STANDING ON TOP OF EUROPE AT THE JUNGFRAUJOCH
So, anyone that has visited the Berner Oberland region in Switzerland knows that the Jungfrau (pronounced young-frau-yock) is king of the mountain range there. As you’re gazing at the trifecta of the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger and you’re wondering what’s up there over those mountains you can, in all seriousness, catch a train there!! On a clear day, you can see the famous Sphinx weather station perched up on the peak and admittedly, it does have a sense of allure to it. I decided to take a trip up to the highest altitude train station in Europe, standing at 3,454 metres above sea level, to check what it was all about. Here’s a quick guide to what you can get up to at the Jungraujoch!
If you’re flexible with your itinerary, you should visit on a clear blue sunny day. That way you have the best views and you’re not too chilly when you reach the top. If it’s cloudy, I’m sure it will still be spectacular but your view of the glacier may be scarpered.
Times & Prices
Tickets for the Jungfraujoch are not cheap at 62 francs an Adult, which does not include seat reservations. If you book online, there are offers so make sure you keep up to date. The only problem with booking in advance is that you cannot guarantee the weather and so you may want to wait until a clear day to buy your ticket.
Trains leave every 30 minutes from Kleine Sheidegg. I would recommend leaving early to make the most of the clear skies as the clouds form quickly around the mountains.
The Jungraujoch can be accessed from Interlaken by taking the train to Lauterbrunnen and then catching the connecting line of the Wengernalp Bahn up to Kleine sheidegg. from here, you can catch the red trains all the way up to the Jungfraujoch station.
To guarantee a seat, you should make seat reservations at 5 francs along with your ticket. In my opinion they’re worth every penny as its a bit of a scrum if you don’t have one. If you’d rather save your pennies, get in the queue early to take your seats or it’s a long steep ride to the top standing.
On the way
What I loved about the Jungfraujoch train is that they stop off to get some good views of the glacier along the way at the Eigerwand and Eismeer stations. You only have 5 minutes so it’s a bit of a rush, but the views you are greeted with are spectacular. You can see all around the valley and the dramatic peaks of the glacial edge of the mountain. There are also toilet stops if nature calls.
On your 40 minute train journey they have a lot of promotional movies to entertain you, showing what you can see up there – including the highest Lindt shop which I was very happy about what made me even more happy was the fact there were free samples.
At the top
When you reach the top you can definitely feel the change in altitude. You will join a plethora of tourist groups and it may seem a little chaotic but everything is labelled to make your way around easily to all the attractions included in your ticket. Here are the highlights of where to play;
The best view of the glacier valley is the weather station platform. You can see at 360 degree panorama view of the mountains here and it is jaw droppingly beautiful! You will come face to face with the edge of the Eiger and you can get some amazing photos to boot. Watch out for the birds which fly about, they like to pose for you!
One of my favourite places to go was the winter games. Here, you can get involved in all sorts of snow related fun. You can ski, sled and even zip line over the Jungraujoch glacier. I decided to take part in the zip lining. As I made my way up to the platform I could feel my legs shaking! It was pretty scary but so much fun! Prices are 20 francs a go!
If you’re feeling energetic and have a good pair of shoes on, you can make your way to the Mönchsjochhütte over the ice. It’s a long way and will take about an hour, but you get some outstanding views of the mountains as you walk. When you arrive there is a small restaurant to warm your toes in and sip on a hot drink or grab a bite to eat.
Little dreams of Switzerland
A relatively recent feature of the Jungfraujoch is the Alpine sensation exhibition. The walls are peppered with glowing edelweiss and it showcases some charming sculptures and an impressive animated snow globe. You can also see some history of the hikers who first succeeded in climbing the mountain too!
The Ice Palace
Another attraction included in your ticket is that you can surround yourself by walls and sculptures of ice – it’s a magical place but extremely cold. There isn’t any type of slip proof mat so make sure you’ve got good balance – not like me, I nearly slipped a dozen times !
The Flag point
If you needed another excuse to get out into the snow again, there’s a second snowy platform that comes with a patriotic flag of Switzerland. Here, you get a view of the Eiger and glacial valley from a different perspective. It is a tad slippy so make sure you’ve got good shoes on to prepare for the ice.
Dining at the Top of Europe
There are so many restaurants here at the station to cover all budgets so you can take your pick. If you’re tried of Germanic-Swiss food, there is an Indian restaurant ‘Restaurant Bollywood’ to book yourself into and enjoy a yummy curry at the top.
Shop till you drop
There are oodles of shops to spend your Francs here, from designer watches, jewellery, box standard Jungraujoch souvenirs with cowbells and, for me, the all important Lindt shop. Here, you can try some free samples and see how it’s made!
Going back down
The journey on the way back down is a little shorter as there aren’t any stops on the way but you will get some great views of Kleine Sheidegg on your decent back down to earth. If you have time make sure you check the station out! It’s a quirky little place which boasts a famous tipi to enjoy a drink in. My favourite part was watching the cows grazing by the mountains.
Where to go from here
There are a few things to do from here, if you’re still feeling energetic after your journey to the top;
Walk from Kleine Sheidegg to Manlichen
You will be walking uphill but the walk will provide some stunning views of the surrounding towns and valley. The manlichen viewpoint is spectacular and you can take the Royal walk to its crown on the top of the hill. When you’re finished, you can get the cable car down to Wengen or Grindelwald.
A popular ski resort in winter and a nice place to spend an afternoon in summer, Wengen is a stop on the train down from Kleine Sheidegg if you wanted to get off and look around. There isn’t all too much to do here apart from shopping, but you do have some great views of the mountains.
One of my favourite places in the region is this small town. It is notorious as a base location for backpackers and paragliders so there are some great budget places to eat. If you walk up the main high street you can venture on to its famous Staubach falls or just wonder around the town – it is as pretty as a postcard.
What do you think? Would you like to stand on top of Europe? Comment below!
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