Interlaken Disabled Access Review
By John Sage
With beautiful mountains, lakes, glaciers, and towns, Interlaken is a world class destination with good enough wheelchair access for disabled visitors to have an amazing experience.
Although the mountains surrounding Interlaken are steep, numerous areas in the valleys are flat enough so that manual wheelchair users (like me) can get around and enjoy the scenery.
Interlaken disabled access inside the town of Interlaken is fairly good although to be honest you will want to spend most of your time in the mountains above Interlaken.
While you may want to come back to Interlaken again and again, for a first-time visitor to Interlaken, I recommend a minimum of 4 days:
- Day 1 –Visit the mountain peak of Schilthorn and the cliffside town of Mürren
- Day 2 – Visit the mountainside Männlichen, the town of Grindlewald, and the toboggan at Pfingstegg
- Day 3 – In the morning, do a walking tour of the town center of Interlaken. In the afternoon, take a boat tour on Brienzerseelake or Thunersee Lake.
- Day 4 – Depart early and visit the “Top of Europe” at Jungfraujoch
Before you arrive in Interlaken, be sure that you figure out which accessible public transportation routes (including buses, trains, and gondolas) will meet your accessibility needs.
Best Aspects of Interlaken Disabled Access
World class destination – Interlaken and the mountains surrounding it comprise one of the best tourist destinations in Europe. It’s much more nature than art and history, but for a “wow factor” I would put it up there with Rome, Paris, and Venice. I have traveled fairly extensively in Colorado, Utah, the Canadian Rockies, and Alaska. The region surrounding Interlaken is up there with the best of them.
Much of the public transportation is accessible – Many of the trains, buses, and gondolas are wheelchair accessible. Some require advanced notification so be sure to take care of that beforehand.
Some parts of Interlaken and the towns in the valleys are flat – Interlaken disabled access (shown below on the left) is fairly flat. In the towns above Interlaken (like Mürren shown below on the right), there are some flat areas and some hilly areas.
Few cobblestones – Wheelchair users and mobility scooter users will appreciate that Interlaken and the towns in the valleys above it have few areas with cobblestones.
Can stay in one town and see multiple towns – Because the towns are connected, you can stay in one town (for example Interlaken) and see multiple other towns (like Mürren, Gimmelwald, Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg, and Pfinstegg).
Quick train connections to other great destinations – Interlaken easily connects to other great destinations like Lyon, Zurich, Bern, and Lucerne…with scenic train rides! Be sure to reserve wheelchair accessible train seats and assistance getting on and off the train far in advance.
Most Challenging Aspects of Interlaken Disabled Access
Complex to get around –Navigating Interlaken and the surrounding region involves a complex system of trains, buses, gondolas, and on foot. Some of the transportation routes are immediately wheelchair accessible and some require advanced notice. Efficiently allocating your time here is essential….otherwise you can be stuck in masses of tourist waiting in long lines.
Some steep parts of towns – In the towns above Interlaken, some streets are steep. Manual wheelchair users may need assistance going up these streets.
Expensive – Switzerland in general, and Interlaken specifically, is one of the more expensive corners of Europe. For example, the transportation tickets and entrance fees can cost up to $200 in a single day. Nevertheless, the incredible views and memories are well worth it!
Not every train is accessible – Some trains are older trains and not fully-accessible. You may have to stay in the baggage area (shown below the left). On other trains, there is no flat access to board (shown below on the right)
Can experience heavy crowds – Because this is one of the top destinations in the world, the top viewpoints and most popular areas can get crowded on certain days of the week and at certain times of the day. Crowded venue can make disabled access in Interlaken more challenging.
Few accessible hotels – Many of the valley towns have worked to maintain their historic and traditional décor and feel. Consequently, hotel rooms with accessibility features like plenty of space around the bed, roll-in showers, and grab bars (shown below) are few and far between.
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