Jungfrau, Switzerland: Europe’s Top Spot for Adventure
Head to Santorini to soak up the sun, Berlin to stretch your dancing legs, and San Sebastian to tantalize your tastebuds. But, if you want to get your heart pumping, the action-packed Swiss Alps is the place to be, no matter the time of year.
More specifically, Switzerland’s Jungfrau region — set in the Bernese Alps — offers high-altitude adventure, cozy chalets, and plenty of melted cheese (ah, the land of fondue!) to reinvigorate your adrenaline-boosted bones. It’s also home to Jungfraujoch, AKA “The Top of Europe,” as well as both futuristic gondolas and historic trains, making getting around here just as much of an experience as the outdoor pursuits.
Keep reading for our complete guide to Jungfrau, Switzerland, Europe's top spot for adventure.
Summer Adventure in the Swiss Alps
In Jungfrau, there’s more than one way to get down a mountain, even once the snow has melted. Glide, zip, and scoot your way to the bottom at Grindelwald-First, a popular attraction boasting four high-flying activities. It’s a quick gondola ride to all the action, and the gondola station is walkable from the shops and restaurants in the center of Grindelwald.
Once up top, soar at 52 miles per hour on a seated zip line (called the First Flyer), ride Superman-style strapped to an oversized eagle (the First Glider), wind downhill on alpine go-karts (Mountain Carts), and speed past wildflower fields on scooters (Trottibikes). Get access to all four activities, plus unlimited gondola rides, with an Adventure Package.
For equally exhilarating but no-helmet-required experiences, hit the area’s hiking trails. From Grindelwald-First, a less-than-two-hour amble will land you at Lake Bachalpsee, an ideal spot for a picnic. Flower lovers should hop on the 19th-century cogwheel train up to Schynige Platte, where you’ll find an alpine garden filled with Switzerland’s beloved edelweiss and multiple hiking trails, including views of Interlaken’s lakes below. On the Panorama Trail, which starts in Männlichen and finishes at Kleine Scheidegg, soak up mindboggling mountain and valley views for over an hour, then chow down on wiener schnitzel and apple cake at the mountain restaurant at the trail’s end.
When you need to chill out, literally, it’s off to Jungfraujoch, an otherworldly peak where you’ll find ice and snow 365 days a year (so be sure to wear a jacket). The uber-modern Eiger Express gondola will swoop you to the top, 11,300 feet above sea level, in just 15 minutes. Feel icy winds against your face as you step onto the Sphinx Terrace to peep the longest glacier in the Alps; then, wander through an ice palace and indulge in ooey-gooey fondue at the highest elevation on the continent.
Winter Adventure in the Swiss Alps
If summer’s activities surprised you (an ice palace… in July?), Jungfrau’s winter experiences won’t disappoint, either. Of course, there’s skiing here — three mountain ranges and 131 miles of powder-perfect pistes — but it’s not the only adventure in town.
Take to the slopes on a sledging (or sledding) excursion. This isn’t the two-second thrill you remember from childhood. Jungfrau is home to the longest sledging run in the world, which covers over nine miles and takes at least 30 minutes. However, it’s only accessible by foot, so you must complete a two-and-a-half-hour hike to get there. Another epic trail is the Eiger Run, which passes below one of the climbing world’s most fearsome mountain faces and can be done at night in illuminated snow.
Hiking isn’t only for summer here, nor is biking. The same trail to Lake Bachalpsee mentioned above is maintained in the winter, though you’ll hear the crunch of snow beneath your feet in colder months. The biking will sound — and look — different as well. Instead of a two-wheeler, ride a velogemel, a wooden bike on runners. This cross between a bicycle and a sled has been a favorite mode of winter transportation for Grindelwald locals since 1911. And if you’re in town during February, you can even catch the Velogemel World Championship.
Looking to perfect your curling game? Visitors can take a lesson in the town of Wengen. And, if that’s not enough snow and ice, you can head up to Jungfraujoch in the winter, too, though the brisk temps probably won’t be as refreshing as they would be in July.
Where to Stay in the Jungfrau Region
Travelers come to Bergwelt Grindelwald for its convenient location and chic alpine design. This hotel is within walking distance to the Grindelwald-First gondola station, as well as plenty of outdoor shops if you need some last-minute gear. The fact that all 90 rooms are suites — along with the on-site spa with pools, saunas, and steam baths — doesn’t hurt either, especially if you’re looking to soothe your hike-weary feet.
In Lauterbrunnen, the valley of 72 waterfalls, catch views of the Staubbach Falls right from your room at Hotel Silberhorn. The property’s Holz 100 rooms are made entirely of wood, so you’ll feel fully immersed in nature even while you’re just planning the next day’s escapade. You can also luxuriate like the ultimate adventurer — James Bond. This hotel, as well as Hotel Eiger Muerren, has a 007-themed suite as a nod to the 1969 Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which was filmed in the area.
Trains are your friend here. Not only can you ride the rails from Zurich Airport to the Jungfrau region (all aboard the Swiss Federal Railways, the SBB!), but you can also access each of the adventures mentioned above by train (or gondola, or cable car, or funicular… turns out there’s more than one way to get up a mountain, too!) via Jungfrau Railways. Plus, in the summer, you can even snag multi-day unlimited rail passes.
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