First Cliff Walk, Switzerland

Switzerland

The Grindelwald First Cliff Walk is a narrow metal walkway clinging to the edge of a steep cliff at a dizzying height of 2000+ meters leading to a sky bridge which rises 45 metres out into the void. Oh, and the sky bridge has a glass floor so you look down into that void (and the metal walkway has a mesh see-through floor)! I’ve made it sound scary, haven’t?

But in truth, the First Cliff Walk is anything but scary (except if you have a phobia of heights) – it’s a super fun & thrilling place to visit. On the walk, you get sweeping views of the Alpine valley below and the tall, snow-capped mountains above – a cool breeze and the tinkling of cowbells make for wonderful accompaniments to the whole experience.

If you have done the cliff walks on Mount Titlis or Schilthorn, you will be familiar with the experience. I found the Grindelwald First Cliff walk to be the best of all. Read on for the complete guide to visiting the First Cliff Walk.

Sky bridge at First Cliff WalkSky bridge at First Cliff Walk

Views from the First Cliff WalkViews from the First Cliff Walk

WHAT IS GRINDELWALD FIRST CLIFF WALK BY TISSOT

The First Cliff Walk is a bridge/ walkway built along the cliff of a famous mountain, the eponymous First. It was built in partnership with Tissot and opened in 2015.

The Cliff Walk wrapped around ‘First’The Cliff Walk wrapped around ‘First’

WHERE IS THE FIRST CLIFF WALK

The Grindelwald First Cliff Walk is located at the summit of First, a mountain in the Jungfrau region. It is accessible through a gondola from the village of Grindelwald.

A suspension bridge along the First Cliff WalkA suspension bridge along the First Cliff Walk

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THE FIRST CLIFF WALK

The gondola up to First from Grindelwald is operational nearly all year round. Check the latest schedules here. Visit during the winter for beautiful snow-white views and during the summer to take in the green valleys and the small waterfalls. There is no wrong time for a visit at all!

Make sure you check the weather cam before you visit – if it’s an overcast day it won’t be that much fun! Also, try and visit as early in the day as possible – it’s a very popular location and can get quite crowded.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED TO VISIT THE FIRST CLIFF WALK

The walk itself takes about 30 minutes, to and fro. You can add more time if you’d like to make stops to take pictures. Also if it is crowded, there might be a queue to take a picture at the main viewing platform – the sky bridge.

Factor in more time for lots more activities at First – First Glider or First Flyer, hiking during the summer (the spectacular Bachalpsee is only a short hike away) or skiing and sledding in winter.

Hike to Bachalpsee from Grindelwald FirstAlong the Bachalpsee hike

A visit to First easily takes up a day if you take in the Cliff Walk, the hike to Bachalpsee and a couple of the other adventure activities. We’ve taken several of our visitors here on day trips and they have all loved it!

HOW TO GET TO THE FIRST CLIFF WALK

You need to get to the Grindelwald Firstbahn cable car station in Grindelwald to take the aerial cable car up to the station of Grindelwald First where the First Cliff Walk is located.

By car: We usually drive from Zurich and it takes us around 1 hr 50 min to reach the Grindelwald Firstbahn cable car station. It’s a beautiful drive crossing a few lakes, including the incredibly blue Lake Brienz.

At Grindelwald Firstbahn, there is a parking lot across the street, a little way beyond the cable car station. We once got there around 8:30 am on a June weekend and the parking lot was already filled up halfway! In case this parking lot is filled up, there are more parking lots in town but these will require a little bit of walk to the cable car station.

By public transportation: From Zurich HB, it will take around 2 hr 50 min, changing trains at Bern and Interlaken to reach Grindelwald Bahnof. From Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken, it would take ~45 min to reach Grindelwald Bahnof. From Grindelwald Bahnof, the Grindelwald Firstbahn station is 600 m away – you could walk or take the bus.

Once at Grindelwald Firstbahn cable car station, purchase your tickets at the ticket counter or at the ticket machines and make your way to the gondolas.

Views from the gondolaViews from the gondola

The gondolas here are not the ones on a timetable but ones that are constantly coming and going. These have a capacity of 4-6. Just cross the turnstile (scanning your ticket) and enter into the first gondola that comes along. Note that these do not completely come to a halt but slow down considerably so you can easily get on them.

From Grindelwald, take the gondola all the way to the top, to the Grindelwald First station. The total journey takes ~25 minutes with 2 intermediate stops in between, Bort and Schreckfeld. You do not need to get down at either of these stations.

The ride up is beautiful with complete silence around, other than the sound from an occasional stream down below or the ringing of cowbells.

The cable car station at FirstThe cable car station at First

Once you reach First, you have 2 ways to access the First Cliff Walk,

1. The lower entrance of Cliff Walk (recommended way) – Turn right after you alight from the gondola and exit the cable car station. Follow the signs to the Cliff Walk. You’ll be able to see the walkway hugging the cliff as soon as you round the corner.

2. The higher entrance of Cliff Walk – Turn left after you alight from the gondola and walk towards the Berggasthaus First Restaurant. Walkthrough the restaurant to reach the patio and you will be able to spot the sky bridge lookout platform.

While this route gets you to the viewing platform without much delay (and it might mean shorter queues for pictures), the main fun of the Cliff Walk is in, well, the walk itself! And honestly, while the lookout platform is amazing, it’s not worth standing in queue for ages when you could be hiking on the beautiful hills.

Views from the First Cliff WalkViews from the First Cliff Walk

TICKETS FOR FIRST CLIFF WALK

You do not need additional tickets for the Grindelwald First Cliff Walk. If you have taken the gondola up to Grindelwald First (or have hiked up!), you are free to walk over to the First Cliff Walk.

A round trip ticket for the cable car itself costs 60 CHF per adult, 30 CHF with the SBB half fare card. Discounted rates are also available with the Swiss pass. Tickets can be purchased from the cable car station, or online.

THINGS TO DO

Use the lower entrance to access the Grindelwald First Cliff Walk and follow the signs to it. The narrow walkway against the cliff looks really cool and super fun – at least for those not afraid of heights!

First Cliff Walk

As you walk out over the mesh walkway (which is at a height of over 2000 metres above the valley), you are guaranteed to feel thrilled! The views all around and through the floor are amazing! The cliff next to you has really interesting rock patterns and colours – you will be bound to notice those since you will be really close to it!

First Cliff Walk

Watch where you walk as often times you may have to duck or manoeuvre around the cliff to keep walking. You’d want to keep making stops to take pictures or look through the binoculars set up at various points.

The suspension bridge in the middle of the cliff walk is one of the most fun elements of the walk, especially if there are a few people on it! When that happens, it starts swaying and you have to hold on to the rail for balance. All this while you are hundreds of feet far above solid ground which you can literally see through the floor!

First Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk ends at the sky bridge on the lookout platform which juts 45 metres out into the void and has a glass floor! From here you get uninterrupted views of the spectacular mountain range around you, the deep valley and the sheer slopes of the incredible Eiger.

First Cliff Walk

There is usually a queue here to take pictures but honestly, I’ve taken my picture here only once and that too when there were barely any folks around – I don’t think there’s any point at all in wasting a lovely day queuing for a picture when all around you there are breathtaking panoramas!

So enjoy the views, breathe in the fresh air and when you are content, head on to the restaurant at the summit to grab some food. The restaurant has seating out on the patio with stellar views – a mug of hot chocolate here would be absolutely divine!
You can go back on the Frist Cliff Walk the same way you came and head next towards Bachalpsee – a beautiful ~3 km hike through some of the best scenery I have seen in Switzerland!

Stunning BachalpseeA postcard perfect view of Bachalpsee!

WHERE TO STAY TO VISIT FIRST CLIFF WALK

You can visit the First Cliff Walk on a day trip from Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen. Or if you are visiting the Jungfrau area you can choose to base yourself at Grindelwald – it’s a beautiful village and the starting point for several excursions.

MORE THINGS TO DO NEARBY

  • Hike to Bachalpsee – an absolutely must-do if you’re at the First Cliff Walk

Bachalpsee - Bucket List places in SwitzerlandBachalpsee

  • If you feel more adventurous, instead of hiking back to the Grindelwald First station, you can follow trails to Feld and Bussalp or to Waldspitz and Bort (one of the middle stations from where you can ride the aerial cable car back down to Grindelwald)
  • There are several more activities such as First Glider, First Flyer, First Mountain Cart and Trottibike at First – the tickets for all these can be purchased along with your cable car ticket from the Firstbahn station in Grindelwald

PRACTICAL TIPS

  • Check the weather webcam before visiting. If it’s rainy or very cloudy, don’t bother spending so much money on the cable car tickets. Instead, if you’re based in the Interlaken – Lauterbrunnen region – see if you can cover other places such as the Trummelbach Falls or the Aare Gorge which are not quite as weather dependent.
  • Get there early to avoid crowds
  • Dress in layers – with the sun shining down, it can become quite warm but if it’s windy it could become cold. (Take care that you have warm clothes and sturdy shoes if you are visiting in Spring since the ice and snow do not melt till well into Summer. You can expect to find lots of snow at First in April. We have overestimated the temperatures at times and have ended up shivering up at the mountain!).

Grindelwald First is one of the best places to visit in the Jungfrau region and one of my favourite places in Switzerland.

My advice would be to visit First with more in mind than just the Cliff Walk, which as amazing as it is, does not alone justify the price tag of the cable car up to the mountain. Make sure you include the hike to Bachalpsee in your plans – stunning snow-capped mountains, lush green meadows & valleys, crystal clear lakes, and wildflowers, all to the soundtrack of ringing cowbells make the hike a uniquely fantastic experience, not to be missed!

Have you done the First Cliff Walk? How was your experience?

Would you like to give it a try? Let me know in the comments below.

If you found this useful, please share and spread the love.

Source: myfaultycompass.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *