By Scott Kendall This article may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you buy through our links.
Grindelwald is the perfect place to stay when visiting the scenic Oberland Bernese region of central Switzerland. Everywhere you look are majestic mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, and small Swiss villages. It’s so invigorating to breathe in the fresh, crisp air of the beautiful landscapes.
Outdoor adventures like hiking, biking, skiing, and other activities are very popular in this area. Nearby mountains include Eiger, Jungfraujoch, First, and Männlichen that invite you to explore the beauty of the Swiss Alpes. Add traditional food and drink, traditional dance, costumes, art, and music to the smiling faces of the friendly town folks, and Grindelwald has all the ingredients for a fabulous time for the whole family.
Grindelwald Gondola Rides
Grindelwald is well known for being a great base to visit Jungfraujoch, known as the Top of Europe, via the Eiger Express and by rail. Visitors can take the Eiger Express gondolas up to Eigergletscher and continue by rail to reach the Jungfraujoch and the Top of Europe complex. You can book a fantastic 2-day itinerary here>>
For more details about The Top of Europe trip, see my article in EuropeUpClose about The New Ultra-Modern Eiger Express to the Spectacular Jungfraujoch. There are also scenic gondola rides up to First, Mannlichen, and other mountain destinations.
First Cliff Walk by Tissot
From downtown Grindelwald, visitors can catch the gondola up to Grindelwald First, the local mountain, to check out magnificent views, exhilarating hikes, rides, and activities.
We took the 25-minute ride up the mountain on the gondola to the top to experience the First Cliff Walk by Tissot. Coming back down, we used a combination of three options available – mountain carts, standup gravity bikes, and the gondola. This is a great small group tour you can book here>>
Upon reaching the top via gondola, we walked the short distance to the First Cliff Walkway. The stable, well-constructed iron walkway hugs the side of the cliff, offering magnificent views of the surrounding waterfalls, mountains, and valleys beyond and below. I felt safe the entire time, even though the walkway is 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) high. The final platform reaches out 45 meters (148 feet) for incredible views of the Jungfrau and Eiger mountains and surrounding landscapes.
Several restaurants serve visitors at the top at First and at the gondola stations at Bort and Schreckfeld. In addition to the restaurants, there are several hiking trails, zip lines, mountain carts, and stand-up bikes available. First Flyer is a thrilling zip line for four, riding under the wings of a giant eagle at speeds up to 83 km per hour. For the more adventurous, paragliding over the mountain slopes is another option.
Carts and Stand Up Bikes
We had a great time taking the mountain carts halfway down the mountain from Schreckfeld to Bort. A mix of a go-kart cart and a sled, these fun vehicles are a hoot to ride. Bike helmets, a brief orientation before going on the ride, and efficient brakes make for an exciting but controlled and safe ride. Riders go at whatever speed they are comfortable with and can pull off to the side to admire the views or to take photographs and videos of the spectacular views.
At Bort some of us traded our mountain carts for stand-up bikes. Like the carts, these bikes have no motor or pedals and operate solely on gravity. From Bort, we traveled down the rest of the mountain into the town of Grindelwald on the bikes. Although it took a while, I soon felt more comfortable on the bike. The mountain views were spectacular going down the mountain were spectacular. We arrived at the rental return in town just in time, as raindrops had just started to fall as we entered the facility.
The Grindelwald Museum is a small but informative community museum next to the Reformed Church on the east side of town. Exhibits and photos do a great job of describing the agricultural roots of the town as well as the evolution of Grindelwald becoming a prime spot for vacations and recreational activities.
After a large part of the village was burned in a fire in 1892, much of the town was rebuilt with a focus on recreation and tourism. Displays include an excellent video and history of the area, including a chronology of mountaineers who ascended the Eiger and other nearby mountains. Be sure to check the schedule of times when the museum is open.
Lake Bachalpsee and other Attractions
In addition to the activities already described, there are many other nearby attractions. From First, a lovely one-hour hike (one way) will lead you to the beautiful Bachalpsee Lake. Or, you can walk from downtown Grindelwald for a two-and-a-half hour (one-way) hike to the lake. Another great option is to take a different gondola up to Mannlichen and check out the Romantic Trail, the Royal Walk, and other interesting trails.
Stay at Hotel Grindelwalderhof
There are many options for lodging in Grindelwald, from high-end luxury hotels to budget choices and a wide selection of vacation rentals.
We stayed at the moderately priced Grindelwalder Hof, advertised as a modern chalet hotel. What we loved most about this clean, comfortable hotel was the magnificent view of the Eiger from our room and balcony. On several occasions, my wife and I just sat on the balcony, happy to soak in the view. An optional buffet breakfast is available in the lobby for an added charge.
Other top lodgings in the area include Hotel Belvedere, Hotel Gletschergarten, Boutique Hotel Glacier, and Central Hotel Wolter. Since Grindelwald is rather small, most lodgings are fairly centralized and within a short walk or bus ride from shopping, restaurants, the train station, and other attractions.
Eat in Grindelwald
Grindelwald also offers a wide selection of eating and drinking options. Many offer a wonderful view of the Eiger and spectacular landscapes, so we enjoyed picking out restaurants with great views. Some popular restaurants in Grindelwald include:
- Belvedere Restaurant
- Avocado Bar
- Barry’s Restaurant
There are also several grocery stores, including the convenient Coop located in the city center, where you can grab fresh fruits and vegetables, pre-packaged meals, and other typical grocery items. We also visited the Coop several mornings for a nice hot cup of coffee.
Julie and I will always remember our wonderful time in beautiful Grindelwald. We will hold dear our memories of the gorgeous views, majestic mountains, fun activities, and the friendly town folks. For the trip of a lifetime, put lovely Grindelwald, Switzerland, on your must-do list. You’ll be glad you did.
Story and photos by Scott Kendall. Thanks to Visit Switzerland for hosting our visit to beautiful First. All opinions are my own.