Jungfrau Region: Family Hikes and Activities

The Jungfrau Region in the Berner Oberland is one the most popular areas of Switzerland, with its famous mountain peak trio, Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch, plentiful panorama lookouts, gorgeous hiking, and many family friendly activities. We love this area and have spent many days hiking there.

But it’s a large area with many options and I know from experience that it can be hard to decide where to go and what to do. Below I give an overview and highlight some of our favorite hikes and activities that we’ve done with our family.

Overview of Jungfrau Region

The Jungfrau Region covers a large area as shown on the map below. Interlaken sits at the entrance to the region. As you drive south, the area splits into two main valleys, the Grindelwald side on the east and the Lauterbrunnen side on the west. Each side provides access to the mountains in the middle, including Kleine Scheidegg and the Jungfraujoch. On the Grindelwald side, you can also access First and the Bachalpsee. On the Lauterbrunnen side, you can access the Schilthorn, Murren, Trummelbach falls.

The green circles mark areas that I recommend, most accessed by cable cars and or mountain trains from the valley.


m
ap from Jungfrau Region website

Here are our favorite family hikes and activities in this area. Click the pictures to see my detailed post for each activity.

Getting to the Jungfrau Region

By car: Simply drive to Interlaken, then into either the Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen valley.

By public transport: Take a train to Interlaken, then switch trains to either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, depending in which are you want to hike.

By plane: If you are flying into to Switzerland, Bern is the closest to the Jungfrau region, 1hr35 by train. But it’s only 2hr40 from Basel or Zurich. Just pick the best flight in terms of price and convenience.

Where to stay in the Jungfrau Region

The most convenient areas to stay are Interlaken, Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen. Each of these areas has many services: stores, restaurants, and hotels. They are also well connected by public transportation and make it easy to reach the different parts of this region or travel outside the region. It doesn’t matter so much on which side you stay as you can easily reach either side relatively quickly with public transportation. For example, it’s only about 40 mins by train from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen.

It can be fun to stay in one of the mountain villages, like Gimmelwald, Murren or Wengen, especially if you rent an apartment in an old traditional Swiss home with lots of character. Although the towns are “car free,” they offer luggage services to get your stuff from the cable car to your hotel. Each of these towns have small grocery stores and restaurants, so you’re not completely isolated. But they are quieter, especially in the mornings and evenings when most tourists have left. However, it can be time consuming, expensive, and slightly annoying to have to ride down a cable car each time you want to visit a different mountain than the one you are already on. With kids, we sometimes pick convenience over charm.

Of course, there are many hotels in all these areas. But if you are staying for 3 days or more, I recommend renting an apartment, as it is much cheaper than a hotel and so much better with kids.

Public transportation & travel passes

The Jungfrau region is well connected with public transportation and you don’t need a car. However, train travel and mountain railways are very expensive in Switzerland. So consider buying one of the travel passes or cards listed below, which includes “free” travel on public rail, bus and water routes and discounts on mountain transit, like cable cars and funicular trains. Children 5 and under travel free on public transportation, including most mountain transport.

Jungfrau Travel Pass – includes travel on almost public transport from Interlaken into the Jungfrau Region and almost all mountain transport in the region, from Interlaken. Available for 3 or more days. In 2016, a 3 day pass costs CHF 210.

SBB Junior Card – entitles kids 6 to 15 free travel on all public transport and most mountain railways, when traveling with a parent with a valid ticket. As of 2016, it costs 30 CHF per year.

Swiss Travel Pass – includes travel on all public transport throughout Switzerland and 50% on most mountain transport in the Jungfrau region, 25% on the Jungfraujoch train. Available for 3 or more days.

SBB Half-fare Card – if you live in Switzerland, it makes sense to get this card gives you 50% travel on all public transport and most mountain transport

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7 comments

  1. Hi Ashley. I'm glad the site was helpful. In general, you don't need to book the Jungfrau train far in advance. It can definitely fill up, but I think it's better to wait to see if it's actually clear at the top before you go up. That's an expensive trip if you are stuck in the clouds. I'd probably get up early and check the webcams and weather report, then get a ticket for whatever next train has tickets available. The train goes up every half hour from about 8am to 4pm, so there should be tickets available at some point no matter how crowded it is.

    You can get a Swiss Half Fare card for one month (110sfr instead of 150sfr for the yearly card). http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/produkttexte.php?passid=6

    This means you get half fare on all public transport (bus, boat, gondola, train) in Switzerland and kids 6-15 go free when they are with you if you buy a family card (40sfr/child for the year, maybe a shorter version available), kids under 6 always free. You just have to calculate how much public transportation you plan to take during your stay. It could easily pay for itself during a long weekend if you went up Jungfrau and another mountain and rode a ferry, etc.

    Some trains/gondolas/etc are private, which wouldn't be covered by the half-fare card. I read somewhere that some of the trains and gondolas in the Lauterbrunnen area are private, so you should check that out and factor that in.

    But there are several other options you should look into including the Jungfrau Railway Pass, which includes 6 consecutive days of travel on all modes of transportation in the Jungfrau area for about 200sfr. Depending on what your plans are and how long you are staying, this might be a better deal. I quickly googled Jungfrau Railway Pass and there are lots of sites with reviews relating experiences with this pass. You can also look on http://www.swisspasses.com which has a variety of pass options.

    In short, if you are planning to travel all over Switzerland, the half-fare card would be the best value. If you are staying in the Lauterbrunnen area, the Jungfrau Railway Pass is probably a better fit. If you are only going up the Jungfrau and then going home, you probably don't need a special pass.

    Also, check http://www.sbb.ch for specials on various swiss destinations.

    Whatever you do, have a great time in Switzerland!

  2. Hi! We are living in the Netherlands with 3 young kids and will be traveling to Switzerland in 2 weeks- we are staying in Lauterbrunnen and my husband came upon your blog- which is great!- so thanks for all the information! A couple of questions- how do you get the Swiss 1/2 fare card, and is it still worth it for this one trip if we don't live in Switz and may not be returning? And do you have to book the Jungfrau train in advance? If you are able to help me with these questions, thanks!!

  3. Hi-
    We went back to the Berner Oberland since we loved it so much and the in-laws were visiting. This time we stayed in Wengen. I personally liked Murren better, since it feels like it is literally on the edge of the mountain and is smaller. We had a great dinner, though in Wengen at Zum Baren. The restaurant is in the Zum Baren hotel which is an inexpensive, popular hotel that we tried to stay in but was booked. They had lots of wild game on the menu (which I don’t care for), but everything was really good!

  4. Yay, Inga, thanks for leaving a comment!
    Tanya, make sure this post is included in the index as well as the original Berner Oberland post.

  5. Just went last weekend and LOVED this trip! I can’t recommend this trip enough! At the advice of Tanya, we stayed in Murren for 2 nights and were so happy that we did. The town gets a lot of dayhikers, but at night it empties out and is so nice and quiet with amazing views. We did a number of hikes around Murren (children’s adventure trail, flower trail, blumental-panorama trail) which were all really kid-friendly: we came across cows, sheep, streams to throw rocks in, etc. Our toddler was completely happy in our backpack or walking himself. Most hikes could be done in an hour or combined for a longer hike. We stayed at the Hotel Alpenblick – not bad, but nothing special.
    On the way home, we stopped at Trummelbach falls (just 2 minute drive from the gondola that takes you up to Murren). This waterfall drains the glaciers of Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger and is inside a mountain. It is impressive, but definitely NOT kid-friendly. The tunnels and stairs that lead to the cascades are dark, wet and really loud from the roar of the falls. Our toddler (in backpack, strollers not possible) did not like it! Even with older kids, the wet, dark stairs would make me nervous.

  6. Tanya, I just noticed your new index on the right, with all the posts categorized by type. Wonderful! Just what we needed! This is a great blog!

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