Kleine Scheidegg is a tiny resort in the Bernese Highlands of Switzerland. At 2061 m it stands at the top of a pass between the Lauberhorn ridge and the dizzy peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, and "Scheidegg" means a watershed. However (as "Kleine" indicates), this was never a major Alpine route, just a cattle trail, as you could easily get around the ridge by the valleys. Traditional herdsmen practised transhumance, staying up here for summer grazing, then bringing their herds down to the lowlands as autumn closed in. Kleine Scheidegg grew into a resort with the 19th century vogue for Alpine sports, with the hotel opening in 1840 and the railway arriving in 1893. It's still little more than a single hotel, but the trains bring skiers, hikers, and tourists bound for the summit station of Jungfraujoch.
For inter-city routes, travel via Interlaken, which has trains every 30 min from Bern.
Change at Interlaken Ost for the BOB train - the Berner Oberland-Bahn. Don't get off at Interlaken West, which is town centre.
You need to be in the front portion of the BOB train. This runs every 30 min (with the last at 23:00) and takes 20 min via Wilderswil and Zweilütschinen (where the rear portion divides for Grindelwald) to Lauterbrunnen. There you change to the WAB train, the little Wengernalpbahn, for the scenic 40 min journey up the mountainside via Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg.
You could also take the BOB train rear portion to Grindelwald and change for the other WAB train up to Kleine Scheidegg. This is slower than via Lauterbrunnen, but nowadays the main route to Jungfraujoch is to ride the gondola from Grindelwald and bypass Kleine Scheidegg.
Eurail passes get you a 25% discount on the BOB and WAB trains but are not in themselves valid for travel beyond Interlaken. A Swiss Travel Pass is valid to Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald and Mürren and gets you 50% discount on the WAB trains.
1 Kleine Scheidegg railway station is central in the village.
From here the famous Jungfrau Railway starts its ascent: it's very touristy in fine weather (and can be booked out) and pointless on a gloomy day.
2 Eigergletscher is the next stop, at the top of the skiing and hiking area. Change here for the train which burrows through the mountain. Eiger Express, opened in Dec 2020, is a direct gondola from Grindelwald to Eigergletscher, taking only 15 min. It runs daily 08:00-17:00 apart from a maintenance shutdown early Nov.
3 Jungfraujoch is the top of the line at 3454 m, the highest station in Europe, on a saddle between the peaks of the Jungfrau and the Mönch.
Cars are not permitted in Kleine Scheidegg, you have to park at Lauterbrunnen, which is Fr. 17 for 1 day at the parking facility next to the station.
You can easily hike or ski one way then take the train back. The trains up from Lauterbrunnen stop at Wengen (1274 m), Allmend (1493 m), Wengernalp (1473 m) then Kleine Scheidegg and Eigergletscher. Those from Grindelwald stop at Brandegg (1222 m) and Alpiglen (1616 m).
If you have a ski pass, the add-on return fare from Eigergletscher to Jungfraujoch is Fr. 49. Without one, reckon around Fr. 100 to make the trip from Interlaken.
See and do
- 1 Eiger (3967 m / 13,015 ft), 2 Mönch (4110 m / 13,480 ft) and 3 Jungfrau (4158 m / 13,642 ft) are the magnificent peaks towering over the village.
- Silberhorn (3695 m) is a secondary peak on the northwest face of the Jungfrau, a distinctive snowclad pyramid. It stuck in the mind of Tolkien, who made it into Celebdil: within it the dwarves hewed out their city of Khazad-dûm and encountered a dragon but somehow failed to find the railway.
- 4 Lauberhorn (2472 m), 5 Tschuggen (2521 m) and 6 Männlichen (2343 m) are the three peaks forming the ridge north of the village. Almost all the skiing and hiking is east side of this ridge. The west slope is precipitous, but the scary-fast Lauberhorn race goes that side. Cable cars ascend to Männlichen from Wengen and from Grindelwald, and skiers from those resorts usually start their morning that way.
- Skiing: the season is from Dec to mid-April: the lifts run for a couple of weekends before main season, then daily. It gets a bit scratchy by late March. The standard lift pass suitable for most skiers is the Grindelwald-Wengen pass. This grants access to all 27 lifts in the area covering 155 km, including Wengen, Grindelwald, and First the far side of Grindelwald, and the WAB trains. In 2021 / 22 an adult pass is Fr. 69 for one day, for six is Fr. 324. The Mürren-Schilthorn area is a separate pass, or you can buy a Jungfrau Pass for the combined areas.
- Eiger Trail is a hiking route downhill from Eigergletscher to Alpiglen, 2 hr 30 min (or 3 hr 30 min if you go uphill). It's a clear waymarked trail passable July to October. Most of it is a gradual descent flanking the north face of the Eiger, then a steep zigzag down into Alpiglen. Nothing technical, but it gives access to the Rotstock via ferrata route.
- 7 Rotstock (2663 m) is a pinnacle on the side of the Eiger, like a turret on a castle wall. When the railway was built to Jungfraujoch, a station was built within Rotstock, and an access path to the peak. Station and path were abandoned when Eigerwand station opened, but from 1997 the path was restored as a via ferrata or klettersteig, and a lower section added so you start from the Eiger hiking trail. It's suitable for novices in fine weather. The trickiest part is the abrupt step at the outset, then the return descent path to Eigergletscher.
- Eiger summit is a demanding technical climb even by the simplest routes, far beyond the range of the average hill-walker. The usual approach is to ascend by the South Ridge and descend by the West (which the first successful group ascended in 1858). The infamous North Face is a sheer wall of 1800 m that has claimed at least 68 lives, and was first conquered in 1938. It's nowadays usually attempted in winter, as the ice binds the crumbly rockface. Climbers are in plain view of spectators on the terraces of Kleine Scheidegg, so near yet so powerless to help when tragedy ensues.
- Jungfraujoch is the icy viewing point at the top of the railway, see above for prices. The train also pauses for 5 minutes in a viewing gallery part way up, where you see the house-sized ice lumps of the glacier. At the top there's a cafe, restaurant and shops with prices to match the altitude. The tour route leads you up to an observation deck, then through ice tunnels with sculpture. The view south is the Great Aletsch Glacier, which descends the Massa Valley towards Brig. This is in retreat but still about 22 km long, 2 km at its widest, and almost 1 km deep. It's possible to ski or hike down the glacier but you must have a guide, decent weather, and onward transport from the glacier foot. In summer you can hike from Jungfraujoch to the refuge of Mönchsjoch Hut. Reaching the summits however is full-on mountaineering and beyond the scope of this guide.
- Lauberhorn is the premier ski race, held in January. The run is from the Lauberhorn summit at 2317 m, over 4.27 km (a one km descent) into Wengen. There's often an associated air show, and the event drews global media and 30,000 spectators. The next races are 13-15 Jan 2023.
- Jungfrau Marathon ascends from Interlaken via Lauterbrunnen and Wengen to finish at Kleine Scheidegg. The course record is 2 hr 49 min 01 sec. It's held in September, with the next on 9 / 10 Sept 2022.
- Eiger Ultra: see Grindelwald#Do for this 101 km ultra-marathon, held in July and passing through Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg.
There's a small sports shop but no general store - for groceries you have to ride down to Wengen or Grindelwald.
Eat and drink
- Bergrestaurant Kleine Scheidegg (at railway station), ☏ . This serves simple hearty fare: bratwurst, goulash, pizza and the like. They also have rooms. Double half-board Fr. 230.
- 1 Eigernordwand. This unmissable glass-fronted chalet has a self-serve cafeteria as you enter, and a full-service restaurant to the back. Both serve Swiss classics food like rösti, schnitzels and sausages, although the restaurant has a wider menu with some international selections like Thai green curry. The terrace outside has great views, looking towards the Eiger's north face (hence the name), and is quite warm even in winter when the sun is out. Cafe mains from Fr. 20, restaurant from Fr. 35.
- 1 Hotel Bellevue des Alpes, ☏ . The aptly named "Beautiful View of the Alps", founded in 1840, was traditionally the only accommodation in the village. It nowadays has competition from the Bergrestaurant, which hasn't visibly dented the prices. Most visitors reckon it's worth the splurge. Half-board double Fr. 450.
As of Feb 2022, the village has 4G from Salt and Swisscom, but with lots of dead areas on the mountain sides and no signal from Sunrise. 5G has reached the valleys below but has not yet ascended the slopes.