As the birthplace of the first ever ski race and the first Alpine World Ski Championships, it’s not surprising that the Jungfrau region offers some of the best skiing in Switzerland. However, there are a host of things to do in Switzerland in winter, and particularly in the Jungfrau region, for both skiers and non-skiers.
I’m fortunate to have enjoyed many visits to the Jungfrau region during the summer months but winter is also a great time to visit typically Swiss alpine villages like Lauterbrunnen and Murren and the popular ski resort of Grindelwald, to try out the many winter activities in Switzerland’s premier alpine region.
The Jungfrau Ski Region comprises of three ski areas - Grindelwald-First, Grindelwald-Wengen and Mürren-Schilthorn - where skiers can enjoy 266 kilometres of pistes and 70 kilometres of cross country ski slopes. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Swiss Alps.
All the slopes are connected and all of the mountain restaurants can be reached by foot, ski or cable car which makes it easy for families as they can go up to the top of the mountain together, enjoy different activities and meet for lunch somewhere in the area.
You can see the different resorts on the Jungfrau Region Ski map below.
For non-skiers, the region offers 150 kilometres of sledding/toboggan and hiking trails, and 40 kilometres of snowshoe trails.
There are also plenty of non-snow-based activities that young and old can experience. Read on for more info.
Things to do in Interlaken in winter
For a base convenient to the Jungfrau region ski resorts, Interlaken is a great bet. As the biggest town in the region, there are plenty of things to do in Interlaken in winter but skiing remains one of the most popular.
The Jungfrau region ski resorts near Interlaken, Switzerland include Grindelwald, Wengen, and Mürren. You can read more about the winter activities available at each resort below.
Interlaken is a popular holiday destination year-round and as the starting point for the Interlaken to Jungfrau train, reaching the region’s main attractions like the Jungfraujoch, and the nearby ski resorts, is easy.
Visitors to Interlaken during winter can also enjoy the Top of Europe ICE MAGIC, a skating experience held in the centre of town. From mid-December until mid-February, Interlaken is transformed into a winter wonderland with numerous ice rinks connected by a 450-metre-long ice runway.
Wooden chalets are set up for the town’s winter market beside the ice runway and serve a range of Swiss culinary treats, as well as renting ice skates.
There’s also the chance to drive electric go-karts on a purpose-built track or try your hand at curling.
Things to do in Grindelwald in winter
Grindelwald (1034 metres above sea level) offers some of the best skiing in Switzerland and the town caters to all levels of skier and snowboarder, as well as providing plenty of activities to keep non-skiers entertained.
It is the largest of the ski resorts in the Jungfrau Ski Region with a permanent population of 3,800.
Skiing and Snowboarding at Grindelwald-First
Ski enthusiasts can choose from two ski areas surrounding Grindelwald – Grindelwald-First and Kleine Scheidegg-Mannlichen.
The Grindelwald-First snow park is suitable for both beginners and advanced skiers and features 60 kilometres of prepared slopes and a popular half pipe course.
Getting there: Grindelwald-First is reached by cable car from Grindelwald.
Kleine Scheidegg-Mannlichen, located at the foot of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, is the starting point for the annual Lauberhorn World Cup Downhill race. Over 100 kilometres of slopes and 30 kilometres of toboggan runs draw the crowds to this popular ski area.
Getting there: Kleine Scheidegg-Mannlichen is reached by either rack railway or cable car from both Grindelwald and Wengen. (Kleine Scheidegg is on the railway line from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch.)
The ideal area for beginners, BodmiARENA is located right in the centre of Grindelwald. As well as offering how-to-ski lessons for beginners, sledging and snowtubing are also available.
Other winter activities in Grindelwald
For those looking to enjoy some winter hiking, Grindelwald offers excellent trails at both Mannlichen-Kleine Scheidegg and the Bachalpsee trail at First.
There are 40 kilometres of winter footpaths suitable for hiking and tobogganing, all with stunning views of the north face of the imposing Eiger.
Faulhorn is where you’ll find the start of Europe’s longest sled run, Big Pintenfritz. After a hike from First (approximately two hours) you can jump aboard a sled for the 15 kilometre run from Faulhorn down to Grindelwald.
Other winter activities in Grindelwald include both indoor and outdoor curling, night sledding at Kleine Scheidegg (catch the train from Grindelwald), snow-shoeing and the Cliff Walk and First Flyer zip line (which I wrote about here).
Rides on the First Flyer are included in the Ski pass. Winter operating dates are from the end of November until the end of March, daily from 12 noon until 3.30pm.
For five days each January, Grindelwald hosts the annual World Snow Festival where international artists create sculptures out of metre-high blocks of snow in the village centre.
A panel of judges then decides the winner based on a number of criteria.
Those with a need for speed can try out Velogemel, a single-track, steerable and fast sled that has been a wintertime mode of transport for Grindelwald locals since 1911.
Each February, the Velogemel World Championships take place in Grindelwald. If you happen to be visiting Grindelwald during the event, why not join in? Anyone can participate.
One of the best day excursions is to catch the train from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station. (Read on for more details on the Jungfrau mountain train).
Grindelwald hotels and apartments
As the largest ski resort in the region, there are around 50 hotels to choose from in Grindelwald as well as many apartments. The only 5* hotel in the region can be found in Grindelwald.
Things to do in Mürren in winter
Mürren might be the smallest of the Jungfrau Ski Region resorts but it still has plenty to offer as a winter holiday destination.
This car-free village of just 400 permanent residents has the longest ski season in the region and offers everything from gentle hiking trails to black ski runs down the face of the Schilthorn.
Skiing and Snowboarding at Mürren-Schilthorn
Mürren is the birthplace of ski races with the first slalom course set here in 1922 and the first World Championship in downhill and slalom taking place in 1931. It’s still just as popular with skiers today.
The Skyline SnowPark on the Schilthorn is the place to be for freeskiers and snowboarders, with lines suitable for beginners, advanced and pros.
Skiers, too, have plenty of choice on both the Schilthorn and Allmendhubel with a mix of long downhill runs and steep slopes.
Mürren-Schilthorn is the highest altitude winter sports area in the Bernese Oberland with guaranteed snow. It’s also home to the International Inferno Ski Races, which are held every January,
Getting there: Mürren-Schilthorn ski area can be reached by the Schilthorn cable car from Mürren. A funicular (rack railway) connects Mürren with Allmendhubel.
Other winter activities in Mürren
Ice skating and curling, tobogganing, hiking and snow tubing are just some of the winter activities available in Mürren village. Guests staying in Mürren can enjoy free access to the indoor sports centre which has a heated pool and sauna.
At Birg, en-route to the Schilthorn via the cable car, the Skyline Snow Experience gives you the chance to enjoy an exhilarating tube ride or whiz along a 350-metre zip line. There’s also an igloo village, including a Gastro-igloo where you can try the Swiss dish, fondue.
Even if you’re not a skier, it’s well worth a visit to Piz Gloria at the top of the Schilthorn. On a clear day you get the most stunning 360 degree views. (Read about my visit to the Schilthorn during summer here.)
This was the setting for the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and you can relive scenes from the movie in the Bond World 007 exhibition and enjoy a meal or drink in the James Bond-themed revolving restaurant.
From 1 January 2018, the journey to the Schilthorn summit will be included in the Swiss Travel Pass, the all-in-one ticket for tourists exploring Switzerland.
Where to stay in Mürren
Accommodation in Mürren is well suited to skiers and most hotels and apartments in Mürren are 3*.
Getting to Mürren: Mürren is a car-free village and can only be reached by cable car and train from Lauterbrunnen or by cable car from Stechelberg.
Things to do in Lauterbrunnen in winter
One of the most picturesque villages in Switzerland, in my opinion, Lauterbrunnen is located in a narrow valley surrounded by the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.
Its position on the valley floor means it is the ideal base for sledding, hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Lauterbrunnen is also a major station on the Interlaken to Jungfraujoch railway line.
For a truly unique experience, why not view the spectacular Swiss Alps and glaciers on a one hour helicopter flight from Lauterbrunnen? Click here to check current prices.
Accommodation in Lauterbrunnen
As it is located in the valley, Lauterbrunnen is a good option for those looking for budget accommodation. The village is home to a range of accommodation styles including hostels, apartments, hotels and even a camping ground.
Further reading: Things to do in Lauterbrunnen (in summer)
Things to do in Wengen in winter
Wengen ski resort is another car-free village and is regarded as one of the best Swiss ski resorts. With a permanent population of just 1300, the village is small enough not to overwhelm you but still offers all the facilities you’d expect in a Swiss alpine village.
Skiing and Snowboarding at Grindelwald-Wengen
Visitors to Wengen have the choice of 110 kilometres of slopes for skiing and snowboarding at Kleine Scheidegg-Mannlichen, with the cable car to Mannlichen taking just six minutes from Wengen.
The more energetic can even ski from Wengen to Grindelwald (or vice versa)!
Wengen is the home of the Lauberhorn World Cup which is held on the second weekend in January each year and draws a huge crowd.
Getting there: The Wengen ski region of Kleine Scheidegg-Mannlichen is reached by rack railway (Wengernalpbahn) from both Grindelwald and Wengen, or by cableway (Grindelwald-Männlichen Gondola and Wengen-Männlichen cable car respectively).
A ski school is conveniently located in the centre of the village for first timers to learn the basics and more experienced skiers to brush up on their skills.
Where to stay in Wengen
Wengen is home to a range of apartments and mainly 3* and 4* hotels.
Other winter activities in Wengen
Like the other ski resorts in the Jungfrau region, Wengen offers a host of winter activities including ice skating, curling and tobogganing.
For parents who’d like their youngsters to be entertained whilst they hit the slopes, a Day Nursery is available at the Tourist Centre where children up to 8 years old can be cared for.
Winter excursions to Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe
One of the most popular activities year round for visitors to the Jungfrau Region is a Jungfrau mountain visit. Reached by a train that spends much of the journey tunnelling through the mountain, the Jungfraujoch train station is the highest in Europe.
Whilst the Jungfrau ticket price is not particularly cheap, it is definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips worth doing. If you hold a Jungfrau region Skipass for 3 days or more, you can go up to the Jungfraujoch for only CHF 61.00 per person.
I recommend you ski in the morning at the Kleine Scheidegg area, deposit your skis there and do the Jungfraujoch trip in the afternoon. (or the other way around.)
At the summit there are lots of things to do – as well as superb views wherever you look.
Indoor activities include the Sphinx Observatory and the Ice Palace where ice sculptures are displayed. Outside be sure to enjoy the amazing views of the Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in the Swiss Alps.
Getting there: Jungfraujoch is open 365 days a year and can be reached by the Jungfraubahn train from Grindelwald or Wengen with connections on to Interlaken (train from Wengen goes via Lauterbrunnen).
How to reach the Jungfrau Ski Region
Interlaken is ideally located in the heart of Switzerland and is serviced by an excellent road and rail network.
Regular train services operate daily from Interlaken to Grindelwald, Wengen and Lauterbrunnen. Click here to check timetables and prices.
The Swiss Travel Pass is worth considering if you plan on using Switzerland’s public transport system to get around. It includes travel on all public trains, buses and boats in Switzerland. (Find out more here.)
If you are driving to the Jungfrau region and plan on staying in the car-free villages of Wengen or Murren, a large multi-level car park is located in Lauterbrunnen.
Ski passes and ski rental in Jungfrau Ski Region
Ski passes can be purchased at all train stations, hotel receptions or online at www.Jungfrau.ch.
There are two different passes available: Ski pass Grindelwald-Wengen includes both the First and Grindelwald-Wengen ski area, and the Ski pass Jungfrau also includes the connections down to Interlaken as well as the Murren-Schilthorn area.
Ski rental is readily available at each of the towns and villages mentioned above at Intersport stores. There’s at least one store in each village and one on each mountain top.
As the Intersport stores are part of a network, if you have any problems with your skis or ski gear you can drop into the next store and they’ll fix it, even if it’s not the store you hired your skis from.
Jungfrau Region ski season
The 2017/2018 Jungfrau Region ski season runs from:
- Grindelwald-First: 25.11.2017-02.04.2018
- Kleine Scheidegg 02.12.2017-15.04.2018
- Männlichen 16.12.2017-02.04.2018
- Mürren-Schilthorn 16.12.2017-22.04.2018
As you can see, the Jungfrau Region, Switzerland is a fabulous winter holiday destination. There are lots of winter activities and things to do in Interlaken, Grindelwald, Murren, Lauterbrunnen and Wengen for those keen on snow sports and those who'd just like to soak up the atmosphere of a Swiss winter wonderland.
All images courtesy of Jungfrau Region Tourism
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