Free Things To Do In Grindelwald (1-Day Budget Itinerary)

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Switzerland is my favorite country for a number of reasons. It’s home to awe-inspiring views like those in Lauterbrunnen, rustic alpine villages with a stunning view of lake and mountains like Iseltwald, and charming alpine cities like Lucerne. At a minimum, one would need to spend 6 days in Switzerland to experience each aspect.

Adventure is another reason why I like Switzerland. If you’re looking for an adventure in Switzerland, Grindelwald is the place to go. This resort town, which bears witness to the golden age of alpinism, offers a wide range of outdoor adventures, from hiking to zip lines, wall climbing, and even canyon swinging. While these activities sound fun, one must be financially prepared to try most of them. Let’s not forget: Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world to travel.

If you want to visit Grindelwald, but you’re saving your money for other important things, don’t worry. I’ve found attractions and experiences in Grindelwald that are absolutely enjoyable and don’t require much money to visit or try. Let me show you how you can visit or try them all in one day using my Grindelwald Budget itinerary.

Among all the free activities and attractions in Grindelwald, there are only four or five that I would personally recommend. These happen to be the most unique options available at no cost. They include: Grindelwald-First Cliff Walk, Bachalpsee, Männlichen, Panorama Trail, and Village Tour. If you prefer a more relaxing time surrounded by nature and picturesque scenery, I’m sure you’ll have a great time! While it may not be as thrilling as jumping into the middle of Glacier Canyon, you can still experience a sense of adventure. You’ll see what I mean later on…

Don’t worry about having too much free time with these few free destinations/activities. They’re just enough to spend a day in Grindelwald.

Where is Grindelwald

Grindelwald is one of the beautiful places you can visit near Interlaken. It is located in the Jungfrau Region, 75 kilometers south of the beautiful Swiss capital, Bern. Getting to Grindelwald is easy; you can travel there by car or train.

If you choose to drive from Bern, it will take approximately 1.5 hours to reach Grindelwald. If you opt for public transportation, it’s a 1-hour-and-45-minute train journey with a transfer in Interlaken.

Another way to reach Grindelwald is through tours, which I would recommend if it’s your first time in Switzerland and you don’t have much time to plan your trip. The tours are usually expensive, but they are very convenient and guide you to the best experiences without hassle. Typically, the tours to Grindelwald include visits to different attractions in the region like Jungfraujoch.

If you’re staying in Bern for 2 days or more, you can definitely make Grindelwald a day trip destination. You just have to leave the city very early in the morning so that you can visit the tourist attractions in Grindelwald before they become crowded.

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Writer’s Note: PLEASE READ. This is important.

Before we talk about the list of free things to do in Grindelwald, it’s important to note that it’s virtually impossible to spend a day in Grindelwald without incurring some expenses, aside from food. This is especially crucial to keep in mind when planning your budget trip to Grindelwald.

The primary travel expense that you should consider when visiting Grindelwald is transportation. Although there are tourist attractions and activities that you can enjoy for free in Grindelwald, you will still need to use cable cars or trains to reach them. Riding this public transportation isn’t free and is definitely not cheap. The last time I checked, the round trip tickets cost more or less 60 CHF.

Of course, you can explore the free tourist attractions without relying on public transportation. Hiking is a great alternative and a wonderful way to experience Grindelwald and the Jungfrau Region. However, when you choose not to spend money to save time and energy, you are instead spending your time and energy to save money. This means that you will need more time to have all the experiences that you could have in a single day with the use of public transportation.

But don’t worry! In the itinerary that I will share with you, I have ensured that you will spend no money in Grindelwald other than for transportation and food. I believe this is the best way to spend a day in Grindelwald on a budget.

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Summary of the things you can experience in Grindelwald

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1. Grindelwald First Cliff Walk

Among all the peaks that tower over Grindelwald, First is the most accessible. This mountain, standing at a height of 2184 meters, can be reached via a cableway with a valley station situated right in the heart of Grindelwald village. A mere 25-minute cable car ride will take you from the village to First.

Upon arriving at the summit station of First, you’ll immediately spot the First Cliff Walk. This metal walkway, clinging to the side of the cliff, offers absolutely breathtaking views of Grindelwald and the surrounding mountains — Eiger included!

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More Information about First Cliff Walk

During my research, I initially thought it was just another viewing platform, similar to Harder Kulm which is one of the unmissable things to do in Interlaken. But I quickly realized it’s much more than that! The First Cliff Walk is an exhilarating tourist attraction that features a single-rope suspension bridge and an elevated viewing platform with a sheer drop below! Because of this, the First Cliff Walk has become a famous landmark in Grindelwald.

It’s an absolute must-see, not only because it’s free to enter, but also for the unforgettable and thrilling experience it provides. For those who are afraid of heights, the First Cliff Walk might just help you overcome your fear!

2. Bachalpsee

One of the most stunning high-elevation lakes in the Alps is located in Grindelwald, known as Bachalpsee. Visiting this lake is, without a doubt, the top free activity for nature lovers and photographers in Grindelwald. This lake can be reached by hiking from First in approximately one hour.

The lake is divided into two parts, both of which are surrounded by flowery meadows during the summer. The ambiance here is idyllic, filled with the sound of cowbells. And indeed, if you’re seeking a free, soothing experience, Bachalpsee is the place to go.

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What more to expect in Bachalpsee

What makes Bachalpsee exceptional? It’s no other than Bachalpsee’s location, offering an unobstructed view of the alpine peaks southeast of Grindelwald, such as Schreckhorn (4078 meters) and Wetterhorn (3692 meters). At an elevation of 2265, Bachalpsee is also perfectly situated to reflect these mountains when the surface is calm, creating a truly magical scene in the Alps. Did you know that Bachalpsee is so beautiful that Google used it as the backdrop for their Gmail nature theme years ago?

Anyhow, if you’re interested in alpine lakes, Lake Brienz is another that lies very close to Grindelwald. If you’re visiting during summer and you find yourself having an extra time before the sunset, I suggest dropping by Lake Brienz to take in an unreal scenery: mountains reflected by the lake’s magical turquoise blue water.

3. Männlichen

Männlichen is a peak that’s part of the mountain range encircling Grindelwald. This mountain sits on a ridge that forms a natural boundary for Grindelwald, separating it from the town of Lauterbrunnen. Männlichen is a unique mountain in the Jungfrau Region and is a must-visit spot for its extraordinary 360 degrees panoramic views.

Much like First, Männlichen is equipped with a cable car station. This station is linked to the Grindelwald Terminal, which is located within the village itself. By taking the cable car, you can travel from Grindelwald to Männlichen in approximately 20 minutes.

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What to expect in Männlichen

Even before you reach the cable car station at Männlichen, you can expect breathtaking views. But for an unforgettable experience, you should take the Royal Walk, which leads to the summit of Männlichen. This 15-minute one-way hike offers incredibly rewarding views at the top. Standing at a height of 2343 meters, visitors to Männlichen can enjoy unobstructed views of the entire Jungfrau Region.

It’s a sight that will surely inspire you to take out your camera and capture dozens of photos. From Männlichen, you can capture a panoramic view of the Jungfrau Region, which includes not just the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, but also an overlooking view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Grindelwald, and Schynige Platte!

You can learn more about Männlichen from my post, How to Reach Männlichen and Make the Most of Your Trip.

4. Panorama Trail

Did you know that the Jungfrau Region boasts hundreds of kilometers of marked hiking and mountain trails?

Among the numerous segments of the Jungfrau Region’s hiking trails, one that stands out is the Panorama Trail. This hiking trail is not only easy to hike, but it also offers truly stunning scenery. This trail links Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg, providing some of the best views of the renowned trio of mountains in the Jungfrau Region.

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What to expect in hiking the Panorama Trail

Hiking the Panorama Trail doesn’t require any prior hiking experience, especially if you start at Männlichen and make your way down to Kleine Scheidegg. This trail stretches over approximately 5 kilometers (or about 3.1 miles) and has a total elevation loss of about 200 meters (or around 656 feet). It’s as easy as a stroll in the park!

The Panorama Trail is extraordinary because every part of it is amazing. You’ll have the impressive Eiger in your view throughout the hike, and it’s truly a breathtaking sight. If you’re anything like me, you might find yourself picturing the first climbers courageously ascending Eiger’s formidable north face.

5. Village Tour

While Grindelwald might not be the most quaint village to stroll through (I think Gimmelwald takes that crown), it still holds a charm that competes with other mountain villages in the Swiss Alps. Taking a tour around the village is a rewarding free activity, especially if you’re someone wanderer at heart.

Your exploration of Grindelwald can begin at Dorfstrasse, the village’s main street. Here, you’ll come across homes that showcase beautifully maintained traditional architecture. The wooden chalets, with their steeply sloped roofs and vibrantly decorated exteriors, are not only adorable but also incredibly appealing to those bitten by the travel bug.

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More things to do in Grindelwald village

I believe you’ll also appreciate how these chalets blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings. The mountains peeking above these wooden structures create a scene straight out of a magical movie, especially for individuals like me from a relatively modern city.

If you’re interested, consider visiting the Grindelwald Museum. There, you’ll discover permanent exhibitions on agriculture and alpine farming, as well as exhibits about winter sports and local crafts. While the museum isn’t free, it only requires a small admission fee. I consider it unmissable because the highlight of visiting the museum is learning about the Eiger and the mountaineers who conquered it.

You can find the visiting information for the Grindelwald Museum in the resources section of this post.

One Day Budget Itinerary

Here’s an overview of how you can spend a day in Grindelwald visiting the places of interest mentioned in my list of free things to do in Grindelwald. 

  1. 8:00 am — Ride the Cable Car to First
  2. 8:30 am — First Cliff Walk
  3. 9:00 am — Start hike to Bachalpsee
  4. 10:00 am — Relax, take pictures, and go on a picnic in Bachalpsee
  5. 11:00 am — Hike back to First
  6. 12:00 pm — Cable Car down to Grindelwald
  7. 12:30 pm — Lunch time!
  8. 2:00 pm — Cable Car to Männlichen
  9. 2:30 pm — Royal Walk and explore Männlichen
  10. 3:30 pm — Start Panorama Trail
  11. 5:30 pm — Train Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald Grund 
  12. 6:00 pm – Explore the village
Preparation, tips, and reminders for this Budget Grindelwald Itinerary. MUST READ.

If you want to spend a day in Grindelwald on a budget following this itinerary, there are only two requirements.

  1. You must wear comfortable shoes as there will be hiking. While the hiking trails in Grindelwald included in this itinerary are relatively easy, it is advisable to wear appropriate hiking shoes to reduce the risk of even minor injuries.
  2. You must already be in Grindelwald and prepared to start early in the morning before the Firstbahn cable car ascends to First.

As you probably know, Grindelwald is a well-known tourist destination in Switzerland. People from all corners of the globe come to visit its tourist spots, especially the First Cliff Walk, which is most popular during peak season or summer.

Beginning your trip early will enable you to encounter the serenity of the mountains and admire their beauty without the presence of crowds. Mountains possess a mystical quality, and you will have greater chances of witnessing their enchantment when there are no other travelers present. I have visited the mountains multiple times, and the experience of being alone in the mountains has had a profound impact on my life. It may sound unbelievable, but it’s true.

Another important consideration: Is this one-day Grindelwald budget itinerary applicable for the entire year? While this one-day Grindelwald budget itinerary is optimized for summer trips, it can still be used during winter. However, there are a few things to remember.

  1. Schedules and operating hours of businesses and services: If you, like me, live near the equator, chances are you’re accustomed to shops, restaurants, tourist attractions, and public services having the same opening hours year-round. However, this is apparently not the case in Switzerland. Usually, cable cars in Grindelwald have shorter operating hours in winter, with early closing times and late opening times. It’s crucial to keep this in mind when planning a trip to Grindelwald during the winter season. The Grindelwald-Männlichen and Grindelwald-First cableways both have varied operational hours per season.
  2. Access and availability of the hiking trails: As you may know, certain hiking trails become inaccessible during the winter season. Instead, some areas of the mountains are designated for skiing. This is the case for the hiking trails located near Männlichen.
  3. Tourist attractions affected by the season: The cold season affects more than just hiking trails. Bachalpsee freezes and becomes covered in snow during winter, so we removed it from our itinerary for a visit to Grindelwald during this time.

Alright! Those are pretty much the basics to note.

Now, here is a tip. If you possess a Jungfrau Travel Pass, you need not worry about transportation expenses when visiting the free tourist attractions in Grindelwald. 

The Jungfrau Travel Pass is a unique travel pass that provides free travel for 3 to 8 consecutive days in various parts of the Jungfrau Region during non-winter months (typically from the first week of April to the first week of November). Yep, you can access the Grindelwald-Männlichen and Grindelwald-First cableways for free with the Jungfrau Travel Pass!

However, the Jungfrau Travel Pass is not cheap. Pricing starts at 190 CHF for 3 days. Therefore, it is only recommended if you plan to visit Grindelwald and stay for longer to see more of the Jungfrau Region. For example, also visit Wengen and Mürren all the way up to Schiltorn. Wengen offers the best views of the Lauterbrunnen valley while Mürren is the village in the western side of the valley surrounded by 10 amazing attractions.

Please note that the timestamps provided are estimates and should only serve as a guide to prevent spending too much time on a particular attraction or activity. However, if you prefer not to follow my Grindelwald itinerary, below are the approximate lengths of time that people usually spend on each destination or activity. They should help you create your own Grindelwald budget itinerary.

  • Grindelwald to First (cable car; vice versa) — 25 minutes (fixed)
  • First Cliff Walk — 15 minutes (approximate)
  • Hike between First and Bachalpsee — 1 hour (minimum)
  • Bachalpsee (with picnic) — 1 hour (approximate)
  • Grindelwald to Männlichen (cable car; vice versa) – 20 minutes (fixed)
  • Männlichen and Royal Walk — 1 hour (approximate) 
  • Panorama Trail — 1.5 hours (approximate)
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Map of the free things to do in Grindelwald, Jungfrau Region, Switzerland
Map of the free things to do in Grindelwald

Here is a visual summary of a one-day budget itinerary in Grindelwald. Behold the most beautiful moments in Grindelwald. Let your wanderlust ignite! Swipe through the photos or click the arrows to see more.

Morning

Afternoon

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Let’s get into thorough details of the itinerary I’ve provided you.

1. Cable Car from Grindelwald to First

Let’s start your journey at the valley station of Firstbahn, the cableway that takes you to the summit of First. You can find the valley station along Dorfstrasse, the main street of the village. If you’re coming from Grindelwald Terminal or Grindelwald Grund, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the east, or you can follow the direction of Wetterhorn. As a tip, you can ride bus #121 to get to Firstbahn faster.

I recommend arriving at the cable car station before the first ascent. This way, you’ll be the first to get to First Cliff Walk and avoid the crowds that come to the summit at midday. The first ascent schedule varies between 8:00 am and 8:30 am. However, there are weeks in March and April when the first ascent is set late at 10:00 am.

Also, please take note of the maintenance work, which usually lasts for a month and happens during the low season, around the first week of November. Before reaching the summit, visitors can enjoy a scenic, 360-degree view of Grindelwald in all directions. It’s a great way to start your trip to Grindelwald.

The cable car will pass by two other cable car stations, Bort and Schreckfeld. From these stations (including the summit station), you can experience four of the most thrilling adventures in Grindelwald: the First Flyer, First Glider, First Mountain Cart, and First Trottibikes. You can check the resources section of this post to learn more about the activities.

You might need this: Grindelwald-First cable car tickets.

2. First Cliff Walk

When you arrive at First, you will easily spot Cliff Walk. The raised viewing platform of Cliff Walk is situated right next to the restaurant. From there, you can begin your walk on the metal platform.

I recommend walking back and forth on First Cliff Walk because the views vary in each direction. The view on your way back to the restaurant from the other end of First Cliff Walk is much better, as you’ll be able to see the breathtaking scenery of the mountains.

3. Hike to Bachalpsee

Bachalpsee is the next destination after First Cliff Walk. To get there, you need to hike. But don’t worry, the hike to Bachalpsee is an easy one.

In summary, the hiking trail to Bachalpsee spans for 2.8 kilometers and has an overall elevation gain of 150 meters. It takes approximately an hour to finish. Only the first quarter of the hiking trail to Bachalpsee, from First to Gummihütte, is inclined and can be a little challenging for some. The rest of the hiking trail is like you’re just walking in a park.

If you see benches along the hiking trail, it means you have to pause and look around. They are usually breathtaking viewpoints. They’re an invitation to relax and appreciate the stunning surrounding scenery.

4. Bachalpsee (Picnic)

Bachalpsee is divided into two bodies by an isthmus, which marks the end of the hike to Bachalpsee. The bodies are linked by a small stream named Milibach, which is also a tributary of Schwarz Lütschine. The larger and more elevated part of Bachalpsee is the one located further into the mountains. This part of the lake is surrounded by more verdant and flowery meadows – perfect for a picnic!

I’m certain that you will fall in love with Bachalpsee as soon as your eyes land on the lower part of the lake. Despite its smaller size, it is where you can find the most breathtaking view – the one that will complete your visit to Bachalpsee.

The smaller section of Lake Bachalpsee is the perfect spot for taking photographs. When the weather is fantastic, and the wind is gentle, you can see the snow-capped mountains on the opposite side of Grindelwald reflected in the lake’s calm surface. Like the benches you’ll find along the hiking trail to Bachalpsee, the benches facing the smaller part of Bachalpsee are also beautiful vantage points for appreciating the lake. If you are a photographer, you know what it means!

It’s up to you how long you spend at Bachalpsee. However, if you’re following my itinerary, I suggest you start hiking back to First an hour before noon for lunch.

5. Back to the Village (Lunch)

You can have lunch at the restaurant at the cable car station as soon as you reach First. However, if you want to save money, I suggest going down to the village where there are more options and cheaper alternatives. If you’re really looking to save money, there’s a medium-sized COOP supermarket in Grindelwald where you can find sandwiches for 4 to 5 CHF, which are perfect for this budget trip.

Keep in mind that you can also have lunch at other cable car stations, such as Firstbahn or Männlichen — the next destinations on this itinerary. While it’s certainly fancy to enjoy lunch with the snowy peaks as your backdrop, the price you might pay could be as high as the altitude of the restaurant you plan to dine at.

6. Grindelwald Terminal (Cable Car to Männlichen)

The afternoon leg of this one-day Grindelwald budget itinerary begins at Grindelwald Terminal, which is also the cable car valley station to Männlichen. If you’re coming from the Firstbahn valley station, you can easily reach Grindelwald Terminal by taking bus #121. The travel time is approximately 15 minutes, which is 15 minutes shorter than walking.

At Grindelwald Terminal, you can choose the type of roundtrip journey ticket you want to visit Männlichen. There are a few options, but I recommend taking the “Grindelwald-Männlichen-Panoramaweg-Kleine Scheidegg-Grindelwald” Route. This route involves riding a cable car from Grindelwald to Männlichen, hiking to Kleine Scheidegg, and then taking a train back to Grindelwald.

If you prefer not to hike and want to spend your whole afternoon in Männlichen, another option is the “Grindelwald-Männlichen-Grindelwald” cable car round trip journey. To make your trip more convenient, I suggest booking your ticket online through Männlichen’s official website, which is linked in the resources section of this post.

The cable car journey to Männlichen lasts for 20 minutes and offers stunning views of Eiger’s north face and the Jungfrau massif.

7. Männlichen (Royal Walk)

Upon arriving at Männlichen, you’ll be greeted by the delightful sound of chiming cowbells and children’s laughter as they play in the mountain’s playground. It’s really a good vibe, especially with the panoramic views of the Jungfrau region all around you.

While you may be tempted to spend some time in the playground or on the benches near the cable car stations, I suggest heading straight to the summit (Royal Walk) upon arrival. It’s best to spend more time at the summit of Männlichen to fully appreciate the changing beauty of the mountain. The longer you stay, the greater your chances of witnessing the most spectacular views of the Jungfrau Region.

As you may already know, mountain weather can change quickly, affecting the appearance of the landscape. For instance, if the mountains are currently shrouded in clouds, waiting a few moments may allow the wind to blow them away, revealing the epic scenery.

8. Panorama Trail (Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg)

Since you’re already at Männlichen, you must try the Panorama Trail. This hiking trail not only offers breathtaking views all the time, but it’s also an easy downhill course that requires almost no effort to make a memorable hike. Similar to the hike from First to Bachalpsee, this trail has a wide gravel path and is well-marked. Depending on your walking speed, it may take you 1.5 to 2 hours to finish the hike.

If you’re interested, you can make a quick detour to Restaurant Grindelwaldblick just before reaching Kleine Scheidegg. It’s a restaurant with an epic view overlooking Kleine Scheidegg and the Jungfrau Massif that you won’t want to miss!

9. Train to Grindelwald Grund from Kleine Scheidegg

Kleine Scheidegg is the final stop on this one-day Grindelwald budget itinerary. Once you arrive here, you can take the train back to Grindelwald and conclude your trip for the day.

I chose to include the train ride back to Grindelwald from Kleine Scheidegg instead of the cable car Grindelwald-Männlichen-Grindelwald round trip, not only because it is a few CHF cheaper but also because the Wengernalpbahn railway that connects Kleine Scheidegg and Grindelwald (as well as Lauterbrunnen) is an amazing experience.

Wengernalpbahn is the world’s longest cogwheel train and one of Switzerland’s most scenic. You can try their newest trains that have large glass windows, which will undoubtedly make your Grindelwald trip unforgettable!

This stunning train ride lasts approximately 25 minutes.

Resources

That’s all there is to it! You can enjoy a day in Grindelwald without breaking the bank. However, before you embark on this adventure, ensure to check the train and cable car schedules, as well as the status of hiking trails, using the links provided below.

You can book your tickets online using the same websites linked above.

IMPORTANT: It’s crucial to consider the weather before heading up to the mountains. Predicting the chance of rain or sunshine for your visit to Grindelwald a month or a week in advance is unfortunately impossible. So, if you have a flexible schedule during your trip to Switzerland or the Jungfrau Region, I suggest purchasing your Grindelwald tickets online a day or a few days prior to your visit when you have a better idea of the weather... And if your trip to the Jungfrau Region is spontaneous, you can check the live camera views of the different mountains and summits in the area. This will help you determine whether the roundtrip tickets are worth it for the views from the summit or the tourist attractions in the mountains.

Also, Grindelwald serves as the adventure hub of the Jungfrau Region. To discover more about the exciting adventures and amazing attractions I mentioned earlier in this post, simply follow the links below.

  1. First Flyer – Awesome zip line activity from First to Schreckfeld
  2. First Glider – A new zip line concept activity from Schreckfeld to First and back.
  3. First Mountain Cart – Adventurous adventure Schreckfeld to Bort
  4. First Trottibikes – A scenic fun ride back to the village from Bort
  5. Pfingstegg – Outdoor fun best for traveling families
  6. Lütschine River – Rafting on grade 3 or grade 4 rapids
  7. Glacier Canyon – Hike inside an impressive canyon with a spider net over the river.
  8. Grindelwald Museum – place to get insights into alpinism and the history of Grindelwald.

Lastly, if you’re gearing up for a multi-day adventure in the Grindelwald, Jungfrau Region and still need to lock down your accommodations, I’d love it if you could check out my partner’s hotel search and booking service. I’ve used it multiple times and I truly believe they offer some of the best hotel deals around. Plus, their map feature makes it super easy to find a hotel in your ideal location. Just a heads up, the link is an affiliate link. This means if you book a hotel through it, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This really helps me keep this site running and continue creating content like this. I’d be so grateful for your support!

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For more ideas on where to go in Switzerland, check out my 4-day Switzerland itinerary focused on Bern, Bernese Oberland, Lucerne, and Mount Pilatus. It’s a great itinerary if you’re looking for an overall experience that blends city, history, nature, and adventure. It includes visits to Thun, Lake Thun, and Oberhofen Castle, which are beautiful fairytale destinations in Switzerland.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi,i am interesting of your artivle about free thing to do in Grindelwald. I need to ask you one more thing,
    If we done village tour,can we continue to Jungfraujoch at same day?

    1. It depends actually. But if the village tour would be quick like 2 hours. I think the remaining hours of the day will still be perfect for Jungfraujoch. 🙂

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