots of fun and very beautiful; it was absolute bliss to cruise along the water underneath the sun, surrounded by trees on either side of the river bank. This is a wonderful way to appreciate unspoilt nature.
- There are different rapids with different grades – be aware that the white-water rafting offered in the ultimate adventure package is at Lutschine, which is the highest grade aka their ‘advanced rapids’.
Canyoning Chli Schliere
- Definitely one of the main highlights and no shortage of adrenalin rushes with this one. Unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Probably the one that pushed me out of my comfort zone the most, which is saying a lot!
- Just like with the white-water rafting, Outdoor Interlaken offers canyoning at three different locations varying in difficulty. Chli Schliere is the ADVANCED option – so again, be aware that by booking into the ultimate adventure package you are opting for the most hardcore canyoning site.
- It is described on their website as “a physically demanding and technical canyon with a high adrenaline factor, suitable for confident, adventurous, athletic people who want to be challenged.” Don’t flatter yourself if you really don’t think you fit the bill – otherwise you’ll pay for it in the canyon!!
- A lot of people don’t know what canyoning really is. It’s basically just the sport of exploring canyons – and you can do that by climbing, rappelling, swimming and jumping.
- You mostly do a lot of jumping and sliding with this one. Think: jumping off the edge of little waterfalls into the pools or streams below. I think the highest jump we did was around 10m.
- I reckon this one pushed me out of my comfort zone the most – although I tried not to show it, it took me a few jumps to get used to the feeling of actually doing it.
- In many ways it was more challenging than jumping from a plane or gondola because you trust the ending even less.
- This one truly gives you a sense of being in nature, in the wilderness. The canyon is beautiful – make sure to look around and appreciate!
- I thoroughly enjoyed the bits where we were abseiling using ropes as it reminded me of climbing, which I love.
- The guides. Where to start? Friendly, funny, irresistibly likeable, enviably cool – they’re the kind of people you want to be friends with! I often hear people saying that Outdoor Interlaken has the best guides. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t gone with any other company, but I’m not leaving to find out! They don’t fall short on professionalism either. You feel safe and well taken care of at all times. Everything about the trips is logistically flawless.
- Special shout-out to Flurin and Rayno who made the bungy jumping extra memorable. You guys rock. If anyone from Outdoor Interlaken is reading this, give those guys a bear hug from me.
- How you go about booking it: go on the Outdoor Interlaken website and find the ultimate adventure package. The booking link is online, and it’s during the booking process that you’ll be able to select the dates and times you’d like to do each activity. If you need help and have questions you can confer with firstname.lastname@example.org . They are quick to respond and happy to help!
GETTING TO INTERLAKEN (AND OTHER TIPS):
With its great transport links by rail, road and air, Interlaken is easy to reach for travellers from all over the world. The town is situated about 50km south east of the Swiss capital, Bern, and 125km from Zürich. The main way you’ll get to Interlaken once you’re in Switzerland is by train. Regular train services operate every day between Interlaken and the other towns and cities in Europe (i.e. Paris, Vienna).
- I personally fly into Zürich and then get to Interlaken via train, although you can fly into Basel, Bern, etc, and take trains from there.
- There are two stations in Interlaken: Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West. You can go into either, just find out which one your accommodation is closest to.
- From Zürich there is no direct train to Interlaken; you’ll have to make a connection to another train at some point. I.e. You’ll take a train from Zürich to Bern, hop off at Bern, hop on to another train at a different platform, and take that one onwards to Interlaken. In total, getting to Interlaken via train from Zurich takes 2 hours.
- Download the SBB Mobile app to help you plan your travels. Trust me, it’s amazingly helpful – it shows the train timetables and lets you buy and download tickets on the app.
- Note: if you travel in the evening, there may be fewer train services available. In that case, you may have to take a bus at some point. Don’t worry about any blips like that – Swiss transport is easy to figure out, and if you do get stuck there are always people to ask.
- Also note: Zürich Flughafen is not the same as Zürich HB. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME STATION. Flughafen is the airport. This is the one you want when you are going to Interlaken / coming back in from Interlaken.
- Remember that Interlaken isn’t where all the activities happen. Interlaken is a small town, surrounded by lots of other towns where the activities happen all around, nearby. So when I talk about my experiences in Interlaken, I’m not necessarily talking about Interlaken exclusively. Interlaken is the base we use for sleeping and eating because it’s where all the shops and hotels are. I’m pretty sure if you walk twenty minutes in any direction you end up in another town.
- Bus in Interlaken/surrounding areas free – easy to figure out. Just ask at your hostel/hotel reception!
- Transport in Switzerland is clean and efficient and generally just an enjoyable experience. I’ve been on some god awful public transport in my time – overcrowded Indian rail I’m looking at you – but Switzerland is the best.
- When it rains in Interlaken, there’s not much to do. That’s the only time that it’s crap. But you never know when it’s going to rain – the weather in the mountains is unpredictable and fast-changing, so the weather forecast hardly ever goes to plan.
- For comfort and convenience, stay at Backpackers Villa Hostel. It’s unbelievably nice and has won a bunch of awards to show for it (for being the best hostel in Switzerland, and even the world!). It’s kept impeccably clean, has its own self-catering kitchen, free wifi + breakfast, and is extremely well located – a stone’s throw from Interlaken Ost train station and the centre of town. It’s no surprise that it consistently garners rave reviews from travellers. Stay from CHF43 per night.
- Balmers Hostel is another one worth considering. With a less upmarket feel than Backpackers, Balmers caters to a young, fun crowd – it’s slightly cheaper, kitted out with jacuzzis and hammocks, and has its own nightclub. Most young backpackers I meet in Interlaken seem to stay here, the main draw being that it has more social spaces. Stay from CHF35 per night.
Interlaken is a mecca for those who seek extreme sports and outdoors adventure – that much is clear. Whether you’re looking to hurl yourself off a mountain or simply take a step outside your comfort zone, Outdoor Interlaken will make sure you have a memorable trip. Their ultimate adventure package is the perfect way to maximise thrills and minimise cost, making for one of the most exciting getaways you’ll ever have in one of the most beautiful places in the world.