Grindelwald and What to Do There
By AAA Travel Editor Michelle Palmer | June 01, 2023
Bernese Oberland is an incredible region of Switzerland and contains stunning natural wonders. Visitors can have unforgettable experiences and adventures, and among the many wonderful places to go in the Bernese Oberland is the village of Grindelwald.
The village is located in the Bernese Alps and offers the typical winter activities of skiing and sledding. Everywhere you turn, there are snowcapped mountains in the background. However, there are many other things to do in Grindelwald; you can take trains and cable car rides to the top of mountains, zipline down a mountainside and hike on trails. In the summer months, blooming wildflowers decorate the lush green fields.
Cinema buffs may recognize Grindelwald from James Bond and Star Wars. Scenes from the 1969 James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" were filmed at Schilthorn, reachable via a cable car ride. Meanwhile, the snowy Alpine mountain peaks are the same as those in Alderaan, Princess Leia's homeworld, in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."
Scenic Views from Grindelwald First Aerial Cableway
The peak of the Grindelwald mountain First can be reached via cable car. The gondola ride can seat six people and takes travelers from the base of the mountain to an altitude of over 7,000 feet. The journey up the aerial cableway takes 25 minutes and has three stops.
The first stop is Bort. Here you will find Trottibike rentals and hiking on the Gentian Trail, Flower Trail, Forest Education Trail and Sun Trail. Traveling up the mountain to the second stop is Schreckfeld. Here you can ride First Glider and rent mountain carts. You can also access the Grosse Scheidegg mountain pass and Marmot Educational Trail from the Schreckfeld station.
The last stop at the top is First. From this station, you can enjoy a hike to Lake Bachalpsee, take a stroll on First Cliff Walk and ride the First Flyer zipline. You'll also find traditional Swiss dishes at Restaurant des Berggasthaus First like raclette and schnipo (pork schnitzel with fries).
Beautiful Lake Bachalpsee is a popular activity hub at Grindelwald First. Hikers can easily reach this picturesque mountain lake from the Grindelwald First cable car station. The trail is not quite 2 miles and takes about an hour. To avoid crowds and for the best lighting for photos, go in the morning.
On the way to Lake Bachalpsee, you'll see sweeping views of snow-covered mountain peaks, and you will likely run into some Swiss cows, though you shouldn't approach them. In summer, there are grass fields with blooming wildflowers.
If you time it right, you can pack a lunch and have what will be the most scenic picnic of your life. On still, bright days, the lake is an almost perfect mirror of the surrounding peaks. Even when conditions are not perfect, the views are amazing, and in peak travel periods, crowds do not detract from just how stunning this area can be.
First Cliff Walk presented by Tissot
First Cliff Walk is an elevated walkway built at the top of First offering breathtaking views that otherwise would be unattainable. One of these views is from the lookout platform that stretches out over the valley below, offering spectacular panoramas.
The walkway runs around the mountain face before ending near Restaurant des Berggasthaus First. Access to First Cliff Walk is free and takes about 15 minutes.
First Flyer (First Flieger)
First Flyer is a zipline that features four cables that connect First to Schreckfeld. Participants are secured into a harness before soaring down the mountainside reaching speeds up to 52 miles per hour. The zipline conveniently ends near the Schreckfeld station.
On your journey down, enjoy the views of lush green grass beneath you and the snow-capped mountains surrounding First. That is, unless it's ski season, when snow surrounds you every which way but up.
The lines get long at this popular attraction, so budget your time for a wait. Also, don't carry anything unnecessary with you on the day you plan to take the First Flyer. Most bags are not permitted on the zipline, so you will have to store them and pick them up after your flight.
First Mountain Cart
Mountain carts are a fun and exhilarating way down the mountain — reminiscent of a more extreme version of riding a Big Wheel down a hill. The carts are gravity-powered tricycles with big rubber wheels.
You will drive down 1.9 miles of mountain trails, sometimes with steep drop-offs, so this activity isn't for everyone. The trail is a mix of gravel, pavement and grass block pavers. Your journey on the cart starts at the Schreckfeld station and descends to the next stop, Bort.
Participants must be a minimum of 4.4 feet tall and capable of steering the cart and using the brakes. Only one person is permitted per cart. Mountain carts are typically available from May through October, depending on weather and trail conditions.
Look at Grindelwald First from a bird's perspective on First Glider. This is a zipline, but instead of one person per line flying down in a sitting position, First Glider can accommodate four passengers per ride lying face down.
This adventure starts near the Schreckfeld cable car station, where you’ll be harnessed in and lifted up the nearly a half-mile up to First before being released to fly down the mountain. Riders can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour while views of the alpine gorge and surrounding mountains whiz past.
Riders must be 10 years or older, at least 4.25 feet tall and under 275 pounds. First Glider typically operates December through October, weather permitting.
First Trottibike Scooter
Trottibikes look like a scooter with bicycle wheels and handlebar brakes. The steep declines on the path can make for a thrilling descent from the Bort cable car station 2.8 miles down to the mountain base. Trottibikes are typically available May through October, and like most outdoor activities, dependent on weather and trail conditions.
On your trek down, you'll get stunning views of the mountains in the background and the rolling hills covered in green grass and wildflowers. If you prefer scenic views over an adrenaline rush, stop to take in your surroundings and capture photos to remember your vacation to Switzerland.
Trottibikes are single rider only and are available for people 4 feet and taller. Parents should take their children's abilities into account when considering this activity. The path is paved and marked, but it is also a narrow road used by cars and farm equipment. Traffic is light, but riders need to have the ability to navigate to the side to let the occasional vehicle pass.
Pfingstegg Rodelbahn (Toboggan Run)
Another mountain locale where you can find fun things to do in Grindelwald is Pfingstegg. Rodelbahn is behind the Pfingstegg cable car station at the top of the aerial cableway. It's a summer toboggan run in which two people at a time slide nearly a half-mile down the mountain on a sleigh.
On your ride down, you will have panoramic views of the nearby lush mountainsides and snow-capped peaks. Riders ages4 to 7 must ride with an adult. Roldelbahn is open July through October, weather permitting.
Grindelwald looks like a typical Swiss Alpine town with wood chalets with pitched roofs. In the village, you can see the Eiger and Wetterhorn mountains of the Alps.
You'll find that many hotels in Grindelwald feature steam baths and saunas in addition to other spa treatments, so when you feel like taking a break from skiing or hiking, book some time and get pampered.
Eiger Plus is a shopping center at the base of Eiger. Here you'll find a supermarket as well as a cheese shop, a butcher and a bakery. Restaurants in the village serve traditional and modern Swiss dishes in addition to French, Italian and Indian fare.
Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
While in Grindelwald, you should take a trip to Jungfraujoch also called the Top of Europe. Travel from the Grindewald Terminal to take the Eiger Express gondolas up to Eigergsletcher where you'll depart and board a train for the rest of the journey up to Jungfraujoch. While on the gondola, you will have fantastic views of Eiger North Face. The journey takes about an hour one way.
Among the things to do once you reach the Top of Europe, are visiting the Sphinx Observation Deck and playing at Snow Fun Park where you can ride a zipline and go snow tubing. Upon your return to Grindelwald Terminal, spend time at the shopping center finding souvenirs, browsing sportswear or having a meal at one of the eateries.
Sphinx Observation Deck
Once you've reached the Top of Europe, take the elevator up to the Sphinx Observatory. The elevator goes nearly 355 feet in 25 seconds. The observatory is a working research station, but the observation deck is open to the public.
The Sphinx Observatory, one of the highest in the world, reaches a staggering 11,716 feet above sea level. As you can probably imagine, the views are breathtaking. From the Sphinx Observation Deck, get panoramic views of the Alps, spot the Great Aletsch Glacier, and on clear days, see as far as Germany and Italy.
If you spend the morning at Jungfrauroch, consider hiking the Eiger Trail down the mountain instead of riding the train all the way down. To get to the trailhead, ride the train to Eigergleisletcher where you will find a well-marked trail that runs mostly downhill. It is about a 3-hour, 3.6-mile hike to Alpiglen, where you can grab some food and rest at a small restaurant before catching a train back to Grindelwald.
From the trail, you can see lakes, verdant pastures, Alpine flowers and a waterfall. You'll also get spectacular views of Grindelwald village, and with a pair of binoculars, you might spot some climbers ascending Eiger mountain.
It's considered an easy hiking trail, but you should still wear hiking shoes, preferably waterproof if any snow is on the ground. The trail is open from mid-June through September.
James Bond fans and those looking for a unique dining experience will enjoy Schilthorn mountain. To get there, take a train to Interlaken and transfer to a bus that will take you to the Schilthorn aerial cableway station.
Cable cars take about 30 minutes to reach the summit, where you can have a meal at Piz Gloria, a 360-degree mountain restaurant (reservations recommended). The restaurant makes a full rotation every 45 minutes, allowing diners to get views of the surrounding Alps. On clear days it's possible to see the Black Forest in Germany. Whether you eat or not, stop at the free interactive exhibit Bond World to learn James Bond trivia and facts about the filming of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
On the way down, stop midway at the Birg station. Here you can dine on American-style cuisine, walk out onto the observation deck that reaches out from the mountain and stroll along a metal walkway embedded in the side of Schilthorn. There are several hiking trails here, great for those who love to enjoy nature at their own pace, and in winter, it is a ski area that serves skiers of all levels.
The entertainment and recreation options add to the noteworthiness and will inspire you to return and experience even more of the fun things to do in Grindelwald region.
Start Your Next Vacation with AAA
AAA Travel provides peace of mind when you travel — before, during and after your vacation! Members enjoy the advantages of membership including exclusive benefits, savings, map routing and travel planning, plus additional travel needs such as AAA Travel Guides, TourBook® guides, passport photos, International Driving Permits and travel insurance. Your next vacation starts with AAA — your complete travel solution. Visit AAA.com/Travel.