First Switzerland (pronounced fyersht) is a hiker’s dream and adventurer’s delight. It is located above the town of Grindelwald at 2168m above sea level and is reached by an aerial cable way. Once at the summit there is a choice of activities, and if you have a reasonable portion of the day available, you will be able to do them all.
HOW TO GET TO FIRST SWITZERLAND
Take the train along the scenic route from Interlaken to Grindelwald. Tickets can be purchased on the day. When you arrive walk up the main street for about 10-15 minutes where you will find the Firstbahn cable car station just up from the main street to the left. The cable car will take you to First station via mid stations Bort and Schreckfeld.
If you plan on doing the adventure activities at First you are best to purchase a ticket which includes all of these either on site or ahead of time. Information can be found on the Jungfrau Top of Europe site. Seriously consider buying a Berner Oberland Regional Travel Pass if you plan on being in the regional area for more than 2 days as the pass offers incredible value for money and includes most of the activities on offer at First.
THINGS TO DO AT FIRST SWITZERLAND
The hike to Lake Bachalp is as rewarding as the destination. You will find colourful alpine flowers, striking views and possibly even some local mammals including the infamous marmot! The hike is about 3km one way and will take approximately 1 hour to reach the lake at an average pace. The first section is uphill but it then evens out and most of the hike is reasonably flat. There are plenty benches along the way at beautiful spots to stop and take it all in.
Lake Bachalp itself is breathtaking with the blue water providing a striking contrast to the surrounding green hills. On the far side there is a toilet (it even supplies paper!) and there are a number of benches to sit and have a picnic while looking over the stunning view. There are no shops beyond the cable car station so be sure to bring your food with you. A rain jacket and waterproof shoes may also prove handy if the weather turns.
FIRST CLIFF WALK
The Cliff Walk at First consists of metal grate floor panels and guard rails around the cliffs surrounding the First cable car station. There is one section that comes away from the wall as a suspension bridge. As you approach the end there is the option to walk out on a single platform away from the cliff and over the valley below. If you are scared of heights then this will really get your heart pumping!
The start of the cliff walk is located just beyond the First cable car station. Walk out as if you were heading to Lake Bachalp and then make a sharp left turn at the sign a couple of hundred metres up the trail. This will take you to the entrance.
All year round when the weather is good there is the option to take a zip line ride down to the higher mid station Schreckfeld. The ride is 750m long and goes up to speeds of 88km/hr. There is a choice to ride sitting (flieger) or to ‘glide like the eagles’ laying face down and head first (glider).
During the summer months you can travel by mountain cart between the two mid stations of Schekfield and Bort. The mountain carts are designed to be a cross between a go-kart and a winter sled. The track is 3km long and the speed depends on how much you use the brakes!
The trottibike is used across a few sites in Switzerland and can be thought of as an off road scooter. The wheels are a bit bigger and thicker and allow for a smooth ride on the rugged terrain. They are available for hire for the final leg of the return journey from Bort to Grindelwald. The ride is as fast as you make it and it has beautiful views over the mountains and township.
OTHER DAY TRIPS ARE IN THE BERNER OBERLAND REGION
Consider these other day trips in the Bernese Oberland Region: