16 Things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland in the Winter
Seeking out the best things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland in the winter? We finally made it to Switzerland! After traveling all over Europe, we had avoided traveling extensively in Switzerland. The main reason being that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world to travel in. However, the iconic Alps covered in snow were calling us – so we bit the bullet.
We love to snowboard, so it’s only natural we head to Switzerland while venturing around Europe. Switzerland is well known for its access to the Alps and world-class ski resorts. Our first stop in the country was at the heart of Swiss tourism, Grindelwald.
Grindelwald lies in the Jungfrau Region and is only a short train ride up from Interlaken, the stomping ground and adventure capital for almost every tourist in the country.
Grindelwald is a lot more than just stunning vistas; it’s also an adventure sports hub. There are plenty of adventures to be found in Grindelwald, Interlaken, and the greater Jungfrau region. It’s primed for adventure sports and those looking to explore the spectacular mountain range. Here are our favorite things to do in Grindelwald in the winter.
Things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland in the Winter
1. Ski/Snowboard at One of the Many Resorts
The highlight of winter in the Jungfrau region and Grindelwald has to be the ski and snowboard opportunities in the area. 213 kilometers of pistes that are divided into three areas equals pure bliss. There is Grindelwald First, Grindelwald-Wengen, and Mürren-Schilthorn which is accessed only via a train.
Most may head to Switzerland to take in the breathtaking landscapes, but we were after some fresh snow and great terrain. If you’re heading to Switzerland to ski or snowboard, make sure to check out our packing list. Continue reading for the low down on the Grindelwald ski resorts.
1.1: Grindelwald First
On our first day in Grindelwald we took the gondola up to Grindelwald First. Grindelwald First can only be accessed from Grindelwald Village, and it provides stunning views of the Bernese Alps. The gondola is the only way up to the mountain unless you’re looking for a long hike, popular in summer.
The North Face of Eiger was shrouded in clouds, and we were afraid we would face the same fate, but as the sun rose, the clouds dissipated, and we were treated to the amazing views of a stunning mountain range.
A highlight of our day was the run down from Oberjoch back to Grindelwald; it’s an intermediate run that stretches over 8km long. It’s well known for being one of the best intermediate runs around and any novice snowboarder or skier should give it a try. The ski area has about 50kms of pistes with several off-piste opportunities. One of which includes a ski route from the resort’s highest lift of Oberjoch down to Schilt. (Check out trail map)
Grindelwald First is most popular with snowboarders. The area has two snowparks – a beginner run off of Oberjoch and the more extensive White Elements freestyle park, a superpipe at Shrekford and a terrain park near the Bargelegg lift. When you’re done skiing for the day, don’t take the gondola down; the ski down from the top of the mountain is super fun and cruisy.
The central ski area has around 100km of ski pistes, and the vast majority of them are rated as intermediates. The ski resort is now easily accessible thanks to the new tricable Eiger Express gondola, which gets skiers up to the Eiger Glacier station in 15 minutes.
There are a plethora of long intermediate runs here. It’s great for families or novices not looking to tackle some of Switzerland’s massive ski resorts and crazy terrain. It’s the most extensive section of the ski area, and you get the unique opportunity to take a train back up to the mountaintop from three different rail stops along the mountain.
We didn’t get to explore this village on our winter trip, but we have been in the summer season and can say the views are out of this world. It’s well known for being a quaint and beautiful village with amazing views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
The resort has many challenging runs but is small in size. Most notably, it is credited with being the birth of modern skiing and held the first slalom race ever in 1922.
There are 56 km of ski pistes and 13 lifts running in the area, with the most amazing views from the top of the Schilthorn. Mürren-Schilthorn is great for those looking for steep slopes and quick adrenaline rushes for snowboarders. When you are done you could ski all the way down to Murren, which would be a long but epic run into town.
The village of Murren is only accessible by cable car.
2. Learn About The Velogemel
If it’s your first time in Switzerland, one of the best things to do in Grindelwald is experience the Velogemel. On our first evening in the region, we tried something unique to only Grindelwald, the Velogemel.
You’re probably wondering what a Velogemel is because we were too on our arrival. A Velogemel is a wooden “bike” with two small sled edges instead of tires. It’s a crazy idea initially designed for the local postmen going door to door in the snow years ago. You can read all about the story here.
An idea that tourists and locals are more than welcome to try themselves. We had a blast riding a wood bike down the sledge run at night. It’s also not too hard on the legs, so if you’ve already been skiing on the mountain, it’s a fun nighttime activity for friends and family.
The “bikes” can be rented during the day or night to be used on the sledge trails from the train station or Kaufmann Sport. You can take the mountain bus up to Bussalp and use the tracks there with your Velogemal.
3. Scream Down the First Flyer (First Flieger)
We’ve seen a lot of cool things included in our lifts tickets while skiing, but the First Flyer is a one and only. That’s right, included in the Grindelwald First lift ticket is an option to go screaming down the slopes, not on skis or a board, but in a harness going down an 800-meter zip line.
You can either opt for the classic harness in which you sit upright or hang like an eagle above the mountain below. The advantage of riding the flyer in the winter is almost no lines. We’ve visited in the summer too, and the experience can draw quite a crowd. This is one of the best things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland, in the winter.
4. Savor Cheesy Fondue
There could not be a more fitting place to give fondue a try than in the Swiss Alps. Fondue in Switzerland is a rite of passage and one of the most traditional forms of dining.
It’s possible to find fondue in the summer season for tourists, but it’s actually a winter tradition and dish. If you’re not familiar with fondue, it’s fresh local cheese melted into a large communal pot that you dip small pieces of bread. In America, we have our own version that uses different meats and vegetables, but in Switzerland, it’s almost a Swiss fact that you use strictly bread (and a few drinks with great company).
5. Venture Around Wengen
credit: Jungfrau Region
This car-free village is a popular stop year-round. It sits above the neighboring Lauterbrunnen valley and offers jaw-dropping views out to Switzerland’s tallest waterfall. It’s a charming village that is buzzing with people in the winter looking to hit the slopes.
You can access Wengen from the Kleine Scheidegg mountain pass. There is a train that will take you into town. After you take another train and head into Lauterbrunnen for some sightseeing.
6. Catch the Ski World Cup
A highlight of the winter is the world-famous Lauberhorn World Cup Race. Its origin goes back to 1930, and it is the world’s fastest and longest downhill race. The world-famous run includes a cliff jump in which skiers fly through the air up to 60m. It draws a massive crowd and is sure to be a spectacle. Just make sure to book in advance as tickets and accommodation are usually sold out.
If you aren’t big on skiing or snowboarding, then the area of Jungfrau may be the world capital of sledding, or sledging, or tobogganing. You can call it anything you want!
You can take the world’s longest sled run in Grindelwald. The “Big Pintenfritz” will have sledgers pulling their sled behind them for 2.5 hours until they reach the start on the Faulhorn (2680 m above sea level. In 15km the run drops nearly 1600m! Don’t worry about bringing the gear as you can easily rent a helmet, goggles, and sled if need be. You can read more about it here, but it’s certainly not for the every day tourist.
Some of the more popular routes are the Fox Run, or enjoy sledging diversity on Männlichen. The Eiger Run is a fun and popular one to enjoy at night. You are truly spoilt for choice, and we’re sure you’ll have fun with whatever you decide to do.
Several shops in the villages offer rentals as well as ski shops at the top of Kleine Scheidegg. If you rent your sled at the top of the mountain, ask the shop beforehand as many allow you to ride down and drop the sled off at the train station. We highly recommend giving sledges a try as they’re a blast for everyone. Hint* The metal sleds go much faster than the plastic ones.
8. Shop Until You Drop
Are you visiting Grindelwald, Switzerland around Christmas and need to go shopping? There is no shortage of places to go shopping in town, or you can get a greater selection in Interlaken. It’s one of the main pass times for those who are not hitting the slopes.
Of course, style plays a pretty important factor in your winter weather gear! If you’re looking for that perfect photo on top of a mountain, you want to look your best.
9. Enjoy a Winter Hike
For those who like to keep their feet firmly on the ground, there are a countless number of hiking trails around the Jungfrau region that are open year-round. While wintertime trails are limited, they still have several groomed trails that allow for wonderful winter hikes in skis, snowshoes, or hiking boots. A great winter hike is from First to Bort. It’s a three-hour tour that provides the most amazing views. You can see more information on winter hiking in Grindelwald here.
10. Get Yourself on a Snowshoe Trail
There are 18 snowshoe trails to explore from Grindelwald. Almost all of them are sure to provide stunning mountain views in a serene Swiss valley. You can check out this site for information on the snowshoe hikes in the area. Some of the best trails to enjoy are the Murren snowshoe trail and the Holensteign Brandegg trail. You can rent snowshoes at the Intersport in town.
11. Take in the Views of Grindelwald, Switzerland
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you are in the region, but the views are going to be breathtaking. There is a good reason that Jungfrau is one of the most popular spots in Switzerland. It’s for the jaw-dropping mountain views, so make sure to bring a good travel camera.
12. Scare Yourself on the First Cliff Walk
If you want to brave your fear of heights, take the Grindelwald First Gondola up to the First Cliff Walk. It’s a death-defying structure that allows visitors to walk out on a cliff with nothing below. First Cliff Walk lies at the top of the Grindelwald First Gondola and is open year-round. If you’re looking for the best view in the region, you may have found it – just don’t look down!
13. Head up to Jungfraujoch
It’s the top of Europe! Well, at least that’s how Jungfraujoch is advertised. It may not actually be the top of Europe or even the highest point in Switzerland, but it is the highest train you can take in Europe. It’s also the highest point one can easily reach as a tourist with views over an expansive 22km long glacier.
The train ride and top station have been attracting tourists since the 1800s. In fact, it was first constructed due to the demand from the English aristocracy seeking to venture higher and higher into the mountains. An idea that was first thought of as hair-brained was dreamed up by Adolf Guyer-Zeller.
He lived to see his idea through and began ferrying passengers up to the top of the mountain range. The mountaintop now offers a full visitor experience. There is a museum, walking trail, chocolate experience, restaurant, ice cave, and one of the best views in Europe. The amazing structure at the top is called the Sphinx and looks straight out of a James Bond movie. Sure, it may be one of the most touristy things to do in Switzerland, but there is a good reason for that!
14. The Bond Experience
Speaking of Bond, did you know you can enjoy a beautiful place in Switzerland where a James Bond movie was actually filmed? The Schilthorn is almost 3000 meters and is the highest mountain in the range. You can take a series of cable cars to the very top and eat at the Piz Gloria.
The Piz Gloria was prominent in the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There is quite a thrilling ski scene where the cast ski down a black ski run that leads down to the Engetal below Birg. Up here you can also see the 007 Walk of Fame and enjoy the interactive Bond World 007. It’s a great thing to do in Grindelwald for big James Bond fans.
15. Birg Thrill Walk
credit: Jungfrau Region
After you are done at the Schilthorn, head down to Birg to enjoy the Birg Thrill Walk. This is a steep glass-floored path around the cliff. From here you get fantastic views of the Eiger and Jungfrau peaks. Afterward, warm up with a hot chocolate at the Bistro Birg.
16. Take a Stroll Around Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen is one of the best places to visit in all of Europe in the winter. Technically it’s not one of the best things to do in Grindelwald as it’s about a 25-minute drive to get here from Grindelwald. Alternatively, you could use public transport to get up to Kleine Scheidegg and then take the train back down to Lauterbrunnen.
Once in the village, you’ll have expansive views down the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Lauterbrunnen is most famous for Staubbach Falls, less than one km from the village center. This waterfall is 297 meters high, making it the highest free-falling waterfall in Switzerland. Once in town, you’ll get the elusion that the waterfall is literally flowing into town. You can easily walk to the base of the waterfall to enjoy!
How To Get to Grindelwald, Switzerland
We set up our base as Grindelwald as we came for snowboarding. The little mountain village provides perfect access to the ski areas and numerous hiking trails. High above Grindelwald lies the Bernese Alps and a famous mountain face. That mountain is Eiger’s notorious North Face.
The village has a long main road and plenty of accommodation options to handle a large number of tourists that make the journey up the valley from Interlaken. We found that Grindelwald lacks the charm that the surrounding villages have such a Gimmelwald, Murren, or Wengen, but it does provide amazing access to the mountains. That being said, coming from North America, Grindelwald will still surely steal your heart. You can get to Grindelwald by car or train.
If you’re renting a car in Switzerland, you can easily drive to Grindelwald. First you’ll have to go to Interlaken. The drive up via Grindelwaldstrasse will take you about 25-30 minutes, but you likely won’t notice as the drive is so breathtaking. Keep in mind that there aren’t many places to park in Grindelwald, and nearly everywhere charges a pretty penny to park, including hotels.
Any train to Grindelwald will have to be connected to Interlaken. Trains run to the train station Grindelwald Terminal often. It’s centrally located in town close to many accommodation options.
Things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland Map
Where to Stay in grindelwald
Featured Property: The Aspen
The Aspen Hotel is our favorite place to stay in all of Grindelwald. It’s located up the hill away from town and provides stellar views over the valley. This is a family-run luxury property with a beautiful spa, outdoor hot tub, and a gorgeous restaurant.
How to Travel Around Switzerland
After enjoying all these things to do in Grindelwald in the winter you’ll need to plan your next Swiss destination. You can explore the country a number of ways.
Train travel doesn’t get any easier than in Switzerland. The country has an incredibly efficient rail network that can get you pretty much anywhere – even in the mountain towns. This is the only way we have ever traveled to Switzerland and it’s very enjoyable. Eurail passes work well in Switzerland, as you can purchase a Swiss Rail Pass for extensive travel. Without these passes, you’ll want to book all your train travel in advance or you could pay a premium on the train. Make sure to be on time – punctuality is key in Switzerland!
For such a small country it’s interesting that Switzerland has three major international airports: Zurich, Geneva and Basel, It’s also possible to fly into Milan, Frankfurt, Munich, and Lyon travel right into Switzerland.
If you want freedom and flexibility you’ll need to get your own rental car in Switzerland. Some car rental comparison sites are:
My favorites to look at are:
Switzerland Travel Planning Resources
Packing Guide — Check out our Europe Packing Guide to help pack your bags and ensure you don’t leave anything at home.Rent a Car — We suggest most visitors consider renting a car for the best trip possible. Try Discover Car Hire to compare quotes from different rental agencies. Check Price Here!Protect Your Trip — Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance! We always carry travel insurance to protect from injury, theft, or a canceled trip. Try World Nomads for competitive short term plans. Read a review of World Nomads here.Tours in Switzerland— Check out our list of the best tours you can enjoy in Switzerland!Travel Adapter – Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
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