Take a Ride to the Top of Europe!

A photo of cabins and mountains in Grindelwald, Switzerland

This is Part 3 of our review of places to see in Europe. Please read Part 2 to learn why we fell in love with Luzern, Switzerland.

Now that Kyle has shared a summary of our time in Luzern, he’s passing the baton to me (his girlfriend, Sophie) to take you through our next destination of our Europe trip: Grindelwald, Switzerland. While we only got to spend two nights there, I wish we could have stayed much longer. Between the breathtaking views and opportunities to get into nature, Grindelwald felt like it was straight out of a storybook.

Train window with scene of grass and mountains
Train window to Grindelwald (Courtesy of Sophie Marts / Time to See the World)

Getting there

Grindelwald is a 40 minute train ride outside of Interlaken, and a total of 2 hours by train from Bern. We took the train from Luzern to Grindelwald, which was around $30 each and took about 3 hours. It was incredibly scenic to look out the window as the train wound through the mountains and countryside. Once we arrived in Grindelwald, our Airbnb chalet was a 10-15 minute walk from the train station (or a quick bus ride, but we always ended up walking to enjoy the scenery).  

Chalet cabin with sunset clouds and mountain in distance
A Swiss chalet sunset (Courtesy of Sophie Marts / Time to See the World)

Why Grindelwald?

The village itself is fairly small, but there are grocery stores, pharmacies, hotels, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor equipment stores. You can find pretty much anything you need in town, including skis for winter or hiking boots for summer. It did seem to be more of a tourist-specific destination, as many of the businesses seemed to be catered specifically towards tourists rather than residents. There were also buses full of tourist groups, which meant that the town didn’t feel like as much of an authentic Swiss experience as compared to our time in Luzern. However, it’s popular for a reason- the mountain views just can’t be beat.

Chalet bed with side tables and a lighting fixture above
Cozy chalet (Courtesy of Sophie Marts / Time to See the World)

Where to stay

One thing that we would highly recommend is to stay in a chalet house rather than a hotel. The hotels may be closer to the train station and downtown area, but it’s well worth the extra time it takes to get to the chalets. They feel much more peaceful and secluded, and many have balconies with views. Ours was an apartment unit within a larger home, but it was very private and had lots of space to spread out. One of my favorite memories of Grindelwald was sitting out on the chalet balcony and reading while the sun set over the mountain in front of me (and yes, the birds were chirping, because of course they were- no fairytale is complete without them!)

A view of the Bernese alps with snow in the foreground and mountains & valleys in the distance
The view from the Top of Europe (Courtesy of Sophie Marts / Time to See the World)
Europe from 10,000 Feet! (Courtesy of Kyle Andrews / Time to See the World)

Jungfraujoch (The Top of Europe)

One of the activities at the top of our list was to take the Jungfrau Railway up to Jungfraujoch (also known as The Top of Europe). This is a huge selling point for Grindelwald, and for good reason. The Jungfrau Railway is a mountainous railway that brings you up to Europe’s highest railway station. You can leave directly from the Grindelwald train station to start heading up the mountain, and either take a combination of trains or gondolas there & back. We chose to do the gondola both ways, and would definitely recommend it for the panoramic views out of the windows towards the mountains and rolling hills.

Once we arrived at the top of Jungfraujoch, we took the elevator up to the observatory and were met with stunning views. We were lucky to have mostly clear skies when we arrived, but the clouds quickly turned to snow. If you decide to go, be patient and make sure you give yourself a few hours up there to have a better chance of getting good visibility!

Another highlight is the ice cave, which involves a series of tunnels and ice sculptures to explore underground. There are also some other exhibits and activities, as well as some restaurants and gift shops. The whole experience is definitely commercialized (they have Swiss watch retailers in front of the observatory elevators and a Lindt chocolate store), but again for good reason- Jungfraujoch is a unique experience that allows you to see views of the Bernese Alps that you’d never get to see otherwise. 

A view of chalet cabins with Eiger mountain in the background
Chalet balcony view (Courtesy of Sophie Marts / Time to See the World)

Sophie’s Tip

Sophie’s Tip: If you’re into outdoor exploration and activities, make sure to budget at least 3-4 days in Grindelwald and/or Interlaken. We only got to see Interlaken from the train station, but we wish we had given ourselves more time to explore the area. There looked like there were tons of opportunities for biking, hiking, walking around town, and getting out onto the lake.

Bonus tip: We visited in early June, and we got the benefits of going off-season to avoid crowds combined with the perk of having sunny & warm weather (bring a heavy jacket if you plan on going up to Jungfraujoch, though- it gets quite cold up there and might even start snowing out of the blue like it did when we were there!)

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