Last Updated on 26/02/2023
The Jungfrau region is the concentration of everything that a restless tourist might want: lakes, mountains, gorges, caves, castles – welcome, there are also waterfalls – in excess. Number of railways and cable cars per square kilometer – I would not be surprised if a world record was set here. The only thing missing was a good thermal pool.
In this part, about those places that are not in the immediate proximity of the Jungfrau – Interlaken and Schynige Platte.
A little History
At the beginning of the 12th century (the first mention of 1133) between the lakes Brinz and Thun, the Augustinian monastery was built. In 1224 the monastery acquired the patronage of Bern and became a significant landowner in the region. Jungfrau Mountain got its name from the monastery.
After 1484 the monastery fell into decay. And with the arrival of the Reformation it became the seat of the governor. The building was later used as a storage facility until it finally collapsed. Modern Catholic and Protestant churches were built in the early 20th century.
The settlement near the monastery was known as Aarmühle (Mill on the Aar, since 1562). The city received the name Interlaken in 1891, as it was already widely used in communication, travel books, and on maps.
Unterseen – the part of Interlaken across the Aare River – traces its history back to 1279, when King Rudolph 1 of Habsburg allowed Baron Berchtold 3 Eschenbach-Oberhofen to build a fortress and a settlement between the lakes. The settlement was in constant conflict with the monastery and during the Reformation received the monastery as property. In 1470 the settlement was badly damaged by fire. From 1750 Unterseen began to develop a tourism business.
Jungfrau railway – red. Other railways and funiculars – blue. Cable cars – green.
What to do in Interlaken
Most of the buildings in Interlaken are quite modern – from the mid.19th century and later, when the tourism boom began.
On the opposite sides of the city there are railway stations West and Ost. And next to each pier – pleasure boats leave from one on Lake Brienz (Ost), on the other – along Lake Thun (West).
In the center of the main street, there is a vast green field. It was left undeveloped so that residents of expensive large hotels opposite could admire the view of the Jungfrau. Now the field serves as a landing site for paragliders.
In addition to the possibilities of going to the mountains, lakes, other cities, Interlaken has its own “home” entertainment: two funiculars, a rope park, an amusement park, an outdoor pool.
The funicular to Harder Kulm is located near the Interlaken Ost train station. You need to walk a little towards the center and cross the first bridge over the Aare.
From above you can see two lakes and a panorama of the mountains. Initially, the views were not as amazing as with Shynige Platte. But you don’t have to suffer 40 minutes in the train in one direction. However, a new observation platform has recently been built overlooking both lakes (Zwei-Seen-Steg) and should greatly enhance the competitiveness of this funicular.
A couple of minutes up from the lower station (follow the sign) there is a small menagerie: two enclosures with marmots and several enclosures with mountain sheep.
At Interlaken, there is a small wooded peaked hill Heimwehfluh, as if it had fallen from somewhere. A historic funicular (1906) brings you to the hill. Upstairs there is an observation deck, a large playground, a coaster (toboggan with a rail), a bob rodelbahn (the same thing, but around the playground 400 m, maximum 75 kg), a model railway. There is a rope park below.
In 2003, between Interlaken Ost and Wilderswil, the Mystery Park, also known as Jungfrau Park, was built. The main idea: to tell about world riddles in an entertaining and educational form. Pyramids, information about ancient flying objects, the Mayan calendar, megaliths, mysterious drawings on the surface of Nazca, space exploration were chosen as mysteries. The story is conducted in the form of multimedia or performances. Nautilus is a submarine simulator, a story about Heraklion, the Bermuda Triangle and Atlantis. Added to this are themed sections for outdoor recreation: highlands, Sahara, lagoon, jungle. Misty Land and Mystery Club – play center (large playground). Plus several rides. How interesting it is, we ourselves did not check.
Schynige Platte railway
The views from the Shinige Platte were appreciated by the tourists of the 19th century. For them, in 1893, a seven-kilometer-long railway was built from Wilderswil to an altitude of 1967 meters. The advertisement promises “the romance of the railway and the magical world of the mountains.”
I completely agree with the second part. In good weather, the views are 11 on a 10-point scale. The Trinity of Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger appears in each valley appears at its own angle and usually only a part. Here they are visible in all their glory, like the other mountains of the chain, as well as Männlichen, First, Schilthorn, the Grindelwald valley and Lauterbrunnen with the Staubbach waterfall.
When ascending, Interlaken and Lake Thun and a piece of Lake Brienz are clearly visible. Climbing up the ridge (there and back for at least an hour), you can look at Lake Brien (its mainly part).
Lake Thun. Moving counterclockwise
We continue to move counterclockwise. Above the Lauterbrunnen valley we see Jungfrau (highest in the center) and Mönch (to the left of Jungfrau).
Jungfrau in the center and the Staubbach waterfall is visible.
From right to left: Jungfrau, Mönch and the station between them under the cloud, Eiger. In front of the trinity is the dark Männlichen triangle.
Eiger. Moving to Grindelwald
Grindelwald in the center, at the end of the valley.
On the left First. There is a long popular hiking trail from Schynige Platte to First. On the these way you can test Lowa’s boots for free.
Thus, we looked at half of the circle. Only a small piece of Lake Thun is visible from the station. Lake Brienz is closed by a mountain, which you have to climb to see it.
The “magic world of the mountains” is complemented by the botanical garden (admission is free). Even in autumn there was something to look at. At last my meeting with edelweiss took place. There is a circular route through the garden, along which you need to walk clockwise. So as not to push on narrow paths with oncoming people.
Disadvantages of this trip
But with the “romance of the railway”, everything is not at all smooth. To get it, travel at unpopular times. Then you will take a picture and look at the abyss. Otherwise they will shove you into the middle. And there will be no Bahnromantik or Erlebnis (entertainment), but just a bunch of people trying to see something over each other’s heads.
Small children do not tolerate a 40-minute ride well, and begin to cry in unison. Destination is not good suitable for families with strollers, for disabled people, or for those elderly people who are no able to walk on stone path. All who have problems with climbing, should go to the restaurant.
In 2010 there was only a meadow below, on which a picnic area is equipped, filled with cows and especially their dung. A lot of people sneaked between the cow dung trying to find where to settle down. The road to the meadow had only road’s visibility, but not qualitaty.
Now there is a playground and a new “blooming” trail. But the photos did not yet convince me that Schynige Platte for families is better than Männlichen.
In general, our verdict is as follows. If you are with a stroller, choose Männlichen or stock up on a backpack for your child (For example, rent it from a store in Grindelwald) and leave your stroller at home. And for everyone else, just go on the tour early.