By Sukie Chapman
13 October 2017
If you thought that Switzerland was nothing but top-secret bank accounts, luxurious chocolate and Alpine mountains, then have no fear, we’re on hand to put the record straight.Read more
The small city of Interlaken in Bernese Highlands of central Switzerland has long been a playground for winter sports enthusiasts. Standing at a height of 1,322 metres above sea level, Harder Kulm is considered Interlaken's 'local' mountain. This region of Switzerland's Bernese Alps is justifiably renowned for its breathtaking mountain vistas and pure fresh air, and nowhere can these be better enjoyed than at the summit of Harder Kulm.
Luckily, this requires neither climbing expertise nor even physical exertion. The Harderbahn funicular railway was established in 1908 in order to provide easy transportation from downtown Interlaken to the top of the mountain.
The Harderbahn's base station is situated between Interlaken's East and West railway station. From here up to sixty-two passengers at a time ride in a four-compartment carriage on an ascending curve with a maximum gradient of 64%, rising through the forest that clings to the lower mountainside side and onwards to Harder Kulm's summit.
Whilst the eight-minute journey from Interlaken to the top of the 'local' mountain is a unique and unforgettable experience in its own right, on a clear day it is panoramic views from Harder Kulm - which take in the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains and the Thun and Brienz lakes - that render this excursion truly unmissable.
Far from a barren mountain-top, Harder Kulm's summit rewards visitors with more than simply breath-taking views of Interlaken and its surroundings. The Harder Kulm Restaurant, whose remarkable pagoda-like architecture has accorded it protected Swiss-heritage status, boasts a large open terrace making it the perfect place to enjoy a drink or dine al fresco in this unique setting.
To the west of the restaurant is a stunning new observation deck known as the 'Two Lakes Bridge'. Triangular in shape and widening as it juts further out from the mountainside, this large wooden platform rests upon tubular steel supports and features a glass viewing window at its centre allowing visitors to view the drop beneath them.
At the Harderbahn's base station in Interlaken, the Alpen Wildpark is a small zoo that is home to some of the Alps native animals such as the Ibex and Chamois mountain goats as well as a colony of marmots; a large ground-dwelling squirrel.