Thanks to its unique location between two turquoise lakes and as a gateway to the beautiful mountains of the Bernese Oberland, the little Swiss town of Interlaken is a popular spot for nature lovers, extreme sports athletes, and outdoor fans. However, Switzerland is not only known for its nature but also for being an expensive country for foreign travelers. And even if traveling on a budget often means having to renounce some of the nice stuff, there are plenty of affordable things to do in Interlaken for you to have a good time and discover the beauty of this area. Our list of cheap outdoor activities in Interlaken will give you some fun, budget-friendly ideas from Kayaking down the River Aare and River Rafting near Interlaken to Hiking on the Harder Kulm for a breathtaking view.
Before getting started on our list, here’s another thing that’s good to know and might help to spare your budget. There are two peak seasons in Interlaken: summer, for all the fun outdoor sports in the valleys and on the water, and winter, for the different snow sport activities in the mountains. Traveling in between these high seasons can help to save important money on accommodation or transport. And one could say that this again means there’s more money left for fun outdoor activities… So, get ready for our affordable selection!
Kayaking on the Aare river
The first affordable activity on our list is a popular summer activity among the locals: going down the Aare river with a rubber boat, an activity called “Böötle” in Swiss German. The strong and steady current of this river allows you not to paddle all the time but to relax and enjoy the quiet environment.
With a two-person inflatable Kayak that you rent in Uttigen, near Thun, you’ll follow the current for 18 kilometers to Wabern, near Berne. The fact that these Kayaks are very resistant to tipping and that you can choose to stay dry makes this excursion perfectly suitable to do with children.
For CHF 90 per two-person Kayak or CHF 55 per single Kayak, you get a relaxing and fun day on the turquoise water. The journey will take you as far as Berne so you can perfectly combine this Kayak adventure on the Aare river with a visit of Switzerland’s capital.
Adventure Park in Interlaken’s forests
The Adventure Park in Interlaken is a rope park in the forest with wooden bridges, Tarzan swings, and zip lines. Thanks to 9 courses with different levels of difficulty, beginners and adrenaline seekers will both find their perfect adventure. The so-called Butterly walk is ideal for the youngest adventurers with a minimum height of 1m. The entry fee for this course, for which the kids don’t need a harness, is only CHF 9. A normal entry for an adult costs CHF 42 for three hours of fun between the trees.
The rope park welcomes individual guests as well as groups of friends and family and is only a 15 minutes walk away from the train station Interlaken West. Make sure to wear comfortable outdoor clothes and good shoes. The park is open all year round, regardless of the weather conditions. So in winter, if you are lucky enough to be there when there’s snow, you can live a magical winter adventure between snowcovered trees!
Tubing in the Aare river
And here’s the third of our 8 cheap outdoor activities in Interlaken. The itinerary for this activity is exactly the same as with the Kayaking on the Aare river (the first activity of this selection). From Uttingen near Thun you’ll drift down the turquoise river passing by beautiful landscapes until Wabern, close to Switzerland’s capital Berne.
But the big difference with tubing in the Aare river is that you will not stay dry, no chance! Why? Simply because with this activity, for which you need to know how to swim, you are sitting aboard your buoy and it is very likely that your friends will want to bounce on you. That’s the whole point of this fun activity. You are fully autonomous on the water and maneuver your floater as you wish. With CHF 55 per person the tubing definitely belongs to the cheap outdoor activities in Interlaken. Good life ahead!
Jetboating on Lake Brienz
Get ready for an exceptional, yet affordable, outdoor activity in Interlaken. When Jetboating on crystal-clear lake Brienz you are surrounded by beautiful natural scenery that is spectacular in every season. Starting at the Jet-port in Bönigen, next to Interlaken, the trip takes you to the famous Giessbach Waterfalls, where water comes thundering 500m down in 14 cascades into the lake.
This unique driving sensation provides everyone with the right amount of adrenaline to enjoy. The captain is not only in charge of a sensational ride but also he’ll give you some interesting information on the region. The price for this activity of CHF 99 per person includes free pictures of your trip in order to make your unforgettable ride really unforgettable.
River Rafting on the Simme
Here’s an outdoor activity where you get a nice adventure for a reasonable price. River rafting on the river Simme promises great sensations, also for people who have no previous rafting experience. The Simme is located in the scenic Simme Valley, not far from Interlaken, and is part of the class III rivers. In the third of the six Rafting classes, you can expect small waves of a height up to 1m20. To know more about this sport have a look at our complete guide to rafting.
This white water outing is perfect for a group of family and friends looking for a bit of action but not too much. It is a truly wonderful experience. Count 4.5 hours for the whole activity, from meeting the instructors to the end, and the cost will be from CHF 99 per adult.
Tandem Paragliding over Interlaken
If you have some money left and wish to do an outdoor activity that you’ll never forget, then we suggest you do a tandem paragliding flight above Interlaken! With CHF 140 this is the most expensive activity in our selection but also a very unique one as you will be enjoying spectacular views of mountain panorama and lakes when gliding from one of the peaks down to the centre of Interlaken. Take off-place is usually Amisbühl in Beatenberg, above Lake Thun. But you’ll meet the instructors in Interlaken and they’ll take you there.
With the majestic 4000m high mountain trio of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau in the background and the crystal clear lakes of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz at your feet you really can take in all the beauty of this little paradise. If the weather permits you can even take the control of the glider – under the supervision of your expert instructor of course. This activity would probably be the highlight of your stay in Interlaken, so make sure to start saving for it!
Hiking up to Harder Kulm
From the most expensive to the cheapest activity on our list, hiking up the Harder Kulm. For the real sporty ones, that hike up and down, this activity is completely free! Harder Kulm lies between the two turquoise lakes with Interlaken at its feet. So you can start your hike directly in Interlaken and follow the signposted hiking routes. It’ll take you around 3 hours to climb the 750 altitude meters and to arrive at the top of Harder Kulm at 1.323m. The difficulty of this hike is moderate, so be sure to stay on the trail and to have appropriate shoes with good soles.
Your efforts will be more than rewarded when discovering the breathtaking views on the Bernese Alps and the turquoise Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Either you bring your own picnic or you treat yourself to a typical Swiss dish, like Rösti or cheese on toast, that is offered in the restaurant at the top of Harder Kulm. And if you are motivated enough (or just really need to save money) you can hike back down to Interlaken. Otherwise, you have the possibility to take the funicular. Depending on the season, a one-way ticket costs between CHF 13 and CHF 20. There is however a special hiker’s ticket for only CHF 8.50. Check on their website for up to date offers and prices.
Visit the typical villages
And last but not least another outdoor activity that is good for your wallet. Around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz you will find many pretty villages with traditional wooden chalets worth visiting. Interlaken for example is situated between the two lakes linked by the Aare river. Definitely worth to stroll around the historical core of this charming town on the shores of the Aare river and full of nice restaurants and shops.
Another nice village is Brienz, home to Switzerland’s most famous school of woodcarving. That’s why you’ll find nice wooden statues all over the little town. Further, Isletwald (on the below picture) has a small peninsula home to a nice castle, the Schloss Seeburg. The little bay next to it is perfect for a relaxing walk on the lake. And of course, on Lake Thun there is the town of Thun which counts more than 40.000 inhabitants. Its historical center is definitely worth a visit.
These more or less cheap outdoor activities in Interlaken will allow you to discover the beautiful area in the Bernese Oberland on a budget. Being an outdoor hotspot, there are obviously many more activities that you could do such as Canyoning Chli Schliere, magical Winter Kayaking on Lake Brienz, or some exciting Bungee Jumping on the Stockhorn. Discover all our unforgettable outdoor activities in Interlaken.
To read more on Switzerland and the things to do there we suggest you have a look at our articles about the best outdoor activities in Interlaken and the top 5 paragliding destinations in Switzerland.