Thun vs Interlaken. Which one should you choose?

Thun vs Interlaken: Which one should you choose?

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Thun and Interlaken are two popular towns that are part of Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, one of the top destinations in the country famous for its breathtaking mountainous landscapes dominated by Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

The region is known as the birthplace of Alpine ski resorts, clear pristine lakes, and spectacular hiking trails cutting through lush alpine valleys dotted with wildflowers. Every corner looks like a postcard, so choosing a good place to stay can be extremely difficult, especially in Alpine villages where accommodations are limited and those that are available tend to be pricey.

Some of the most popular places to stay in the region are Thun and Interlaken, gorgeous towns with plenty of charm and wonderful landscapes. While they are just under 1 hour apart, each offers its distinct atmosphere with fun activities, and traditional chalets, where you can try classic Swiss dishes like rosti and fondue.

Travel resources for your trip to Switzerland

  • Accommodations in Switzerland – I use Booking
  • Flights to Switzerland – I use CheapAir
  • Travel insurance in Switzerland – I use SafetyWing
  • Tours in Switzerland– I use Viator
  • Car rentals in Switzerland – I use DiscoverCars

Is Thun Switzerland worth visiting?

No m atter how much time you have in Switzerland, Thun is absoluely worth a stop. It’s a quaint town along the Aare River known for its gorgeous medieval castle, and Obere Hauptgasse, the main thoroughfare lined with cute boutique shops and restaurants. Thun is a getaway to Bernese Oberland, as the city offers a great introductory point to the region with its fun museums, fairytale-like architecture, and spectacular setting.

Is Interlaken worth visiting?

Interlaken is one of the most popular destinations in Switzerland nestled between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. Surrounded by spectacular Swiss Alps, Interlaken is an outdoorsman’s heaven that offers access to glacial valleys, jagged alpine peaks, and Lake Brienz and Lake Thun – some of the most scenic lakes in Switzerland.

✅ Read my complete guide on how to get from Zurich to Lucerne

Thun Castle is one of the most beautiufl landmarks in Switzerland

Thun vs Interlaken: what’s the difference?

Thun is a small town with a population of just over 40,000 people that boasts good museums and a gorgeous old town, while Lauterbrunnen convenient base for travelers who want to visit Alpine peaks and mountain villages like Murren, Wengen, and Grindelwald. Interlaken gets busy in summer when thousands of tourists descend on the area to enjoy outdoor activities in the mountains, while Thun is more quiet and has a cozy feel.

Although both destinations are the busiest in summer, Lauterbrunnen feels more touristy, as the town is lined with stores and restaurants catering mainly to visitors. Thun, meanwhile is a more authentic town that has a more residential feeling, and doesn’t get overrun by tourists during the high season.

✅ Find out when to visit Switzerland

Where’s Interlaken?

Interlaken is located in the Bernese Oberland region, between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Like Thun, Interlaken is also relatively close to Bern, the capital of Switzerland. It’s a hub for adventure sports, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities in the Swiss Alps.

Where’s Thun?

Thun sits in the Bernese Oberland region on the northern shores of Lake Thun. It’s about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Thun is known for its picturesque setting along the Aare River, with the lake and the surrounding mountains providing a stunning backdrop to the city.

Thun is better connected by rail than Interlaken or Lucerne. It only takes half an hour to get from Thun to Interlaken or Berne and a bit longer to Brig and the Simplon Tunnel in Italy. Some of the most popular day trips from Thun are Bern, Jungfrau, and Domodossola.

How to get to Thun?

Thun boasts a convenient location in the heart of Switzerland and is easily accessible by various types of transportation.

Here are some of the most popular ways to get to Thun:

  • By Train: The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) operates an efficient and extensive train network connecting major Swiss cities and towns. You can take a train to Thun from cities like Bern, Zurich, and Geneva. The Thun train station is centrally located in the city and is well-connected to other parts of Switzerland.

The Swiss Pass allows you to save tons of money on transportation such as buses, trains, and tour boats. It also provides free admission into many museums in Switzerland and discounts on many cable cars and funiculars. 

  • By Car: If you prefer to drive, you can rent a car and take the Swiss highway system to reach Thun. The city is conveniently located near major highways, making it accessible from any major city in Switzerland.

Keep in mind that Switzerland has strict road rules with man radars along the road, and if you get caught speeding, you could get a hefty fine. I recommend and use DiscoverCars, a car rental platform where you can find vehicles in many parts of the country.


  • By Bus: Buses also provide regional and local transportation options to Thun. You can check the local bus schedules and routes to see if there are convenient connections from nearby towns or cities.
  • By Boat: If you’re coming from another lakeside town, consider taking a boat on Lake Thun. Boat services operate between towns along Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, providing a scenic and leisurely way to reach Thun.
  • By Air: The nearest major international airport to Thun is Zurich Airport (ZRH). From the airport, you can take a train to Thun, usually with a transfer to the Zurich main train station. Depending on your location, you might also consider flying into Geneva Airport (GVA) or Bern Airport (BRN) and then taking a train or other transportation to Thun.
Interlaken is one of the most popualr destinations in Switzerland that offers a perfect base for adventure in the mountains

How to get to Interlaken?

  • By Train: Taking the train is one of the most convenient and scenic ways to get to Interlaken. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) operates a well-developed network, and Interlaken is easily accessible from major Swiss cities. Take a train from cities like Zurich, Geneva, and Bern. Interlaken has two train stations: Interlaken Ost (East) and Interlaken West.
  • By Car: If you prefer to drive, rent a car and take the Swiss highway system to get to Interlaken. The town is situated along major roads and is accessible from various directions. Just keep in mind that Switzerland requires a vignette (toll sticker) to use the highways.
  • By Bus: Regional and local bus services also connect Interlaken with nearby towns and cities. While buses might take a bit longer than trains, they can be a cost-effective option for reaching Interlaken.
  • By Air: The nearest major international airports to Interlaken are Zurich Airport (ZRH) and Geneva Airport (GVA). From either airport, you can take a train to Interlaken. Zurich Airport is more convenient as it’s better connected.
  • By Boat: If you’re arriving from a lakeside town, you can take a boat on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz to reach Interlaken. This option offers a unique and scenic approach to the town.

As with any travel plans, check the most up-to-date schedules, routes, and transportation options based on your starting location and preferences. Swiss public transportation is known for its efficiency and reliability, so your journey to Interlaken is relatively straightforward.

Thun vs Interlaken: things to do

Thun and Interlaken both offer a diverse range of things to do. While Thun has more history and culture and offers a wonderful experience if you want to see a classic Swiss town that looks like it was taken straight from the Fairytale, Interlaken has tons of adrenaline-pumping activities from paragliding and kayaking to hiking amid the jagged alpine peaks to mountaineering.

Here are some of the best things to do in Thun:

  • Visit Thun Castle (Schloss Thun): Explore the historic Thun Castle, which dates back to the 12th century. The castle houses a museum showcasing the history of the region, and it offers panoramic views of the city, Lake Thun, and the surrounding mountains. You simply can’t miss this spot when visiting Thun.
  • Stroll along Lake Thun: Enjoy a leisurely walk along the shores of Lake Thun. There are restaurants, cafes, and small benches where you can relax, take in the view, and have a picnic.
  • Explore Thun Old Town (Altstadt): Wander through Thun’s Old Town located along the Aare River, with its wonderful medieval architecture, and cobblestone streets that house boutiques, cafes, and small local restaurants.
  • Thun Panorama: Visit the Thun Panorama, a cylindrical painting that provides a 360-degree depiction of Thun back from the 19th century.
  • Swiss Gastronomy: Sample delicious Swiss cuisine in Thun’s restaurants and cafes. Try traditional dishes like fondue, raclette, and Swiss chocolate.
  • Thun Market: Explore the weekly market that takes place in the city’s main square. Here, you can find local produce, cheeses, crafts, and other goods.
  • Spiez Castle: Take a short train ride or boat trip to Spiez and visit Spiez Castle. The castle offers more historical insights and stunning views of Lake Thun and the surrounding area.
  • Niesen Mountain: Consider taking a funicular ride to the top of Niesen Mountain, known as the “Swiss Pyramid.” The panoramic view from the top is breathtaking, especially on a clear day.
  • Boat Cruises: Take a boat cruise on Lake Thun for a relaxing and scenic experience. You can enjoy the beauty of the lake and its surrounding landscapes from a different perspective.

Here are some of the best things to do in Interlaken:

Interlaken is a getaway to adventure renowned for its stunning natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and charming atmosphere. Here are some of the best things to do in Interlaken:

  • Jungfrau Region: Explore the breathtaking Jungfrau region, known for its iconic trio Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Take the Jungfrau Railway to Jungfraujoch, the “Top of Europe,” and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers.
  • Adventure Sports: Interlaken is a hub for adventure sports enthusiasts. You can try activities like paragliding, skydiving, bungee jumping, and even canyon swinging for an adrenaline rush amidst stunning landscapes.
  • Lake Thun and Lake Brienz: Take a boat cruise on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz for picturesque views of the surrounding mountains and charming lakeside towns.
  • Harder Kulm: Ride the funicular from Interlaken to Harder Kulm, a viewpoint offering a stunning panoramic view of Interlaken, the lakes, and the surrounding peaks. There’s also a restaurant and observation platform, so you can grab a bite if you get hungry.
  • Hiking: Interlaken offers numerous hiking trails suitable for all levels. You can explore trails that lead through alpine meadows, forests, and mountainous terrain. The Eiger Trail is particularly popular for its breathtaking views of the Eiger’s north face.
  • Swiss Open-Air Museum Ballenberg: Visit the Swiss Open-Air Museum Ballenberg, an outdoor museum showcasing traditional Swiss rural life and architecture. It’s a great way to learn about the country’s heritage and get a better context of its culture.
  • St. Beatus Caves: Explore the St. Beatus Caves, a series of caves and underground passages near Lake Thun. Discover stunning stalactite formations and learn about the legends associated with the caves.
  • Schynige Platte: Take a nostalgic cogwheel train to Schynige Platte, known for its alpine botanical garden and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.
  • Culinary Delights: Enjoy Swiss cuisine in Interlaken’s restaurants, from traditional fondue and raclette to local specialties like rosti. Don’t forget to savor Swiss chocolates!
  • Trümmelbach Falls: Visit the Trümmelbach Falls, a series of impressive waterfalls inside a mountain. You can take an elevator and walkways to explore the falls from the inside.

Thun vs Interlaken: prices

Thun is slightly cheaper than Interlaken, although not by far, as these two towns come pretty close when it comes to prices of accommodations, food and tours. You might have better luck finding affordable locations in Thun compared to Interlaken where even a simple hostel could set you back a few hundred dollars during the high season.

If you are looking for affordable places to stay in the area, you might consider these options:

If you plan a trip to Interlaken in summer, like the majority of visitors, book your tours and accommodations ahead of time! Interlaken is notoriously expensive in summer, with many travelers coming here to take advantage of summer activities when the weather is optimal.

Even a simple hostel could cost over 100 Swiss Franks, so hurry up and book your accommodations here.

Once the temperatures cool off in Interlaken, you should be able to take advantage of cheaper prices, but the downside is that it might be too cold for hiking or camping.

Thun vs Interlaken: restaurants

Interlaken has a better variety of restaurants catering to visitors where you can find anything from traditional Swiss dishes to Indian, Middle Eastern, and Italian specialties. As a smaller town, Thun has slightly fewer options and not much of a variety when it comes to International cuisines, but the quality of food here is top notch just like anywhere else in Switzerland.

Thun vs Interlaken: places to stay

Prices on hotels are about the same in Thun and Interlaken, with summer bringing the highest rates, as many travelers come to the area to enjoy summer activities like paragliding, camping, hiking, kayaking, and paddle boarding, among other activities.

A slight downside of staying in Thun is that you will be a little bit of a distance from the Alps, so be ready to either take a bus from Thun to Interlaken or drive a car, which would be more expensive, since you have to pay for parking and gas, but is a good option if you want to explore Switzerland at your own pace and check out little villages and hidden corners where public transportation might not be readily available.

Hotels in Thun

If you are staying in Thun, you are most likely to stay in the city’s downtown or surrounding areas, since the town is pretty compact. I stayed in a residential part of Thun and was able to walk from my hotel to the city’s Old Town.

Hotels in Lautderbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen is a popular base for activities in the Swiss Alps, with many travelers basing themselves here ahead of their grand adventure.

You can also stay in one of the popular mountain villages like Muerren, Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald, Wengen, Grindelwald, Meringen, and Innertkirchen, from where you have easier access to all things hiking, camping, and paragliding.

Thun vs Interlaken: safety

Both Thun and Interlaken are very safe. The crime is very low, but since both places experience a high visitation during summer, you should always be on the lookout for your belongings, especially when taking ferries around the lake or spending time on popular overlooks.

If you are traveling around Switzerland, and want to minimize your risk, I recommend buying good travel insurance for your trip. SafetyWing is a great option that has several plans and can help you get your money back in case something happens to you on the road whether it’s lost or stolen luggage, canceled flights, or hospital visits.

Thun vs Interlaken: FAQ’s

Thun Castle (or Thun Schloss in German) is one of the most popular landmarks in Bernese region

Is Lake Thun worth it?

Yes, Lake Thun is worth a stop. The lake stretches from Thun to Interlaken and boasts a gorgeous shoreline with small villages and dreamy castles and incredible crystalline waters that you can explore by boat cruise or kayak. It’s one of the best places to visit in Switzerland if you want to combine a lesson in history and culture with epic outdoor adventures that will set your adrenaline racing.

How long to spend in Thun?

You can see the highlights of Thun in just a day, however, the town makes a perfect base if you want to explore more of the region and visit places like Bern, Interlaken and explore gorgeous villages in the Swiss Alps like Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, and Murren.

What is Thun known for?

Thun is known for its pristine lake, well-preserved medieval architecture, and access to many great outdoor activities in Switzerland like kayaking, hiking, paragliding, and camping, among other things.

Is Thun walkable?

Yes, Thun is perfectly walkable. You can get around the city on foot and visit landmarks like Thun Castle, Rathausplatz, Schadau Park, and Stadtkirche Thun.

Thun vs Interlaken: final word

Thun is a perfect place for learning the history of the region, while Interlaken makes a great base for your adventures in the Swiss Alps. Both towns boast incredible scenery, plenty of great restaurants, and super outdoor activities, so you can’t go wrong with either of them.