Katja Laurien

Inspiring your spiritual journey

Swiss Hikers Paradise: The Jungfrau Region

11. January 2019 • Katja Laurien

The Jungfrau Region is probably Switzerland’s most popular hike and ski region. Therefore, it is kind of difficult to find out where to go, the options seem to be endless. I was fortunate enough to spend seven months in the midst of this breathtaking region, in the charismatic village Grindelwald. In those seven months I intensively explored the region and found out the most beautiful hikes. In this post I made a quick overview of the highlights and popular hikes.

I didn’t always include the amount of time it took me. You can easily find out the times on official websites. Be aware that these time indications are rather flexible and if you have an average speed you’d probably want to take off 20% of the time. Furthermore, I often hiked directly from the cable car or train station as I had a Jungfrau travel pass for the entire summer season. I can recommend you to buy one as well, in case you are short on time, but have some money to spare. If you want to see many places in short time buying all tickets separately will easily cost you more. Remember, Switzerland is extremely expensive. But the intense beauty of the landscape definitely make up for it!

Aellflueh (1426 m)

Allflueh is a viewpoint which not very far from Grindelwald (ca. 1.5 h). It’s one of the few hikes where there is no bus and no cable car needed. And because there is not even a cable car or bus going that direction it’s most of the time pleasantly quiet. The way up there is pretty steep and leads most of the time through the forest. But the wonderful view and the tranquility of the spot makes up for the short, but sweaty way up there.

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Bussalp (1792 m)

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Bussalp is reachable by bus, but can also be reached easily by foot. Nevertheless, I have never seen it as crowded as for example First, Männlichen or Kleine Scheidegg. I can’t explain why, because the view is just as beautiful. The hike up is pleasant and not too steep. From Bussalp you can either walk to Bort (which is a very pleasant, even walk), to Waldspitz or you can head towards Faulhorn (which I never did). Less known options are the short and steep walk to Burg. From here you have a wonderful 360° view.

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Waldspitz (1918 m)

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From all spots I will mention in this post Waldspitz is probably the quietest of all. Therefore, there are also only three busses daily going there. But it offers some wonderful hikes without being bothered by too many other hikers. My favourite hikes from Waldspitz are to First via Bachalpsee and to Bussalp. There is a way straight to First, but it seems to be steep and rocky, so be aware. But I can wholeheartedly recommend the hike to First via Bachalpsee. You will pass through a hilly landscape filled with streams. In my imagination this is how Scotland probably looks like.

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To Bussalp there is also two different ways: a shorter, lower hike or a longer, higher hike (Höhenwanderung). Both hikes are nice, though the second one will lead half of the way on the trail between Bort and Bussalp. So, if you have done this one already I’d recommend the Höhenwanderung. This is also a rather quiet hike where you don’t come across too many other people.

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Bort (1570 m)

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Bort is the middle station of the cable car between Grindelwald and First. From here there are many hikes in all directions. Bussalp, Grosse Scheidegg, First, Grindelwald etc. are the well known destinations from here. My personal favourite is the short and easy hike to Unterer Lauchbühl (1440 m). Again, it’s a rather unknown hike where you can enjoy the magnificent views mainly for yourself.

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First (2168 m)

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This is where the mass tourism is coming in. First is probably one of the most crowded places in the Jungfrau Region. It’s also one of the places with most of the entertainment, such as the First Flyer, the Cliff Walk and the mountain carts. If you want to have an overview and more information about the activities, check the website. I am personally not too interested in these kind of activities, as I am happy enough with hiking. Therefore, I skipped all of these attractions. From First there are many hikes, all described in the other sections.

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Bachalpsee (2265 m)

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Another main reason for the popularity of First, is the proximity of Bachalpsee. There is no direct cable car or bus to the lake, First is the closest by station (approx. 30 min). The way there is mainly straight and very easy. And I do have to admit that the lake is beautiful even though it’s crowded. In order to avoid the crowds and to get the best view of the lake, I’d suggest to walk up towards Faulhorn. There is a small hill you can climb on to. From there you can enjoy the magnificent view over Bachalpsee all by yourself.

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Schynige Platte (2068 m)

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This is definitely one of my favourites! Not only do you have the most fantastic views here (from all sides), but one of my favourite hikes starts from here. The hike starts at Schynige Platte and leads via Faulhorn (optional) and Bachalpsee to First. It’s seriously one of the most diverse and beautiful hikes. Unfortunately, it’s not a very easy one. There is loads of ups and downs and takes about 4.5 hours. But the effort and the time is well worth it! I even did this hike twice and I happily do it again.

Just make sure you take enough water. On most trails at an altitude higher than +- 2000 m it’s not possible to fill your water. On the lower trails there are many taps with drinkable water. I once even drank the water from a stream and nothing happened. But most streams are also on lower altitudes. So, just make sure you take enough water the higher you get.

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If you’re more into something easy and laid back, staying near to Schynige Platte is satisfactory enough. From there you can make two different loops: a small and a big one. I did the big one once, which was definitely very nice. From the Daube you have a magnificent view over the lakes of Thun and Brienz. On the way back you get a wonderful view over the famous three mountains of the region: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

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Faulhorn (2681 m)

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If you do the hike from Schynige Platte to First, you can choose whether to climb up to Faulhorn or not. I did and I really enjoyed the view! The views all along the hike are priceless, so it’s not a huge loss if you skip this one. But if you have some energy left, I’d take the time for the short 15 minutes steep ascent. From here you have once again a beautiful view over the lake of Brienz. It’s my favourite lake in Switzerland, so obviously I wouldn’t miss out on any view over it.

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Grosse Scheidegg (1961 m)

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The first time I went to Grosse Scheidegg was rather by mistake. I wanted to go from Bort to Unterer Lauchbühl and took a wrong turn somewhere. But boy, was I happy I did! In fact, I would recommend hiking from Bort to Grosse Scheidegg, because I simply love how the view over the valley gets more and more impressive the closer you get to Grosse Scheidegg.

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Popular walks from here are to First, Bort or Grindelwald. To First there are two options: an easy one and a more challenging one. The challenging is called the Marmot trail (Murmeltierweg). On the way you can see sculptures of marmots and get information about them. I didn’t see any marmots while doing this particular trail, but there are many. Especially around First and Bussalp I’ve seen quite a few.

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But my favourite hike from Grosse Scheidegg is again a rather unknown one. It’s the hike towards Schwarzwaldalp. I didn’t go all the way to Schwarwaldalp, because I improvised and made my own round tour via Hornseeli (a tiny lake). So, at Pfanni I didn’t turn right to Schwarzwaldalp, but turned left towards Hornseeli. You can find all the routes on maps.me.

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Just before Grosse Scheidegg there is another hike. Therefore you need to get out at Oberer Gletscher or Abzweigung Glecksteinhütte. The hike leads to the Gleckstein hut and seems to be pretty demanding. I wanted to do it from the beginning, but there were so many other hikes I still wanted to do. And I had read that the hike can be quite strenuous and is also not suitable for people who are afraid of heights (me!). But if you’re in to an adventure, I’d say: Go!

Kleine Scheidegg (2061 m)

Kleine Scheidegg is very busy due to several reasons. First of all, the train to Jungfraujoch makes a stop here. Secondly, there are many trails to walk from here. If you ask me, it’s definitely not because of the view why it’s always busy there. I had heard so much about Kleine Scheidegg before going there, I imagined it to be very beautiful. I had already been some time in the region and maybe a bit spoiled, but I can’t say I was too impressed. Maybe it’s also the huge crowds that made it impossible for me to enjoy the scenery.

But if you move away from the crowds, Kleine Scheidegg is definitely worth going. There are several hikes I can recommend. First, hike to Eigergletscher (2320 m) which is a nice in itself and from there you can walk the Eigertrail which I will describe in the next section.

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Another hike I can seriously recommend is hiking up the Lauberhorn (2472 m). The Lauberhorn is the small top just next to Kleine Scheidegg. The hike up is very short, but not very clearly marked. It should be about 45 minutes, but it took me about an hour, simply because I kept losing the trail. Fortunately, you can always see where you are supposed to go, so you never really loose track.

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From the Lauberhorn you have a breathtaking view over the Grindelwald valley on the one side and the Lauterbrunnen valley on the other side. The view resembles the one from Männlichen a lot, but in fact is even better, because there wasn’t a single soul when I was there. I could enjoy this majestic view all by myself 🙂 Jungfrau Region 33

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From Kleine Scheidegg it’s also possible to hike to Männlichen. But because I think doing the hike from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg is more beautiful, I will include it in the section Männlichen.

Alpiglen (1608 m)

As I already mentioned the most famous hike from Alpiglen is the Eigertrail to Eigergletscher. This hike is very impressive because you are literally walking along the Eiger north face. The Eiger already looks massive seen from a distance, but once you are walking right next to it, it’s almost daunting.

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Be aware that this part of the Eiger gets little sun and therefore the trail opens late in the season. Check whether the trail is open and even if it is, be careful. When I went the trail was officially open, but there were still many icy parts. For some people it might be easy to just cross over this slippery ice, but I’m afraid of heights. Every time I crossed the ice I nearly saw myself falling off the Eiger.

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Männlichen (2224 m)

Even though it’s overcrowded Männlichen is a must-go! The first time I arrived there I had already been a while in Grindelwald and I was still overwhelmed by the view. Männlichen offers a supreme view over the entire valley. You can nearly see everything from there. Grindelwald on one side, Lauterbrunnen on the other side and Schynige Platte, Bussalp and Faulhorn to the opposite. And Männlichen probably has the best view over the famous three: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. As you can hear, Männlichen has it all.

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And Männlichen also has one of the most amazing, easy and short hikes: the so called Panorama trail to Kleine Scheidegg. I seriously love this hike. It’s always busy (obviously), but I love the hike enough to still recommend it. I even did a couple of times, because it’s just so beautiful and easy. You barely need to ascend or descend during this short hour, maximum 1.5 hours. So, if you’re looking for a hike to do with your grandparents, this is the one!

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If you’re looking for a quieter and a bit longer trail, I could also recommend going to Alpiglen from Männlichen. In my opinion it’s a beautiful trail and once again rather quiet and therefore highly recommended.

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Berghaus Bäregg (1775)

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If you want to have a peek into the Grindelwald glacier, than this is your hike. Unfortunately, there is little left of the glacier. But the hike is still beautiful. You can either walk all the way from Grindelwald or you can take the cable car to Pfingstegg and walk from there. Unfortunately, the cable car to Pfingstegg is the only one that is not included in the Jungfrau travel pass.

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Once you arrive at the mountain house, I would recommend walking a bit further along the path to the Schreckhornhütte. This is an alpine trail, but the first part is very doable and extremely nice. This is by the way one of the trails on lower altitude where there is no possibility to fill your bottle. Pfingstegg is the last option.

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Lauterbrunnen (802 m)

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Lauterbrunnen is another mountain village in the Jungfrau region, just like Grindelwald. It’s situated in a beautiful, dramatic setting. It’s in the midst of a narrow valley, surrounded by high cliffs and many waterfalls (72 to be precise). The most famous are the Trümelbachfalls which are inside a cave. I didn’t go there, as I was told they are not impressive enough to justify the entrance fee.

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Lauterbrunnen itself is already impressive and beautiful enough, so I rather wanted to spend my time hiking. I went to a trail behind the Trümmelbachfalls which I saw on maps.me. I didn’t really have a goal, so I just hiked the trail until I had a nice view.

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Mürren (1650 m)

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From Lauterbrunnen you can go with the cable car to Grütschalp (1486 m) and from there take the train to Mürren. From Mürren again there are myriads of hiking paths. Unfortunately, I didn’t do many as I took more time to explore the trails near Grindelwald. I did the walk between Grütschalp and Mürren which again is a scenic, easy and fairly short hike. This was also one of the first hikes I did, as most of the other trails where still closed due to snow. This hike is not very high and has very broad and easily accessible paths.

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Schilthorn (2970 m)

From Mürren it’s also possible to either hike or take the cable car to Schilthorn. It’s famous from one of the James Bond movies. This cable car is also not included in the Jungfrau travel pass, so I saw it as challenge to hike up. Unfortunately, I got caught in bad weather which for some reason was only in this area. My friends in Grindelwald were sending me pictures of them hiking in the beautiful sunshine (always check the weather for the specific place you are going, there are tremendous differences!). But I was determined to go and hoped for the weather to change. It didn’t. I hiked 1300 m up and down and all I saw was clouds. I wish I could tell you more about Schilthorn, but I’m afraid all I can say is that the hike up is strenuous but very doable. And for sure the view will make up for it if you get to see it!

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Harder Kulm (1322 m)

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Harder Kulm is the most famous viewpoint from Interlaken. There is a fantastic view over the Lakes of Thun and Brienz. Not far from the official viewpoint there is another, more quiet viewpoint called Wannichnubel (1585 m). It’s about 30 minutes from the main viewpoint and in the midst of the forest. From there you can enjoy the magnificent view all together with the tranquility of Mother Nature. What else could you wish for?

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Jungfraujoch (3466 m)

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For many tourists this is the highlight and probably the reason why the entire region is named after it. At 3454 above sea level it’s Europe’s highest train station. From Grindelwald, the train stops at Kleine Scheidegg, Eigergletscher and Eismeer. At Eismeer the train stops for 5 minutes, enough time to take some pictures.

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Apart from the view, there are several attractions and activities you can do. When the weather allows you can even make a short hike to the Mönchsjoch hut, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible when I was there. Furthermore there is an Ice Palace with ice sculptures, a Lindt Chocolate store, historic facts etc. Once again, check the website for more information.

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Obviously, for me the main highlight was the view. On one side, you have a wonderful view over the Aletschglacier. On the other side, you can look over the entire Jungfrau Region.

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I did this trip towards the end of my stay and it almost made me emotional to see all those places I had hiked throughout the entire summer. But I am going to be perfectly honest with you: In my opinion the view is not worth the CHF 200 which most tourists pay. Due to a very lucky incidence I only paid CHF 11 which was well worth it, but I wouldn’t spend the entire amount.

The views from places such as Schynige Platte, Männlichen and Grosse Scheidegg are a lot more impressive if you ask me. From Jungfraujoch it all looks too small to be impressive. And if you ask me, the view over the Aletschglacier from the other side (Canton Wallis/Valais) is also a lot more beautiful.

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Furthermore, I dislike the fact that it’s not possible to hike around if the trail to Mönchjoch hut is closed. So, if you are short on time and money and rather enjoy hiking through the mountains and not only have a look at it, skip this one. But if you have loads of money and time, go ahead! The view is still wonderful and worth a visit 🙂

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BONUS!

In those seven months, I obviously had some time to explore other places around the region. The upcoming places I will mention are not officially in the Jungfrau Region, but nearby and also worth visiting.

Axalp (1535 m)

From all the unknown hikes I listed in this post, this one is probably the least known. From First I hiked to Axalp, a small village overlooking the lake of Brienz. Probably you had already noticed how much I love views over lakes and especially over the lake of Brienz. Axalp is not an exception and also offers wonderful views over my favourite lake.

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If you walk from First towards Bachalpsee you will come across a sign that points towards Axalp. Here you turn right and start loosing the crowds. The first 30-45 min are marked, but at a certain point you won’t see the directions to Axalp anymore. Don’t panic and look for the sign to Axalp written on a stone (see picture below).

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The further down you go this trail, the more you will notice this is not the most well trodden path. Not only do some parts start to become narrow and steep, at a certain point I lost the trail all together! Even with maps.me it took me quite some while to navigate back to the trail. At least I got to see this small little furry friend, who obviously was surprised to see someone walking through his territory.

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Once I was back on the trail again, it was not difficult to stay on it anymore. Without having to worry of getting lost again, I could finally enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the wonderful valley and the many streams and waterfalls. At a certain point, I even had to walk through a small stream. It will probably depend on the season how much water is in there, but make sure to take waterproof shoes with you.

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Once I reached Axalp, I walked further towards the Hinterburgseeli. I had been there before with my mother and wanted to see the small lake again. Eventually, I didn’t go all the way to the lake, because it was already all covered in shadow and I wanted to catch the bus which didn’t operate very frequently. If you are luckier with the sun and the time, you can add it to your hike. But be aware that you have to climb down to get to the lake and climb back up again.

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Brienzer Rothorn (2351 m)

The Brienzer Rothorn is opposite of Axalp. From Brienz there is a train which takes you straight to the top. The view from there is, obviously, beautiful! I simply can’t get enough of the many views over the lake of Brienz.

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The train ride is already wonderful in itself, as is the view. But of course, I took the option to hike from there. I decided to hike to Brünig-Hasliberg and take the train back home from there. The hike is mainly down (1200 m) with a short ascent over the Arnihaagen.

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I would definitely recommend making this short detour over the ridge. Not only does it offer spectacular views, but I was also happy to climb a bit, I already had to descend more than enough. My knees and ankles are pretty weak, towards the end my knees were hurting so much, a snail might have overtaken me. But the beautiful and versatile landscape really made up for it! Even though it hurt, I’d probably do the hike again. Highly recommended!

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Oeschinen Lake (1578 m)

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Before I came to live in Switzerland I already knew I definitely had to do this hike. I had seen pictures from my sisters friend and I was sold straight away: what a view! From the village Kandersteg it’s only an hour hike to the lake. From the lake you can continue hiking and exploring the area which I unfortunately couldn’t do. This was my last hike with my mum who came to visit me for a week. In this week we did so much intense hiking, she simply didn’t have any energy left for more than necessary hikes. Besides, the weather was not great, though the clouds definitely added some extra flavour to the dramatic setting. Anyhow, for sure I will go back one day to explore more of the region around this wonderful lake!

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