Some snowboard trips are just different. It would be easy to rank them as better or worse than other vacations but that does everyone a disservice. So check out this review of Interlaken snowboarding holiday in Jungfrau, Switzerland to find out why it was so different. And why those differences made it so memorable.
Interlaken is a small city and district of the same name south west of the centre of Switzerland. As the name implies it sits between two lakes (Brienz to the east and Thun the west). It’s population of around 23,000 mainly live on fluvial plains to the north of the high Alpine peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
Jungfrau (meaning young woman or maiden) is a 4,158 metre mountain and home to the highest train station (Jungfraujoch) in Europe (3,454 metres). And it is the train lines up, across and through these mountains that make the region so unique and lend the ski area the name Jungfrau.
Jungfrau Railways link with the efficient and comfortable Swiss trains (SBB) at Interlaken. From here you can take the train to the resorts of Grindelwald, Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg, Mürren, Lauterbrunnen and Meiringen-Hasliberg. These give access to 211km of slopes including runs around these resorts plus the First, Männlichen and Schilthorn ski areas.
You can stay in any of the resorts. Or you can book a hotel in Interlaken which is a proper city with plenty of great restaurants, bars and things to do. Interlaken and it’s suburbs, including Harder Kulm, Wilderswil and Gündlischwand/Zweilütschinen have great train links and offer a very different experience to staying in resort.
The most important part of any snowboarding trip is the slopes. So lets kick off this review of Interlaken snowboarding holiday looking at the three ski regions within Jungfrau.
The trains run in a big loop with lines splitting at Zweilütschinen and heading towards Wengen or Grindelwald. The two lines then continue up either side of the mountains to meet again at Kleine Scheidegg. From here you can take another line to Eigergletscher and carry on through the Eiger mountain to Junfraujoch.
The trains supplement traditional ski lifts, offering a warm and comfortable way to get about. That said there are plenty of chairlifts and gondolas including the very impressive Eiger Express that whisks you from Grindelwald to Eigergletscher in 15 minutes.
This is a large area with a variety of pistes to suit all levels including some very long top to bottom runs. Although it is worth noting that Blue 22 and Red 21 both have lots of flat bits that are difficult for snowboarders. Red 3 is the most fun long slope taking you all the way to the bottom but even on this snowboarders will have to unstrap a couple of times.
But apart from that the slopes are awesome. The Black 27 and 32 down from Eigergletscher are great for advanced riders, although we found the start difficult to find. The slopes down towards Wengen are a lot of fun, as are those around Lauberhorn where the runs are longer than they look on the map.
But our favourite area was Männlichen. It can easily be reached from Grindelwald or Wengen and there are some lovely wide runs, lots of off-piste and plenty of options for all levels. The six lifts within the area open up plenty of varied pistes and off-piste terrain. The only thing it is missing is a snowpark!
We spent two days in the Männlichen area during this review of Interlaken snowboarding holiday in Jungfrau, Switzerland. This included a day in riding significant amounts of fresh snow when the rest of the Jungfrau didn’t get more than a dusting.
A review of a snowboarding holiday in Jungfrau, Switzerland would not be complete without taking a trip to Jungfraujoch. It takes at least two hours so plan it around your slope time. I had a bad crash one day and injured my shoulder, so taking a couple of hours out felt like a good idea.
We took the Eiger Express up to the beginning of the glacier and hopped on the train to the top. The train stops at windows that have been cut in the north face of the Eiger. Unfortunately the clouds had come in so there was no view at all.
Carrying on to the top we rose above the cloud to a icy wonderland and Europe longest glacier. The views are stunning from the Sphynx terrace, on a clear day you can see into France, Italy and Germany. There are a range of restaurants and gift shops at the top, although I am sure you can guess nothing is cheap!
It was too windy for a walk on the glacier during our visit. But we enjoyed the multimedia experience and spent quite a while exploring the ice palace, caves and admiring the ice sculptures.
During this review of Interlaken snowboarding holiday in Jungfrau, Switzerland we ate lunch in the Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen area three times. Travelling with Nathan, who is vegan, can be tricky when it comes to eating out. But he ate very well during this trip.
At the Bergrestaurant Kleine Scheidegg, right near the train station, we both had good pasta dishes. Although the vegan option came with gluten-free pasta, which was a significantly smaller serving than my lovely carbonara with normal pasta.
On the day we visited Jungfraujoch we stopped at the Restaurant Eigergletscher on the way back down. The food here was the best on mountain eating we enjoyed. It serves traditional Swiss dishes with an upmarket feel. Being rather hungry we each had two courses with Nathan loving the vegan cereal meatloaf dish. My veal and creamy mushroom casserole was very good too.
We also ate at Berghous Männlichen which is a cheaper self service option. I had a lovely Goulash soup and chips. Nathan struggled a little with vegan options and ended up with pasta with a tomato sauce. The food here was lower cost, but it was filling and did the job without being overly exciting.
To the right on the piste map you’ll find Mürren which is reached by heading towards Wengen but leaving the train at Lauterbrunnen. From here take a bus and gondola or a combination of gondola and train to reach Mürren.
It is a very pretty resort that played a big part in the development of alpine skiing. The Inferno race in Mürren is the largest and one of the longest running amateur races in the world. Launched by Sir Arnold Lunn of Britain – the father of Alpine ski racing – in 1928 it played a key role in how competitive skiing developed. But unfortunately snowboarders cannot take part.
The ski area is a combination of lower slopes that are suitable for all and much more challenging higher runs from the Schilthorn at 2,970 metres. You’ll find an awesome revolving restaurant at the top which was the hideout of Blofeld in James Bond On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There are various Bond themes activities to enjoy.
The run from here is a tough steep black that was very icy when we visited. It is rare that I feel uncomfortable on a snowboard but I did here. Stiff from the day before and not properly warmed up the first section was not very enjoyable. If there has not been recent snow I would recommend leaving the Schilthorn until later in the day when it has softened up!
Most of the slopes in the Schilthorn area were steep, I’d say more suited to skiers that want to go fast than snowboarders looking for side hits. So it is no surprise that the Inferno starts here. That said the off-piste opportunities around look incredible, unfortunately we did not have the conditions to explore.
Back on the lower slopes we had a glorious lunch at Restaurant Allmendhubel. I loved the Rosti with eggs and bacon and Nathan was very happy with the vegan wrap.
In the afternoon we stayed on the lower slopes where there is the excellent Skyline snowpark. Found on the Maulerhubel and Winteregg slopes it’s a slopestyle course with more than 60 creative features. There are three lines, including XL, so there is something for everyone including kicker sets, jib wall rides, rainbow tubes and various rails.
Exploring these mostly quiet slopes with great views into beautiful Mürren was a lot of fun. There are plenty of site hits and the wide slopes were the quietest we experienced during this review of Interlaken snowboarding holiday in Jungfrau, Switzerland.
My favourite ski area during this Jungfrau snowboarding trip was Grindelwald-First. It takes a while to get to from Interlaken, but there are a lot of very good slopes for snowboarders. It is not as pretty as Mürren-Shilthorn or as dramatic and convenient as Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen. But it suited our riding and faces south so is often sunny.
The First gondola is located a way from the Grindelwald station. But you can walk across town or get a free bus from the train station. There were queues for the gondola both days, one of which was more than 15 minutes long. The gondola itself takes at least 20 minutes but it is well worth it.
At the very top are a couple of snowparks that have a really good lines for beginner and intermediate freestylers. The two link up nicely with additional side hits between them. An intermediate freestyler can hit at least eight features on the way down. We had a lot of fun sessioning it for half a day on two occasions.
While the parks are rarely busy the area gets rather packed. So we explored the slopes over the far side of First, that are wide and really quiet. I think this is in part because they take a while to reach and there are not many facilities. So despite being mainly wide intermediate runs most people don’t bother going there.
Furthermore, the lower slopes of First were excellent. There is a good run down to Bort (the main gondola midstation) and the runs all the way back to the bottom are long and a lot of fun. If you like a spot of apres the slope down to Stählisboden has three bars to stop at. At the bottom beer is served from an old bus where you’ll find a great atmosphere.
The two days we spent in First we ate at Berggasthaus First. It is another self-service restaurant with relatively low prices, however it has great food. We both had burgers one day (vegan quinoa patty for Nathan) and indulged in soups and poke bowl style salads on our other visit.
Strangely we stayed at a hotel that was closed for the winter! Due to Covid the Alpenrose and Gardens hotel had decided not to open for the season. However, Ski TV had rented it out and invited us to stay. So it was a self catered situation in a large hotel.
The hotel itself is very comfortable although a little dated and could do with a lick of paint. That said the large dining area was like an old style ball room, very grand even if it could do with a slight spruce up. It was also quite eerie being in a large almost empty hotel, especially when there was just the two of us there.
During this review of Interlaken snowboarding holiday in Jungfrau, Switzerland we found the location of the Alpenrose to be very good. It is about five minutes from Wilderswil station. This made it easy to get into Interlaken in the evenings or up to the slopes during the day.
Staying in a city has plenty of advantages. Choice of accommodation, shopping, restaurants, bars and other activities all create a different kind of snowboarding holiday.
Many ski resorts have great food, but it often revolves around popular mountain dishes. There are fewer international restaurants in ski resorts, and the quality of them can be rather varied. But in Interlaken there are Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Lebanese, Korean, Italian and Thai restaurants just to name just a few.
We ate out in Interlaken twice:
I went on a Japan snowboard holiday a few years ago and enjoyed plenty of excellent sushi. So I was very pleased to learn that Freddi, who runs Simply Sushi, was trained in Japan and worked there for a few years before relocating to Interlaken.
Nathan and I shared some Edamame beans and lovely vegan dim sum for starters. Then for the main we had a selection of sushi rolls – obviously vegan ones for Nathan. The sushi was excellent, I’d say the best I’ve had outside of Japan and as good as most of the dishes I had there. The Mochi for desert was excellent.
The friendly atmosphere in Simply Sushi was chilled but with a nice buzz to the ambiance. The traditional Japanese beers, including a lovely sweet potato brew, are a great touch as it is always good to see something a little different on the menu.
This Lebanese restaurant is cosy and intimate. The decor is very middle eastern with lots of cushions and slightly subdued lighting. The staff are super friendly and the owner was very happy to explain all the dishes.
The food at Layaly Beirut is incredible. If you are vegetarian or vegan I cannot recommend it enough. Nathan was blown away by the range of dishes that were suitable for him. Having never eaten Lebanese before it became his new favourite.
Hummus, babaghanouj, labneh, msakaä, fattoush, warakinab, loubyeh, tabouli, falafel, sambousik and batataharra were complemented by flat breads and more. Just as we thought we had finished the Meze feast put before us we discovered it was only the starter! This was followed with meat, fish and vegetable skewers.
Being in a city means you can get involved in other activities to turn skiing holidays into a city break full of culture, shopping and entertainment. Personally I love snowboarding so much that I don’t want to miss out on too much slope time, but everyone is different and a city offers so much more than a ski resort.
For example, I did my first skydive while in Interlaken! Located in Wilderswil, Skydive Interlaken offer tandem jumps from a helicopter. The views of Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch are incredible as are those towards the twin lakes of Interlaken. Even the valley and smaller peak of Männlichen are spectacular from above.
When the jump happens you shuffle out to the door and are encouraged to have a good look around. Then you lean your head back and your instructor exits the helicopter. The wind rushing past you is fierce and the spinning a little disorientating but the feeling of freefall is incredible.
Once the parachute is deployed you can have a go at steering if you wish. Then the instructor takes over to bring you in for a soft landing on a snow covered grass field. Of the many different types of extreme sport, skydiving is probably the biggest thrill you can experience without specialist training.
While I had a great time on this trip to be completely honest getting the train from Interlaken to the different resorts each day seemed like wasted time. There are beautiful views along the way but spending 30 to 60 minutes each way eats into the day. And getting home on the trains was quite frustrating, we waited more than 15 minutes a few times.
But not everyone wants to ski or snowboard all day every day. For many people snowboarding holidays are about much more than time on the snow. And staying in Interlaken provides a completely different experience to being in the mountains. I don’t do many city breaks but if you like them then you may love combining it with winter sports.
While I was less keen on the trains the Jungfrau ski area is exceptionally good. The three ski areas all offer something different and each resort has a unique feel. There is plenty of off-piste to play in during good conditions and the snow parks are excellent. Plus we had some amazing food – including great vegan options.
To conclude this review of Interlaken snowboarding holiday in Jungfrau, Switzerland I’d say that if you like city breaks and want to snowboard or ski then staying in Interlaken is a great combo. But if you only want to ski or snowboard then stay in one of the great resorts in the Jungfrau ski area for an excellent holiday.
I hope you found this review of a Jungrau snowboarding holiday interesting and inspirational. Want to visit? Find out more about Switzerland here: www.myswitzerland.com and Jungfrau here: www.jungfrau.ch. Or take a look at these Switzerland snowboarding holidays.