GUIDE TO HIKING GRINDELWALD, SWITZERLAND
You've probably seen the postcard-perfect photos from the mountains and lakes of Switzerland, lots of which will probably have been from the hikes that can be found in and around the Jungfrau region and Grindelwald. After three hiking trips to this area, I've put together everything you need to know about the best hiking routes. It's time to start planning your dream hiking holiday! This might be a trip you want to save your pennies for though, as Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries to travel around.
Fly from London to Zurich via EasyJet or Swiss Air from around £150, then you'll have three very comfortable trains to get to Grindelwald. It sounds like a lot, but the trains are so easy. The train goes directly from Zurich airport, you'll then change at Bern, heading to Interlaken Ost and then change one more time to Grindelwald. One way costs around £70, so yeah, not cheap!
WHERE TO STAY
Personally I've always stayed in Grindelwald, as it's the the hub of many hike starting points and has very easy bus and train connections. Expect lots of traditional Swiss chalet vibes with a couple of bigger hotels. If you want to wake up to an epic view of the Eiger every morning, I recommend Hotel Bodmi. The interior is dated, but the view makes up for it. If you're looking for something a little cheaper, I recommend booking something via AirBnb.
Obviously you'll be doing a lot of walking, but you might want to purchase a bus, train and cable car pass from the tourist information centre. Planning your trip is a must, so you can be sure you're saving a bit of money where possible. Getting the pass makes sense if you're going to use a lot of the transport on consecutive days. A three day pass will cost you around £170.
AND NOW FOR THE BEST HIKES...
Gletscherschlucht - Bonera - Alpiglen
Time: 3hrs 15mins (4hrs including breaks and lunch)
Distance: 8km - 821km incline
This hike has gone right to the top of my favourite ever hikes! It gives a bit of everything in my opinion. A good sweat, some breath-taking views, fresh waterfall drinking water and the best ever lunch spot, my little secret... and now yours! The first 1-hour of this hike is pretty gruelling, it's a relentless uphill battle, but take it at a steady pace and you'll be fine. Plus if you're afraid of heights, be prepared for some rickety metal steps that you'll need to climb up. The incline does't let-up until about 2/3 of the way through, but at that point you won't mind because you'll be taking your hiking boots off and dipping your feet in freezing cold mountain plunge pools. Take a packed lunch and sit by the pools to eat, while you look out over a vista of mountains. The waterfall and pools I'm talking about is just after you go through a sheep gate - you'll know it when you see it.
If you want to add to this hike, get the train from Alpiglen to Kleine Scheidegg and do the nice steady walk across to Mannlichen. Be aware that this route will be much busier, as it has a wide path and is a flat easy route. From here you can get the cable car back down to Grund and a 3-minute train back to Grindelwald.
Schynige Platte - First
Time: 6-7 hours
Distance: 10.2 Miles
You'll see this hike written about a lot, so many people recommending to start it at First. From experience of doing it both ways, I honestly think starting at Schynige Platte is best. This way you get to experience the reward of Balchapsee (the lake pictured) and views of the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, Finsteraarhorn and Eiger at the end of your strenuous hike. That's not to say there aren't amazing views on the way, there are. At every turn!
There is a place to eat about half way through the hike, but I'd recommend taking some snacks along with you too. And later on, you can add a little extra hike up to the Faulhorn to grab a drink and some more food if needs be.
Grosse Scheidegg - Rosenlaui
Time: 2 Hours
This downhill hike is mystical and beautiful. Get the bus from Grindelwald up to Grosse Scheidegg and then start your decent on foot. The path winds across the road for a bit and then you get into the forest, strolling over bridges and rivers. This is a great walk to do on a rainy day, as you'll be sheltered from the rain for a lot of the walk. There's something so romantic about this walk - think wild flowers, mushrooms growing and winding paths.
When you get to Rosenlaui I recommend a quick look and moment of gratitude for the beautiful waterfall and then lunch at Hotel Rosenlaui, the most beautiful building (pictured) with only original decor from 1865-1905. They only take cash! Being vegan, it can be pretty tricky eating out in Switzerland, but the Rosenlaui Hotel served an amazing carrot and orange soup, there perfect lunch after a rainy walk!
If you haven't hiked for a while, or aren't feeling fit enough for the previous two hikes, this is a great option. And of course you can do it the other way round for something more strenuous.
Wetterhorn - Pfinstegg - Baregg
Time: 3hrs 30 mins
Level: Hard at times. Mostly intermediate.
You start this beautiful hike at Wetterhorn hotel, quickly making your way across the bridge that looks up into the glacier valley, where the Gleichsten Hut is. Already so soon into the hike, you're graced with such an epic view and this continues throughout. Personally I prefer this to the Eiger trail (which is actually pretty new in comparison to a lot of these original routes). Throughout this hike you get to meander through forest, greenery, rocky terrain, you'll have views of Grindelwald down below and more glacial views as you go. The ice has sadly withdrawn a lot since the first time I went to Grindelwald, but the views are no less dramatic. Forest, views of the glacier, rocky.
One thing to bear in mind is that to get back down (aside from walking!) you, need to hike back to Pfinstegg to get the cable car back down.
And then the last recommendation on my list for you isn't a hike, but somewhere to spend your rest day! Lake Brienz is one of my favourite ever places and if you're lucky enough to have a hot, sunny day, then please take the opportunity to cool off in the lake. Yes, it's freezing, BUT once you start swimming you'll quickly warm up. There are lots of restaurants around if you fancy dining out, but as you can tell from the hikes above, I love a good picnic, so I tend to just sit by the lake and nibble on bits I've bought from the supermarket.
You can get to Lake Brienze either by train and ferry or just two trains. Go from Grindelwald to Interlaken and from there you can decide whether the train or ferry is for you. The train is quicker, but via ferry you get to see the beautiful house (pictured), along with views of the whole lake.
So that's it from me... Who's already started planning their hiking holiday to Switzerland?!
Love, Cat xx