One of the most surprising, and rewarding, activities we did this week in Switzerland was hiking to Lake Bachalpsee near Grindelwald, one of the prettiest villages in Switzerland. While our entire Jungfrau trip was full of breathtaking views and mad, adventure activities, this hike stands out at one of my favourites.
I think the fact that I had never even heard of this lake before, and thus my expectations were low, helped me a fall a little more in love with it on arrival. Here’s some info on the hike and how to get there, and most importantly lots of lovely photos of Lake Bachalpsee to inspire you to visit!
How to get from Grindelwald to First
To get to Lake Bachalpsee, the best starting point is Grindelwald. While you can actually hike the entire way from the town, I recommend taking the cable car from Grindelwald up to First instead, unless you’re extremely fit and don’t mind a full day hike.
Once you get off the cable car at First Station (yes, that’s the name as opposed to the number of the station) it’s about a two-hour round trip to the lake. You simple follow the well signposted pathway that leads away from the thrill walk / Eiger lookout point, and follow the walkers path (there’s also a bike one) for about an hour until you see the lake.
Note: While your Swiss Travel Pass will get your free train transport as far as Grindelwald, you will need either the Jungfrau Travel Pass or a single cable car ticket to get up to First. The cost is 33 francs if used with your Swiss Travel Pass, or 66 if you have no discount. Read my review of the Swiss Travel Pass here.
Hiking to Lake Bachalpsee
The hike itself is pretty easy, especially in the middle of summer. We started off at the First visitor centre than hugged the cliff as we followed the path towards the lake. This meant we were treated to spectacular views looking back at the First Cliff Walk and lookout point, as well as gorgeous views looking down at the valley, waterfalls, the towering Mount Eiger and misty, snow-capped mountains in the distance.
There some incredible view points throughout the hike, many that reminded me of New Zealand (especially Lake Wanaka on the South Island) or Iceland, with spectacular views of endless snow-capped mountains in the distance. A photographers dream!
The hike involved crossing a small stream, and hiking (or slipping in my case) over some small compact snow fields which had not melted yet, despite the warm weather and almost constant sunshine.
There were a lot of hikers on the trail with us, ranging from serious mountaineers with massive backpacks, to families with young kids, all well capable. Everyone was so friendly and we stopped to talk with one girl from Australia on a solo trip, and a couple from Germany hiking for 7 days and camping in the mountains!
That moment we first laid our eyes on the turquoise waters in the lake, is one I won’t be forgetting. The way the crazy green grass-covered mountains, still partially covered in patches of snow, framed this picture perfect lake, made it a scene almost too perfect to be real.
I spotted a young Korean woman sitting alone on a bench, simply taking a few minutes out to enjoy the view. It was a beautifully peaceful scene, and reminded me why I love Switzerland as much as I do.
Anywhere else in the world and there would be hundreds of people queuing up for a photo. Their would be a cafe, or people selling souvenirs. Here, up a mountain in beautiful Switzerland, there’s no disturbances, no trash, no noise and no overcrowding of people. It’s just you and nature. And maybe a handful of Koreans with selfie sticks, if we’re being dead honest!
One thing I regret was not walking around to the far side fo the lake as I was later told you can get perfect reflection shots of Mount Eiger reflected in the turquoise glacial waters.
Bachalpsee weather issues
One thing to keep in mind when hiking to Bachalpsee is the weather! Like all Swiss mountains, the weather changes at the blink of an eye and one minute you’re getting sunburnt while the next you’re getting washed away in a flash flood!
The weather fronts move in and out of the mountain pass very quickly, and even if it rains or there are lots of low-lying mist, it can blow past in less than a minute.
There are actually lots of web cams in First to let you know what the weather is like before you hike or take the cable car up. The thing is, even if you look and it looks raining and cold, i would still recommend doing the hike.
We were walking through mist and low-lying clouds for almost 10 minutes and almost turned back, but then when we reached the lake it was totally clear and the sun even made a brief appearance. On the walk back we got soaked in the rain, so be sure to bring a waterproof jacket and wear layers as it can get cold quickly.
Where to eat in First
Once you’ve finished your hike, I recommend stopping off for lunch in the restaurant above First Cable Car Station. The food is traditional Swiss, and you can get cheese fondue, delicious potato Rosti with bacon and cheese or a large hot chocolate to warm you up!
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