As I strolled the picture-perfect gingerbread-house streets of Grindelwald in Switzerland’s Jungfrau region, the craggy and snow-covered peak of Eiger loomed above the town, surrounded by other intimidating and soaring peaks of the Swiss Alps.
Clouds and a light rain peppered the clean streets, and when the dark clouds separated to let in a golden shaft of sunlight, the biggest and brightest rainbow I had ever seen arched across the sky and the land took on a rosy golden glow.
I felt as if I had stepped into a Disney movie. Wildflowers of every color dotted the mountain meadows as friendly caramel-colored cows grazed with their delicately-ringing cowbells among the stark majesty of the Swiss Alps surrounding the entire area, Switzerland is as beautiful as all the postcards depict. It’s also full of outdoor adventure, culinary surprises, sightseeing, historical tours, and some of the easiest transportation in the world.
From high alpine hikes and heart-racing amusement parks to unique museums, dining experiences, and train excursions, the Jungfrau region is a perfect European getaway, especially during the summer.
Here’s how to spend three perfect days in Switzerland’s Jungfrau Region.
I was hosted by the Jungfrau Railroad, but all opinions are my own.
Things To Do In Jungfrau
Day 1: Jungfraujoch
The view from my cozy balcony at Bergwelt-Grindelwald Alpine Design Resort glowed with the mountains that surround the alpine village of Grindelwald. High among those peaks, a winter storm raged while the sun shone warmly in the valley.
I was headed to those peaks for a day at Jungfraujoch. Top of Europe at Jungfraujoch is one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist destinations, and at 2.1 miles above sea level, it is the highest point in Europe.
In addition to dazzling views of the surrounding Swiss Mittelland, Vosges mountains, and the impressive Aletsch Glacier, Europe’s longest glacier, Jungfraujoch offers a history of the area, a stroll through a glacier cave, and more.
Getting to this tourist destination is easier than ever, thanks to the new Eiger Express tricable gondola. A short 7-minute walk from the hotel to the Grindelwald Station for a quick train ride to the Grindelwald Terminal gives you access to the Eiger Express. From there, the gondola ride to the Eigergletscher station takes a mere 15 minutes but offers stunning aerial views of the valley and the surrounding Alps.
The Jungfrau Railway from the Eigergletscher Station through the heart of the Eiger Mountain to Europe’s highest railway station and the new gondola means you are at the site 47 minutes faster than before.
While at Jungfraujoch, don’t miss the chance to take a photo with the Swiss flag at the top of the viewing platform over the Aletsch Glacier, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore the Ice Palace at Jungfraujoch. This palace of ice through the glacier features ice sculptures of animals and scenes. It is a unique way to explore an icy world of art.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven, Europe’s highest Lindt Chocolate store, to try your hand at Lindt’s mixing machine. Learn how a chocolate bar is made and discover delicacies in the shop to take home.
Pro Tip: Get a seat reservation on the Jungfrau Railway from Eigergletscher to Jungfraujoch. Top of Europe is strongly recommended, especially when the weather is nice. Also, bring layers because Jungfraujoch guarantees snow 365 days a year. The day I went, a summer blizzard was in full effect and temperatures were below freezing.
Day 2: Grindelwald-First
Take a short walk to downtown Grindelwald Firstbahn gondola station to catch a relaxing gondola to Grindelwald-First, “The Top of Adventure.” Grindelwald First is an adventure destination in both summer and winter, but it’s known as a popular hiking area to Bachalpsee Lake or the classic long hike of Schynige Platte-Faulhorn-First, which takes 6 hours to complete among some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in Switzerland.
However, if you only have the day to spend, then start your fun with the hour-and-a-half in-and-back hike to Bachalpsee Lake, a blue jewel of beauty tucked high in the alpine region. Although the 4-mile round trip hike is rated easy to moderate, it does start with 20 minutes of uphill hiking. Once you arrive at this crystal-clear scenic lake, your screaming calves will be forgotten.
On the way back to First, test your courage with the First Cliff Walk by Tissot, a metal walkway attached to the side of a mountain cliff that ends with a viewing platform that juts 45 meters into the open skies. While a bit heart-thumping, the views of the surrounding valleys and mountains are stunning.
Grindelwald First is made up of three separate cable car stations, and if you have the heart for high-flying and speedy adventure, you can reach all three through a series of fun “rides.” The First Flieger (First Flier) is a high-speed zipline-like ride from the top First station down to the Schreckfeld Station. While fully harnessed in, up to four people can whiz down the 2,624-foot steel cable at top speeds of 50 miles per hour to get a bird’s eye view of the alpine scenery.
Once you arrive at Schreckfeld, you can fly like an eagle (while harnessed face down on an eagle-shaped “flier”) for another adrenaline-filled ride. Once you and up to four friends are harnessed safely in, the First Glider is pulled backward to the First station. Then, the eagle takes off and you fly at 50 miles per hour down the 2,600-foot cable to where you started.
Another fun, heart-pounding activity to travel from the Schreckfeld station to the third station, Bort, is to take a mountain cart down the gravel and dirt road for almost 2 miles. The mountain carts are kind of a mix between a go-kart and a bike, but don’t worry about pedaling. The downhill momentum will propel you through meadows of wildflowers, through herds of gentle cows, and around curves at speeds to your liking. You’ll have hydraulic brakes, so there’s no need to speed if you aren’t comfortable with that.
If that’s not enough adventure and adrenaline for you, you can also rent a Trottibike to return to Grindelwald proper from the third station. A Trottibike is much like the little scooters you see zipping around cities in America, but in this case, you’ll be zipping downhill on paved and unpaved portions of the road while standing upright on a wide footboard.
Pro Tip: Don’t worry. If you don’t want to race down sheer mountain roads to get back to town, you can always take the scenic gondola back. Also, be prepared for long lines for all the rides, especially during the beautiful sunny summer days.
Day 3: Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden
Train travel fanatics will have a chance to scratch off a bucket list train ride with a trip to the Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden.
After catching the Jungfrau Railway from Grindelwald to the Wilderswil train station (roughly a 25-30 minute ride), you can board the historic cogwheel train from Wilderswil straight up the mountain for a 50-minute scenic ride. Operating from May to October, the cogwheel train crosses the river Lütschine and climbs up to expansive views of Interlaken and Lake Thun, passing meadows, trees, and a few tunnels before arriving at Schynige Platte.
Located high in the alpine peaks 1.2 miles above sea level, the Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden has picturesque trails that highlight the more than 750 species of plants native to the Swiss Alps. A scientific research station and nature conservation spot, Schynige Platte’s Alpine flora includes the rare and protected Edelweiss flower, small white orchid, fragrant orchid, purple gentian, blue sow thistle, and more.
The trails around the Alpine Garden can be relatively steep, but they are well-maintained and have plenty of resting points to catch your breath. Schynige Platte also has several spectacular hiking trails, and the Daube Viewpoint hike is the easiest and shortest at 1.1 miles. The trail weaves through the meadow to a fantastic viewpoint of the surrounding lakes and peaks.
Best Hotels In Jungfrau
I was hosted at the Bergwelt-Grindelwald Alpine Design Resort, which was a 10-minute walk from the train station. In addition to expansive rooms, each room has a balcony overlooking the stunning mountains and cute little town shops. The restaurant serves up a killer breakfast buffet stocked full of Swiss pastries, local cheese, sausages, made-to-order eggs, fresh fruit, and a myriad of other options.
Besides the views and the hearty breakfast, the Fire and Ice Spa Package at Bergwelt-Grindelwald includes a dip in the Séracs (inside) and Ogiven (outside) pools but also a menu of facial therapies, a Detox and Relax Ritual, a medicinal herbal therapy and ritual, plus a variety of massages.
Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald
Another highly-rated hotel in the area is Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald. This old favorite is pet-friendly for a small charge and also boasts large balconies with a fantastic view of the mountains.
Boutique Hotel Glacier
Boutique Hotel Glacier revamped its whole look in 2018 as a true boutique hotel. With only 28 rooms, this intimate lodging has traditional rooms and suites as well as a sauna and hammam, a quiet relaxation area with waterbeds and refreshments, and an open-air hot tub, which is heated year-round under the view of the mighty Eiger.
Best Places To Eat In Jungfrau
For a true culinary adventure, plan a dinner at Hotel Glacier in Grindelwald for a 3, 5, or 7-course surprise tasting menu curated by Chef Robert Steuri. The small, beautifully-plated dishes are dependent on the seasons and include items that are dry-aged, smoked, or fermented. Besides being some of the prettiest food you’ll ever eat, the tasting menu can sometimes take more than a month to prepare, and the restaurant itself has earned 15 GaultMillau points.
We had the three-course menu (which comes with numerous items per course) and that was more than enough food!
On your day of adventure at Grindelwald First, grab lunch on the terrace of the Berghaus at First’s mountain inn, where you can enjoy a selection of curated coffee and tea, local beer, cocktails, and a menu that highlights both Swiss foods and experimental fare. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy the nearly 360-degree views of the surrounding areas.
One of Interlaken’s famous restaurants is also a fun adventure. Get ready for a high-altitude dinner at Harder Kulm.
From Wilderswil, take a short rail ride to Interlaken and stroll to the Harder Kulm funicular station. Harder Kulm is a casual panorama restaurant that looks down upon Lake Brienz and Lake Thun in Interlaken with 360-degree views. Designed to look like a castle, this restaurant is only accessible by cable car funicular.
The funicular, which is more than 100 years old, departs every 10 minutes from the valley station and is a thrilling, yet calm, ride to the top. While at Harder Kulm, watch the sunset while sipping on a sunset-colored Aperol Spritz or a pint of local beer before filling your belly with such dishes as cheese fondues, raclette (basically melted delicious gooey cheese on a plate served with potatoes), the ever-popular wiener schnitzel, and bratwurst.
Of course, the restaurant at the Bergwelt-Grindelwald Hotel is famous among locals and visitors alike. At BG’s Grill, award-winning Chef Marcus G. Lindner serves up traditional Swiss “soul food” like ragout with potatoes and leek, Alpstein Swiss Chicken, a variety of specialty-cut steaks, beef, and strawberry basil ice cream for dessert.
The neighboring Hotel PINTE is the oldest hotel in Grindelwald but is now part of the Bergwelt-Grindelwald. A local favorite, this restaurant offers dishes like red lentil and quail breast soup, veal liver with a tabil butter sauce, a saddle of lamb with pistachio potatoes, local vegetables, and homemade Apfelstrudel (apple strudel).
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