Nestled at a staggering elevation of 3,454m, Jungfraujoch, often dubbed the “Top of Europe”, offers a mesmerizing view overlooking the expansive glaciers. Visiting this landmark requires prior booking. Despite missing our initial chance for an early ascent, the experience was unforgettable.
The scenic splendor of Jungfraujoch often reminds many of iconic scenes from Bond movies. Originating from Interlaken, the train journey takes approximately 2 hours, with its initial boarding point conveniently located at the information centre-cum-train station.
Upon reaching the summit, several attractions await:
One of the main things that you are heading up to see the panoramic views of the glacier and alpine peaks. The views were amazing and even after travelling to mountainious regions all over the globe for years, it took my breath for a moment. As far as the eyes could see were the peaks of the great swiss alps along with glacier stretching to the distance.
There are panaromic windows throughout the different levels of Junfraujoch, but the best places to get a view are out on the metal deck or you can head out on the snow.
Expect snow when you are up there. I had to laugh when overhearing people getting cold on the journey up as we got closer to the top and even colder at the top. It sounds awful but as with any place you visit just do a weather check and bring clothes to help this. In the valley it was 30 degrees celsius with no wind and cloud, which felt even hotter.
At the top, though sunny the temperature was between -4 and +2 degrees celsius. just in the hours we visited (in the first trip this was even lower, with snow and wind). It’s easy to forget when you see sunny pictures over snow that the temperature will still be pretty cold, and any breeze will be running along the snow and ice which makes the wind chill harsh.
The irresistible Lindt chocolate factory (where I confess to spending quite a sum on my first visit), a cosy cafe that offers different levels of seating and views over the glacier, and the fascinating interactive ice tunnels. Their creation and maintenance stories are as awe-inspiring as the tunnels themselves.
Top Tips for Visiting Jungfraujoch
- Check the weather beforehand and note the weather becomes less predictable (and sometimes visiible) as the day progresses.
- Book online and direct (this was cheaper both times than at the ticket kiosks or info centres).
- Take water with you (at altitude if you aren’t used to it, drink before the journey and during)
- I would recommend taking a coffee or tea in a flask with you too (save money, especially if you are up there for a few hours rather than a quick visit).
- I’d also suggest taking a few snacks with you for both the journey and at the top
- You can get cheaper tickets by opting for an earlier train journey
- The earlier train Journeys allow you to avoid the mass crowds
- Don’t forget to take a down jacket, warm walking pants and hiking boots / trail shoes with grip.
The Journey Options Up To Jungfraujoch
Along the route, there are strategic stops, perfect for explorations, given favourable weather conditions. Though my first visit with my friend was marred by poor visibility, the panoramic vistas during the ascent were simply breathtaking, compensating for the cloudy summit.
I fondly recall a similar experience from my 2017 Interrail trip with a friend and still being in awe of the views on this magical journey (I’ve included a few of the cloudy pictures from my first visit at the bottom of this post for comparison).
There are Two Main Routes Up To The Top of Europe
One of the best things is you can stop at these wonderful places on the way up or down and extend your trip for a full day. I would highly reccomend considering this to get more from your experience here in Jungfrau region.
Grindelwald, affectionately termed as the “Glacier Village”, is nestled in the Bernese Alps and offers an array of adventures and scenic views. This picturesque ski area, promises captivating views at every turn. This route offers alternative attractions like viewpoint walks, and the new Eiger express gondola that ascends both Eiger and part of the route to the Top of Europe.
Opting for this route shaves off some travel time.
The captivating landscape, especially through the ski resort and over Grindelwald, kept me glued to the train window throughout the journey.
The Grindelwald-First is a top attraction here, offering a plethora of activities. From the thrilling First Cliff Walk, a metal pathway hugging the steep mountainside, to the First Flyer zip line that gives you a bird’s eye view of the valley, it’s an adrenaline junkie’s haven.
The area also has a range of hiking and trekking trails that lead to vantage points, providing unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.
Winter in Grindelwald paints a picturesque scene, turning it into a skiing and snowboarding paradise. The Eiger North Face, one of the most iconic sights, watches over the village, and has been a beacon for mountaineers from around the world.
For a more laid-back experience, one can opt for a scenic drive or take the cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch. The journey, irrespective of the mode, offers travelers an opportunity to soak in the alpine beauty that Grindelwald is renowned for.
Lauterbrunnen, often referred to as the “Valley of 72 Waterfalls”, is not just a gateway to Jungfraujoch, but a treasure trove of natural wonders in itself.
One of the most iconic waterfalls is the Staubbach Falls. Cascading almost 300 meters, Staubbach Falls is one of the highest free-falling waterfalls in Europe. In the evenings, under the right light, it sparkles and transforms into a golden veil, offering photographers a dream shot.
Another marvel is the Trümmelbach Falls, a series of ten glacier-fed waterfalls hidden inside a mountain. This unique spectacle draws visitors with its roaring waters that echo through the caverns and chasms.
The majestic cliff faces of Lauterbrunnen are adorned with cascading waterfalls that culminate into a quaint village. This scenic beauty hasn’t escaped the attention of travel influencers, so anticipate a bustling crowd.
The village boasts various cafes, hostels, and even a campsite near its famed waterfall. During my initial visit, the inclement weather led us to bypass Lauterbrunnen, but the ethereal beauty amidst the rain and clouds beckoned a revisit. And, I indeed revisited, spending an entire afternoon here after a morning at Jungfraujoch.
For thrill-seekers, Lauterbrunnen offers an unforgettable paragliding experience. Floating above the valley, with panoramic views of the waterfalls, alpine meadows, and the majestic peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, is truly an experience of a lifetime. The serene beauty of Lauterbrunnen from the skies is both exhilarating and mesmerizing, ensuring that paragliding here remains etched in one’s memories forever.
Spring Versus Summer At The Top of Europe
Visiting in spring was a bit different to my recent summer visit. As you can imagine the spring views still stunning, but absolutely freezing and the visibility was very limited.
We still loved it and for the odd moment of our few hours at the top we got the odd glimpse of the glaciers and peaks which the pictures just couldn’t quite pick up on or do justice.
Views from the Train Journey, highlighted the late spring colours of trees and alpine flore almost in full bloom. For context this first journey was in April.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) for JungfrauJoch
- How long is the train journey to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken?
- The journey takes approximately 2 hours.
- What are the attractions at the top of Jungfraujoch?
- Attractions include the Lindt chocolate factory, a cafe, and interactive ice tunnels. Sometimes they also host events up there including sports and concerts.
- Are there different routes to reach Jungfraujoch?
- Yes, there are two primary routes: Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen.
- Do I need to pre-book the visit to Jungfraujoch?
- Yes, it’s advisable to pre-book your visit to avoid missing out due to high demand. We would advise doing this online to save money and also keeping an eye on the weather forecast.
- Is there any other mode of transport besides the train to reach the top?
- Yes, from Grindelwald, you can take the new Eiger gondola (which makes the journey a little quicker, with panoramic views all the way up). We took this option, on the second trip.
There is also an opportunity to hop out and view another glacier / ice field (called Eismeer) on the train journey up. The train will stop for 5 minutes where you will get to go into a carved out part of the caves to wide panoramic windows which truley give you an idea of the sheer scale and power of these glaciers.