We left our Switzerland planning until the last minute, thinking that it would be easy to find accommodation in September. As it turns out, plenty of Europeans holiday at this time and we had to change our itinerary. One feature I insisted on seeing was the Swiss Alps. We chose the glacier village of Grindelwald for a short visit.
Located in the Schwarze Lutschine Valley at the foot of the Eiger mountain, Grindelwald is connected to Interlaken by the Bernese Oberland Railway. In winter this area is a snow-lovers paradise for skiing, snowboarding and sledding. But it offers excellent hiking, sporting and viewing opportunities in the warmer months as well. Visitors can take the cog railway to Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch, which is considered the "top" of Europe, and the longest cable car in Europe goes from Grindelwald Grund to the Mannlichen hiking area.
Other excursions are also possible, but we chose to take the six-seater Firstbahn gondola with access to Bort, Schreckfeld and First. We rode backwards to enjoy the views of the upper and lower Grindelwald glaciers and the 4,000 metre peaks of Finsteraarhorn and Schreckhorn as we ascended. The most noticeable sound for us was made by the many cowbells clanging below.
Reaching the top, we found ourselves at the start of the many hiking trails originating from First. Of the 76 hikes in this region, 100 kilometres of these are accessible from First, including some suitable for handicapped people and guided hikes. We chose the trail to Lake Bachalpsee, a very easy (two hour return) hike leading to the lake with views of the Bernese Alps in the background. This is a natural Alpine lake that has been generating electricity for the district since 1901.
When we returned, we prepared ourselves for our first ever ziplining experience! The First Flyer features four parallel zip lines that allow passengers to take the 800 metre journey to Schreckfeld seated - and at speeds of 84 km an hour! I managed to make a video of part of the ride.
It is also possible to take scooter-bikes down the four and a half kilometre path back to Grindelwald from Bort, but we elected to have a snack at Schreckfeld before returning to town on the gondolas. Visitors will find restaurants at First and Schreckfeld. At Bort there is also a restaurant and a fun playground for children.
This was an easy day out from Grindelwald, giving us a taste of the Alps in Switzerland. Visitors staying longer should purchase the Jungfraubahnen Pass, which is good for six consecutive days of unlimited travel on the scenic train and gondola routes in the region. Grindelwald is still a great place for longer stays, with many activities including an indoor pool, ice skating rink, climbing opportunities and spas. We also enjoyed the many restaurants and shops in the village.
We purchased a combination ticket for this adventure, which included the gondola ride (return journey) and the First Flyer for CHF 75 per person (the First flyer alone is CHF 25) and for CHF 79 you can experience the trott (scooter) bikes too. For more information about visiting the Swiss Alps, check out the Jungfrau website.
Have you visited the Alps? What's your favourite spot?