As one of Switzerland’s most popular winter ski resorts, Grindelwald is the perfect place to head for world class skiing and snowboarding, but in summer time there are plenty of enjoyable things to do in Grindelwald, too.
The main street (Dorfstrasse) is just what you’d expect of a Swiss Alpine village. Wooden chalets with sharply pitched roofs and window-sills adorned with pots of colour line the street. Hotels, cafes, clothing and adventure stores, souvenir and watch shops are amongst the most popular services on offer. A large Coop supermarket is located in the Eiger Shopping Centre in the centre of town right above an underground car park. There are also a number of independent specialty stores in Grindelwald including a cheese shop, butchery and bakery.
Also on the main street is an excellent 18 hole mini golf course which offers not only a challenging round but great views of the mountains and the Oberer Glacier.
As lovely as Grindelwald town is, it’s on the surrounding mountains that the fun really starts. For a day packed with full-on excitement, you’ve got to visit First. To reach the mountain summit you take two cable cars – one from Grindelwald to Schreckfeld (via Bort) and another from Schreckfeld to First summit. Once at the summit (1924 metres above sea level), there are plenty of options for adventure activities or getting close to nature.
One of the mst popular Grindelwald attractions is the First Flyer (First Flieger). It is a flying fox that stretches downhill for 800 metres from First to Schreckfeld.
Strapped in to a secure harness, you can whiz along at speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour!
The First Flyer operates daily from early June until late October but is weather dependent and doesn’t operate when it’s too windy or there is poor visibility.
First Cliff Walk
Built into the side of the mountain face, the First Cliff Walk is an elevated walkway that offers exceptional views. The walkway winds its way around the mountain face over sheer drops before finishing at the terrace at Bergrestaurant.
If you’re not quite up for the exhilaration of the Cliff Walk, you can still enjoy the views from the viewing platform next to the Bergrestaurant. Standing at the end of the 45 metre platform you’ll feel like you are floating above the valley below.
The First Cliff Walk is free of charge and is open year round.
First Mountain Carts
Also located at Schreckfeld is a mountain cart depot. Here you can rent mountain carts – a sort of cross between a go-kart and a toboggan – to ride down to Bort. The three kilometre long winding downhill path is a mix of bumpy gravel and asphalt. With a low centre of gravity, the carts can pick up quite a bit of speed so you’ll be thankful for the hydraulic brakes.
A favourite family activity of ours, trottibikes are a fun way to get from Bort to Grindelwald. Just like a scooter with a wide footbed, but with the addition of larger tyres, brakes and suspension, you can roll on downhill at your own pace whilst enjoying the surrounding views.
Lake Bachalpsee hike
One of the most popular is the 5.9 kilometre round trip walk to Lake Bachalpsee at 2265 metres above sea level. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a sunny day (I wasn’t ), you’ll be rewarded with a reflection of the towering alpine peaks in the lake.
First to Schynige Platte hike
Another popular, but much longer trail, is the one from First to Schynige Platte (via Bachalpsee). Classified as ‘difficult’, the 15 kilometre hike takes around six hours to complete. Along the way the path crosses rocky paths, meadows and high alpine terrain, sometimes covered with snow, even in summer. The views are exceptional with an elevation of 2614 metres reached at the highest point of the trail.
Regarded amongst climbers as one of the most difficult and challenging ascents, the north face of the Eiger (3967 metres) has held a fascination amongst thrill seekers for over one hundred years. You don’t need to be quite so adventurous to enjoy close up views of the iconic mountain, though. After taking a train from Grindelwald station to Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier) station, you can enjoy a hike along the six kilometre track known as the Eiger Trail.
Back in Grindelwald, if you continue through town and past the Grindelwald-First cable car station, you’ll see signs pointing to the Pfingstegg. A one hour scenic walk leads you through lovely pastures and woodland for impressive views of the Oberer Glacier which creeps its way down the Wetterhorn.
Jungfraujoch excursion from Grindelwald
Whilst you’re in the area, you’ll see and hear lots about the famous Jungfraujoch, one of Switzerland’s major tourist destinations. Whilst Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen are the main starting points for visitors heading to the Jungfrau, it is also easily reached from Grindelwald.
From Grindelwald station, trains depart regularly for Kleine Scheidegg (journey time 35 minutes), where you connect to another train for the half hour trip to Jungfraujoch.
At the summit, known as the ‘Top of Europe’, you’ll find plenty to do including snow tubing and sledging in summer, and the views of the Aletsch Glacier are incredible.