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Go on an Adventure at Grindelwald-First, Switzerland

I initially planned to visit Grindelwald out of my love for Harry Potter; to my surprise, it actually turned out to be one of my favourite parts of Switzerland! 

The highlight of Grindelwald is ‘First’, a mountain allowing visitors to get to the “top of adventure”. There’s no lack of things to do at First; you’ll be able to easily spend an entire day getting caught up in the wide variety of activities available.

Here’s a rough guide of what you can expect at Grindelwald-First:

There’s a unique system at First, where getting up and down the mountain is part of the fun. You can take a cable car all the way up to the summit, then come down the mountain via various modes of transport, such as a zipline, glider, mountain cart and trotti bike. There are 2 cable car stations in total excluding the summit and the base – you can choose to take the cable car or the different modes of transport in between any of the stations, it’s entirely up to you!

The ticket includes unlimited cable car rides, on top of whichever rides you choose to add on. You can choose to buy your rides as a discounted bundle or pay-per-ride as you go along. I decided to go all out and buy the bundle which included all 4 different modes of transport. The 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-activity bundle will cost you CHF46 (~SGD66), CHF65 (SGD93), CHF83 (~SGD119) and CHF99 (~SGD142) respectively. Any additional ala-carte ride will cost between CHF20-30 (~SGD29-43).

I took the cable car all the way up to the summit; alternatively, you can choose to take the cable car to the first station, then ride the trotti bike down to the base. You can also take the cable car to the second station, ride the mountain cart down to the 1st cable car station, then ride the trotti bike down to the base. And so on and so forth!

One benefit of doing these rides first is that you won’t have to stand in line – I went to the summit first then did the rides on my way down, and ended up having to queue about an hour for each ride. 

Hence, if you wish to save time, you can get the rides out of the way and save the summit for last! From what I saw, the mountain cart was the most popular of the lot, resulting in the longest queue. There wasn’t much of a queue for the trotti bike as you operate this by yourself, so you can save that for last.

Doing this, of course, requires you to take a more roundabout route, so it really depends on which you prefer. If you do decide to take the cable car all the way up and use the rides to get back down, the ride to the summit will take about 25 minutes.

If this is confusing, here’s a summary of a few flow options:

Option 1:

  • Take the cable car from the base to the summit (25 minutes)
  • Explore the summit
  • Take the zipline from the summit to cable car station 2
  • Take the glider at cable car station 2
  • Take the mountain cart from cable car station 2 to cable car station 1
  • Take the trotti bike from cable car station 1 to the base

Option 2:

  • Take the cable car from the base to cable car station 2
  • Take the mountain cart from cable car station 2 to cable car station 1
  • Take the cable car from cable car station 1 to the summit
  • Explore the summit
  • Take the zipline from the summit to cable car station 2
  • Take the glider at cable car station 2
  • Take the cable car from cable car station 2 to cable car station 1
  • Take the trotti bike from cable car station 1 to the base

You can also choose to do the rides in any order, depending on your preference! There’s plenty to see at the summit as well, so do cater some time for that in your plan.

On a clear day, enjoy panoramic views from the summit of Grindelwald-First. Hike up a little hill for the best viewing spot!

How cute is that statue!

Embark on the First Cliff Walk, a daring metal mesh bridge built into the side of the mountain. Extending 45 metres out into the air, the Cliff Walk is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Don’t be alarmed if your legs start to get wobbly – you’ll be able to see right through the mesh to the ground below.

It isn’t a long walk; the walk can range from anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes, depending on your speed and frequency of photo-taking.

Towards the end of the Cliff Walk, you’ll approach this circular shaped bridge. Head to the end of it for a splendid view whilst standing on a clear glass panel – if you dare!

After the Cliff Walk, take on an easy 1-hour hike to Lake Bachalpsee.

Depending on the season and your luck, you might even see some fresh snowfall on the ground.

The Lake Bachalpsee hike is a popular route, so you can expect to see lots of hikers heading in the same direction. You might also chance upon a furry friend or two!

The glacier lake of Lake Bachalpsee is truly a sight to behold. Snack on a sandwich on a bench next to the lake, or simply spend some time relaxing on its shores. Once you’re done, you can head back the same way you came – the return journey will take you another hour.

Once you’re ready, you can start going down the mountain via the various rides! First up, the zipline.

Known as the ‘First Flyer’, you’ll fly along an 800-metre stretch at 84 kilometres an hour. Whiz along with the wind in your hair as your legs dangle precariously in the air. This will bring you down from the summit to cable car station 2.

Next up, the glider. Known as the ‘First Glider’, you’ll be strapped into an eagle-like contraption in a face-down position.

You’ll then be pulled backwards up the mountain at 72 kilometres per hour and dangled for a while at the top, before gliding back down at 83 kilometres per hour. It’s truly exhilarating! The glider will return you to your original start position, which is at cable car station 2.

Next, continue the adventure by taking the mountain cart from cable car station 2 to cable car station 1.

Do be careful while driving the mountain cart; the contraption is entirely manually operated. Don’t worry, it’s easy to manoeuvre with in-built handle brakes. The path is wide; however, there aren’t any railings whatsoever. It’s best to start slow and ensure that you’re in full control of the cart! Do note that it’s mandatory to wear a helmet and the ride will last for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Who knows, you might even run into some friendly cows along the way!

Lastly, trade your mountain cart for a trotti bike – which will bring you from cable car station 1 all the way back down to the base.

The trotti bike is a cross between a scooter and a bicycle. You stand upright on the scooter-like contraption, which has brakes that functions much like a bicycle. Helmet use is mandatory when riding the trotti bike as well. You’ll roll past endless meadows and little houses, all against a dramatic mountain backdrop.

Do note that the trotti bike does take some getting used to, especially on a slope. It’s wise to have a little practice session before setting off! It will take you around 40 minutes to reach the base, where you can return the trotti bike at a shed right next to the cable car station.

Do take some time to explore the darling little town of Grindelwald before heading back on a train.

It’s easy to get to Grindelwald; it only took me about half an hour from Lauterbrunnen by train. Grindelwald is also a popular base for those looking to explore Jungfraujoch.

Read: Top Things to Do at Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland; Journey to Jungfraujoch: Things to Do at the Top of Europe

The time I spent at Grindelwald was easily some of the most fun I had during my trip to Switzerland. Gear up for an adventure like no other and experience it for yourself!

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