With the spring coming and snow melting in the ski areas with lower altitudes, it is becoming necessary to look for places at higher altitudes where skiing would be possible, even when in lowlands the spring is in full bloom. One such ski area is undoubtedly the Jungfrau region in the Bernese Oberland.
Arriving to Grindelwald
Grindelwald is a well-known ski resort and starting point for many hiking trails in the Bernese Oberland. It is located about an hour’s drive from Bern (75 km), 2 hours by car from Zurich, and an hour and a half from Lucerne. Enter Grundstrasse 54, 3818 Grindelwald in the navigation, or then follow the signs to the Männlichenbahn in Grindelwald itself (there are still no traffic signs towards the Grindelwald Terminal in the village).
By train: The BOB (Bernese Oberland-Bahnen) line runs from Interlaken-Ost station at regular intervals. From Interlaken, the train ride to Grindelwald Terminal Station takes 29 minutes.
The Grindelwald Terminal has been in operation since December 2020. The gondola Eiger Express to the Eiger Glacier and the 10-person aerial gondola to Männlichen start here. Like on Stoos, you can reserve a parking space in advance at the Grindelwald Terminal. But I don’t think you have to be afraid to come here without a reserved space – this large-capacity car park offers 1000 parking spaces. The prices are also not high – you pay 7 francs for 4-7 hours. More information here.
In the area of the terminal itself, you will feel like you are in an airport terminal. The impression is enhanced by the fact that in addition to cash registers, you will also find a shopping center with shops of luxury international brands, Swiss products, and sporting goods.
Tickets – Top of Europe Ski Pass
Since we learned (thanks to Zdeněk 🙂) that from January 15 to April 18, 2021, you can buy ski passes “Top of Europe” for 99 francs, with which you can not only ski, but you can also visit Jungfraujoch Top Of Europe, we didn’t hesitate. Moreover, up to 3 children (6–15 years) receive the children’s ticket free of charge if the accompanying adult is in possession of a “Top of Europe ski pass”.
Just for comparison – normally a trip by to the Jungfraujoch (which is btw. the highest railway station in Europe) would cost 210 francs (half with Halb-fare card).
Prices of “normal” ski passes can be found here.
You can buy ski passes either online or on-site. You can either go the more traditional route and stand in line at the ticket office (don’t forget to take a ticket with a number), or you can buy ski passes at vending machines. It’s nothing complicated. You pay with a card and you will definitely save a lot of time.
“Welcome to the 21st Century” – this is how my husband commented, when we got into the cable car cabin, sat down in comfortable seats, slid the skis into special slots in the floor and from two screens in the opposite upper corners of the cabin, begun a film about beauties of the region. Those fifteen minutes to the Eiger Glacier passed very quickly. Thanks to the Eiger Express, the original journey time to the Jungfraujoch has been reduced by 47 minutes! (But who wants to get to the top in the traditional way – by cogwheel – can of course still).
Directly opposite the cable car exit is the entrance to the train that takes you to the Jungfraujoch. If you have skis with you, you can store them in racks here. We were lucky to catch the train, which left just 5 minutes after we got off the Eiger Express. Otherwise we would have to wait another hour.
Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
Expect to spend at least one hour at Jungfraujoch. And your visit will still be very brief. If a restaurant and other tourist attractions (such as Lindt Chocolate Heaven) were open, we would definitely stay longer. And what can you look forward to here?
Eismeer – Sea of ice
In the direction of Jungfraujoch is the Eismeer intermediate station. Here the train stops and waits five minutes so you can take a picture and enjoy the view of the “sea of ice” and read a few interesting things about the construction of the Jungfraubahn. Don’t worry about missing the departure of the train – you will be notified in advance that you have to board the train again 🙂
As soon as you get off the train, head (um, you’ll be dragged by the crowd 🙂) in the direction of the Tour, which begins with a march through the rock to a big room, where you will literally be surrounded by the Jungfrau panorama. The projected film will show you this place from all possible and impossible angles.
Then take the elevators up in groups, where you can enjoy the real panoramas.
Get ready for the wind to blow a lot on the viewing platform. But the sight when you’re here is really worth it. On the one hand, your view overlooks the entire Mittelland all the way to France, on the other hand you will have the Aletsch Glacier at your fingertips. It’s a beautiful sight.
The part of the tour where shudder runs down your spine. At the beginning you will be greeted by a cute giant snow ball with moving miniatures of cable cars, lit by a dozen lamps in the shape of an Edelweiss, but then the tour will take you to a long corridor where you will learn how the railway was built, where many miners sacrified their lives . The whole impression is further enhanced by the sounds from that times of building the railway – jackhammers, chisels,… this gives you goosebumps.
The next part of the tour will take you to the ice palace, which was built in the 1930s. Ice sculptures of polar bears, penguins, or Charlie Chaplin, for example, are really precisely crafted.
As I wrote, we headed straight for the train from the Eiger Express, so we didn’t have time to change our shoes from ski shoes to normal winter boots. So if you want to take a tour of the ice cave, where even the floor is from ice, beware that it can be very very slippery. I recommend holding on to the railing, preferably with both hands 🙂
The “Top of Europe” ski pass is valid for the “Grindelwald – Wengen” ski area. Due to the visit to Jungfraujoch, our subsequent time for skiing was a bit limited, but I still enjoyed skiing quite a bit. On the map below you can see the yellow marked area, which we managed in about three hours of skiing – mostly blue and red runs, but the boys also tried the Lauberhorn black run. It is possible to ski all the way down to Grindelwald, but we will keep it for another time, as well as skiing in the Männlichen area.
The area is also suitable for beginners – on Kleine Scheidegg there is an area with a magic carpet and a rope lift. For a change, the more able can try the “fun slope” on the Lauberhorn, or “speed check”. If you don’t want to ski, you can also do a good long sled run here.
The “Top of Europe” ski pass is definitely worth it. I recommend coming early and visiting Jungfraujoch first and then enjoying skiing. Yes, despite the fact that the snow is usually better for skiing in the morning. But if you choose the opposite order, you may not have enough time for a tour and you would be under unnecessary stress.