From the local chocolatiers to the beauty of the snow-capped Jungfrau mountain, trains to Interlaken, Switzerland, are an efficient and scenic way to travel and experience this part of the country. Set between two lakes, the Thun and the Brienz, there's plenty to do in this Alpine region, no matter when you visit.
From the UK, you'll probably start your journey from one of Britain's finest stations, London St Pancras. If you have time before you set out, the British Museum is close by and can easily be walked to from the station. If you're in Paris, your origin station will be Gare de Lyon. It's a short walk from the Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Gardens) on the banks of the River Seine, and not far from the Place de la Bastille. After a bit of sightseeing, you can easily continue the journey into Switzerland, arriving first in Basel. Onward from Basel SBB station, there are direct options to suit every traveller's schedule. Should you arrive in Bern, the capital of Switzerland, there are regular departures to Interlaken roughly every 30 minutes. Journey time from Bern to Interlaken takes 53 minutes and passes through the historic town of Thun on the shores of Lake Thun. Its medieval castle stands proudly in the skyline and its covered bridge, Untere Schleuse, are both landmarks a short walk from the station and close to the Old Town Square. Next up is a 35-minute journey which goes by the shores of Lake Thun, which is worth looking out for if you're busy reading a book or watching a film onboard. As you approach and pass Neiderhorn, be on the look-out for paragliders circling to their descent into Interlaken. The next station is the first of two railway stations in Interlaken, Interlaken Ost and five minutes later, Interlaken West, which is located close to Lake Brienz.
Harder Kulm: A short walk from the main station of Interlaken Ost is the funicular railway, Harder Kulm. The 10-minute journey to the 1131m summit will reward you with views across Interlaken and both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. On the clearest days you can stand on the glass-bottomed viewing platform, or enjoy a coffee or drink at the cafe terrace, and admire the three summits of the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch mountains.
Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe, opened in 1912, connects to the highest railway station in Europe at 3466m. The journey by train will take you through mountain meadows and through a tunnel hidden in the Eiger. You're rewarded with spectacular views from the summit and glacier, with an opportunity to have fun in the snow, sip a hot chocolate from the Sphinx, the viewing platform, or even sit down to dinner.
Schynige Platte: You don't have to be a hiker to appreciate the Alpine Garden or try the Alpine horns at the top of the Schynige Platte. The winding train journey travels through wildflower pastures and the many options for hiking can be chosen depending on ability.
The Schilthorn: If you think the revolving Piz Gloria restaurant here, which takes in a 360-degree view that includes Mont Blanc, Jungfrau, and Eiger, is like something from a James Bond movie, you would be right. In 1969 scenes from the film 'On Her Majesty Secret Service' were filmed here. Just remember to order your Martini shaken, not stirred! And take a walk through Mürren, a beautiful village on the ascent filled with traditional buildings adorned with flowers.
Meiringen: Fans of the fictional character Sherlock Holmes may recognise that it was here at the Reichenbach Falls that the detective was to fall to his death. The walk to one of the largest waterfalls in the Alps can be steep in spots, though refreshments are available from a cafe at the top, offering beautiful views. Furthermore, Meiringen is a mere 33-minute train journey from Interlaken.
The fastest connection from London to Interlaken is 9 hours and 2 minutes and requires two changes. Commencing your journey at London St Pancras, you travel by Eurostar at speeds of up to 300kph to Paris Gare du Nord. From here you can take either a taxi or the Paris Métro to Paris Gare de Lyon for your next train. Departing from Paris Gare de Lyon you travel on the TGV Lyria, a modern high-speed train that will have you at Basel SBB in about three hours. The final leg of your journey from Basel SSB to Interlaken is aboard the Swiss railway, SSB IC service. These are spacious trains, most of which have a restaurant or bistro that offers take away table service.