Monday, 25 March 2024 10:07

7 reasons why to choose Grindelwald-Wengen for your next skiing holiday

Written by James Forrest

From lift passes and gondola times to slope information and snow conditions, here’s our ultimate ski guide to the Jungfrau resort of Grindelwald-Wengen – plus 7 reasons why to choose Grindelwald-Wengen for your next skiing holiday.

What could be better than cruising downhill on fresh, powdery snow with a trio of world-renowned peaks – the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau – as a dreamy alpine backdrop? This is exactly what you get at the Jungfrau ski region of Grindelwald-Wengen in Switzerland, near to the adventure town of Interlaken.

Interlaken town Interlaken

Consisting of two valleys, three mountain ranges and 211km of beautifully-groomed pistes, the wider Jungfrau ski area is billed as a “winter paradise” with state-of-the-art infrastructure, guaranteed snow, and varied activities to suit every skier and snowboarder. It’s a classic way to experience the Swiss Alps, whether you’re all about easy blue runs, gnarly off-piste, entertaining snow parks or energetic cross country tours.

There are a trio of main resorts in Jungfrau: Grindelwald-Wengen, Grindelwald-First and Mürren-Schilthorn (plus the lesser-known ‘fourth’ resort of Meiringen-Hasliberg). At MyOutdoors we recently visited the Grindelwald-Wengen ski area for a hedonistic few days of cruise-y red runs, gondola rides, alpine gastronomy and resort research (not a bad gig!), and – of all of the Jungfrau resorts – we reckon it might just be the most epic. It really is a slice of Swiss alpine heaven.

The village of Wengen The village of Wengen. Picture credit - Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG

Based on our experiences, here’s our ultimate guide to the Jungfrau ski resort of Grindelwald-Wengen, with everything you need to know about ski pass prices, accommodation options, gondola routes, transport links and the altitude range, as well as 7 epic reasons to visit.

7 Reasons To Choose Grindelwald-Wengen For Your Next Ski Holiday

 

1. A Trio of Iconic Peaks

You could travel the world for decades and never find a better ski resort view than the one you get from Grindelwald-Wengen. A trio of iconic peaks – the Eiger (3,970m), Mönch (4,107m) and Jungfrau (4,158m) – serve up a never-ending, achingly-pretty alpine backdrop that will take your breath away.

Eiger Monch and Jungfrau Eiger Monch and Jungfrau

2. The Eiger’s North Face

This awe-inspiring wall of rock and ice is an uninterrupted 1,800m of brutal verticality – it is truly a sight to behold and one of the most iconic cliff-faces anywhere in the globe. Skiing in front of it is a rite of passage for every alpine skier, and a bona fide bucket-list item to tick off.

Eiger north Face from Kleine SheideggNorth Face of the Eiger

3. The Roof of Europe

Take a brief break from hurtling downhill and head uphill instead for a visit to the ‘Roof of Europe’, one of the continent’s top tourist attractions. The Jungfraujoch is the highest railway station in Europe, perched on a rocky platform between the iconic peaks of Mönch and Jungfrau. You reach it from Kleine Scheidegg or Eigergletscher on a mountain rack railway, which journeys through a tunnel. If you have a ski pass, a connecting ticket to the Jungfraujoch costs 63 CHF. What is it like to stand atop the roof of Europe? As the attraction’s website poetically puts it: “Icy air sweeps over your face, snow crunches underfoot, and the panorama almost takes your breath away: on one side the view of the Swiss Mittelland towards the Vosges, on the other the Aletsch Glacier, lined with four thousand metre peaks. Standing on the Jungfraujoch 3,454 metres above sea level, you can feel it with your first step: this is a different world. It's one you have to experience.”

Top of Europe Top of Europe

4. Slopes That Hit The Spot

While hardcore experts might feel Jungfrau doesn’t have enough to challenge their limits or get the adrenaline flowing, for the majority of beginners and intermediates the slopes of Grindelwald-Wengen hit the mark with pinpoint precision. The slopes are moderately steep, with loads of lovely cruise-y red runs, ample blues and a handful of blacks. There’s enough to keep you excited and help you develop, but nothing to strike the fear of God into you. It’s a perfect balance.

Skiing in the Grindelwald-Wengen resort.  Picture credit - Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG Skiing in the Grindelwald-Wengen resort. Picture credit - Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG

5. Epic Non-Skiing Alternatives

Grindelwald-Wengen is not a one-dimensional destination – there is so much more to do than just skiing. Across the whole Jungfrau ski are there are 100km of winter hiking trails and 50km of sledging runs, or if you visit nearby Interlaken the adventure options are endless. You can soar high on a tandem paragliding flight with Alpin Air, go kayaking on Lake Brienz with Hightide Kayak School or head out snowshoeing with Outdoor.

6. The Iconic Lauberhorn

In just two and a half minutes the fastest skiers in the globe thunder down the Lauberhorn descent at an average speed of 110km/hr. It’s an iconic Ski World Cup race every January in Wengen, with 30,000 spectators cheering on the competitors. But, outside of race weekend, mere mortals can ski the same route – you won’t be anywhere near as fast, but it’s super fun to pretend you’re a pro for just one downhill blitz.

Skiing in the Grindelwald Wengen ski area Skiing at Wengen. Picture credit - Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG

7. Multi-million Pound Investments

Nothing is out-of-date here. This resort is high-tech, high-end and seriously state-of-the-art, which means you can get around easily, quickly and in total comfort. A whopping 470 million Swiss Francs was spent on the so-called V-cableway gondola project, for example. This half-a-billion investment had two main aims: to modernise the Grindelwald–Männlichen gondola (and thus improve and speed up connections between Grindelwald and Wengen), and to build the new, super-slick Eiger Express cableway from Grindelwald to the Eiger Glacier station.

The Eiger Express, which opened in 2020, whisks skiers for 6.5km from Grindelwald to the top of the resort in a rapid 15 minutes. Another impressive development is the ultra-modern Grindelwald Terminal, which is part luxury shopping mall and part efficient transport hub. It boasts a platinum lounge with VIP service and a 500-strong ski locker basement. 

Eiger Express gondola. Picture credit - Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG Eiger Express gondola. Picture credit - Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG

Grindelwald-Wengen Resort Guide

Like a scene from a James Bond movie, the twin resorts of Grindelwald-Wengen are quintessentially alpine and awesomely adventurous. The villages are pretty, with traditional wooden houses, Victorian-style hotels and postcard-perfect chalets, and all the while you have the snow-capped leviathans of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau as a jagged backdrop. You’re highly unlikely to be disappointed by the setting.

The Villages: Atmosphere and Vibe

Grindelwald is a tad larger and livelier, with cars on the roads – but it’s blessed with incredible views of the Eiger north face. For younger crowds it’s the better choice of the two. Car-free Wengen is more sedate. It’s smaller and quieter, and a good option for families and older couples not interested in après activities. Wengen is located on a sunny shelf overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley, and it’s a resort synonymous with Brits. It has been popular with British skiers for a century, and the Ski Club of Great Britain runs many holidays from Wengen.

Public Transport

Both resorts are easily accessible by public transport. From Zurich Airport, you can get to Wengen in about 3 hours, taking a train to Lauterbrunnen via Interlaken Ost, and then a short 12-minute bus ride to car-free Wengen.

The journey time to Grindelwald is similar, about 3 hours from Zurich Airport via Interlaken Ost (without the need for a bus). If you are linking to the Eiger Express gondola, you need to get off at the Grindelwald Terminal train station, which is located to the west of Grindelwald village.  

Lauterbrunnen valley Lauterbrunnen

Gondolas & Lifts

Grindelwald and Wengen are linked via an excellent infrastructure of gondolas and lifts. Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg are the main linking hubs, both centrally located in the ski area.

From Wengen the main way into the mountains is via the Wengen-Männlichen gondola. You can then wind your way around the resort via multiple chair lifts including Läger, Gummi, Arven and Eigernordwand. The highest point of the resort is Eigergletscher at 2,333m.

From Grindelwald Terminal the swiftest option is to take the 15-minute Eiger Express up to the Eigergletscher at 2,333m, or you can take Grindelwald Terminal -Männlichen gondola, or the train to Kleine Scheidegg.

The Slopes

There are 104km of slopes in the Grindelwald-Wengen ski area. The majority of the slopes are red and blue runs, with a handful of black runs thrown in for the more confident skiers out there. Thanks to extensive snow-making facilities, you can ski all the way from the top of the resort at Eigergletscher (2,333m) to both villages – blue 36 to Wengen and blue 22 or red 23 to Grindelwald – although the lower slopes may be quite bare and slushy at times.

The Wengen ski area. Picture credit - Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG The Wengen ski area. Picture credit - Jungfrau Region Tourismus AG

The core area of the resort, linking Eigergletscher, Kleine Scheidegg and Männlichen, is focused on manageable red runs and easy blues. More challenging routes link the Eigergletscher with Wengernalp, including the twin black runs of 27 and 32 and the Lauberhorn blacks of 41 and 45.

On top of the regular skiing, there are some quirky little extras in the resort. On piste 21 you can measure your speed, on piste 3 you can film your run, and on piste 45 you can take on the iconic Lauberhorn World Cup route.

Skiers who are based in Grindelwald, rather than Wengen, will also have access to a whole other resort – Grindelwald-First, located to the north-east of Grindelwald village. Grindelwald-First has 55km of pistes, rising up to 2,168m at First.

Grindelwald-Wengen Resort Guide: The Stats

Best for: beginners, intermediates

Key attributes: incredible alpine scenery, modern infrastructure, iconic runs, superb transport links

Kms of slopes: 104km

No. of lifts/gondolas: 21

2023/4 season dates: 02.12.23 - 28.04.24

Altitude range: 1,034m (Grindelwald) and 1,274m (Wengen) to 2,333m (Eigergletscher)

Ski pass price: From 75 CHF/day

Public transport: Train to Grindelwald Terminal from Zurich Airport via Bern/Interlaken Ost (2hrs 49 mins)

Where to stay: Beausite Park Hotel & Spa, Wengen

Where to eat: Bergrestaurant Kleine Scheidegg

More info: www.jungfrau.ch