Whilst Interlaken is best known as a summer destination, with two-thirds of it's visitors staying between May and October, the resort still has plenty to offer in winter too.
Interlaken is located in the valley down from the area's big 3 ski resorts: Wengen, Murren and Grindelwald, and tends to be more popular with visitors who don't necessarily want to do winter sports every day but are also interested in some different activities such as shopping, winter-hiking, day-trips to Switzerland cities, winter-trips on Lake Thun, and the general advantages of being based in a larger, valley town. For these holidaymakers, Interlaken can prove a good choice, especially as it's hotels and accommodation offer very reasonable prices during the winter season, as it's the summer which is actually their high-season price. And the skiing is still pretty accessible, especially if you want to try out different areas of the Jungfrau ski region, with a free ski bus taking Interlaken's guests towards the main resorts or use of the fabulous train system as well.
No live-streams are currently available for Interlaken.
A list of webcams for Interlaken and the surrounding area.
Interlaken's scenery may be slightly different than the nearby ski resorts of Grindelwald, Wengne and Murren, which are located higher up in the mountains, it is nonetheless set in it's own stunning scenery. Not only does it have a great location between two lakes, Brienz and Thun, with mountain sides coming down on both sides, but it has a magnificent view up into the Jungfrau mountains, naturally framed by other mountains as you look up towards it.
Interlaken's history can be traced back to the eleventh century, with the first recorded details of settlements in the area between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. As well as traditional farming and agricultural industries, the town has been a home to a number of other business areas over the years, including the manufacturing of watches, clock-making, and various textile and print industries.
However, the advent of tourism in Switzerland saw Interlaken take on a new role, that of a popular centre for visitors to the Jungfrau region. With an extremely large number and range of different hotels and accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, it's easy to see why Interlaken has become known as the main resort for exploring one of Switzerland's most beautiful regions.
First is Grindelwald's best known ski area and is situated at 2168m and with views straight over to the Eiger. You get access to the First ski area via the gondola from Grindelwald, with mid-stations at Bort and Schrekfeld. As with most ski areas that require a single main lift to get you to the main area, it can be a bit of a bottleneck in really busy times, but the lifts are quite fast and the situation is much improved from the slower lift system that was previously installed. First is home to Grindelwald's main nursery slopes and beginners area. There's a chairlift to take you up to the Oberjoch ski area and a series of lifts over at the Schrekfeld and Bargelegg areas to allow you to access the slopes over in these sub areas.
Given Wengen's location on the shelf above the valley, and with the sheer face of Mannlichen dominating over the village centre, it's no real surprise that to ski in Wengen you need to get yourself up and out of the village to get access to the main areas of slopes up at Mannlichen and Kleine Scheidegg.
There are pistes that come back down to the village, following a route close to the world-famous Lauberhorn World Cup downhill course (don't panic timid skiers, there are alternative blue pistes alongside the world cup run). However, there's no real variation for the ski home, as this is the only route, but it's an extremely scenic home run and a lovely way to end the day.
So apart from that route home and a small nursery slope area in the village centre, the main thing to realise about Wengen is that you need to get out of the resort centre to either Mannlichen or Kleine Scheidegg. Mannlichen is the mountain (height 2343m) that hangs directly over Wengen, there's a cable car station in the centre of the village called the Luftseilbahn Wengen-Mannlichen and it takes about 5 mins to travel up there. Be warned though that at peak times this can act as a bottle neck because it's the only direct way up to Mannlichen, so it obviously gets busy. So here's the trick - if you can get yourself out of the hotel and to the cable car before 9.15 you won't have to queue, even during the busy high-season periods, and can be skiing less than 10 minutes later.
The other way to get out of town and onto the higher slopes is to take the train up to Kleine Scheidegg. This is the same line that carries everyone up to Wengen from Lauterbrunnen - it carries on up to Kleine Scheidegg and then further on to the Jungfraujoch (no pistes up there, so don't try it !). The train takes longer than the Mannlichen cable-car (about half an hour as opposed to 5 minutes), and it can also get very busy (it will also have passengers on the train already as its coming from Lauterbrunnen below) but it's a decent alternative if it's windy or if anyone's nervous of long cable-car rides !
Once you've got yourself up to either Mannlichen or Kleine Scheidegg, the first thing that's going to hit you is the view, be prepared for it. Whilst Wengen may not have the most extensive range of pistes, it does have something very special - scenery to die for... the Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau hanging over you, the Wetterhorn over Grindelwald and the Schilthorn over Murren. It's breathtaking stuff.
The Schilthorn ski area on the slopes above Murren can be split into roughly 4 sub areas: Schilthorn-Birg-Obere Hubel, Allmendhubel, Maulerhubel-Winteregg and the Schiltgrat-Gimmeln area.
The Schilthorn-Birg-Obere Hubel area is accessed by the Schilthornbahn cable car from the centre of the resort. The cable car actually comes up from Gimmelwald down below Murren, and then up to Birg and then beyond to the famous revolving restaurant on the top of the Schilthorn. This is the highest lift in the Schilthorn area, and just below this is the starting point of the famous Inferno run.
For those skiers looking to access the pistes around the Allmendhubel area, the easiest way to get there is to take the Allmendhubelbahn funicular, which is located in the resort, roughly halfway between the railway station and the Schilthornbahn cable car station.
The Maulerhubel-Winteregg area is probably the trickiest place out of the four to get to for those staying in Murren. You've got to come at it from either halfway down the red pistes at Allmendhubel and then get on the Maulerhubel chairlift or get the chairlift up from Winteregg, which is the first stop on the Lauterbrunnen-Murren train.
To get to the slopes of the Schiltgrat-Gimmeln area, use the Schiltgrat chairlift from the village - it's just a bit further on from the Schilthornbahn cable-car.
Information on the Swiss ski area Jungfrau Region, including links to the surrounding resorts, webcams, slope information and lift details.
Where else could we start but Murren's most famous landmark - the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant perched on top of the Schilthorn mountain. What do you mean you've never heard of it ?!? You've most likely seen it though -it was Blofeld's mountain hideaway in the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. There's a black run (no. 10) that starts right up here at just under 3000m. Just down this black run is where the legendary Inferno run starts, the longest downhill race in the world. The black isn't too difficult to be honest and has some great views over to the jungfrau. It continues down to a position just above Both, from where there are a number of nice blue runs to take you down to Obere Hubel or down to the Riggli chairlift (black slope number 9 provides a trickier alternative). Obere Hubel sits at around 2400m so the snow up here is usually pretty good. However, to help ensure good conditions there are plenty of snow cannons covering the slopes down from here. There's something for everyone here with a blue, red and a couple of blacks all heading down to the bottom of the Muttleren and Kandahar chairlifts. From the bottom of the Kandahar chairlifts there's just run that connects you to the next skiing area below (Allmendhubel), but the bad news for nervy intermediates is that its a black (number 16) - a section of the Inferno run. Anyone not fancying this black needs to work there way back up to Birg using the chairlifts and then get the cable-car back down to the Schilthornbahn Station down in Murren
Below is a description of the various skiing areas at First:
We'll start with First, Grindelwald's best known area situated at 2168m and with views straight over to the Eiger. You get access to it via the gondola from Grindelwald, with mid-stations at Bort and Schrekfeld. First is home to Grindelwald's main nursery slopes and beginners area. There's a chairlift to take you up to the Oberjoch area. Slopes down from First consist of a blue (no 3) and a red (no 4) that lead down to Schrekfeld. For advanced skiers there's a black (no 5) that winds all the way down to Bort.
Access up to Oberjoch, the highest lift-served point on this side of Grindelwald, is via a chairlift from First. There are then two runs back down to the base of the chairlift, an easy blue and a slightly trickier red.
As well as the pistes down from the First area there is a chairlift (named Schilt) that you can get on and a few runs lead down from it - blue no. 8 and red no. 9 both end up back in the Schrekfeld area whilst another beginner-friendly blue takes you right down to the Bargelegg area. Advanced skiers can skip a long section of this blue by opting for a black (no 14) that runs in parallel to it. Going back to the main Schrekfeld area, there are 2 blacks and a red that run down from it - red 7 and black 16 take you down to the base of the Grindel chairlift at the Bargelegg area whilst black no 6 runs right down to Bort, its a long black that'll really get those thighs burning with a vertical drop of about 400m.
The Bargelegg area has three lifts - the Grindel chair and the Bargelegg drag start from a similar location and the Hohwald drag which is a bit further to the right. The Grindel lift connects the red 7 and black 16 to Schrekfeld whilst taking the 206m Bargelegg drag opens up either red 12 or blue 13. Taking red 12 brings you to the base of the Hohwald lift, take this drag to the top and you've then got two options - an easy blue will bring you straight back to the bottom of the drag again, or red 23, one of the longest in the area will sweep you right around the valley through Stepfi and Blumlisalp and right down to Rancher Bar
A list of piste-maps for Interlaken and the surrounding ski areas.
Piste-map of the Mannlichen and Kleine Scheidegg ski areas above Wengen.
Piste-map of the First ski area above Grindelwald.
Piste-map of the Schilthorn ski area above Murren.
Annual Events in this and neighbouring resorts...
The word 'classic' is often over-used, but not in the case of this race.
Set on the slopes of the Lauberhorn above the Swiss resort of Wengen, this is a race that has the lot - history, drama and the best scenery on the World Cup calendar.
The 2016 year's event will be the 86th running of the races, making it the longest running of all the FIS World Cup races. It's traditionally run the weekend before the Hahnenkamm races at Kitzbuhel, making back-to-back classic downhill races.
This spectacular ski race was started back in 1928 by 5 Brits from Murren's Kandahar Club and now has an important place on the annual ski calendar as one of the biggest and most popular amateur ski races in the world. The course is just under 15km long, starting just under the Schilthorn (think James Bond On Her Majesty's Secret Service at 2790m and finishing right down in the valley at Lauterbrunnen 2000m vertically below. The winner hurtles down in about 15 minutes but there's plenty of competition - with up to 1800 skiers taking part. The event has become big business for the village of Murren, with other events in the lead up and a massive Swiss party afterwards.
The 2016 race will be the 73rd running of the event.
If you want some further information on Interlaken, then you might find these links to other sites useful...
Interlaken hotels and chalets.