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Grindelwald, Switzerland; Experience the Jungfrau Top Ski Region

The small village of Grindelwald is nestled in the Swiss Alps of the Bernese Oberland. Along with the resort towns of Mürren and Wengen, Grindelwald is part of the famed Jungfrau Top Ski Region that offers magnificent scenery, diverse wildlife, and some of the best skiing in Switzerland.

Grindelwald’s history stretches back over 850 years. It wasn’t until the early 1800’s that the farming village turned its eye toward tourism. The first hotel was built in 1818, and the tourists have been coming ever since. The town’s Swiss chalet-style buildings add a traditional ambience to this Alpine town.

Three ski areas surround Grindelwald: the First, the Männlichen, and the Kleine Scheidegg. A Jungfrau Top Ski Region pass covers all of the lifts, trains, and ski buses that connect them. The region provides 213 kilometers (133 miles) of skiable terrain, with 30% designated for beginners, 50% for intermediates, and 20% for experts.

Grindelwald is the best of the three villages for beginners to use as their base. New skiers may want to take some lessons from the resort’s outstanding ski school. Scenic beginner trails run from Kleine Scheidegg down into the town. Beginners may also want to try the First ski area, as well.

Intermediates will have a hard time trying to ski all the slopes available to them in a week’s vacation but they can certainly enjoy the effort. Twenty-eight trails adding up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) of runs descend to Grindelwald itself. Intermediates also enjoy terrain in the larger Jungfrau region and the descent down the Eiger Glacier.

Advanced skiers have less terrain at Grindelwald but with access to the entire Jungfrau region it is still a good base. Grindelwald’s First and Männlichen ski areas boast some steep terrain with long trails to challenge the advanced skier. Experts will want to try the Schilthorn Mountain, the highest skiable terrain in the Jungfrau at 2,971 meters (9,748 feet). A 45-minute train ride takes skiers from Grindelwald to the Schilthorn.

In addition to skiing, there is an abundance of winter activities in Grindelwald. Snowboarders are thrilled by the vast array of boarder-friendly slopes at the resort and throughout the Jungfrau region. Grindelwald’s three ski areas all have their own snowparks.

Ice climbing is another popular sport in the area. Grindelwald lies below the north face of the Eiger Mountain, providing convenient access to climbers. Climbing courses and local guides are available for instruction. Grindelwald, and the larger Jungfrau region, is a playground for winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing (30 kilometers/19 miles of tracks), and tobogganing, bobsledding, and sleigh riding.

Grindelwald après-ski activities begin with a meal at one of the area’s 40 restaurants. The local restaurants serve the wonderful specialties of the region including Swiss fondue, Raclette, and Rösti, as well as international meals. A visit to a café is a must with its apple strudels, breads, chocolates, and turnovers. Later in the evening the après-ski scene moves to clubs, bars, and discos.

It would be a shame to travel to Grindelwald and not take a trip up to the Jungfraujoch, known as the Top of Europe. A cog railway climbs to an elevation of 3,471 meters (11,280 feet), offering a spectacular panorama of mountain peaks reaching as far as France and Germany. This train ride takes visitors to the Ice Palace (a glacial ice cave exhibiting ice sculptures), as well as the Aletsch Glacier and the Sphinx observation terrace. Travelers also enjoy the novelty of riding on a sled pulled by a team of Greenland dogs.

Another popular excursion is a trip to the revolving Piz Gloria restaurant perched at the top of the Schilthorn. The restaurant, built for the filming of a James Bond movie, is reached by gondola from Mürren. The view is so spectacular that diners may even forget to eat their meal.

Back down in Grindelwald, visitors enjoy shopping for Swiss souvenirs and ski wear, relaxing in a spa at the sports center, or exploring the local history museum.

After one trip, visitors know that they will have to come back for many winters to enjoy all of the beauty and all the adventures that await them in Grindelwald and the Jungfrau region.