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Interlaken, Switzerland

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european skiing interlaken switzerland

Located in the German-speaking heart of Switzerland, Interlaken offers winter sport's fans access to some of the most spectacular skiing in the Alps, with their base in a service-packed small city in a spectacular lakeside setting. Traditionally a 'Summer' resort, Interlaken had long been attractive to winter sports enthusiasts because of its prime location and the fact that it's excellent hotels and other facilities offer very low rates during the winter. Its status became 'official' however with the launch of the The Jungfrau Top Ski Region, containing more than 160 Km (100 miles) of trails in ski centers above Grindelwald, all linked to Interlaken by a mountain railway included in a ski pass. The average length of runs in the area is a remarkable six - 12 KM (four - nine miles). With the pass, it's possible to ski a different ski area every day for a week.

The name 'Interlaken' actually means "between the lakes" - Lake Thun and Lake Brienz to be precise and water is omnipresent throughout the area with idyllic clear mountain streams and waterfalls running off the hills and into the lakes. The resort offers dozens of water-based activities, throughout the year. If you ever got bored of sliding on the cold white variety you can always enjoy anything from a cruise on a lake steamer to just feeding the ducks or even frog watching! Visitors first started arriving at Interlaken long before downhill skiing was conceived. One of them, Lord Byron, famously remarked "it's a dream" on first seeing the town. The first hotels opened their doors in 1806, complementing the existing monastery hospice (now the four star hotel Interlaken) with the boom years beginning in the 1860's. Much of the beautiful architecture and grand design date from this 50-year era up to the First World War, but the impressive exteriors hide equally impressive fully modernized interiors, enabling Interlaken to offer the best of old and new. In the early days, when the likes of Goethe and Mendelssohn popped by, Interlaken was promoted for its healthy climate, as well as the spectacular views.

What's Great
What's Not-So-Great

+ The most energetic and mileage-hungry skier or snowboarder could easily stay for a month without getting bored

+ Great ski runs for those in the intermediate to expert range

+ Great town for apres-ski opportunities

+ Tremendous vertical drop of more than 7,000 ft.

- Interlaken is not a ski resort - rather a town located near several resorts

- The hustle and bustle of the town is occasionally reminiscent of life back home

- Virtually no snowmobiling, ice climbing, night or heliskiing

- Typically bad snow late in the year (late March and beyond)

Learn more about Interlaken

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Content on this page by permission from SkiEurope (ęSkiEurope) and "Where to Ski and Snowboard 2001" (ęChris Gill & Dave Watts) The best ski guide ever published. Get your own copy here.

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