Grindelwald is a magical little town located in the heart of the Swiss Alps/Berner Oberland. (And yes, Grindelwald is also the name of a wizard in Harry Potter, which proves the name is special in itself!) We ended up in Grindelwald because we have friends that live there, and I’m so so glad we did. I feel like Grindelwald is really underrated, almost a secret well-kept from potential tourists. It ended up being the most magical place, and we started planning a summer trip back there before we’d even left.
Where We Stayed
Full disclosure, the main reason we had such an amazing experience in Grindelwald was because of our friends Kenzie and Mandel. The good news is that you can actually have a similar experience, because the chalet we stayed in (that they own) is right next door to their house, and available on Airbnb. They are more than happy to help their guests with their knowledge on the area, ideas for activities, and travel logistics. Kenzie is from the US and Mandel grew up in Grindelwald, they both speak English and Swiss German, and they are so, so kind.
For more details on the Chalet, check it out on Airbnb. The location is SO unique and magical – we literally would wake up to a view of the Eiger right outside our window, with other amazing mountains surrounding us. It brought a whole new meaning to “ski in, ski out” for me.
What To Do
Hands down, the best thing we did in Grindelwald was rodeling. I had never heard of it before this trip – it’s basically sledding down legit long hills on a super legit sled (aka rodel). No joke, my childhood dreams came true ten fold!
You can find so many fun places to rodel! We took the train to Wengen to watch a Blake’s brother Steven race in a World Cup Downhill Race, and when the race got cancelled due to too much snow we just rodelled ALL THE WAY HOME. And it was SO much fun. And fun fact about Grindelwald – they actually have the LONGEST sled run the world at ten miles! Just imagine sledding for ten miles without stopping – it’s pretty much heaven.
Other things to do in Grindelwald in the Winter
Scenic train rides – I highly suggest taking the Jungfrau Railway – a cog train that runs from Kleine Schiedegg to what they call “The Top of Europe”. The day we took the cog train it was snowing and so foggy that we couldn’t see a thing, so I am excited to go back and try it again on a clear day!
Skiing – if you’re going to ski, we loved First! You can actually buy one ski pass that works for all of the resorts, so I recommend trying them all if you have multiple days!
Sledding/Rodeling – I had so much fun rodeling! I laughed the whole time – my face literally hurt from smiling at the end ;). Grindelwald is actually home to the longest sled run in the world, at 15 kilometers (about 10 miles)!!!
Hiking – depending on what you want, there are multiple day hikes you can do. Or, you can make up your own! One of my favorite things we did was hike up from our Airbnb to Alwag (more below on that). Also, this helpful site lists some of the main scenic hikes.
Summertime offers a whole new set of things to do, and it’s SO green and beautiful. We can’t wait to go back and experience the lakes, the hikes, and more. I can’t wait to go back and see Balchapsee Lake! I also want to try paragliding – something you can also do in the winter, but it sounds better in the sun to me ;).
What to Eat
We were lucky in that we were staying with (next door to) friends, and they gave us the inside scoop. If you didn’t already know, Switzerland is known for being expensive, and especially for having expensive restaurants. Our friends who own the Airbnb we were staying in actually cooked for us instead, so we were still able to have traditional Swiss food without paying the crazy high prices of a restaurant. If you happen to stay somewhere with a kitchen, (the airbnb we stayed in does have one!) I recommend grocery shopping and cooking for most meals to save some money.
Traditional Swiss food basically includes melting cheese over stuff, usually bread or potatoes ;). Dairy farms are a big deal there, and they apparently have the happiest cows. As a result, we at lots of fondue, raclett, rosties, and chocolate. We didn’t eat a whole lot of meat other than salami. We learned that the Swiss usually don’t slaughter their cows until they are older, meaning the meat is best for salami as opposed to cuts of steak or ground beef.
If you do make it to Grindelwald, my favorite place we ate was called Alwag. It’s owned by our friends Kenzie and Mandel’s cousin, who has her own dairy farm. She keeps her prices low since she makes her own milk. You HAVE to try her hot chocolate, made with fresh milk and whipped cream. The cheese is also amazing – it’s fresh from her very own cows. If it’s winter and you’re skiing First, you can ski right to it. Otherwise, it’s a hike to get up there, but totally worth the food and the view.
If you have any questions about Grindelwald, please ask me! It’s honestly a place we will go again and again, especially when we have kids.