Last updated on July 4th, 2021
If you’re looking for scenic train rides in Switzerland and jaw-dropping views of the glaciers, you must add the Jungfraujoch tour to your itinerary. Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is the highest train station in Europe, and it overlooks the Aletsch glacier, the longest in the Alps. You’ll be rewarded with one of the most breathtaking mountain sceneries in the world.
The scenic train ride to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe
The little train climbed slowly through a beautiful landscape, approaching the glaciers and its destination: the Jungfraujoch. At 3,454 meters (11,332 ft), Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is the highest train station in Europe, and the journey is one of the most scenic train rides in the Alps. The moment I boarded the train, I felt blessed. The sky was a cloudless perfect blue, and I knew I was up for a memorable journey.
As I love nature and landscapes, I developed a passion for deserts and glaciers. That’s what led my steps to Patagonia, where I visited the famous Perito Moreno and the lesser-known Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers. In Europe, I chased glaciers in the Alps several times, from unique – but very touristy places – like the Gornergrat in Zermatt, to views which you can only get hiking, better off-season.
Jaw-dropping views of the glaciers from the Sphinx Observatory
Once the train reached the Jungfraujoch station, I climbed down and headed directly to the observatory. I was so lucky with the weather that I didn’t want to take any risk it might change. I know how suddenly clouds can sweep the sky in the mountains, one of the reasons I always pack a few essential items, even if only for a day hike.
From the Sphinx Observation’s deck, perched up a steep rock and reachable with an elevator, the surrounding scenery is breathtaking. All around, snow and rocks, ice delicately shaded in light blue and the shapes of the crevasses. A little further, I marvel at the winding moraine of the Aletsch glacier, the longest glacier in the Alps. My eyes wandered through this white wonderland, taking in as many details as possible. I couldn’t help thinking how privileged I was to enjoy jaw-dropping views of the Alps.
No wonder the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn region was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List and that people from all over the world come to admire this stunning alpine scenery.
Read also – Hiking Along the Wonderful Aletsch Glacier
A scenic lunch at the Crystal restaurant
After spending a long time on the Sphinx Observation deck, I headed back for one of the most scenic lunches ever.
From the Crystal restaurant, whose wide window panels overlook the Aletsch glacier and some of the most beautiful peaks of the Bernese Oberland, the scenery is breathtaking. The food was delicious, but my eyes were glued on the white wonderland much more than focused on my plate.
Read also – Les Diablerets: An Easy Glacier Walk
Hiking from Eigergletscher to Kleine Scheidegg
I quickly visited the Ice Palace and boarded the train riding down. I was keen to have at least a short hike amid this unique alpine scenery and thus followed the trail from Eigergletscher to Kleine Scheidegg. It’s an easy hike of about 45 minutes with a lovely view of the valley and the Eiger north wall.
At Kleine Scheidegg, I rode the train back to Interlaken, this time via Grindelwald. I traveled in the morning along the Lauterbrunnen-Wengen route, and, that way, I was able to complete the circle circuit with the Jungfraubahn.
Even if you don’t feel like hiking, the restaurant at Eigergletscher (one of the Jungfrau train stops) is well worth taking a break. You can savor a hot drink and one of the delicious home-made cakes on the terrace, right below the glacier. From there, the ice cascade is even closer, and the view is dramatic.
What makes the Jungfraujoch tour special?
It’s thanks to a visionary man, the Swiss entrepreneur Adolf Guyer-Zeller, that this superb region is accessible all year-long.
Back in 1893, during a walk in Murren, a village in the Bernese Oberland, Adolf Guyer-Zeller had the idea of building a railway up to the Jungfrau. The rack railway, 9.3 km (5.8 mi) of which 7.2 km through a tunnel dug into the mountains Eiger and Mönch for a difference in height close to 1,400 meters (0.86 mi), was completed in 1912. As a result, the Jungfraujoch became the highest train station in Europe, owing to it the nickname “Top of Europe.” Over time, it became one of the must-see attractions in Switzerland and, as such, one of the most touristy spots.
Along the way, the train makes two stops in the tunnel where passengers can get off and admire the stunning views on the mountains and glaciers through large panoramic windows. It’s only a very short stay but a great foretaste of what will come once reached the Jungfraujoch.
Is a trip to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe really worth?
Since the Jungfraujoch tour is costly, the question is legitimate. If the weather is good, the Jungfraujoch excursion is undoubtedly worth it. However, expect to be surrounded by a lot of people. Although pricey, the tour to Jungfraujoch Top of the Wold is one of the most popular spots in Switzerland. The majority of Switzerland organized tours include the ride to the Jungfraujoch in their itinerary.
In the case of terrible weather, I wouldn’t recommend a trip to the Jungfraujoch. Unless you want to cross a bucket list or crave to discover the glaciers, even though the colors won’t be at their best.
Remember that you’ll reach a high elevation (3,454 meters – 11,332 ft) and that the weather conditions in the mountains can change abruptly. No matter if the sun shines when you start your journey. Get ready with appropriate clothing: fleece, wind and waterproof jacket, waterproof shoes, gloves, and hat. It’s no fun if you’re freezing, and you don’t want to spoil your experience.
Aside from the crowds, the downside of the Jungfraujoch is directly related to being so accessible. With its shops and activities, it feels a bit like a theme park. Still, the surrounding scenery is so awe-inspiring that I soon forgot the people around me and got lost in the perfect beauty of the glaciers and the majesty of the alps. It really is up to you what you want to make out of the Jungfraujoch excursion.
Best time to visit the Jungfraujoch
The answer is easy: Summer.
However, it’s worth having the Jungfraujoch tour at any season, also in Winter. The weather has become increasingly unpredictable, and there’s no guarantee of sunshine, even in July and August.
The real thing to take into account is the temperature, which can quickly drop below 0°C (32° F). Just be prepared with enough warm layers to face a bright, crisp winter day, which could also provide excellent visibility.
How to plan a day trip to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe
The only access is by train, and since the ride from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch (your most likely starting point) takes 2.5 hours, you have to consider a full-day trip. Other access points include Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald (1.5 hours), and Wengen (1 hour).
It’s easy to travel up to the Jungfraujoch on your own, although in high season I recommend you buy your train ticket at least one day in advance. Also, don’t forget to book a seat, since the train is often crowded.
The Jungfraujoch tour is more than just a checkmark on a Switzerland must-do list. To me, it was a fantastic day and a memorable experience in one of my favorite landscapes: the glaciers.
Have you ever experienced the magic of the glaciers?
How to get to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe
The Jungfrau Bahn connects the Jungfraujoch with Interlaken, Wengen, Grindelwald. I strongly recommend to buy your ticket at least one day in advance and book a seat, especially in the high season. You can get your ticket here.
Where to stay in the Jungfrau region
The closest alpine towns are Interlaken, Grindelwald, and Wengen.
- Located in a beautiful traditional wooden chat of the 16th century, Hotel Hirschen features rooms with a warm alpine style, a terrace, and a garden.
- Centrally located, Hotel Beausite features a terrace, a large garden, and offers beautiful views of the mountains.
- The Eiger Selfness Hotel features modern decor and a wellness center. It offers free admission to the nearby swimming pool and ice skating rink.
- Alpenhof is a family-run hotel featuring a warm, alpine atmosphere. The hotel is centrally located, and the rooms have either a balcony or a terrace.
- It’s hard not to love the Belvedere Hotel and tasteful decor. Furthermore, with its elevated position, the Belevedere offers magnificent views of the mountains.
- If you fancy staying at the oldest hotel in Wengen, have a look at the charming Alpenrose. Refurbished with a beautiful alpine style decor, Hotel Alpenrose has fantastic views of the mountains and the valley.
Altitude and weather
Remember that some people might be subject to high altitude sickness (in this case, the best thing to do is going back at a lower altitude). Also, the weather in the mountains is prone to sudden changes. Don’t forget to wear proper shoes and to bring with you warm clothes, even on a hot and sunny day.
Note: This amazing journey was made possible thanks to the kind invitation by the Jungfrau Mountain Railways to discover a truly magical region. As always, opinions are mine and mine only.
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