guide to Interlaken and Lucerne/Luzern featuring 360 degree images, maps, photos, video, hotels, transport and weather.

When I think of Switzerland, I think of the Swiss Alps which is why I chose to visit Interlaken and Lucerne. Interlaken is similar to Queenstown in New Zealand - it's the action capital that provides a base for access to the adventures in the nearby mountains (Bernese Oberland). Lucerne is situated around a beautiful lake which also has mountains close by with easy access to the top for some stunning views. I took these photos, 360° images and videos while on holiday with my wife for a few days in May 2012.

I created my own customised Google maps of Interlaken and Lucerne that shows you where many of the main points of interest are located.

This is part of a 6 week adventure that my wife and I took in the middle of 2012 that includes:

Switzerland video

   Full HD (1080p: 1920x1080) - best viewed in full screen.

Interlaken map
Customised Interlaken Google Map

Lucerne map
Customised Lucerne Google Map

Switzerland - Interlaken weather

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Season Winter Winter Spring Spring Spring Summer Summer Summer Autumn Autumn Autumn Winter
Avg Sunrise* 8:00am 7:30am 6:45am 6:40am 6:00am 5:30am 5:45am 6:30am 7:00am 7:45am 7:30am 8:00am
Avg Sunset* 5:00pm 6:00pm 6:30pm 8:15pm 9:00pm 9:30pm 9:30pm 8:30pm 7:40pm 6:40pm 5:00pm 4:30pm
Avg Min Temp -3°C -2°C 1°C 4°C 8°C 12°C 14°C 14°C 11°C 7°C 2°C -1°C
Avg Max Temp 2°C 4°C 9°C 12°C 18°C 21°C 24°C 24°C 20°C 14°C 7°C 3°C
Avg Rainfall 83mm 74mm 78mm 88mm 108mm 139mm 148mm 133mm 104mm 89mm 85mm 85mm
* Times shown include Daylight Savings Time: the last Sunday in March clocks are turned forward one hour and the last Sunday in October back one hour.

Switzerland's time zone is +1h GMT & +2h during daylight savings.
The current date and time in Switzerland is:


The best way to travel around Switzerland (and Europe) is by train because they are very fast, frequent, safe, reliable, cheap and the stations are in the middle of the city. I prefer to book the routes individually (point to point ticket) instead of buying a pass (like Eurail or Swiss pass) because it's usually cheaper unless you are frequently travelling long distances which I don't do anyway because I want to spend more time enjoying the location than travelling to and from it. The catch with a Eurail pass is that you still need to book and pay extra for a seat reservation, whereas buying just a normal point to point ticket includes the reservation, saving time and confusion. I always buy first class tickets too because they aren't much more expensive than the normal ticket, they usually include more seating space and I feel a little more safer considering that the train company gives a little more attention to first class passengers.

The main concern was for the storage and security of our luggage, having heard too many stories about bags being stolen. Many trains have a rack above the seats (so it's safe) that can easily hold a large suitcase (like those allowed for checked luggage on planes). My bag (35cm [14in] x 45cm [18in] x 70cm [27.5in]) was just below the maximum size limit for planes which was fine on all the trains during our holiday through Europe. It weighed about 19kg and you must lift your bag up on to these high racks which was fine for a tall, strong, dashing, handsome, sexy and modest young man like me, otherwise you will probably need another passenger to help you. Some trains only have storage at the end of each carriage which makes it easier to get in and out but also makes it easier for someone to steal your bags too. We took a wire cable bike combination lock to attach our bags to the rack in these cases but only used it twice and both times it probably wasn't really necessary, but gives you peace of mind so you don't need to worry about it. We also used small combination padlocks on the zippers. Having locks on your bags can draw attention because being so secure then there is probably something valuable in it worth stealing, but most criminals are just opportunistic and simply take the next bag that is easier to remove.

How to book European train tickets:

  1. Go to Rail Europe to search and buy your tickets. Enter your departure and arrival cities to find out if it is possible to catch a train between them. If you get no results for your search it is usually because many trains only allow bookings up to 3 months in advance or even less so just try example dates in the next couple of weeks instead.
  2. To do a cross check and find more detailed information, the best train website I have found is the Swiss SBB train site that has European train details and not just Switzerland. I had a look at other websites like Trenitalia (Italian trains) but they tend to be too difficult to use mainly because the translation into English isn't too good.
I chose to use Rail Europe because it is all Australian based (currency, office, etc) so it's easy to understand with no language problems, it's a single place to buy all your tickets and they do all the communication with the European railways to get the correct tickets. After you order your train tickets on their website, they post you the official paper tickets in the mail. Only trains like Eurostar (eg. London to Paris) use electronic tickets that you can print at home, but for trains in places such as Italy, only the paper tickets are valid so don't lose them!


This is the best way that I know of to find a hotel on the internet. I used this method for every place we stayed at for our entire six week holiday in Europe/UK/Singapore and it worked very well. The basic steps are:
  1. Decide how much you want to pay each night. We budgeted an average of $200 a night for our whole six week Europe/UK/Singapore trip to get quite nice 4 or sometimes 5 star hotels. FYI: Our hotel in Venice was the most expensive (from supply and demand I guess) but the worst condition (old, no lifts, but clean) and Berlin was one the cheapest but best (5 star, middle of city and even had a giant aquarium in the middle!).
  2. Decide on your location. I usually choose the closest hotel to a major transport hub (like a train station) within my budget.
  3. Decide on check-in and check-out dates. Most hotels in Europe/UK seem to have a check-out time of midday and check-in at 2pm. When travelling between cities on a train (like in Europe) I usually booked the train that departs around midday and arrives around 2pm so I check straight in and know my luggage is safely in my room and not have to come back for the rest of the day. It gets dark around 10pm in June so there is plenty of sightseeing time left in the day.
  4. Find a hotel with high ratings and good reviews from people who have actually stayed there.
  5. Book it preferably at least a few months in advance to get cheap prices.
How to actually do it:
  1. See the currently available hotels in Interlaken. This searches 100+ hotel booking websites at once to find the best price which is why I think it's the best.
  2. Refine your search using as much detail as you can. For example, make up some check in and out dates for a couple of days in a few months time and select 4 stars.
  3. Now click the Show Map link in the top right. I really like this feature because I can instantly see where the closest hotels are to where I want to be. Hover your mouse over the icon to see the hotel name, star rating and price.
  4. Just above the map link in the top right, change the drop down box to your local currency if it didn't do that automatically.
  5. Click on "Sort by: Guest Rating". Scroll down the list of hotels looking at their average rating given by people who actually stayed there and compare that to the price. Naturally the more expensive places usually have higher ratings so the trick is to find a high rating place with a low price.
  6. My priority is actually location so I sort it by Distance, then look for the highest rating, then see if it's in my price range.
  7. Now click on a hotel to see the details about it such as photos, features and most importantly the reviews. Sometimes you come across some amazing features such as the "DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Tower of London" actually had a big screen Apple computer with free internet that also works as a TV. We ended up booking this place because this feature made it stand out from the crowd and the room was great.
  8. I like to read people's reviews for their very honest opinions, especially the negative ones because you can find out if the problems are really important or not and if everyone keeps complaining about the same thing. To do this, scroll down to the bottom of the web page and click on a link that says something like "Read all reviews from Hotels.com" then when that website appears, click on the Reviews tab.
  9. After looking through a few hotels and their reviews you can try clicking on the Book Now button but don't worry, you don't actually book anything yet. This shows you a list of all the websites that are selling rooms for this hotel ordered from lowest to highest price so you know you can get the lowest price possible which is why I said in step 1 that this is the best way to find and book hotels on the internet.
  10. Click the Go button to transfer to that website to actually make the booking. I personally don't necessarily select the website with the lowest price. I prefer to book on websites that I am more familiar with such as booking.com so I have more confidence in knowing it will actually work properly and can group all my bookings together more easily, especially if the price is only an extra few dollars per night. My ultimate preference is to book with the hotel's own website which is what I did with the DoubleTree hotel (the Hilton website) only because their price matched the best price of booking.com and it was a low price too.
I wasn't too sure if my bookings were really passed through to the hotels or not with some strange booking websites I had never heard of before, so I was a bit skeptical. But sure enough, every single one of the 14 hotels I booked on our 6 week holiday through Europe/UK/Singapore had no problems at all and acknowledged my reservation every time.

Compare hotel prices and find the best deal - HotelsCombined.com

Lauterbrunnen & Staubbach Falls

[5 & 6 on the map]
Probably the most famous and picturesque location in the Lauterbrunnen Valley (near Interlaken) that can be seen from many angles - trains, gondolas, driving or even just walking around.

Trummelbach Falls

[7 on the map]
Facinating waterfall in the Lauterbrunnen Valley (near Interlaken) that has carved deep into the mountain. You literally walk through the mountain in tunnels next to the waterfall so the echoing roar of the water sounds like a jet plane taking off right next to you.


[8 on the map]
You travel through this town on the way to the Shilthorn. Get off at the train station (coming from Interlaken) at the North end of the town and walk South along the streets till you get to the gondola station that takes you up to the Shilthorn. Initially you would think this is a bit of a time waster because you don't have a direct connection up to the Shilthorn but this is a blessing in disguise. Murren has some of the most stunning and dramatic views of the mountains you will ever see.


[9 on the map]
Enjoy the beautiful view of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau from this 2970m high summit where the 007 James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was filmed. You can also have something to eat in the slowly revolving restaurant.


[11 on the map]
Jungfraujoch, often called "Top of Europe" in brochures, is the saddle between the Monch and the Jungfrau mountain peaks. At 3471m there is not much oxygen in the air so you may feel light headed and easily exhausted. Some people bring oxygen in cans which I thought wasn't really needed until a few days later when we were in Germany I got a bad headache and felt unwell so I had to rest in bed for half a day, missing out on my sight-seeing time :( I also had a slight bloody nose in the morning for a few weeks and later found out that this was all probably from the lack of oxygen because I went up and down several high mountains in Switzerland.

Kleine Scheidegg is also a saddle in the mountains and is the last train stop before the summit where you can get something to eat and admire the view as shown in the 360 degree panorama below. The cog train actually goes into the mountain through a man-made tunnel to get to the top (Jungfraujoch).

85m Canyon jump swing near Grindelwald

[12 on the map]
This is not bungy jumping. I don't like heights but my crazy skydiving Swiss friend thought it would be fun... There is a rope that is attached across a very deep canyon and another rope attached to the middle of it at one end and you on the other. The anchor point is far in front of you in the middle of the canyon. You jump from a platform on a rocky outcrop aiming up through the middle of the canyon. Once you trick your body out of self-preservation instincts, you take the 85m high suicidal jump and immediately go into freak-out mode as your body really isn't being tricked any more when free falling from this height. As you plummet straight down you give a bit of a yelp from how ridiculously high it is and then suddenly you are thrusting forward on this giant, super fast swing while flying past the nearby canyon walls...some people call this fun, I call it an "experience".

We saw the contestants for "Biggest Loser Australia" on TV do this just a couple of weeks earlier so it was really cool to find out that this was exactly the same one that they did too with Alpin Raft.


[1-6 on the map]

Mt Pilatus

[9 on the map]

About the photos
I've been a keen photographer for over 10 years and have been creating 360° panoramic images for about that long too. I've sold some individually, for web sites and have also photographed some weddings. All the panoramas on this page were taken handheld because you are not allowed to use tripods in most of the places I visited so you may find some strange gaps where the photos are stitched together because of this. The camera used for all of these photos is a Canon 5D MkIII digital SLR with a 24-105mm L series lens. This camera works great in low light situations, has a full frame sensor to get wide angle shots and produces super sharp photos. Unfortuantely it is very big, heavy and expensive so I made the decision to choose quality over comfort. A camera store assistant once told me: A man invited a lady over to his place one night to show her his photos. She said, "Gee, they're great photos. You must have a great camera." She invited the man to her place for dinner the next night and after the meal he said "Gee, that was a great meal. You must have a great oven."

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