Discovering Grindelwald, Switzerland
When planning my 3-week winter trip to Switzerland, I knew I wanted to spend a weekend in the mountains, even though I don’t ski. But I didn’t know where to start! Until I found Grindelwald, Switzerland.
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After searching through hashtags on Instagram, I came across Grindelwald, Switzerland. It was exactly what I was looking for! After doing some research I also learned it was a great spot for non-skiers. There is a lot to do other than skiing all the while getting an authentic snowy mountain experience.
Grindelwald is a village in the Swiss Alps near large summits like the Jungfrau and Eiger North Face. The mountains are very accessible from Grindelwald, either by cable car or train. The main two stations we utilized were Grindelwald Terminal and Grindelwald Firstbahn. The first takes you to the Männlichen, Eigergletscher, and Jungfraujoch (you will become familiar with these places soon). The latter takes you to the First mountain.
If you don’t already have your trip booked, I’m sure I’m convincing you to visit. Check out these resources and tools to help book and plan your trip!
- Booking.com – offers accommodation and unique places
- Vrbo – world’s leading marketplace for vacation rentals
- Hostelworld – global hostel-focused online booking platform
- Wayaway – flight aggregator to find the best rates on airline tickets
- Rentalcars.com – the world’s largest car rental service
- Trainline – Europe’s leading train and bus app
- GetYourGuide – find top-rated tours and activities in your destination
Staying in Grindelwald, Switzerland
We stayed at a hotel called Hotel Cabana. I booked this hotel specifically because it has an incredible view of the Eiger North Face. Also because it was less expensive than a lot of the other options, but still has good reviews. If you don’t know, Switzerland is ridiculously expensive!
We were a 5-minute walk from the train station, 10-minute walk from downtown, and a 15-minute walk from Grindelwald Terminal. Honestly, our accommodation was in the perfect location. The view of the Eiger North Face was absolutely beautiful. The hotel also had a breakfast buffet included. This was great as food in Switzerland is pricey so we filled up in the mornings before heading out for the day!
Okay, enough background… Here’s how to have one perfect weekend in Grindelwald, Switzerland – winter edition!
Head up to the Jungfraujoch
One of the main things you need to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland is head up to the Jungfraujoch. The Jungfraujoch is what’s called a “glacier saddle” that connects to huge summits – the Jungfrau and the Mönch. A journey up to the Jungfraujoch includes a ride on Europe’s highest railway station and a visit to the “Top of Europe.”
The reason it’s called the Top of Europe isn’t because it is the highest point in all of Europe, but the highest point that is accessible by tourists. Top of Europe is a building with indoor and outdoor observation decks, an ice cave, exhibits about the Jungfrau region, the highest Lindt chocolate shop in the world, numerous restaurants, and more. The views are absolutely spectacular!
To get there, you will take the Eiger Express cable car from Grindelwald terminal to Eigergletscher, which takes about 15 minutes. Then you will take a 30 minute train ride from Eigergletscher to Jungfraujoch, the highest rail station in Europe! To get back down, you can take the train the entire way, or stop at Eigergletscher and take the Eiger Express cable car back down. For the entire experience, you should reserve 5-6 hours.
Take on the First Cliff Walk
Another activity you must do in Grindelwald, Switzerland is walk on the First Cliff Walk. The First Cliff Walk is a walkway that is suspended on the side of First mountain. The entire walk takes about 10 minutes, and leads to a restaurant and cool panoramic viewing platform that is perfect for photos. There are also both short and long walking paths on the mountain, if you’re looking for another activity to pair with the First Cliff Walk. By the way, you don’t need to buy tickets to walk on the First Cliff Walk.
To get there, you will take a 25 minute cable car from Grindelwald Firstbahn (this is different from Grindelwald Terminal). This cable car takes you to First mountain, from which you can access numerous ski and sledding slopes and walking paths. Instead of taking the cable car back down, we opted to sled down the mountain…
Sledding (AKA sledging)
One of the things I was most excited for in Grindelwald, Switzerland is sledding (or sledging as they say in Europe). Since I don’t ski, I still wanted to get an experience of going down the mountains. I hadn’t been sledding since I was a child, and only then went down a tiny hill in my hometown.
Let me tell you, sledding in Grindelwald is NO joke. The sledding paths are long (15-60 minutes) and intense, but in the best way. You aren’t just going straight down a hill, but using the reins on the sled and your feet to slow down and turn around sharp corners. Honestly, it was a little scary but after the first run I got the hang of it and was having so much fun.
We did three different sledding paths – the Eiger Run, First to Bort, Männlichen to Holstein. The Eiger Run starts at Alpiglen (we actually started at Eigergletscher to make it a bit longer) and ends at Bradegg. Unfortunately, the more difficult route was closed. We found the run from Männlichen to Holstein the most exciting. We actually did that one three times! It also had a lot less walking than the other paths.
You can easily rent a sled (and a helmet, gloves, and whatever else you may need) from numerous rental shops all over Grindelwald, both at the bottom and top of mountains. You are able to keep the sled with you for the entire day, taking it to whatever mountains you’d like. Just don’t forget to return it once you’re done!
Other things to know
These are the top three ways you can have a perfect weekend in Grindelwald, Switzerland as a non-skier. But I have a few more tips to make your experience even better!
First, you’re going to want to buy a Top of Europe Winter Pass for however many days you plan to stay. You can either buy it online ahead of time, or just when you arrive at the Grindelwald Terminal. One perk of buying it online ahead of time is that it includes the train ride from Interlaken to Grindelwald (and back), which you will almost definitely be taking on your journey. The pass includes one trip up to the Jungfraucjoch and all transportation in the area for the duration of your stay (buses, cable cars, trains). For 3 days, it cost us $250 per person. Switzerland is expensive! Overall this pass easily saved us money in comparison to buying individual lift passes.
Make sure to dress warmly. I didn’t own snow pants so I bought these ahead of time on Amazon and they were perfect (just make sure to wear some thermals or long socks underneath). As for the Jungfraujoch, jeans are totally fine. I wore a pair of leggings underneath but it was kind of unnecessary. Also, you will definitely need snow boots if you plan to go walking in the mountains or sledding. I didn’t have snow gloves but was able to rent a pair for sledding. Other than that, my cotton gloves did the trick!
If you still have energy after your long days, there’s actually quite a bit to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland in the evenings. There are a lot of restaurants and bars in the downtown area, including one at the bottom of the lift at Grindelwald Terminal. We only had one drink here because we were so tired, but it was like a little party with music and drinks! As far as eating goes, I recommend Barry’s. It’s pretty popular, so you may want to make a reservation in advance. Thankfully they were able to squeeze us in!
Enjoy your time in Grindelwald, Switzerland!
If you are looking for other places to explore in Switzerland, check out my blog post: 7 BUCKET LIST THINGS TO DO IN ZURICH.