Visiting Interlaken, Switzerland can be so expensive—but it doesn’t have to be. Here are our top 14 cheap and free things to do in Interlaken!
Prefer to WATCH instead of READ? Here ya go!
If we haven’t met, we’re Jana and Brett and we just love being in Switzerland. In fact, we’ve been here more than 10 times in the last 10 years and we’re spending 3 months in Interlaken this summer. Along the way, we’ve found unique ways to travel Switzerland on a budget!
We know that you also want to visit Interlaken without breaking the bank, which is why we’re sharing these 14 cheap and free activities with you.
What We Mean by “Cheap” & “Free”
Cheap = the experience will cost 10 Swiss francs (CHF) or less per person
Free = that there are no paid entry fees
And you can reach all of these sites by public transportation for completely free with the Interlaken Guest Card—or by walking. In case you didn’t know, when you stay in the Interlaken area, you’ll receive this guest card (paid by your tourist taxes) which gives you free local transportation, discounts, and other benefits.
HINT: You can find a list of all the discounts available with the Interlaken Guest Card as well as a map of the covered transportation routes here.
To make it easy for you to enjoy all of these experiences, we’ve created a map with all the locations pinned. If you’re planning a trip to Interlaken, these are the exact spots we recommend.
NOTE: the items on this list are in no particular order.
1 | Explore the Unspunnen Castle Ruins
They think this was built as a fortress in the 1200s. And although now it’s just in ruins, it’s still a super fun place to hike around and get great views from the top. You can also take the trail just behind the ruins to a viewpoint with a sweeping overlook all the way to Lake Brienz and the Jungfrau!
HINT: Take Bus 105 from Interlaken West to the Wilderswil Lehngasse stop. From there, you can walk to Unspunnen in about 12 minutes, enjoying the viewpoint along the way!
2 | Buy a Beer or Taste a Whisky at Rugenbräu
This brewery is over 150 years old, and there are usually about a dozen different beers you can try. There’s also a distillery and one of their whiskies is aged in the ice all the way up at the top of the Jungfraujoch. Touring the facility is not what we would call cheap. But for just a small price, you can taste one of their whiskeys or buy a beer on site.
HINT: Rugenbräu is less than a 5-minute walk from Unspunnen!
3 | Watch Paragliders Land in Höhematte Park
If you’ve researched things to do in Interlaken, you’ve probably seen how popular paragliding is. And while we’re sure it’s an incredible experience, it’s pretty pricey. But you can still enjoy it by watching them fly above Interlaken and land in Höhematte. So grab a bench, put on your sunglasses, and enjoy the show!
4 | Sip a Coffee (or munch on a Vegan Snack) at Velo Cafe
Watching paragliders is hard work. So check out Velo Cafe for a caffeine kick. If you’ve followed us over the past few years, you’ll know that Brett loves to try coffee everywhere we go. And this is his favorite cafe in Interlaken—just a short walk from the Interlaken West train station! Velo means bike, and the inside of the cafe is decorated with all kinds of bikes and bike racing gear.
Now, this cafe isn’t Swiss—it’s actually owned by a couple from New Zealand. But the Italian-style coffee and vegan food are really, really good.
5 | Stroll Around Unterseen
If you’re looking to visit a charming village, then head to Unterseen. It’s just across the river from Interlaken, and it’s basically considered the “old town” of Interlaken.
Some of the beautiful buildings in this area date back to the 1400s, and we’ve seen so many different events in the main square, from an old fashioned car show to a food market and even live music. But one of our favorite things to do is to visit on Sunday mornings before church, sit on a bench, and enjoy a pastry from the next spot on this list!
6 | Enjoy a Pastry from Mohler Bakery
If you want to eat where the locals eat, then this is the bakery for you. The line is often out the door and onto the bridge. But trust us—it moves quickly and it’s totally worth the wait!
HINT: We’ve tried a lot of different pastries here, but Brett is always up for a schogigipfel (chocolate croissant), or a healthy portion of zopf. Wait, you’ve never tried zopf!? It’s known here as “Sunday bread,” but he says it’s approved for every day of the week!
7 | Walk Behind Mülibach Falls
Have you ever dreamed about walking behind a waterfall? Well, now you can, and you might just have the whole place yourself. Check out Mülibach Falls, just a short walk outside the village of Iseltwald—which you can reach by bus from Interlaken.
The shady trees and cool water make it a comfortable spot no matter how hot the weather is. And if we’re honest, it’s just super cool that you can walk behind a waterfall!
HINT: This is part of a much longer hike called the Three Waterfalls Trail. But we recommend riding Bus 103 from Interlaken Ost to the Iseltwald Mühle stop, and then taking the casual, 5-minute walk to the falls.
Thinking you might want to spend a little more time exploring Interlaken or visit some of the nearby villages, all while sticking to your budget and not emptying your bank account?
Well you’re in luck! We’ve crafted several travel guides that help you do just that! We want to maximize your time here in Switzerland by sharing with you all the must see places, which activities are worth your time and money, how to save money on Swiss transportation, and all the insider tips that we’ve learned along the way! If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland and are sticking to a budget, you need to check out our travel guides.
8 | Relax with a Lakeside Drink in Iseltwald
Iseltwald is one of many charming villages in this area. But we like to come here for views of the beautiful, blue waters of Lake Brienz. It’s such a unique color that we like to refer to it as “Brienzer Blue.” Find a cafe or restaurant, grab a drink and enjoy the views. This makes for an ideal rest stop after the next item on our list.
HINT: While you can stop here at the beginning or end of the hike mentioned below, Iseltwald would also be a great place for a drink after enjoying Mülibach Falls—just a 15-minute walk away!
9 | Hike Along Lake Brienz from Iseltwald to Giessbach Falls
If you’re up for a longer walk to see another impressive waterfall, then take the hike from Iseltwald to Giessbach. These falls are hundreds of meters tall and cascade down over 14 different steps. Like Mülibach Falls, you can walk behind them, but you’ll probably have to share the experience with a few more people!
Right next to the falls is the Grand Hotel Giessbach. And although it’ll cost you more than 10 CHF to eat a meal there, the drinks are pretty reasonable. In fact, the last time we went, Jana had a glass of water from the waterfall and it was so cool! But most of the time when we visit, we just bring a picnic and enjoy the view.
HINT: You can walk back to Iseltwald for free or pay to ride one of the boats. In fact, our favorite way to visit is to take a morning boat from Iseltwald or one of the stops on the north side of Lake Brienz, enjoy our time at Giessbach, and then walk the lakeside trail back to Iseltwald whenever we’re ready to leave.
10 | Savor the Breads and Treats at Steininger
Last year we think the ladies at this bakery new us by name, because we came here so often! Steininger is a neighborhood bakery, and they have tons of breads, traditional baked treats, and a whole section of artisan chocolate.
HINT: try the häslikuche (hazelnut cake) and the quiche. But don’t walk out of here without a nice loaf of bread to pair with all those fresh farm foods we’ll be telling you about later!
11 | Visit the Gardens at St. Beatus Höhlen Caves
Your Interlaken Guest Card allows you to ride the bus for free all the way out to the St. Beatus Höhlen Caves. And here you get a double view—one of the cascading waterfalls, and the other of the beautiful Lake Thun. You’ll have to pay to visit the inside of the caves, but it’s free to enjoy the gardens.
HINT: Bus 21 takes you to the caves from Interlaken West. But if you get off one stop early (Sundlauenen, Pilgerweg), an enjoyable, 15-minute hike will take you the rest of the way!
12 | Create a DIY Swiss Chocolate Tasting from the Grocery Store
It’s no secret that Swiss chocolate is really, really good! But if you’re traveling Switzerland on a budget, buy your Swiss chocolate from the grocery store. You can find all the top brands at a discount compared to what you’d pay in a gift shop. Yes, you can still buy the stuff in really fancy packaging. But if you want to snag a cheaper deal, just go for the regular stuff.
HINT: While you’re there, you should totally try Brett’s favorite spread to slather all over bread, crackers or anything else for that matter—Ovomaltine. It’s basically a chocolate version of Nutella, but slightly crunchy and way better in his opinion!
13 | Wander Around Wilderswil
If the weather is cloudy and we can’t be gazing at the mountains, you’ll often find us here. This village is on the train line between Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen Valley. Most of the houses were built in the beautiful, traditional Swiss architecture, and some of them are even more than 400 years old.
A lot of locals live here, so you often see families outside hanging out in the backyard, and plenty of vegetable gardens, too.
HINT: If you’re trying to travel Interlaken on a budget, it might be cheaper to stay in Wilderswil than in Interlaken, especially if you book on Airbnb.
14 | Purchase Fresh, Local Produce from Farm Fridges
You can’t visit Switzerland without trying some authentic Swiss cheese! And our favorite place to buy alpkäse (alp cheese)—plus eggs, sausage, jam and other delights—is from farm fridges. They’re dotted all over the area and based on the honor system. You simply take the items you want and leave your cash in the money box.
HINT: In fact, visiting farm fridges is one of the best ways to experience Interlaken. Check out our Swiss Food Tour where we show you all of our favorite spots, complete with a map so you can go there too. And if you want more tips on how to travel Switzerland on a budget, watch this next. See you there!