Travel

The Complete Guide to Grindelwald First in Switzerland

Grindelwald First is one of the most popular places to visit in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, and with good reason. If you only have a short time in Grindelwald, heading up to First (pronounced Feerst) is a fantastic way to experience all the adventures to be had in the Swiss Alps. This guide will help you make the most of your time at Grindelwald First so you can make the most of your stay. For more information on traveling to Grindelwald-First, visit the official tourism website.

Where is Grindelwald First?

Grindelwald First Location

Located at 2167 meters (7109 feet) above sea level, Grindelwald First is located directly above the village of Grindelwald which is located 92 km (57 miles) from Zurich and 74 km (45 miles) from Bern. Grindelwald is in the heart of the Swiss Alps and you’ll find many striking peaks surrounding this community from the 2,343-metre (7687 feet) Mannlichen Mountain, to the 2,681 metres (8,796 ft) high Faulhorn and The Wetterhorn (3,692 m) 12112 feet.

Grindelwald is the largest ski resort in the Jungfrau Region, and while many people choose to stay in the nearby town of Interlaken, we recommend staying directly in Grindelwald or even better up the mountain at Berggasthaus First. For more information on traveling the Jungfrau Region visit the tourism website.

From Grindelwald to First

Getting from Grindelwald to First

We stayed at the Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof in Grindelwald village located directly beside the train station. It is a great location for exploring the region, it was also a great place to store our bags while going up to Grindelwald First for the evening. After checking out and leaving our luggage with them to store for a night, (We would be back in one day to continue our Grindelwald adventures) we made our way up to Grindelwald First Gondola with an overnight bag. It was time to have a great adventure on the mountain.

Grindelwald First Gondola

Grindelwald First Gondola

From downtown Grindelwald, we walked for about 10 minutes to First Station to take the gondola up to the top. The gondola ride takes 25 minutes and is an adventure unto itself. Those 25 minutes are breathtaking as beautiful panoramic views of the mountains come into view. Make sure to have your camera ready!

There are two stops along the way, Bort and then Schreckfeld but you won’t have to worry about that, you’re staying on until the final stop, Grindelwald First. Once you get to the top, there are plenty of things to see and do. Firstbahn tickets start at 32 CHF (USD) and include a return ride. Check the official Jungfrau website to book tickets here. Note: Always have your ticket with you as you need it to enter both going up, and back down.

Hiking to Lake Bachalp (Bachalpsee)

Hiking to Bachalpsee

We checked into Berggasthaus First where we left our bags to leave on a hike to the star attraction, Lake Bachalp. When exploring Switzerland, you will see plenty of photos of Lake Bachalp. It is one of the most scenic and photographed spots in the country.

The hike to Lake Bachalp takes a little over an hour to get to. The first couple of hundred meters are uphill and it is a good workout but not difficult and it quickly evens out and becomes a very pleasant hike to the lake. When the path starts to branch out, stick to the higher ground to save having to do more uphill than you need to. We stayed high avoiding going back down on the main trail.

Hiking markers on Grindelwald First

Make sure to keep looking back while you walk, because the views change constantly. We didn’t have the best weather during our time up at Grindelwald First, but as the clouds moved in and out, Dave managed to catch some sweet moments where the heavens opened up to say hello.

Bachalpsee (Lake Bachalp) Views

Bachalpsee views in Grindelwald First

When you reach the lake, there are plenty of places to take in the view. We suggest heading to the second lake for an overview of both bodies of water. There’s a lovely bench at the second lake where travelers can leave a note to Simone. The bench is dedicated to her and the is a journal where you can leave your impressions of Grindelwald First for her to read. Or perhaps her family dedicated the bench after her passing and they are keeping her memory alive with visitors writing to her. Either way, it is a lovely moment to be still and share your feelings of this little slice of heaven.

Simones Bench at Lake Balchap on Grindelwald First

When the weather is good, the scene is spectacular with views of the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, and Finsteraarhorn mountains reflecting in the mountain lake.

If you want to do more hiking, you can continue on to the Faulhorn Summit where you can stay at the Berghotel. Make sure to make reservations if you decide to do this. We only went as far as Bachalpsee and after an hour or so at the lake, we made our way back to Grindelwald First to enjoy more adventures.

First Cliff Walk by Tissot

Cliff Walk by Tissot at Grindelwald First

On our way back from Bachalpsee, the fog had lifted a bit and we could finally see the First Cliff Walk by Tissot. This is a fantastic metal footbridge that clings to the side of the cliff walking all the way out to an extraordinary viewpoint. If you want a fun adventure, make sure to do this. There is no extra charge and is included in tickets up the Gondola thanks to Tissot watches. If you are afraid of heights, it will get your heart racing, but it is completely safe. The path goes along the rock face before spiraling up at the restaurant and then jutting out to an overhang that dangles over the Abyss.

Tissot Cliff Walk in the Clouds

Even with thick clouds, this was a thrilling adventure. In fact, I found it eerier walking into the fog wondering what was below my feet. Don’t miss going out on the cliff walk when visiting Grindelwald First.

Berggasthaus First

Berggasthaus First Grindelwald

Berggasthaus First not only offers accommodation, but it also is a great place for lunch. Plus, by staying overnight at the top, we had the opportunity to go out on the cliff walk whenever we liked. So naturally, we went again later in the evening. But first, it was time for lunch before heading off to our next set of adventures.

Swiss Raclette at Grindelwald First

We ordered a Swiss Raclette (how can you not love cheese when staying in the mountains) and enjoyed a meal in the cozy warmth of the hotel restaurant. To book your stay at the top of Grindelwald First and for more information visit the Berggasthaus First website.

First Adventures

First Adventures Grindelwald

In the afternoon, it’s time for adventure. I know, the morning has already been an adventure. Heck, just riding up the gondola is a thrill, but now it’s time for so zany fun! If you are not staying the night at Grindelwald First, the adventures below are the best way to go back down the mountain. You’ll see why in a minute.

To take part in the adventures below, purchase an adventure pass that offers four activities and unlimited gondola rides. Once you’ve committed to the Four Adventure Package, you are in for an unforgettable experience. Prices start at 99 CHF. ($108 USD) Check out the Jungfrau Website for details.

Bag Storage for First Adventures

By staying overnight at Berggasthaus First, you don’t have to worry about carrying any bags. This is a good thing because bags are not allowed on First Glider or First Flyer so you don’t have to worry about figuring out what to do with them when you are on the rides.

If you do have bags, you will have to leave them at the top for First Flyer and then go back up the gondola to pick them up once you are done to continue on. This isn’t a huge deal since you have unlimited gondola rides with the adventure package. When taking First Glider, bags are less of a hassle because you start and end at the same spot, so you can leave your bags and pick them up easily before continuing on.

The Flyer

First Flyer Grindelwald

From Grindelwald First, make your way to the First Flyer. I will admit my heart was pounding when sitting at the gate to be let out over the mountain slope ready to reach speeds of up to 84 km per hour. But once I was set on my way, I recall yelling, it’s not so bad as I giggled and screamed my way down 800 meters of steel cable. It goes by fast, and before you know it, you are on to the next! You can buy these adventures individually if you don’t want to do all of them. Prices for one adventure start at 50 CHF (USD) You can purchase tickets here.

First Glider

View from First Glider Grindelwald

It’s not time to get on the gondola yet, it’s time for the next adventure to take you to the next leg of your trip. Sadly, due to inclement weather, the First Glider wasn’t operating, but man it looks like a blast. It’s included in the four adventure passes, and it too takes you down the mountain in a unique and fun way. It’s a zip line with a twist. Up to four passengers are fastened to a giant gliding eagle where they are pulled backward for 800 meters at 72 km per hour before plunging headfirst back to where they started. Boy oh boy, I wish this one was open, but that gives us the opportunity to go back again! You can mix and match adventures and buy anywhere from one to all four adventures, 2 activities cost 67 CHF. Purchase your tickets in advance here.

First Trottibike

First Trotti Bike Grindelwald
Cow feeds infield in the middle of the Alps

However, we did have the opportunity to get on a Trottibike, and something tells me this is zanier than the mountain cart. These offroad scooters take you on a high-speed journey all the way back to Grindelwald. Never fear, there are brakes and they are easy to handle, so you can easily go as fast or as slow as you like. It’s an adventure for the whole family.

The great thing about the adventure pass is that if you do chicken out or have any problems, you can just hop on the gondola and meet your friends and family at the next stop, so nobody misses out. If you go to Grindelwald, we seriously recommend these fun adventures. We’ve never laughed so hard having the best time in the mountains. Prices for all four adventures cost 99 CHF. ($108 USD) Check out the Jungfrau Website for details.

First Mountain Cart

It’s now onto dry land for the third leg of your trip down. The First Mountain Cart takes go-carting to the nth degree following the trail down to your final stop. The rain was really pelting down on this day and we missed this zany adventure too, but you can be sure it is up on the list for our next trip back. (hopefully, we will be lucky enough to visit Grindelwald again in our lifetime. If you want to stop here, you can purchase three adventures. You don’t need to do all four. To do three First Adventures it costs 85 CHF

Back up to Grindelwald First

Grindelwald First Overnight

It’s been a huge day and it’s time to call it a night. If you are not staying on the mountain, head to the Romantik Hotel in Grindelwald or do as we did, make your way back up for an exclusive evening at 2167 meters in Berggasthaus First.

So we caught the gondola back up to Grindelwald First for the night. The final gondola goes up at 5 pm so make sure to take that into consideration when doing your adventures. And double-check the times before you set off. If could be later or earlier depending on the time of year.

Berggasthaus First Double Room

Spending the night at Berggasthaus First is a wonderful experience as not many people stay on the mountain. We had the opportunity to go for more hikes, head out onto the Cliffwalk, or just relax on the terrace to take in the views. Our time was spent cozying up in our double room as the rain was pouring on our evening. Even with the rain, it felt like an exclusive experience as we shared the mountain with less than a dozen other people.

Relax at Cliff Walk Bar

We went out for dinner in the restaurant and enjoyed a quiet evening indoors before heading to bed nice and early for sunrise. By the way, our sleep at Berggasthaus First was the best we had in Switzerland. The duvets were warm and cozy, the pillows were just the right amount of firmness and it was completely serene and quiet.

The bathrooms are shared, but they are large, clean and you have private shower areas. There are games, a common seating area, and you can enjoy an evening in the bar. Plus, the breakfast was awesome. The buffet was filling and we had unlimited coffee and juice. Delicious.

Sunrise at Lake Balchap

Sunrise Bachalpsee

The main reason to stay at the top is to get out to Lake Balchap for sunrise. The first gondolas don’t start coming up until later in the morning, so by staying at Berggasthaus First we had a several-hour head start! We tried to make our way out before sunrise, but it was pouring rain and we couldn’t see a thing through the thick fog, so instead, we made our way out just a little later to catch the morning glow hoping the clouds would lift.

Second Lake Bachaplsee Sunrise

There was one other photographer out there with us. He had come to Grindelwald in 2019 and this time around made a point of staying at Grindelwald First for two nights to have an optimal chance of having the perfect sunrise over the lakes. We highly recommend two nights at First for optimal chances for sunrise. Plus, you can do all the activities and hikes so there are plenty of things to keep you busy.

Lucky him! Because our morning was a bust. We hiked out for an hour and waited at the lake for another hour, but to no avail. The weather Gods were not cooperating with us this time, but it was still a spectacular experience to be up at the top all alone. The hike to Lake Balchap is about 1 hour one way so give yourself time if you are hiking out for sunrise.

Other Things to do at Grindelwald First

Things to do at Grindelwald First

Grindelwald has made the excursions very family-friendly as well. If you have kids, you can very much enjoy your time up at Grindelwald First. I cannot tell you how many people we saw pushing strollers (yes on a mountain trail) or hiking with a baby backpack on their backs. Kids can enjoy the Borth Alpine Playground at the Bort Gondola station and they will also love the Marmot Trail where they can search for real-life marmots while enjoying the carved marmot and benches along the two-hour trail from First to Schilt.

Marmots

Keep an eye out for Marmots. You can hear their chirps throughout the land as you hike through Grindelwald. Our guides always spotted them, but we always seemed to miss them when they pointed them out in the distance. But we found that the best place to spot them was from the gondola. They couldn’t run when we were above them.

Grindelwald First – The Details

Grindelwald First Details

Make sure to pack layers. The temperatures can vary greatly at altitude. It can be sunny and warm one minute and then cold and damp the next. Pack refillable water bottles for your hike. There is a water filling station at First so you can fill up your bottles before heading out to Backalpsee.

The best way to get around Grindelwald is to purchase an unlimited Jungfrau Top of Europe Pass. It includes an unlimited experience to Grindelwald First, The Top of Europe – Jungfraujoch, Interlaken, Harder Kulm, and everywhere in between. A three-day pass costs 149 CHF. Get your ticket at the Jungfrau Website.

If you don’t have three days, you can purchase a pass just for Grindelwald First Gondola. Firstbahn tickets start at 32 CHF (USD) and include a return ride. Check the website to book tickets here 1 CHF (Swiss Franc) = 1.09 USD

First Adventure prices:

Note bags cannot be taken on the First Flyer or First Glider. You can leave bags at the gondola.

If you are traveling to Switzerland, make sure to put Grindelwald First on your travel itinerary. We had often talked about how beautiful Switzerland is, but it had been six years since our last visit. We often wondered, is it as beautiful as we remember? Well, upon returning this summer, the answer is an astounding yes. In fact, it is more beautiful than we remember and Grindelwald is up there as the most beautiful of them all!

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