As far as postcard-perfect settings go, Grindelwald comes up trumps. This pretty Swiss town is blessed with stunning surroundings and is the ideal base to enjoy Switzerland’s natural beauty and charm.
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.
Things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland in summer
I’m fortunate to have visited Grindelwald on a number of occasions and have enjoyed many of the activities mentioned below first hand. It’s a town that offers something for everyone no matter what time of year you visit.
Nestled at the head of the Lütschen Valley beneath the towering Wetterhorn, Eiger and Mettenberg, Grindelwald’s setting is picture perfect.
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 supermarket is located in the centre of town above an underground car park.
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.
Open: April to October
Indoor Rope Centre
At the Grindelwald Sports Centre, you can try out five different rope circuits in Europe’s largest indoor rope course centre.
As lovely as the town of Grindelwald is, though, 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. Buy tickets here.
Once at the summit (1924 metres above sea level), there are plenty of options for adventure activities or getting close to nature.
The First cable car station is located at the eastern end of town about a 15 minute walk from the railway station, and ten minute walk from the underground car park.
One of the more recent additions to the Grindelwald activity list 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 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.
Hiking trails are in abundance on First with trails suiting every level of fitness and experience.
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.
Even if you miss out on the reflection, the lake is still worth a visit and is great spot to enjoy a picnic alongside the tranquil water.
The hike to Lake Bachalpsee takes around 50 minutes in each direction. In summer you’ll meander through pastures blooming with alpine flowers and overlook the lush green valley below dotted with grazing cows and alpine chalets.
From First summit, the path climbs fairly steeply initially but after that is mostly flat or undulating.
Tip: Take your own food and drink as there is nowhere to purchase these at Lake Bachalpsee.
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.
It is possible to break the hike by staying overnight in a hotel at the Faulhorn or in a hut at the Manndlenen.
To return to Grindelwald by train, you can take the cogwheel railway from Schynige Platte to Wilderswil (late May to late October only) and then connect with a regular train to Grindelwald. Journey time is around 1 hour 20 minutes.
When you’re ready to leave First, don’t just head straight back to Grindelwald on the cable car as there are plenty of other fun things to do on your descent.
Opened in 2017, the First Glider gives you the chance to soar like an eagle.
Four passengers are strapped into harnesses which are connected to an eagle ‘frame’. The frame is attached to a wire and the glider is operated by a pulley-like system.
First the glider is pulled backwards at 72 km/h, then as the glider reacts and moves forward, speeds of up to 83 km/h can be reached as you glide along the 800 metre route.
The First Glider is located at Schreckfeld and only operates in favourable weather conditions. Passengers must be at least 10 years old and at least 130 cm in height.
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.
Mountain carts are suitable for all ages (a height limit applies).
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.
The quiet road used by the trottibikes winds its way through fields, past houses and then enters the town of Grindelwald not far from the cable car station.
Tip: Both individual and combination ticket packages are available. If you are keen to try a few of the activities on First, consider an “Adventure Card” which includes the cable car ride from Grindelwald to First, one ride on the First Flyer, Mountain Cart hire from Schreckfeld to Bort and Trottibike hire from Bort to Grindelwald. Click here for Adventure Card prices.
Open: Not all activities on First mentioned above are open year round. Check the official website for daily operating hours of the activity that interests you.
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.
Classified by Switzerland Tourism as one of its 32 most enjoyable hikes, the trail leads hikers past the foot of the imposing north face of the Eiger, past lakes and waterfalls and through high alpine pastures.
Open: The trail is open from July to October, weather permitting. Check weather conditions and track information before setting off.
If you continue through Grindewald and past the 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.
For more great views, take the Pfingstegg cable car to the summit (1391 metres) from where you can see across the whole valley.
Kids – both young* and old – can have fun on the Rodelbahn (toboggan/luge) track. Zip along at speeds of up to 45 kilometres per hour on the 736 metre track.
*Minimum age restrictions apply
Open: early May to late October
Thrill seekers will also find plenty to get their adrenaline pumping in Grindelwald. Climbing, paragliding, mountain biking, canyoning and rafting are just some of the outdoor adventure activities available.
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.
This article has more information about the Jungfraujoch and things to see and do at the ‘Top of Europe’.
How to get to Grindelwald:
Grindelwald is situated 21 kilometres from Interlaken and has excellent public transport services. Regular buses and trains connect the two towns in around 35 minutes.
If you have your own vehicle, the driving time between Interlaken and Grindelwald is around 25 minutes.
Where to stay in Grindelwald:
With its popularity as a year-round holiday resort, there are plenty of accommodation options to suit all travellers in Grindelwald.
There are a large selection of holiday apartments to choose from, two camping grounds and numerous hotels, ranging from comfortable, family-run hotels to the 5* Schweizerhof.
Grindelwald certainly offers something for everyone. Whether you’re keen to try out the activities mentioned above, prefer to enjoy a gentle stroll amongst pastures dotted with alpine flowers and grazing cattle, or just sit back on a sunny terrace whilst sipping a coffee and admiring the views, you won’t be disappointed.
This article is written in conjunction with Switzerland Tourism but all words and opinions are my own.
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