Neither of us had ever been to Switzerland, and we had both seen a number of beautiful pictures and videos of the mountains, lakes and valleys. In the midst of planning this particular trip (click here to view our Trip Overview Page), we realized that we had decided to spend time in Lake Hallstatt, Austria and Lake Como, Italy but we had not yet decided how to get from one location to the other.
So we sat down with Google Maps and started to ponder how we ought to connect the dots. Once Celeste discovered that a really cool zipline was located in Grindelwald, and that we would be in a valley next to the Eiger Mountain, well that was enough for us to say "looks like we need to stay in Grindelwald for a while".
Grindelwald is very "walkable" as it is not very big (population 3,800 as of December 2018), so we knew that we wanted to park our rental car and that it would be nice to be near the village shops & restaurants. After those decisions were made, it was a simple process of finding a hotel that was reasonably located and had a parking lot.
Further Grindelwald research showed us that a 3 day itinerary would be sufficient for us to see all that we wanted to see, and more importantly, it proved to us that Grindelwald was worth visiting. So if you are planning a trip to Switzerland, we can safely say the answer to "is grindelwald worth visiting" is yes.
The Grindelwald area is probably the most geographically diverse location we have ever visited. Chalets, tall mountains, cog railroads, cable cars, ziplines, mountain trikes, and excellent hiking trails. We decided that day one would be devoted to the First Flyer side of the village, and day two would be devoted to the Jungfraujoch side - the side where the Eiger Mountain sits.
The Grindelwald Coat of Arms (above) is the property of "Heraldry of the World".
- Explore Mount First: Ride the gondola up, explore the First Cliff Walk, ride the First Flyer zipline, ride the Mountain Trike and hike back to Grindelwald.
- Visit & explore the glacier canyon
- Consider trying the Eiger Jump Grindelwald
- Hike the Marmot Trail from Mount First to Schilt in Wegen
- Visit the Grindelwald Museum
- In wintertime, ski, sled or snowboard one of the three snow recreation areas
- Hike the Gletscherschlucht ravine
- Visit the Ice Palace at the top of Jungfraujoch
- Visit the Bachalpsee
Where is Grindelwald, Switzerland? It’s about 234 kilometers northwest of Geneva, 74 km southeast of Bern and 137 km southwest of Zurich. Click on the map icon above for an interactive map.
Our drive to Grindelwald started early that morning in Salzburg, Austria. Once we got past Munich, Germany we drove past some stunning geography & lakes along our route.
You can fly into either Bern, Zurich or Geneva and travel by train or car. There are a number of train booking companies serving Grindelwald including; Rail Europe, The Train Line, Happy Rail, and others. You may want to do your own Google Search if you plan to travel by train.
Driving to Grindelwald
- Bern to Grindelwald: 74 km It will take about 1 hour and 10 minutes by car. If you take the train it will take about an hour and a half and typically requires one train change.
- Zurich to Grindelwald: 137 km It will take just over 2 hours by car. If you take the train several train changes are required and takes about 3 hours.
- Geneva to Grindelwald by train: 233 km It will take 2 hours and 41 minutes. If you take the train it will require about three train changes and require approximately 4 hours of travel.
From either location a car is the faster option and maybe the best way to get to Grindelwald. We enjoyed the scenery so much in Switzerland that we prefer driving, at least in the summertime when the roads don’t have snow on them.
We drove to Grindelwald from Lake Hallstatt, Austria - nearly 700 kilometers but a beautiful drive through mountains, lakes, numerous tunnels and vistas that begged us to stop and take pictures. Once at Interlaken, we departed the A-8 and drove up to Grindelwald on route 6.
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Views from the Derby Swiss Quality Hotel
You can see from these images how nicely situated the hotel is; a short walk to shops, pubs, rail station, etc. The view from our hotel room balcony is the Mettenberg Mountain off to the right. If you looked to the left, you get a view of the train tracks leading off toward Interlaken.
This hotel is situated at the western edge of Grindelwald, adjacent to the train station and a very short walk from the shops along the main street Dorfstrasse. The cable car station to the First Cliff Walk is only 900 meters from this hotel.
It can be a little busy with some noise outside the hotel rooms since the hotel is right next to the train station so keep that in mind (however, Swiss trains are 99% electric and not diesel). We loved it but if you don’t want to be right on top of the tracks there are plenty of other options including looking at VRBO or airBNB if you want to stay in an apartment or home.
NOTE: Image # 2 is the property of the Derby Swiss Quality Hotel and all other images (unless otherwise noted) belong to Just Traveling Thru, LLC.
If you want to do some research on accommodations in Grindelwald, click here to look at our list on this page. It includes a number of resources including a Google search.
A list of Grindelwald accommodations would be extensive, so rather than us listing each & every place, we will provide you with links where
you can find whatever price level you prefer.
Just click the red arrow next to the name below to visit that site;
- The Hotel Guru
- The Derby Hotel (we can vouch for this one!)
- Google Search Results List for "Grindelwald Accommodations"
- The Ten Best Hotels in Grindelwald - according to the Culture Trip Site
- VRBO Search in Grindelwald (change to your parameters)
- Hotels in Grindelwald on the Hotels dot Com Site
- Accommodations in Grindelwald on the Travelocity Site
- Accommodations in Grindelwald on the Priceline Site (enter your parameters)
- Hotels in Grindelwald on the Booking dot Com Site
- Reservations dot Com (enter your parameters)
Grindel Lounge & Deko
We quickly got our bearings in Grindelwald, as it is a fairly small village. We discovered the Grindel Lounge & Deko very early in our stay.
They have a nice selection of beers, coffees and pastries and occupy an easily accessed location on the Dorfstrasse (the main street of the village). And best of all, they are not only close to our hotel, but you have to walk by it on the way to the hiking trails or the gondola station.
Berggasthaus First Sun Terrace
Berggasthaus First is a mountain inn located at the Firstbahn cableway top station, 2,167 metres above sea level. You can get there easily in 25 minutes by taking the Firstbahn gondola lift from Grindelwald or in summer, you might choose to hike one of the numerous trails up here to the summit of Grindelwald’s local mountain.
Other than the Grindel Lounge & Deko and our hotel dining room, we did not eat at any local restaurants during our Grindelwald stay. So we do not have any other specific suggestions to offer you. Here is a link to a Google Search for restaurants in Grindelwald.
We researched and followed a 3 day itinerary because that was the amount of time we allocated to Grindelwald. If you have additional time to spend in Grindelwald, you may still find our itinerary useful as a starting point;
- Day 1: Travel to Grindelwald, explore the town and shops and do a hike ( click here see our list of hikes below on this page).
- Day 2: Visit First Mountain Grindelwald Switzerland;
Take the gondola to the top and walk to the First Cliff Walk Tissot.
Ride the zipline ( First Flyer) or First Glider.
Ride either a First Mountain Cart and hike down the mountain or take the First Mountain bike ride (aka Trottibike Scooters) all the way into the town of Grindelwald (warning - this is via a steep trail!).
- Day 3: Visit Jungfraujoch;
How to get to Jungfrau Top of Europe? Take the Jungfraubahn Train from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg Railway Station and then board the cog train to Jungfraujoch. Or you can take the new Grindelwald Cable car called the Eiger Express (opened in 2020) which will get you to the cog train that takes you the final stretch to the Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe 45 minutes quicker than taking the Jungfraubahn Train from Grindelwald. You need reservations and can get them online here. Or you can get them the day before you go. We waited until we knew the weather was going to be good before we booked.
NOTE: If you plan on riding or hiking back to Grindelwald, then you only need a one way gondola ticket!
NOTE: Click here to perform a YouTube search for "Trottibike" and "Mountain Cart" and enjoy a video!
You can hike or take the cable car to the top of First Mountain. The gondola is a six seater cable car that starts in the village area of Grindelwald and takes about 25 minutes. There are scenic views of the mountains with houses and farms below. There are numerous packages that you can purchase depending on the activities that you want to try such as the ziplines ( First Flyer and First Glider), or the first mountain carts or first mountain scooters.
The gondola ride can be purchased for the round trip if you want to take it up and back. However, you can hike all the way down or take a mountain cart part way down and hike the rest of the way or take a mountain scooter all the way to town. There are options (Click here to view current prices, options, etc) for people of all capabilities. We chose to take the mountain cart and then hike to the bottom. The hike was beautiful but quite steep although the paths were mostly easy paths. Doing it with a cane was challenging and we were happy to get back to town.
Click this image to watch a great video of our gondoloa ride from the Grindelwald Valley to the top of the Mountain.
This video is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.
Warning: These are small 4 person cable cars and Grindelwald is a very popular tourist area, so if you plan to ride up to the First Flyer, you will want to arrive at the cable car station early enough to beat the crowds.
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The First Cliff walk is officially called the "First Cliff Walk presented by Tissot" or “First Cliff Walk Tissot” because it was built by, you guessed it, the watch company. It was constructed over a period of five months, and first opened in December 2012.
It is just a short 5 minute walk from where the gondola drops you off at the top of First Mountain. The cliff walk walkway was literally built into the side of a cliff! Can you imagine building this thing? Just past the area where the walkway "hugged" the cliff, you have to cross a short bridge that provides an unobstructed view of the valley way, way below you! Be forewarned if you are afraid of heights.
The Grindelwald cliff walk price was zero, however for other Grindelwald First activities prices, click here to go to their website page for current prices & information.
The Observation Platform extends 45 metres out into the void from the top area & gives each photographer a great view of the valley below and surrounding mountains. That unobstructed view of the valley cannot be duplicated anywhere else on Mount First! The First Cliff Walk height can be thought of in two ways; (1) The height above sea level and (2) the height above the mountainous terrain below the platform. As regards measurement # 2 you are easily 200+ meters above the terrain below the platform. As regards measurement # 1, see below for the height of Mount First.
Image # 3 is the view one gets looking down from the observation platform, and you can see Grindelwald off in the distance. We did not know it at the time we took this picture, but the trail you see going back towards the village is what we will walk down after our trike ride.
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Cliff Walk - Valley Below
The height of Mount First is 7,165 feet, but the platform is not exactly at the summit, which means the valley below is at least 6,000 feet below!
Image #2 is the Mettenberg Mountain as seen from the observation platform. The Eiger is southwest of that mountain and Jungfraujoch is south of the Eiger. I mention Jungfraujoch because we will be riding the train from Grindelwald there the next day.
First Flyer Zipline Descent
This is a short video on YouTube of our descent down the First Flyer. It would be impossible to describe how much fun this ride was, made even more fun by the incredible scenic views of the mountains and the valley below.
We have just completed the zipline ride and we are now getting ready to descend down the mountain on a very steep trail, talk about a ride! The trail steepness allowed our trikes to move along at a brisk pace. The trike portion of the trail only lasted about a mile, then we had to dismount.
We both seem to be ready to head downhill, this is a "gravity powered" trike, so no pedaling or pushing necessary. The trike "stopping area" is Berghaus Bort; This is a modern mountain house situated at 1600 meters above sea level directly at the middle station of the Grindelwald First gondola. There is also a snack bar there, so an espresso and perhaps a pastry are sounding good right now. After the snack bar, we plan to hike back down to Grindelwald.
These pictures show the hike down from the First Flyer back to Grindelwald; tons of beautiful scenery and we passed under the cable car several times. When we got back near the village, we passed a farm that sold cheese on the "honor system". You took the cheese you wanted and left the appropriate payment! We gave it a try, and the cheese was quite good.
The hike from the trike "exit point" (aka 'Bort Station') to our hotel was approximately 7 kilometers and was continuously downhill.
Hike back to Grindelwald
After we completed our mountain trikes ride, the remainder of the trek was downhill back to Grindelwald. Click this image to see a video we made of our hike. If you decide to try this hike, it is a constant downhill, approximately 7 kilometers in length & not well marked. Fortunately, you can see Grindelwald most of the time so you know where you should be going!
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The train to Jungfraujoch departs from the Grindelwald Railway Station, which is immediately adjacent to our hotel - which is on the right side of image # 1. No, there was no train noise as all of the trains are powered by electricity.
You can tell by the crowd that this is a very, very popular tourist thing to do. But we jumped onboard quickly, grabbed a seat and got ready to see some amazing scenery on the other side of the valley.
Next stop is the Kleine Scheidegg mid-mountain train station.
Kleine Scheidegg Railway Station
This is the mid-mountain train station, where passengers from Grindelwald (or elsewhere) exit the standard train they arrived on and board the cog train that will convey them to the top of Jungfraujoch.
Click here to go to the Kleine Scheidegg Wikipedia page.
Jungfraujoch Railway Station
At 3,454 meters (11,332 ft) above sea level, this is the highest railway station in Europe, and it is close to the summits of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch mountains. We have just arrived and everyone has to exit the train and walk up to the observation platform outside.
This station opened on 21 February 1912, which was 16 years after the railroad construction had begun. If you are interested in the history of this amazing railroad, click here. The story of how they built this railroad and the difficulties they went through, are a fascinating read.
NOTE: Image # 2 (right) is the property of Kajenn via Trek Earth
A view of the Aletsch Glacier behind the Jungfraujoch mountain. We were at 3,454 meters and the air was thin & cold. We were
there in August and there was snow everywhere. Make sure to bring warm clothing!
Click here to go to the Aletsch Glacier Wikipedia Page.
The Aletsch Glacier (aka Great Aletsch Glacier) is the largest glacier in the Alps. It has a length of about 23 kilometers and has a volume of 3.7 cubic miles, and covers about 31.5 square miles. Due to global warming the glacier is shrinking each year.
Click this image to view a video we made of the viewing platform at the summit of Jungfraujoch. The mountain is 11,362 feet in height and the views are amazing - the Aletsch Glacier to one side and the Grindelwald Valley on the other side.
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Aletsch Glacier Recreation Area
A lot of people came up on the train just to go outside here and play in the snow. We did not see any skiers or snow boarders but we did see quite a few kids & parents making snowballs and using them!
In image #2, that group is headed out to the glacier to play in the snow, we saw them a little later and they all looked chilled to the bone but happy!
The Ice Palace had a solid ice ceiling, walls and floor. You had to walk very, very carefully here! If you look at the ceiling & walls, you can see that this tunnel is indeed 100% solid ice! Walking was aided by the hand rails you can see in this picture. Without them, I doubt that many people would have been able to avoid falling down!
Image # 1: The cow statue celebrates Switzerland's close connection with cows, so we decided that it was an obvious kodak-moment. We found this statue as we were exploring the tunnels beneath the Jungfraujoch summit.
Image # 2: This is the tunnel leading up to the cow statue, and as you can see, when it is not icy it is clearly easy to walk on.
Hiking around Grindelwald is a great way to experience more of the area landscapes, although finding the right route is not always simple - just as trying to list all accommodations, trying to list all the great hikes is not easy. To help, here are some of the top hikes and walks around Grindelwald. We would suggest that you take a look at the All Trails site where you will find a lot of useful information about the trails in & around Grindelwald.
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