A Guide to Grindelwald
First time visitors to Grindelwald quickly realise this is somewhere special, with their first glimpses of the dramatic Aletsch Glacier and the Eiger towering above the road or railway up the valley. Grindelwald and the Jungfrau region have been welcoming visitors, poets, writers, climbers, explorers, mountaineers, and skiers for over a hundred years. Skiers instantly recognise the time-honoured resorts of Wengen and Mürren, charming and traditional car-free villages that form part of this spectacular 213km ski area. The Jungfrau ski region has plentiful hotel, apartment, guesthouse, and mountain hut lodging options.
This region has some of the most stunning scenery in the Alps. It is named after the highest mountain in the area, the Jungfrau (4160m) which forms part of a formidable wall of north facing granite, including the Eiger (3,970m) and the Mönch (4,107m) making up the trio of peaks. Up there is the Aletsch Glacier, at over 22km long it is the longest glacier in the Alps, it measures around 800 metres thick and covers around 80 square km. As a UNESCO Word Heritage site, it is a major tourist destination all through the year. To get there from Grindelwald, the new fast Eiger Express gondola reaches the Eiger Glacier station, from here, transfer to the Jungfrau railway, highest train line in Europe. This miraculous feat of engineering completed in 1912 after 16 years of construction carves through 7km of tunnels at high altitude. At the top is the Jungfraujock station at 3,454m above sea level, the centre houses a viewing deck, access to glacier walks, multi-media experiences, ice tunnels and restaurants.
Apartments and chalets for sale in Grindelwald
The Jungfrau region is one of the most attractive mountain destinations in Switzerland, famous for its skiing and spectacular scenery. It is equally popular in the summer. Just 50km from Bern, it is served by good road and rail travel. Zurich is the nearest airport for international travellers. These are all factors that have made property for sale in Grindelwald sought-after for many years with local and international buyers. Values here range from CHF14-16,000 per square metre, and as high as 20,000 for somewhere special. In 2020-21, prices increased by more than 8% compared to the previous year and are already 25% above their 2016 level (source UBS). Availability for non-residents is certainly possible but limited by some specific local rules in addition to Lex Koller, these do not apply in Wengen. There is rarely much for sale below CHF800,000.
Grindelwald Ski Area
Often referred to as the “cradle” of skiing, three ski resorts make up the Jungfrau region: Grindelwald, Wengen and Mürren. Different combinations of ski-pass are available, most skiers will choose the Sportpässe Jungfrau which covers the whole area. The area is famous for many reasons, and in particular the Lauberhorn ski races, usually held in mid-January the week prior to the Hahnenkamm, in Kitzbühel. The 4.4km downhill course is the longest in the FIS World Cup calendar; speeds can exceed 160 km/h, it is one of the oldest continuously-held ski races dating back to 1930. The town comes alive during the race week, with 35,000 spectators for the actual race. Once the race is over, this is another downhill course that the public can enjoy. Mürren has its own ski race, the Inferno was first run in 1928, it is the largest amateur skiing race in the world, but limited to 1850 competitors (and is always oversubscribed). The course covers 14.9km of contrasting terrain and topography, including an uphill section; it is open to the skiing public at other times of the year.
Elsewhere, the region has an excellent mix of skiing well suited to intermediates with plenty of superb well-groomed blue and red runs and good nursery slopes around Wengen and shared with Grindewald. Access to the pistes from Grindewald has been dramatically enhanced with the new integrated gondola stations. Mürren offers more challenging skiing, with a steep black run from the top of the 2970m Schilthorn cable car. And when the snow is fresh, off-piste skiers head towards the 14 freeriding routes with the best powder in the area.
The Grindelwald-First Snow Park is popular, with kickers, various rails and boxes ranging from small to medium size, including a 130-metre halfpipe. There is a terrific 900m ski cross park from the top of the Schilt ski lift. Mürren’s Skyline snow park has something for every passionate freestyler with 3 lines - Easy, Medium and Advanced and a variety of jumps, rails, tubes and boxes.
Skiing here is an unmissable experience: the spectacular surrounding scenery, the variety, history, and excellent infrastructure.
Eating out and après-ski in Grindelwald
On the mountain there is no shortage of good restaurants on the slopes around Grindelwald and Wengen, over 30 between them. For example, Bellevue des Alpes with its panoramic views and Brandegg are popular, easy to reach and are good meeting points. The Grindelwaldblick Restaurant, accessed via the Lauberhorn chairlift and a black piste serves hearty Swiss food and accommodation options. Over in Mürren the Winteregg mountain restaurant is popular with a large sunny terrace. Located at the peak of Schilthorn, the Piz Gloria is a rotating restaurant with a 360° panorama and a little James Bond history.
You’ll find good wholesome Swiss fare in most places on the mountain, from rosti and steaming bowls of goulash, to the ubiquitous fondue. Berggasthaus First at 2,200m serves great food with stunning views. Restaurant Belvedere offers varied gourmet menus in summer and winter. Gletschergarten combines traditional French cuisine with Swiss and Italian dishes.
During the ski season Grindelwald transforms itself into one of the liveliest towns in the Bernese Oberland. They say it all starts at the Bus Stop, in an old yellow bus, or try out Avocado Bar in town and the TeePee Bar up on the mountain at Kleine Scheidegg. Mescalero Club is the only place in Grindelwald where you can dance and party ‘til late during the ski season. In Wengen the Spycher Snow Bar has great views from its sundeck. The Lauberhorn Startbar is another lively spot, and in the village check out the outdoor snowbar of the Hotel Brunner and the Figeller Snowbar. Later on, it’s Tanne Bar and the Blue Monkey.
Grindelwald has an impressive sports centre with a 17m indoor pool, 70m slide, sauna, ice skating, curling, bouldering, and a fitness centre. Night tobogganing is another popular evening activity.
Summer in Grindelwald
With a permanent population of nearly 4,000 there is activity in Grindelwald throughout the year. And like Chamonix, the town draws significant numbers of visitors in the summer. Blessed with stunning surroundings it is the ideal base to enjoy Switzerland’s natural beauty, charm, and revered mountains.
For hikers, the entire Bernese Oberland region is spectacular, there are over 300km if trails in the Jungfrau region. Grindelwald has easy access by rail, cable car, and gondola, to both sides of the valley, to access most of region’s best paths. The Eiger Trail is a famous 6km route that brings you right to the foot of the Eiger’s north face. You may see a few climbers, aiming for an ascent of the north face, on the way. A popular hike from the First station is to Bachalpsee, a pretty lake at 2,265m with panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks. The Grindelwald–Männlichen gondola ascent, rising 1,300m is a 30 minute journey with some of the best views of the region. The Trümmelbach waterfall complex is well worth a visit, draining the walls of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Or from Wengen visit Staubbach waterfall, which cascades over a 300m cliff face into the valley. And of course, a trip to the Sphinx Observatory to overlook the Aletsch Glacier – if you could only do one, this would be it.
Road cycling and mountain biking are immensely rewarding here. The 43km ride up from Interlaken is a popular challenge; or the 27km Mürren trail into the valley and beneath the mountains. The roads connecting to the Lauterbrunnen valley are perfect for road biking.
Mountain bikers have access to 160km of marked trails in the region, some are shared with the walking paths. Over a dozen loops and tours of varying difficulty are recommended, experienced specialists will enjoy tours such as the Bussalp-Waldspitz, with some challenging climbs, difficult single trails, and downhill fun through the forest back to Grindelwald. The Grosse Scheidegg-Bachalpsee route is 30km with an altitude difference of 1,250m. Or the Männlichen tour which offers dramatic views of the Eiger. If you’re not sure, ask in the bike rental shops, who will show you a number of routes depending on your preferences.
For family fun with the kids, Grindelwald offers activities and adventures on a scooter, summer tobogganing, mini-golf, ice-skating and much more.
Other Destinations in the Swiss Alps:
Andermatt, Anzère, Champéry, Crans-Montana, Grimentz, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Verbier, Veysonnaz, Villars