If you are in the Jungfrau region this spring, you might be having trouble finding things to do since most trails are still covered in snow. We were in Interlaken over the long holiday and were in the same situation. So we spontaneously rented sit-on-top kayaks and paddled around Lake Brienz, which felt like the happiest three hours of my life.
The views are spectacular and it’s a great way to get away from the tourist crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet with just your crew.
You can optionally take a tour with a guide or classes with proper kayaks. But simply renting a sit-on-top kayak is much less expensive, requires no training, and gives you freedom to go where you like. My family has very little experience paddling, but it was easy and my kids loved it. You can rent two-seaters so a parent can ride with a child and do most of the work. Children as young as 4 can ride along (with a life jacket of course).
The water was still very chilly, about 15C, but with the hot air temp at about 28C, we had lots of water fights and even jumped in briefly. It was a fantastic way to spend a sunny afternoon in the Interlaken area.
Where to rent kayaks
There are multiple kayak rental places near Interlaken. We rented from Hightide Kayak School, located at the lake swimming area in Bönigen, just east of Interlaken. I have no affiliation with this company.
It’s not cheap, but it’s probably less expensive than your Swiss dinner.
Single sit-on-top kayak: CHF40 (up to 3hrs)
Double sit-on-top kayak: CHF60 (up to 3hrs)
See current prices here.
We rented one single and one double sit-on-top kayak for myself and my two boys. We occasionally switched around, trading boats in the middle of the lake. Three hours was more than enough time. We were basically done after two hours, but it was nice to not have to rush back.
Hightide provided life vests, which also come in child sizes. You can optionally can rent wetsuits. But it was a hot day and swimsuits were just fine. We went barefoot in the kayak. They also rent dry bags, wetsuits, paddle jackets and drysuits.
If you are simply renting equipment, just call ahead to make sure they have enough kayaks available. We went on a sunny holiday weekend and called 30 mins before showing up and there were tons of sit-on-top kayaks available. But if you want to do a tour, definitely book in advance as there are limited spots.
The kayak school is adjacent to the pool and lake swimming area. There is a changing room with lockers (you need a CHF 2 coin) to store your valuables during your ride. There is a WC and a cafe for food.
The kayaks have room to set a small bag if you want to bring stuff with you. It will get wet, so best to have a waterproof bag. I really wished I had planned ahead so I had a dry bag with snack and my phone for pictures.
Where to go on the kayak
There’s no set route. You just need to avoid swimming areas and other boats. We paddled north to the cliffs by Ringgenberg, which I’d recommend. There were a couple areas where you could pull the kayak onto some flat rocks and take a break. We warmed up on the rocks, then jumped into the lake to swim. We then paddled across the lake to the south side and made our way back along the shore. This Paddle Trail website has more suggestions for specific courses.
The main concern is avoiding the ferry boats, which are much faster than they appear. We didn’t have any problem avoiding them. But just keep your eye out for the ferries and get out of their path way before they get anywhere near you.
You can easily drive and park directly at the kayak school. Address: Am Quai 1, 3806 Bönigen, Switzerland
We took the bus from the train station (Interlaken West or East), bus 103 to Bönigen, See, then a short walk along the lake to the kayak school. The bus runs every 30 mins.