It is not often I return to a ski area less than a year after a visit. However, in December 2022 I was back in Switzerland on a second Jungfrau skiing trip. This time rather than the article being about Interlaken, I was there to conduct a Grindelwald Terminal and Eiger Express review. Of course whilst still snowboarding around the wonderful ski area.
I previously visited in March 2022. Here, you can check out a detailed review of my Interlaken snowboarding holiday in Jungfrau, when all the slopes were open. Unfortunately, in early December only the higher slopes in Grindelwald, Wengen and Männlichen were open. However, staying in Grindelwald felt more like a skiing holiday than basing myself in Interlaken.
In the south west of Central Switzerland, Grindelwald can be reached by SBB (Swiss trains) in around three hours from Zurich or four from Geneva. Either direction is a beautiful journey and can be reduced if you fly into Bern. The last thirty minutes of the journey from Interlaken is on the beautiful Jungfrau Railways which take you up into the mountains.
The high Alpine peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau (meaning young woman or maiden) reach 4,158 metres. They are home to the highest train station (Jungfraujoch 3,454 metres) in Europe. The train lines up, across and through these mountains make the ski area rather unique and lend it the name Jungfrau.
Jungfrau Railways take you to the resorts of Grindelwald, Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg, Mürren, Lauterbrunnen and Meiringen-Hasliberg. From these there are 211km of slopes to explore, including the First, Männlichen and Schilthorn ski areas. All of which you can easily reach from Grindelwald.
At the heart of this impressive railway network is the Gridelwald Terminal. Opened in 2020 it cost CHF470 million (around £420/€487/$513 million) to build. It is a state of the art terminus for the Jungfrau trains plus two high speed gondolas – The Eiger Express and Männlichen.
But the terminal is also so much more. It is a shopping centre with a Co-Op supermarket, and small stores selling typical Swiss offerings such as cheese, chocolate and expensive watches. There is also a large Intersport to buy or rent anything you need, plus ski lockers to store it.
Entertainment is provided at three bars and restaurants. You can eat everything from noodles to fondue, grab a beer or cocktail or enjoy Swiss cheese and wine. For those with deep pockets there is a private members club, it costs a fortune, but drinks and snacks are always available and you get to ride in a private cable car!
Overall it is a hugely impressive building. Everything is built on a large scale to ensure an uncrowded experience. There are good public toilets, ample ticket booths and plenty of seating in case you need to wait for friends. With onsite parking and ski slopes feeding into the terminal means it handles a large volume of people, but without ever feeling busy.
The CHF470 Million investment also included the new Eiger Express. The tri-cable, gondola is one of the fastest in the world travelling 6,483 meters in just 15 minutes. With 10 heated seats it takes you to the Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier) Station, travelling under the watchful gaze of the north face of the Eiger.
At the top are more restaurants plus you can hit the ski slopes. Alternatively from here you can take the train up to Junfraujoch, saving around 30 minutes compared to getting the trains alone. However, it is well worth getting the train at least once as it is a beautiful and unique journey.
I wasn’t very well so I missed the trip to Jungfraujoch, but I had visited earlier in the year – so I know all about it! It takes at least two hours to visit, so it will eat into your slope time. But with more shopping and restaurants at the top many people make a day of it.
On the way up the train stops at windows that have been cut in the north face of the Eiger for some exceptional views. Carrying on to the top you reach the icy wonderland of Aletsch Glacier, at 23km the longest and largest in the Alps. The views are stunning from the Sphynx terrace, on a clear day you can see into France, Italy and Germany.
In good weather you can take a walk on the glacier, there are also other seasonal activities you can get involved in. At the top is an excellent multimedia experience about building Jungfraujoch, the glacier and the climate etc. There is also an ice palace and ice caves to explore with many ice sculptures to admire.
Of course a Grindelwald Terminal and Eiger Express review would not be complete without talking about the skiing and snowboarding. During this visit only the higher slopes were open, but that was plenty to have a good time. The slopes were in good conditions for early December, and although hard-pack on the piste there was some power to be found between the pistes.
On day one we took the Männlichen lift and explored this area. We spent the morning working our way across the ski area towards Kleine Scheidegg where we had a lovely lunch. After a few runs in the Wengen area in the afternoon we took the Eiger Express back down to the Terminal as you could not ski or snowboard all the way to the bottom.
On day two we met Gian Simmen, the first ever Olympic snowboarding halfpipe gold medalist. He took us up to the Eigergletscher and then showed us around the ski area. As a snowboarder myself it was a joy to follow a pro rider as he knew all the side hits and spots to pop tricks, making it a hugely enjoyable morning exploring the higher slopes above Wengen.
Overall it was a great couple of days of snowboarding. And while less than half of the ski area was open there was plenty to do. But for a more detailed review of Jungfrau skiing check out this article about my Interlaken snowboarding holiday.
The major difference on this visit to my stay in Interlaken was that we were based up in the mountains in Grindelwald rather than in the city of Interlaken. Now this certainly made it feel more like a ski holiday, and cut out around thirty minutes on trains each morning. Grindelwald is a pretty destination with lots of accommodation, bars, restaurants and shops on its main street.
We stayed in the lovely five star Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof. It is in a great spot just a couple of minutes walk from the train station. Although my room seemed twice as far from the reception as the hotel was from the train station! Strangely I had to get lifts both up and down to reach it and walk along a few corridors – slightly drunk on the first night I got a bit lost!
But the rooms are wonderful with everything you’d expect from a five start hotel. Including a large and super comfortable bed, plus a gorgeous walk in shower. The decor was a bit old fashioned for my liking, but it was done to a very high standard.
There is a lovely spa with a nice indoor pool. You’ll also find a Finnish sauna, bio sauna with light therapy, steam bath, glacier grotto an adventure shower and a Kneipp pool – you could spend hours in here. For a little extra you can book a massage or visit the private spa area.
A review of Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof would not be complete without discussing the six bar and restaurant areas including a Shisha Lounge. I recommend the excellent cocktails served from the a cosy bar near the reception.
While there are many options for your meals we only had dinner at the Schweizerhof once, at the Restaurant Alpterrassen. It serves a set menu for half board guests, including tasty traditional Swiss dishes and a lovely buffet salad.
Alpterrassen is also the location of breakfast, which was huge! Rarely have I seen such a comprehensive mix of dishes, there were breads and pastries, fruit and cereals – including a large make your own muesli section – hot dishes, cold meats and cheese. Plus you could order eggs, omelettes and pancakes to be freshly cooked.
We also ate out a few times.
Located near to Kleine Scheidegg Station we had a delicious lunch at Bergrestaurant on the first day. The setting is stunning, literally below the north face of the Eiger with a plush restaurant and lovely decor. They serve a Swiss-Italian fusion of food with great pizzas, pasta and some traditional mountain dishes.
This cosy underground restaurant has lots of natural wood on display with the seating feeling quite private in little nooks and crannies. It is a bit of a steak restaurant, although not entirely, as it has a good mix of traditional Swiss food and some international dishes such as Thai curry. It’s well worth a visit to Barry’s.
We decided to hit the town for a couple of drinks one night and ended up in the Avocado Bar playing darts and drinking beer until rather late. We had planned to take in a few other bars but this was lively enough and not ridiculously expensive. Plus our game of darts took so long that everywhere else had closed by the time we had finished!
While only a relatively quick visit I had a great time during this Grindelwald Terminal & Eiger Express review. Grindelwald is the perfect spot to base yourself in the Jungfrau as you can easily reach the First, Männlichen or Wengen ski areas. You can also get up to Eigergletscher in just 15 minutes to enjoy the very long runs back to the town.
Both the new Eiger Express and the Grindelwald Terminal are exceptionally well done. Which is not a surprise considering how much they cost. However, they add to an already historic and unique ski area, not just making the mountains easier to reach but also a more enjoyable process.
To conclude this Grindelwald Terminal & Eiger Express review I’d recommend anyone that enjoys a slightly different ski experience – or who loves trains! – takes a Jungfrau skiing trip. Furthermore, I’d suggest you base yourself in Grindelwald for the most connected experience in the region.
We hope you found this review of skiing in Junfrau in December useful. For more information about winter sports in Switzerland check out the Swiss Tourism website: www.myswitzerland.com and take a look at the Jungfrau website for more info about this lovely region: www.jungfrau.ch