Lake Thun or Lake Brienz? We had to make a choice. Our two-day stay in Interlaken was too short to cram in all the great day trips that make this area so famous.
Interlaken (meaning “between the lakes”) is geographically situated between the crystal clear waters of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. The chic lakeside resort is a great base for exploring the best of central Switzerland’s magnificent scenery. If a trip to the breathtaking Jungfraujoch at 3,400m is considered the highlight of any visit to the Bernese Oberland, a boat tour on one of the two lakes is equally alluring and unforgettable.
Time was the decisive factor in this case. Lake Brienz is a bit smaller than Lake Thun – the boat trip from Interlaken to the far end at Brienz is about 1 hour 20 minutes, whereas Interlaken to Thun is at least two hours each way. So early morning, we embarked on the first cruise on Lake Brienz, which also happened to be a breakfast cruise (even better!)
Lake Brienz… oh, what a lake! Sheer cliffs on one side and picturesque alpine villages on the other.This is probably one of the most beautiful lakes you will ever visit. The scenery is absolutely spectacular, with turquoise blue waters and mountain peaks capped with eternal snow. Ah, and the cool breeze in your face! There is something so mesmerizing about sitting in the front of the boat with the breeze at your face, isn’t it? It’s probably like flying. Remember that scene from the movie “Titanic,” where the girl is standing at the bow of the ship with her dress and hair flying in the wind? It felt something like that.
The boat leaves from Interlaken, right behind the Ost train station, but there are other towns along the way where you can board as well. There is a 1st and a 2nd class section. First class is located on the upper deck, where there is also a small restaurant or a bistro. I would recommend booking a first class ticket. Besides being less crowded, the view of the waterfalls, the villages and the fantastic sites is so much better from the upper deck.
And not only that. From the first class you have access to the little bistro on board that serves a good variety of tasty shacks, drinks and ice blended beverages, in case you don’t want to have a full meal.
Our cruise started with a delicious breakfast on board. The dining room was perfectly located, towards the front of the boat, so we could watch the scenery while eating. Because we were traveling off season the boat was not crowded at all. Besides us, there was just another couple in first class, so we didn’t have much competition for the deck. There are a few stops along the way at the little villages that dot the shore. You have the option to hop off and visit them, then catch the next boat.
Before turning back, the boat stops for about 30 minutes at the idyllic town of Brienz. This allows you enough time to visit the port area or walk on the promenade. If you have time, stop in Brienz for a longer visit. The town is famous for its wood carvings and its traditional Swiss chalets. There is also a Wood Carving Museum displaying a large collection of new and antique wood-carvings, sculptures and musical boxes.
All throughout the trip, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful scenery. Every view looked so appealing, so completely unique. On the way back, totally captivated by the charm and tranquility of this lake, I concluded that no trip to Interlaken would be complete without a boat ride on Lake Brienz. And the cruise is free if you have a Swiss Pass, so what more can you ask for?