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Grindelwald or Wengen: Which is Better?

Last Updated on January 30, 2024 by Darla Uhl

Bernese Oberland is one of Switzerland’s top tourist destinations.  Among the gorgeous places to visit in this area are ThunWengenMürrenLauterbrunnenGrindelwald, and Interlaken. The people who want to visit this area would have to decide where to stay eventually. 

Visitors from all over the world might wonder: Is it better to stay in Grindelwald or Wengen? Other than being able to bring your car with you, what are the advantages? Or is it better to stay in Wengen instead? You might have a hard time deciding between the two.

Both villages are famous in their own way. Grindelwald looks up to a lot of tall mountain peaks, and Wengen looks way down into the valley and across other peaks. They’re both great options, but one might be better for you. 

In this article, we’ll compare Grindelwald, which is a little lower down the valley, with Wengen, which is a little higher up. Grindelwald or Wengen? Here’s how they compare.



Key Differences: Grindelwald vs. Wengen

The key differences between Grindelwald and Wengen are as follows:

GrindelwaldWengen
Population: approx.  3,800Population: approx. 1,300
Total Area: 171.28 km2 Total Area: 36.4 km²
Elevation: 1,034 meters (3,392 feet)Elevation: 1,274 meters (4,180 feet)
Accessible by car and trainAccessible by train,
Car-free
Highlights: Grindelwald First, Bachalpsee Lake,
Grindelwald Glaciers, Grosse Scheidegg, First Cliff Walk, Pfingstegg, Männlichen, Eiger Glacier, Jungfraujoch
Highlights: Kleine Scheidegg, Jungfraujoch, Männlichen
Eiger Express cable car to reach Eiger Glacier
– Cable car to Männlichen
– Scenic train ride to reach Eiger Glacier
– Cable car to reach Männlichen

Grindelwald

Image of Grindelwald by TouringSwitzerland.com

Grindelwald is a famous mountain village in the Bernese Oberland, located at the foot of the Eiger (3,970 meters) and Wetterhorn (3,701 meters). Grindelwald is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Bernese Oberland.

The seven areas of Grindelwald are Bach, Grindel, Scheidegg, Wärgistal, Itramen, Bussalp, and Holzmatten. Each local person belongs to one of the seven areas (called Bergschaften in German), which are represented separately in the municipality. 

Grindelwald Valley is characterized by soft green meadows and mountain forests on one side, and rocky walls and icy peaks of the Eiger, Schreckhorn, and Wetterhorn on the other. The alpine summer here is short, and as with many other alpine villages, they mow the grass and dry it for use as hay in winter. Due to rainfall, the north-facing slopes have abundant grass.

As recently as 1860, the Grindelwald Glacier reached the outskirts of the village. Between 1860 and 1914, glacier ice was mined and exported commercially. In this way, Grindelwald gained its second name Glacier Village. Unfortunately, millions of cubic meters of glacier ice have melted away in Grindelwald.

Grindelwald allows the same amount of livestock in winter and summer. A system like this is ecologically sound and prevents pastures from being overused. During the summer, a farmer can drive up the number of cows determined by the surface area. Cow rights are equal to one cow, four pigs, or eight goats. In Grindelwald, there are 2,174 cow rights and this number has remained constant for centuries.  

There are many places to visit in and around Grindelwald. Some of the highlights of the Grindelwald region include Grindelwald First, Bachalpsee Lake, Schynige Platte, Grindelwald Glaciers, Grosse Scheidegg, First Cliff Walk, Männlichen, Eiger Glacier, and Jungfraujoch.

Wengen

Image of Wengen by TouringSwitzerland.com

Wengen is the largest village in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.  Approximately 1,274 meters above sea level, Wengen is in the Bernese Highlands (Bernese Oberland). It sits at the foot of the 4,158-meter-high Jungfrau mountain.

The car-free village of Wengen is just 15 minutes from Lauterbrunnen Village. To get to this village, you’ll have to park your car at Lauterbrunnen before heading up on the train.

Wengen holds a Mendelssohn Music Festival every August. A musical genius and artist, Felix Mendelssohn was awed by Jungfrau on his way from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen. In his diary, he describes his experiences in the Jungfrau region, especially in Wengen. Mendelssohn is honored in Wengen with a yearly music festival, a memorial in the upper part of the village, and a hiking trail to Wengernalp.  

With the world-famous Lauberhorn ski race held every January in Wengen, everything is great for tourists. Most houses here are wooden chalets, though a few hotels are in Belle Epoque style.


Places to Visit near Grindelwald and Wengen

Places to Visit near Grindelwald and Wengen

Image taken from Jungfraujoch by Aranha from Pixabay

The following places are easily accessible from both Grindelwald and Wengen: MännlichenEiger Glacier, Kleine Scheidegg, and Jungfraujoch

It is a slower scenic train ride through Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg on the way to the Eiger Glacier and Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen. It is possible to reach Männlichen by taking a scenic train to Wengen and a cable car from there. 

Alternatively, you can travel from Grindelwald to all of these destinations via the Grindelwald First Terminal. At the terminal, you can take the Eiger Express gondola to the Eiger Glacier and finally to Jungfraujoch. If you wish, you can also take the cable car to Männlichen

  • Lauterbrunnen – Lauterbrunnen village is situated at the valley bottom of this magnificent U-shaped valley in Switzerland surrounded by numerous waterfalls.
  • Männlichen – Männlichen is a 2,343-metre mountain easily accessible from Wengen and Grindelwald. From Männlichen, you get a fantastic view of Mönch, Eiger, and Jungfrau.
  • Eiger Glacier – The Eiger Glacier lies on the northwest side of the Eiger Mountain.
  • Jungfraujoch –  The saddle between Jungfrau (at 4,158 m above sea level) and Mönch (at 4,110 m above sea level). It is also the location of the highest mountain railway in Europe at 3,454 meters above sea level.
  • Kleine Scheidegg –  Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 meters. It is located between Eiger and Lauberhorn. Kleine Scheidegg makes a great starting point for excursions to Jungfraujoch and Lauberhorn. It is also the meeting point of two rack railways.

Places to Visit Near Grindelwald

Image of Mürrenbach Waterfall by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Grindelwald First – First is a minor summit on the slopes of the Schwarzhorn in the Bernese Oberland. Most people know it as a cable car station above Grindelwald. Aside from hikes, two activities that stand out in this area are the Grindelwald First Flyer and the Grindelwald First Glider. Both are available from July to October. For the safety of visitors, it is subject to weather conditions.
  • Grindelwald First Flyer – The Grindelwald Flyer is an 800-meter zip line moving at 80 kilometers per hour. ​It starts in Scheckfeld and ends in Grindelwald.
  • Grindelwald First Glider – This is another thrilling experience you should try. The strap is in the form of an eagle and is attached to a pulley. It also moves at a speed of 80 kph while offering spectacular views.
  • Grindelwald First Cliff Walk – High walkway suspended from the side of the mountain offering fantastic valley views.
  • Bachalpsee Lake – Walking there takes around 50 minutes from First. It’s so picturesque as you can see Schreckhorn reflecting in the lake. 
  • Upper Grindelwald Glacier – Between Schreckhorn and Wetterhorn, a vast snow field forms Upper Grindelwald Glacier (Oberer Grindelwaldgletscher in German). Its glacier tongue is at 1,400 meters and is one of the lowest glaciers in the Alps. 
  • Lower Grindelwald Glacier – Below Agassizhorn and Strahlegghörner lies the Lower Grindelwald Glacier (Unterer Grindelwaldgletscher in German). It is connected to the Finsteraar Glacier through the Finsteraarjoch.
  • Grosse Scheidegg – At an altitude of 1,962 m, the Grosse Scheidegg passes across the col between Switzerland’s Schwarzhorn and Wetterhorn mountains. You can reach Grosse Scheidegg with the Grindelwald Bus in 25 minutes from Grindelwald.
  • Pfingstegg – The starting point for hikes going to both glaciers in Grindelwald. You can reach Pfingstegg by cable car from Grindelwald. Additionally, there is a toboggan run and a fly line.

Places to Visit Near Wengen

Image of Kleine Scheidegg by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Staubbach Waterfall – The Staubbach Waterfall is a waterfall in Switzerland located just west of Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Highlands. It falls 297 meters from a valley overhanging the Weisse Lütschine, before the end of the overhanging cliff.
  • Trümmelbach Waterfalls – There are ten glacier-fed waterfalls in Switzerland’s Trümmelbach Falls. It is accessible by a tunnel-funicular built back in 1913. 
  • Mürren – Mürren is positioned a bit higher than Wengen, at 1,645 meters above sea level. There are also spectacular views of the bottom of the valley, and the town is quiet and car-free. It is smaller than Wengen.
  • Schilthorn – This is the summit above the village of Mürren and the highest mountain north of Sefinenfurgge Pass. It is around 2,970 meters above sea level.
  • Stechelberg – Stechelberg is a small village located at the base of the Schwarzmönch mountain in the Bernese Alps.
  • Mürrenbach Waterfall –  In five cascades, Mürrenbach Waterfall drops 417 meters to the ground, making it Switzerland’s highest waterfall.
  • Gimmelwald – A small car-free village, Gimmelwald is located between Stechelberg and Mürren. It is 1,363 meters above sea level.
  • Allmendhubel – At 1,907 meters above sea level, Allmendhubel is a hill above Mürren that has a large playground called Flower Park for families with children.

Accessibility: Grindelwald or Wengen

Image of the train to Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg by Techno Ed from Pixabay

Of the two, Grindelwald is definitely the easier one to get to.

  • You can drive your car right to Grindelwald.
  • You will need to pass by Lauterbrunnen and park your car before you can get to Wengen.

The train in Lauterbrunnen departs for Wengen every 30 minutes. And although the train ride isn’t that long, knowing the schedule and coming at the right time is still a must, so as not to miss the train or the best connections.

Advantages: Grindelwald vs. Wengen

Advantages of Staying in Grindelwald

Image of Grindelwald by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Grindelwald is not car-free. Choose Grindelwald over Wengen if you prefer to come by car.
  • Grindelwald is larger than Wengen. There are more restaurants, hotels, and facilities there.
  • The village of Grindelwald offers a 5-star hotel and several 4- and 3-star hotels. 
  • The mountains around Grindelwald offer some more adventurous activities – First Flyer, First Glider, Tobogganing on Pfingstegg, and Fly Line of Pfingstegg. 
  • Grindelwald is closer to Pfingstegg and Grosse Scheidegg.
  • Grindelwald’s fast and modern Eiger Express only takes 20 minutes to reach the Eiger Glacier. 

Advantages of Staying in Wengen

Image of Wengen by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Wengen is car-free. Stay here if you prefer to stay in a traditional Swiss mountain village that is car-free.
  • Wengen is smaller than Grindelwald. You’ll find fewer restaurants, hotels, and facilities there. Choose it over Grindelwald if you want to stay somewhere more peaceful.
  • There are several 3-star and 4-star hotels in Wengen to choose from. Wengen also has some hotels with swimming pools (Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn, Beausite Park Hotel Wengen, and Sunstar Alpine Hotel Wengen).
  • The mountains around Wengen offer more traditional activities such as hiking, biking, and skiing.
  • Wengen is closer to Mürren, Stechelberg, Allmend, and Schilthorn.
  • Wengen is a traditional mountain village with a slow scenic train that will bring you to Kleine Scheidegg and Eiger Glacier.

Hotels: Grindelwald or Wengen

Grindelwald indeed offers a lot more options for accommodation than Wengen, but there are still several decent choices over in Wengen. These are our recommendations for both places.

Hotels in Grindelwald

Image of Grindelwald by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Hotel Fiescherblick – Managed by brothers Matthias and Lars Michel, Hotel Fiescherblick stands as one of the best hotels in Grindelwald, having reopened its doors in December 2022. Its restaurant is under the guidance of an accomplished chef. Grindelwald First Valley Station is just a short stroll away.
  • Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof Grindelwald (5-star) – A 100-meter walk from the train station, Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof Grindelwald boasts panoramic views of the Eiger, an indoor pool, and gourmet cuisine. The hotel also has a lounge bar and nicely furnished rooms. 
  • Belvedere Swiss Quality Hotel (4-star-superior) – A beautiful 4-star superior hotel located just a few minutes from the center of Grindelwald, Belvedere Swiss Quality Hotel is a great place to stay. Among its amenities are a gourmet restaurant, a piano bar, an indoor pool, and a spa. During the winter season, there is a private ski bus. 
  • Bergwelt Grindelwald – Alpine Design Resort (4-star) – Within a 2-minute walk of First Grindelwald, Bergwelt Grindelwald – Alpine Design Resort has a 24-hour front desk and room service. This 4-star hotel also offers concierge services, allergy-friendly rooms, a bar, and free WiFi throughout the hotel. Guests can enjoy its outdoor pool, indoor pool, fitness center, garden, and restaurant year-round.
  • Parkhotel Schoenegg (3-star) – The Parkhotel Schoenegg in Grindelwald offers a central location with serene surroundings, featuring a modern wellness area, indoor pool, and various room options showcasing mountain views. Guests can enjoy a 5-course dinner, a traditional English-style bar, a playroom for kids, and access to business facilities including free internet. The hotel has renovated rooms, breathtaking views, and exceptional service.
  • Hotel PINTE (3-star) – Hotel PINTE is a modern chalet-style hotel located 2 minutes from Grindelwald First. Grindelwald’s train station is also nearby. In addition to an indoor pool and a spa, the hotel offers a 24-hour front desk as well as a continental breakfast.
  • Hotel Caprice – Grindelwald (3-star) – This hotel is very conveniently located near the train station, making it a wonderful choice. It is only a few steps away from cable cars and buses. The hotel offers modern, clean, and comfortable rooms with fantastic views of the Eiger. Additionally, the hotel offers a spa. You can get breakfast and snacks here. You will need to go somewhere else for lunch and dinner, but they can offer you a discount on a 5-course meal at a nearby hotel (Hotel Alpina). 

Hotels in Wengen

Image of Wengen by TouringSwitzerland.com

If you wish to stay in Wengen, I would recommend the following hotels:

  • Beausite Park Hotel, Wengen (4-star) – Beausite Park Hotel is located at the base of the Wengen-Männlichen cable car, making it easy to reach the Grindelwald and Kleine Scheidegg ski slopes. This hotel offers superb views, fine cuisine, top-rated spa facilities, a children’s playground, a natural swimming pond, and free WiFi.
  • Hotel Maya Caprice (4-star) – In the heart of the car-free village of Wengen, this top-rated hotel is near the Wengen-Männlichen cable car and Wengen train station. Featuring natural wooden decor, balconies overlooking the Jungfrau massif, spacious refurbished rooms, a comfortable spa, and a fitness center, guests are sure to enjoy their stay here.
  • Alpine Hotel Wengen (4-star) – Across from the Männlichen Cable Car is the Alpine Hotel Wengen. The hotel offers a garden, trampoline, indoor pool, sauna, and lounge bar, making it one of the best places to stay in the car-free village of Wengen.
  • Hotel Schönegg (3-star superior) – Featuring an award-winning restaurant and beautifully renovated rooms, it has great mountain views, a sauna, and incredibly friendly staff.
  • Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn (3-star) – Built back in 1897, Arenas Resort Victoria-Lauberhorn offers up-to-date spa facilities including a swimming pool. The hotel is located near the train and cable car stations of the car-free Wengen.

You can find more hotels and apartments in Wengen via booking.com.

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Final Thoughts: Grindelwald or Wengen

There are many things to do in the  Bernese Oberland region. The choice of where to stay depends on your itinerary. It might be helpful to ask yourself, would you prefer to stay in a village without cars or not? If you have a clear preference about taking a car or not, then you have your answer. 

Nevertheless, if you’re ambivalent about cars, there are other factors to consider. In Wengen, you’ll find a typical Swiss car-free mountain village with skiing and hiking. Grindelwald is better if you’re looking to try adventurous activities or you’ve got fun-loving kids or teens with you.

Both places are great to me, so it’s hard to choose. I don’t have a preference here. Both locations aren’t that far apart, so you can easily visit the other one.

No matter what you choose, you won’t regret it. They’re both gorgeous, with majestic mountains and natural landscapes.

TIP: If you are staying for a couple of days in the Jungfrau Region, consider buying an unlimited transportation ticket so you can travel by train, boat, bus, gondola, and gondola on all the valid routes. You can get your ticket from GetYourGuide here – Jungfrau Travel Pass: Unlimited Transportation Ticket. The ticket covers Interlaken Ost, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg, Grütschalp, Winteregg, and Mürren. Jungfraujoch tickets aren’t included, but you can get them at a special price.

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Resource

  • Stiftung UNESCO Welterbe Schweizer Alpen Jungfrau-Aletsch. Gentle and wild – the valley of Grindelwald, 1. Ausgabe 2011.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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