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marianne Grindelwald - A travel report by Marianne
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Grindelwald,  Switzerland - flag Switzerland
6738 readers

marianne's travel reports

Grindelwald and the Jungfrau

  13 votes
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Grindelwald is popular both in summer and winter. Its proximity to the Jungfrau and the many ski lifts, ski slopes and hiking trails make it an ideal place to stay for a longer time.


Grindelwald: Popular in winter
Grindelwald: Popular in winter
Grindelwald in winter may seem an unusual destination for non-skiers. That's what I thought when we boarded the train from Interlaken-Ost, full of anorak-clad sporty looking people. They had deposited their skis in the ski racks, and looked out of the window through their wrap-around sunglasses. When I looked down I saw a large variety in boots. These were the clue to skiers and non-skiers. Skiers wore rigid boots, colourful but not meant for walking. Non-skiers wore hiking boots, drab coloured, but comfortable. The skiers outnumbered the non-skiers. That's why I was happy to see that there were other hiking boot wearers beside us.

Grindelwald is a mountain village (altitude 1034m) at the foot of the Eiger and surrounded by other well-known mountains Jungfrau, Wetterhorn and Schreckhorn. It is a touristy-place and perfectly fits the stereotype Swiss mountain village image: main street with (souvenir) shops, restaurants, more hotels and guesthouse than inhabitants. Weathered wooden chalets are scattered across the slopes in a perfectly picturesque way. Grindelwald's best recommendation is the spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.

It is easily reached by train from Interlaken-Ost and also accessible by car and bus. Therefore it is more crowded than car-free Wengen and Mürren. There are two stations, Grindelwald-grund for the cablecar to Männlichen and also a stop for the Kleine Scheidegg and then on to Jungfraujoch. Grindelwald main station is in the village centre.

The tourist Information is down the main street in the sports centre on the right. We found them very helpful.

Grindelwald is both a summer and winter destination. I read that there are 44 ski-lifts and 200 km of ski slopes, which is sufficient for quite a few day, I suppose. We were here late January and found the village not crowded at all. I am sure it is full of people other times of the year.

Favourite spots:
Boots galore
Boots galore
Jungfraujoch is a windswept mountain pass at 3454m and promoted as The Top of Europe. It is also the highest train station in Europe. With over 4000 visiters a day in the high season it must also be the most crowded summit in Europe.

The only way to get there is by taking the Jungfraubahn. As far as I know this train is Switzerland's most popular one and consequently filled to capacity most time of the year, but not during our trip in January. There were lots of empty seats and I could move from the left to the right side for the best views.

What I know for certain is that it is the one of the most expensive stretches of railway. Therefore it is worth investing in one of the many railpasses SBB (Swiss Rail) offers. We had a Half Fare Card and paid CHF 79 (€ 48) for a return ticket Grindelwald – Jungfraujoch. At this price it is obvious that it is only worth going in clear weather.

The Tourist Information Centre shows live TV pictures of the weather at the top on.

What's really great:
Kleine Scheidegg
Kleine Scheidegg
The Jungfraubahn coils up across pastures snow-clad in winter and full of flowers in spring. It is a 30-min journey from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg where we changed trains.

Kleine Scheidegg is a settlement that consists of a hotel, a mountain lodge, a station, some restaurants, ski and snowboarding school, the inevitable souvenir and hordes of tourists waiting for the train to Jungfraujoch. It is directly below the Eiger with spectecular views of its soaring north face. Many skiers got off at this point and started to ski down. I was told that the skiing is good. The friendly lady in the tourist information assured me that hiking in summer was very rewarding and easy because the routes are sign-posted and graded (easy moderate or hard).

More routes:
www.walkingswitzerland.com

Weather check:
www.swisspanorama.com


Sights:
Windswept Jungfraujoch
Windswept Jungfraujoch
The second stretch of the Jungfraubahn is less interesting because all 50 mins of this part of journey is through a tunnel and consequently no views.

There are two stops on the way up. The first at Eigerwand (2865m). All passengers get out and file past look-out windows hewn out in the North Eiger face. It is also the station here rescuers disembark to help stranded climbers. Next stop is the Ice Lake (3160m) another vantage point. Final destination is Jungfraujoch at 3454m in between the Monch and Jungfrau and cloaked in perpetual snow and ice.

Top of Europe consists of a five-storey complex and comprises a train station, several restaurants, viewing platforms and a weather station.

When getting off the train move about slowly because you may suffer from a slight stroke of mountain sickness, which shows in a head ache, dizziness and weariness. Another symptom is decreased appetite, which may be a blessing as prices in the restaurants are sky high.

Accommodations:
Wide views
Wide views
Inside this complex you will find; the ice palace and ice sculptures, an exhibition of the history of the Jungfraubahn, an audiovisual show, 4 restaurants, souvenir shops and a post office. Philatelists send themselves post cards because Jungfraujoch has its own post code and postmark including date and altitude. These stamped post cards are collector's items.

The best view is from the Spynx hall and reached via a high speed lifts which whisks you up to 3571m (and waiting times of over an hour in the high season).

True to say that the view is spectacular.It is easy to leave the crowds behind as you walk across the snow along marked trails, but walking at this altitude is strenuous so you may not get very far.

In summer there are two sledge teams with 12 husky dogs each. They have lived here for over 70 years and came originally from Greenland.

Nightlife:
Grindelwald views
Grindelwald views








Remains one question: Was the trip to Jungfraujoch worth it?

My answer is evasive; I might go again as far as Kleine Scheidegg in summer but I will never go for a second time all the way to Jungfraujoch.

Why?

Because;

* The 50-min train ride is through a tunnel, no views
* The Top of Europe is a tourist circus, overflowing with tour groups
* Many attractions are inside
* The train trip is expensive, even with a train pass


If it is European superlatives you are after Top of the World is your place.

* best views
* longest glacier
* highest railway station
* highest ice palace
* highest weather station
* highest post office
* most expensive railway trip

Hangouts:
Grindelwald village
Grindelwald village
There is no shortage of accommodation in Grindelwald: 48 hotels, 1250 chalets, 1805 hostels / mountain huts and 4 camp grounds. I can only imagine what the village looks in summer.

When registering at any accommodation every guest will reveive a guest card, which entitles you to free or reduced fares / entrance fees e.g. sports centre, ski bus and escorted hikes in summer are free.

This large choice of accommodation made it difficult for us where to stay. We went to the tourist office who gave us a print-out of available accommodation and prices both in CHF and Euro.


Restaurants:
Lehmann's Herberge
Lehmann's Herberge




We stayed in Lehmann's Herberge a charming bed & breakfast, run by a young couple. Housed in a traditional chalet and located in the main street 7-min walk from the station, it offers comfortable rooms with spectecular view of the valley and the Eiger.

Our room was spacious enough, had a double bed and a bunkbed, a balcony and an attached small bathroom. The communal area is fitted with a pay-phone, table and chairs, small fridge, microwave, electric kettle, crockery and cutlery, tin opener and free tea and coffee. An excellent place to prepare simple meals.

The breakfast room doubles as a lounge and has comfy chairs. An excellent breakfast, cereal, chees, meats, croissants, is included inthe room price € 90, very good value for money.

Other recommendations:
Grindelwald travelogue picture
Grindelwald offers endless opportunities for exploring the mountains. One of them is a trip by the First bahn which rises in three stages to 2168m, to a restaurant with spectacular views. From here there are several wander routes. One of them leads back to Grindelwald in 2h 30 mins.

The Firstbahn is of the gondola type, six persons sit inside. A return ticket will set you back €30 (half of this if you have one of the rail passes).

In summer this trip is very popular judging from the sign at the entrance which said: waiting time from this point 2 hours. But if you come in the low season many gondolas go up empty.

Published on Saturday February 24th, 2007


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Sat, Mar 10 2007 - 05:59 PM rating by eirekay

Marianne, terrific report ~ I enjoy your contrast between the stylish skiers and practical non-skiers! Great pictures! Sounds like a wonderful trip!
Eire

Sun, Mar 04 2007 - 10:58 PM rating by magsalex

Great report with some wonderful views.

Tue, Feb 27 2007 - 06:13 AM rating by downundergal

A nicely balanced report full of some great travellers tips - I can't believe what a circus this area seems to have turned into. When I visited there waaay back in 1995 it was not like that at all.

Sun, Feb 25 2007 - 09:44 PM rating by rangutan

Absolutely great, breathtaking stuff!

Sat, Feb 24 2007 - 04:12 PM rating by mistybleu

An enjoyable read; I could see all this snow around me and not yearn for a pair of skis.

All the best

Amanda

Sat, Feb 24 2007 - 02:37 PM rating by travler

What could be better than skiing in a place like this. It sounds wonderful

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