Switzerland is home to some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery. It’s sweeping landscapes are simply breathtaking. Imposing white tipped mountains overlook deep lush valleys decorated with an abundance of picturesque lakes and flowing rivers. Admittedly, amidst such divine landscapes, it’s difficult to isolate any one place as being particularly superior. That being said, if it’s a slice of heaven your looking for, the top of Europe might just be it!
At 11,401 ft, the summit of the Jungfrau is famously referred to as the top of Europe. If there’s one thing you do while in Switzerland, it’s make the sensational train journey up Jungfrau to the top of Europe.
Take the cogwheel train to Europe’s highest railway station at 3454m from the elegant town of Interlaken. Enjoy the phenomenal views along the scenic route and explore the open plateau at 11,401 ft. Admittedly, it is notoriously expensive, but it’s nonetheless one of the most humbling and memorable experiences Europe has to offer.
Where To Stay
While it is possible to drive to the Jungfrau region in a couple of hours from Geneva or Zurich, when planning your trip, its highly advised to spend the night in the nearby town of Interlaken. Not only is it a stunning little town well worth visiting, but the train journey to the summit of Jungfrau takes roughly 2hrs 30min each way from one of Interlaken’s two railway stations. Needless to say, an early start is advised!
With numerous hotels to choose from in the town of Interlaken, the towering Metropole hotel in the town centre is perfectly located. Not only does it offer a spectacular ariel view of the elegant town with humbling mountain views, but it’s also only a short walk to local restaurants, and more importantly, the railway stations from which your journey will begin.
Taking The Railway To The Top Of Europe, Jungfrau.
From the town of Interlaken, it’s a short walk to the stations of Interlaken West & Interlarken Ost (East). Either of these stations are ideal starting points for the full Jungfrau experience. As of March 2017, full day tickets to the summit and back to Interlaken cost CHF 206 (Swiss franc). Tickets can be purchased online or at Interlaken’s railway station ticket office.
Note: if you are travelling to and around Switzerland by train, click here for more information on discounts and savings.
Below is a timetable effective from December 2016. As shown below, trains run every half hour, the first of which is at 06.14 from Interlaken West.
The train up to Jungfrau runs via Grindewald, the route back to Interlaken runs via Lauterbrunnen. This essentially means you get to see a greater variety of epic scenery on each journey. (See map below).
The Trip Up: Interlaken – Jungfrau
First leg: Interlaken West – Interlaken Ost*
Second leg: Interlaken Ost – Grindelwald
Third leg: Grindelwald – Kleine Scheidegg
Fourth leg: Kleine Scheidegg – Jungfraujoch (summit)
*If you start your journey at Interlaken Ost, skip leg 1. The journey time between Interlaken west and Interlaken Ost is 3mins.
The Trip Down: Jungfrau – Interlaken
First leg: Jungfrau – Klein Scheidegg
Second leg : Klein Scheidegg – Lauterbrunnen
Third leg: Lauterbrunnen – Interlaken Ost
Fourth leg: Interlaken Ost – Interlaken West*
*Leg 4 is optional. Both Interlaken Ost and West are in the town of Interlaken.
Layovers between trains provide ample time to make your connections (refer to timetable). Finding your next train is fairly straight forward. Train destinations are mostly displayed on the sides of trains and everything is well signposted. But don’t worry, if you lose your way, members of staff are on standby to point you in the right direction.
Tip: Trains stop for 10mins at viewing points along the way (Klein Scheidegg- Jungfrau tunnel sections). This gives you the opportunity to take in the valley views on your way up. At these allocated viewing points, staff usher all passengers back onboard before departure, so don’t worry, they won’t leave without you!
All The Way Up
In the likely event that you miss breakfast, there are places to stop and eat on the way up the Jungfrau. Klein Scheidegg for example offers places to eat and drink while admiring the spectacular mountain views. Alternatively, you can enjoy a hot beverage, a sandwich or even noodles upon arriving at Jungfrau.
Once at the terminus of Jungfrau, make your way from the station into the main building. From here, there are a few things to see. However, I wouldn’t waste any time. Using one of the dated lifts, make your way to the 4th floor. From here, you’ll be able to walk out onto the open plateau upon which the swiss flag proudly flies.
Be aware, its extremely cold and winds can be fairly forceful. A hat and gloves are highly recommended while out on the plateau. However, temperatures may vary throughout the day, so multiple thin layers are advised.
This is one experience you sure don’t want to miss while in Switzerland. Wherever you plan on going, make sure this is on your itinerary! Visit the top of Europe, Jungfrau!