Interlaken is a town and municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the Swiss canton of Bern. It is an important and well-known tourist destination in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, and the main transport gateway to the mountains and lakes of that region. The town is located on the Bödeli, between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and alongside the Aar river that flows between the two lakes. Transport routes to the east and west alongside the lakes are complemented by a route south into the mountains following the Lütschine river.
The town is principally a base from which to explore the surrounding areas. Among the main attractions are the mountains of the Jungfrau region, including the Jungfrau, (4,158 m (13,642 ft)), the Mönch (4,107 m (13,474 ft)) and the Eiger (3,970 m (13,020 ft)). Whilst the peaks of these mountains are accessible only to mountaineers, a sequence of connecting mountain railways gives access to the Jungfraujoch, a coll (3,450 m (11,320 ft)) between the Jungfrau and the Mönch, which is the highest point in Europe reachable by train. Closer to Interlaken, the Harder Kulm (1,322 m (4,337 ft)), just to the north of the town, and the Schynige Platte (2,076 m (6,811 ft)), just to the south, are also accessible by railway, and provide extensive views of the higher mountains.
Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are both close to the town, and the Aar river flows through the town. Boat trips operate on both lakes, serving various lakeside towns. One of these, Brienz, is the starting point for Switzerland’s last remaining steam operated mountain railway, the Brienz-Rothorn railway. Jungfrau Park, an amusement park, is situated just to the south of Interlaken. It was originally opened as Mystery Park, a paranormal-based theme park owned by author Erich von Däniken, but was closed in 2006 after three years because of financial difficulties. It re-opened in its current guise in 2009.
Interlaken has a large selection of hotels of various grades, many of which are located along the Höheweg, a street that links the towns two railway stations and offers views of the mountains. Other hotels are clustered around one or other of the two stations, or located across the river in the neighbouring municipality of Unterseen. Interlaken is also a destination for backpackers. It has numerous backpacker-friendly hostels and companies providing guided services in skydiving, canyoning, hang gliding, paragliding, and skiing.
- In September, the Jungfrau Marathon starts in Interlaken.
- The Unspunnenfest is a festival held in Interlaken and the neighbouring communities of Matten and Wilderswil approximately every twelve years. The festival highlights traditional Swiss culture and features competitions of Steinstossen (stone put), Schwingen (wrestling) andyodelling. The last Unspunnenfest was held in September 2006.
- On 15 July 2007, the Red Bull Air Race World Series was held on the airport situated near Interlaken.
- During Summer, there is the Greenfield Music Festival on the outskirts of Interlaken.
The former Monastery Building, the Hotel Royal-St. Georges, the Hotel Victoria-Jungfrau and the Kursaal are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. The entire urbanized village of Interlaken is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
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