The small city of Interlaken is flanked by Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, close to the peaks of Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger. It offers easy access to some of the Alps' most spectacular skiing, with 160km of trails in ski centres above Grindlewald, all linked to Interlaken by a mountain railway. Average length of runs is between six-to-12 kilometres and with a railway pass, it is possible to ski a different area every day for a week.
Interlaken is also an ideal summer resort, with idyllic clear mountain streams and waterfalls cascading off hills into lakes. There are many water-based activities and excellent accommodation.
The Jungfrau Railway Network was a world sensation in 1912 and today. Trains trundle through magnificent countryside, coil across mountain pastures and go through six kilometres of tunnel dug deep into the Eiger, emerging at the Jungfraujoch. At 3454 metres, just under the Jungfrau summit, this is Europe's highest train station. The journey is not cheap, but well worth the unforgettable mountain experience.
Until you become used to the thin air, you may feel lightheaded. Just take things slowly and it's a good idea to wear sunglasses as it is quite glary up there.
There are five restaurants to choose from, including a cafeteria and the traditional Jungfraujoch Glacier Restaurant.
Behind the post office is an elevator which takes you to a corridor leading to the famed Eispalast (ice palace), where you walk through caverns hewn from the slowest-moving section of the glacier, nineteen metres below the surface. They were started by a Swiss guide in 1934 and have been enlarged and embellished over the years. Ice sculptures range from vintage automobiles and local chaplains.
The Sphinx Tunnel leads to an elevator which rises 107 metres to an observation deck. From there you see the saddle between the Mönch and Jungfrau peaks. Also visible is the Aletsch Glacier, a 23km river of ice Europe's longest. The snow melts into Lake Geneva and flows to the Mediterranean.
Another wonderful and completely different way to enjoy the beauty of the Alps is to paraglide. Alpin Center offers three choices, depending on air time, scenery and conditions. No need for experience as you fly tandem with an experienced pilot, after a full safety and technical briefing. Flights are around 15 minutes, depending on wind conditions. It becomes obvious how Interlaken got its name, which means 'between two lakes'. Even the landing is wonderful as you drift to the front of the beautiful five-star Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel. Alpin Center can provide any gear you need for winter or summer exploits, as well as the services of skiing instructors.
Höheweg, Interlaken's golden mile, is the best address in the metropolis of the Bernese Oberland. It is an inviting boulevard of hotels, cosy cafés, boutiques, watch and jewellery stores. The 60-room Best Western Hotel Interlaken dates back to the 15th century. Its location is central and peaceful and it has two restaurants and a bar.