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.
map 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