As far as picture-perfect villages go, they don’t get much better than Grindelwald. Set in a breathtaking location in the canton of Berne in Switzerland, this pretty little village boasts charming alpine chalets, cozy little restaurants, staggering scenery, and more outdoor adventure than you could fit into a lifetime. Whether you want to ski, sled, or explore the mountains aboard a Trotti bike, there’s something here for everyone. If you’re planning to visit, be sure to include these 20 best things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland in your itinerary.
20. Take a gondola ride
There’s only so much hiking, biking, and sledding anyone can do before they feel the need for a comfortable seat and a chance to rest their feet. The gondola ride from the Cableway Station in Grindelwald to the top of First doesn’t necessarily guarantee a comfortable seat, but it will at least give you 30 minutes to catch your breath before you set out to discover the attractions of Grindelwald’s most famous peak. If you still haven’t recovered by the time you reach the summit, head for the First Mountain Restaurant to replenish your energy with some delicious Swiss cuisine.
19. Take a train trip
As Adventurous Miriam says, taking the train in Switzerland is an activity in itself. To see what the fuss is about for yourself, hop about the Jungfrau train and take a ride through the Alps. The destination isn’t important – it’s the journey that matters. Just remember that the higher you go, the better the views.
18. Hike the Eiger Trail
If the longest hike you’re used to taking is from the sofa to the refrigerator, you might want to give this next suggestion a miss. Whatever else the Eiger Trail is, it’s not for couch potatoes. But if you’re up for a challenge, you’ll find this six-kilometer route to the foot of Eiger’s north face an immensely rewarding experience. As The Crazy Tourist notes, the route has been used by intrepid climbers intent on scaling Eiger since the 1930s, and today, you can still spot modern-day adventurers risking life and limb as they pick their way over the mountain’s craggy face. The hike takes around 2-3 hours in total, and while it can get slightly tricky in places, there are ropes fastened to the rock beside the path to keep you safe.
17. Visit the Sphinx Observatory
If you thought Grindelwald was high enough, just wait till you get to the Sphinx Observatory, an astronomical observatory located above the Jungfraujoch which ranks as one of the highest observatories in the world. Accessible to the public, it offers 360° views that reach as far as the Vosges in France from its observation deck. To get there, jump about the train from Grindelwald Grund to Kleine Scheidegg, where you’ll need to change for the train to Jungfraujoch.
16. Visit Bachalpsee
Located within walking distance from the gondola stop at First is Bachalpsee, a crystal clear lake that couldn’t be more picture-perfect if it tried. Its waters are so clear, you can see the reflections of the peaks of Schreckhorn, Wetterhorn, and Finsteraarhorn gazing back up at you from the watery depths. Surrounded by grassy banks and overhung by majestic peaks, it’s the perfect place to grab a few pictures for the album, not to mention enjoying a picnic if the weather’s on your side.
15. Take the long way to Wengen
Wengen is a lovely little resort town located just a short distance from Grindelwald. As myswitzerland.com says, with its nostalgic timber houses, belle époque era holiday chalets and hotels, and gorgeous surrounds, it’s retained all the character of a picture-postcard mountain village. It’s car-free so you can’t get there on four wheels, but there’s a much nicer, much prettier way to get there anyway. Starting at the Grund station on the valley floor in Grindelwald, jump on board the Grindelwald–Männlichen gondola cableway to be lifted 1300 meters to the top of Männlichen. The trip takes 30 minutes in total, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the scenery as it flashes by. Once you’re at the top, take a moment to bask in the beautiful surroundings before continuing on to Wergen on the other side of the peak.
14. Take a bus to Grosse Scheidegg
If you wanted to, you could take the gondola to First before hiking round to Grosse Scheidegg, but as you’ll be doing a lot of walking once you get there anyway, save your legs and grab a bus instead. As one of the most popular spots in Grindelwald for hiking, it offers nature lovers the chance to explore mountain pastures filled with wildflowers and cattle. With the only sound being the occasional tinkle of a cowbell, it’s a gloriously peaceful, tranquil spot that’s sure to leave you with some lasting memories. While you’re there, keep your eyes peeled for golden eagles circling overhead.
13. Check out the views from Pfingstegg
Yet another mountain summit to add to your list is Pfingstegg. It’s particularly popular during the summer, when adrenalin junkies get to experience the thrill of racing around its 736-meter toboggan run at speeds of up to 45 kilometers per hour. If you’re in the mood for a tamer experience, head for the viewing platform – on a clear day, the views over the valley and Alps are sensational. There are also some excellent hiking trails that lead to the Upper and Lower Grindelwald Glaciers, along with a cute little restaurant to enjoy a hearty meal and a drink.
12. Visit the Ice Palace
If you’re in the mood for a day trip, catch the train to Jungfraufirn to check out the awe-inspiring Ice Palace. As jungfrau.ch says, the more transient something is, the more beautiful. That’s certainly true of the Ice Palace, which was originally picked out of the ice in the 1930s with picks and saws. Today, artists have replaced the ice pickers, with the result that the entire place has been turned into a stunning, one-of-a-kind gallery, with ice sculptures and works of art decorating the mirror-smooth walls. Even at minus three Celsius, the sculptures are still melting, resulting in an ever-changing lineup that never fails to delight. Just be aware that it’s Cold with a capital C, so be sure to layer on some warm clothes before your visit.
11. Hike around Gletscherschlucht
Gletscherschlucht is a deep, impressive ravine that offers superb hiking opportunities. As thebesttraveldestinations.com says, the stunning natural wonder offers a magical two-hour walk through rocky tunnels while enjoying gorgeous views over the glacial river. In summer, you can add to the adventure by making use of the SpiderWeb, a giant network of walkways suspended over the roaring ravine. As you walk, be sure to look out for climbers clambering over the rockface.
10. Get adventurous on a Trotti bike
Recommended by holidaystoswitzerland.com as one of the top things to do in Grindelwald, Trotti bikes offer a unique and very enjoyable way to explore Grindelwald’s spectacular alpine scenery. If you’ve not seen one before, Trotti bikes look a bit like scooters, only they have bigger tires, a jacked-up suspension, and brakes. They’re available to rent in the town and offer a superb way to discover Grindelwald at your own pace.
9. Ski the slopes
Grindelwald might be beautiful in the summer, but it’s during the winter months that it really comes into its own. Thanks to its central location and excellent infrastructure, you can get from the center of town to the top of a ski slope in just a few minutes. The three largest and most popular ski areas are Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen, Bodmiarena and Grindelwald-First. Bodmiarena is the best for families and novices, offering ski lessons, beginner slopes, two public lifts, and the chance to try your hand at snow-tubing and tobogganing. Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen is for more experienced skiers, with over 110 kilometers of runs to pit your wits against. Grindelwald-First, meanwhile, is the most accessible – easily reached by gondola, it offers over 40 km of pistes of varying challenge.
8. Go sledding
Even if skiing isn’t your thing, there’s still a great way to take advantage of Grindelwald’s outstanding location – sledding. Big Pintenfritz, a sledding route that drops over 1600 meters from the peak at Faulhorn into Grindelwald, is the longest toboggan run in Europe. Amazing fun, it offers astonishing views of Jungfrau and Eiger as you hurtle down its descent.
7. Visit Grindelwald Museum
Grindelwald might be all about outdoor adventure, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some great indoor attractions as well. If you need a respite from the great outdoors, head for Grindelwald Museum, a fascinating little museum that chronicles the history and story of the town. Discover how the cable car network was built in the early 20th century, check out the antique mountaineering gear, and admire the traditional handicrafts… it may not be the biggest museum in the world, but it’s still more than worth a few hours of your time.
6. Take to the skies on the First Glider
If you’ve got a head for heights and a taste for adventure, don’t miss taking to the skies on the First Glider. Strapped into a purpose build ‘eagle,’ you and up to four other passengers can enjoy an exhilarating flight from First to Schreckfeld. The views, as you’d expect, are nothing short of staggering.
5. Take the Marmot Trail
If you’re looking for a trail that all the family can enjoy, look no further than the Marmot trail. Designed for all ages and all fitness levels, it offers a pleasant hike from First to Schilt in Wegen. If you visit during the summer months, keep a watch out for the marmots that are known to build their burrows along the trail. Each burrow is marked with a bench, so you can rest up while you wait for one to make an appearance.
4. Zip along the First Flyer
If walking the First Cliff Walk doesn’t sate your thirst for adventure while you’re exploring First, try out the First Flyer, a gigantic 800-meter zipline that boasts speeds of up to 84 km/h. Staring at the First summit station, it finishes up at Schreckfeld. From there, you can either hike back to Grindelwald or hop on board a cable car.
3. Test your nerves with the Eiger Jump
Described by Triphobo as the ‘ultimate skydive adventure,’ the Eiger Jump Grindelwald is definitely not for the fainthearted. If you’re scared of heights, it’s probably best to steer well clear as well. But if you’ve got a taste for adventure and a strong stomach, this skydive in front of the majestic Eiger mountain is one of the best, and definitely most memorable, experiences you can have in Grindelwald. The helicopter ride to the location of the jump is just as breathtaking as the jump itself, offering awe-inspiring views over the peaks of the Swiss Alps.
2. Discover the glacier canyon
If there’s one thing the Swiss do very well (apart from cuckoo clocks and chocolate) it’s glacier canyons. Grindelwald is blessed with one of its own, an inspiring, impressive masterpiece forged by nature millions of years ago. With its cool breezes, dancing reflections, and mysterious tunnels, it’s one of the town’s most popular attractions. The entire canyon has been divided into 6 themed areas – coincidence, formation, water, glacier, geology, and mysticism – all of which offer their own unique rewards. Accessible in all weather conditions and suitable for all ages, it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
1. Explore First
First is a minor summit on Schwarzhorn, and a major attraction in Grindelwald. Once you’re at the top (hop on a gondola ride to get there), you’ll find a world of adventure awaiting you. The First Cliff Walk is a must. A cliff-hugging walkway that extends 45 meters over a sheer drop, you’ll need to have a head for heights to tackle it – if you do, you’ll be rewarded with sublime views over the peaks, pastures, and lakes of the Alpine landscape.