Green meadows, roaring waterfalls, shimmering lakes and alpine wonders! This is how I will describe the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. And you know what makes this dreamy picture perfect? Traditional Swiss villages in those alps. Grindelwald is one of those perfections. This village, famous for the surrounding mountain peaks, is charming in all seasons, just like Lausanne!
Did you know that the mountain scenery of the planet Alderaan, home planet of Princess Leia in Star wars III was inspired by Grindelwald? Do I have your attention now?
We planned a day trip to Interlaken and Bachalpsee from Lausanne, which means we passed by beautiful Thunersee (Lake Thun). Cows grazing in the open green fields and lake Thun and the mountains in the backdrop! It felt like we were on an artificially simulated movie set because places this beautiful cannot exist in real life. Lucky for us (all of us!), it was a real-life moment. One of those moments where you want to forget everything and embrace the warmth of the sun, appreciate the magic of nature and just want to keep reliving in the same moment.
This train journey itself felt worth every penny we paid for the tickets (Swiss trains are not cheap so that already says a lot about the experience. But don’t worry budget travelers, we got you covered. Check the suggestions at the end of the post). We were still drooling over the landscapes when it was the time to change our train at Interlaken West for the journey onwards to Grindelwald. We felt sad leaving the train feeling the scenic journey is over, for now, but we had no idea what Switzerland had in store for us.
From Interlaken to Grindelwald
We did not think it was possible, but the next section of the train ride was even more magical. In fact, there was magic all around us: alpine peaks, creeks, waterfalls, timber houses around. No wonder all the passengers were staring out throughout the journey. Sounds of train engine rumbling soon warped into the sounds of camera clicks from all the directions. To our surprise, you are even allowed to open the window (and take good pictures without glass reflections! Who else HATES glass reflections? Just me then?) in this train.
It was one of those times (like my Ice cave tour in Iceland) when I did not want the journey to end. If I was not so keen on checking out Grindelwald and Bachalpsee, I would have even considered just going to and fro between Interlaken West and Grindelwald. Not kidding!
The journey prepped us for the destination and set our hopes quite high. The moment we got down at Grindelwald train station, we found traditional wooden Swiss houses, standing tall in the green valley spread as far as we could see, ready to sweep us off our feet. Without any resistance, we fell. And boy, we fell hard.
Now the mission was clear. Getting to the top at First. We took advice from the information center directly in front of the train station. Since our tickets were only valid for the train at specific timings, we did not have enough time for the hike and (without any debate) we decided that we should take the (expensive) Gondola up.
It takes about ten minutes to reach the Gondola station. We decided to stop by the local supermarket on the way and grab something for the picnic later. I was definitely traveling with the like-minded people!
Gondola ride to First
While the tickets for the return journey with the Gondola were not cheap, we predicted (from our past 2 hours) that it will all be worth in the end. Without thinking much about it, we enjoyed the 15 minutes ride with remarkable views over the fields, Grindelwald village, and the alps.
The gondola ride was again full of surprises. Other than these beautiful cows, we had shimmering waterfalls for the company. We also saw some people channeling their adrenaline rush racing down with quad-bikes.
After reaching First, we took deep breaths admiring the serene surroundings. Everything felt too pure, too untouched: the snow-clad mountains, the waterfalls, the freshness in the air.
Bachalpsee: The frozen Alpine lake
We then followed the signs and walked for about 30-40 minutes (including the photo breaks!) to reach the Bachalpsee. A small section of the trail was icy and hence needed full attention. We also saw the glacial ice melting into cold water and flowing together to make the spectacular waterfall.
Looks like my favorite Triglav national park (Slovenia) has some competition!
While I was expecting the lake not to be frozen at this time of the year (June), it was still frozen leaving just a few small water bodies here and there. It still made a spectacular sight.
We rested here for a while and took out our picnic snacks. Well fed (both body and soul), we started tracing the route back to the Gondola ride station
Tissot Cliff Walk
Since we still had some time before our train, we decided to have fun at the Cliff Walk. A 360-degree panoramic view!
We should have been sad towards the end of our trip but we were far from it. Why? We got to experience the magical train ride again 🙂
Digging the views? Check out my top picks for the most amazing views in Europe! or download my Iceland photo album from the right sidebar 🙂
And then we headed back home, Lausanne.
Describing our experience as a beauty coma won’t be an exaggeration. Switzerland is so beautiful that it hurts. I am not kidding! It is one of those countries where the journey itself is the biggest adventure. Mountains, lakes, waterfalls, valleys, traditional villages! You don’t want to blink, fearing what you might miss.
Itinerary at a glance
- Reach Interlaken West from your respective destination using SBB tickets and timetables.
- Take the Regional train to Grindelwald (with possible changes/splitting of the train) and spot all the amazing creaks and waterfalls on the way.
- Wander around Grindelwald and get amazed by the traditional timber houses in the valley.
- Take the Gondola ride to First from the Gondola station that is about ten minutes away from the train station (and there are signs pointing to it all the way from the train station to the Gondola station). Make sure to note the schedule for the Gondola return. They close down early in winters!
- Seep in the amazing views on the ride, including stunning waterfalls, cowbell rings, valley houses and stunning peak around.
- Walk for about 30 minutes to the Bachalpsee (following the signs). Depending upon the season it could either be a clear water lake or a frozen delight, or something in between! Magical, regardless of its state.
- Witness the glacial ice melting into fresh water.
- Take a short break or a picnic near the lake while recovering from beauty coma.
- Head back to the gondola ride and enjoy the Tissot cliff walk for an amazing experience and even closer views of the mountains!
- Take the Gondola back and then train back to Interlaken West.
Tips and suggestions
- Check the train schedules ahead. Especially because you can find cheaper tickets when booking online well ahead on time (around a week).
- Make sure to note if it makes more sense to buy the daily ticket (also available at a lower price when bought online few days prior to the trip) or just the return ticket for your route.
Also, please check if you need to print the ticket or can you show it directly on your mobile. (Save trees campaign!)
- There is usually a train change/break between Interlaken West and Grindelwald. Note this beforehand or keep a tab on the SBB app.
- Carry something to eat/picnic on the top. There is an utter sense of serenity and satisfaction eating at such a beautiful spot. Bring a bottle of water as well.
- Some sections of the walking path between Bachalpsee and Gondola station can be icy in winter. Please bring good shoes if you are planning the trip in winter.
- Since the weather will certainly be colder up on the top, please bring layered clothing. It can change quickly from sunshine to rain or thunderstorm.
- If you have more days to spend in this area, there are many hiking paths with different lengths and capabilities. Otherwise, you can also spend your time exploring Interlaken/Lucerne/Thun/Jungfrau etc. There is a lot to see in this region of Switzerland.
- You can also plan a day trip to Lausanne (and here are some beautiful and very convincing reasons to visit Lausanne).
What do you think about our day trip? What would you have done differently? Is Grindelwald in your Swiss itinerary now?
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