If Interlaken is considered a little piece of paradise, Harder Kulm Peak is part of the reason. Located at 1322 meters above the sea level, Interlaken’s home mountain gives you the most breath-taking bird-eye view of the entire Jungfrau region. The mountain can be accessed either on foot (about 2.5 hours hike), or by the Harderbahn – a modern funicular that operates from the town center.
As we arrived in Interlaken late afternoon, the hotel concierge advised us to take the funicular rather than attempt the strenuous hike. So we climbed aboard the Harderbahn, which was just steps away from the Lindner Grand Beau Rivage Hotel, where we were staying. The bottom station is located right on the bank of the Aar River, the longest river of Switzerland.
The Harderbahn ride takes about five-ten minutes during which time you can enjoy the beautiful views of the valley from the rear window of the funicular. From the upper station there is a five-minute walk that takes you to the Harder Klum Restaurant, a castle-like structure with a beautiful terrace where you can enjoy some tasty Swiss food or kick back with a glass of Prosecco.
But the real reason to get to Harder Kulm is not the restaurant, or the hike, is the view. The panorama over the Lütschine Valley, the lakes of Thun and Brienz, and the summits of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau is absolutely stunning. On a clear day you can see for miles around. But getting up here when the visibility is low may be very disappointing.
The best time of the day to come to Harder Kulm is around sunset, when the sunlight shines at a lower angle reflecting shades of pink onto the white snowy peak of the Jungfrau range.
We were lucky to be here in May, about a month before the peak season in Switzerland starts. I imagine this place must be pretty crowded in summers.
In front of the restaurant there is a viewing platform that hangs over the mountain edge. Stepping over the glass-bottom platform makes you feel like you are on top of the world with the town of Interlaken below you, flanked by the two lakes of Thun and Brienz. There were a number of paragliders around that made the experience even more interesting.
After wandering around for a couple of hours and taking pictures of the beautiful landscape from all the possible angles, we decided it was time to stop and take a break. We sat outside on the terrace for a raclette and a glass of beer. But soon after we placed our order it started raining slowly. Fortunately, the rain didn’t last more than a few minutes, so we didn’t have to retreat inside.
Just as we were getting ready to return to the funicular station, we discovered a short hiking trail called Elfenweg that starts at the side of the restaurant and circles the Harder ridge, going mostly through the woods. They say this is an easy hike that takes about an hour and passes through green woods that sometimes open up to the valley offering fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. The trail look very beautiful, but it was getting dark already so we had to give up. Maybe next time…
• The restaurant and the funicular are closed in winter. They are open from April 25 till October 25.
• The funicular fee is 30 CHF round trip, but with the Swiss Pass you can get a 50% discount. You may choose to buy just a one-way ticket to the summit (15 CHF) and hike down (about 1.5 hours) on the way back.
• The Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is open from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. and on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. It can also be reserved for weddings or special events.
• There is a small Animal Park near the entrance to the funicular that can be reached from the bottom station on a small trail with steps.