Jungfraujoch: Yes or no? Is it a one-of-a-kind trip, or a trap?
A recent visit to the Jungfraujoch (3454 m above sea) left me with a whole lot of vivid impressions and thoughts in favor for seeing it (and not). The Top of Europe, or the selling point for Switzerland in Asia, set a record in 2015 when it attracted more than a million visitors.
The thought of visiting Jungfraujoch has probably occurred to most people visiting Switzerland. And perhaps, you are wondering about the pros and cons that hide behind this tourism destination giant. I hope my list will help you lean towards one or the other side.
5 Reasons to go to Jungfraujoch
For the magnificent views (obviously).
If nature were a religion, this would be the ultimate cathedral. The way to this nature pilgrimage destination is worth the world itself as scenes of quaint Swiss villages, lush alpine meadows, merciless walls of rock and a sea of a giant glacier unfold in front of you.
For the unique experience.
Jungfrau's over a hundred years old train line is a marvel and success of railway engineering. The Swiss are pioneers in creating cogwheel railways. (Also, they are incredibly skillful at blasting through the mountains.) As a result, you have the luxury to approach unspoiled nature at an extraordinary altitude with the kind of comfort we are used to. Of course, all of this takes place in one of the most spectacular sceneries in the world!
For an adventure world on top of a mountain.
I spent four hours at the Top of Europe, but time just flew and it still felt too short. There is everything to keep you busy for the whole day, starting from an underground ice castle to restaurants, an observatory, a snow park and the highest chocolate shop in the world. The latter keeps your energy levels high at such altitude changes...
For the experience of a lifetime.
I mean, you are going through a mountain on a modern train! On the way to the top within the belly of the mountain, you can stop at two stations, Eigerwand and Eismeer, with views that are out of this world and perhaps something you have never seen. The sight of the Aletsch Glacier on top is something I will never forget. This is an experience worth adding to one's bucket list.
For its year-round accessibility.
The coolest part is that Jungfrau is open 365 days a year. Having a morning coffee on your birthday or enjoying a fondue on a winter afternoon with a view of the world under your feet sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
5 Reasons to skip Jungfraujoch
For all the reasons to drop everything and climb the Top of Europe, there are just as many reasons to skip Jungfraujoch.
Prepare to meet crowds - it's busy up there.
It is one thing when you imagine "busy", and another when you see it with your own eyes. The train station at an altitude of over 3400 meters above sea can be busier than the one in your town.
It's way too touristy.
Trying to find the way out to the viewing deck and getting lost in souvenir shops instead can touch a nerve of someone who's really anticipating to finally "get out there" to take in the views after the 1.5 to 2 hour ride. In the end, you might loose nature time in lieu of the overwhelming craze to find just the right fridge magnet...
It's relentless on your wallet.
As you might have already guessed, this unforgettable experience comes at an eye-watering price. Namely, 204.40 francs with a standard fare from Interlaken-Ost. Consider getting a "half fare" card, a Swiss Travel Pass, or another regional card for a more attractive price. Be aware, though, that no money guarantees nice weather...
There are other (less expensive) alternatives.
To start with, you can go to the Eigergletcher station and go for a scenic hike from there or choose Schilthorn with splendid views of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
For other impressive train rides in Switzerland apart from the Jungfrau Railway, think Gornergrat (3090 m), Ospizio Bernina (2253 m), Bernina Lagalb (2100 m) and others. Such gondola rides as to Klein Matterhorn (3883 m) and Mitelalallin (3456 m) even take you higher up than the Jungfrau Railway - at a lower price.
Most Swiss go elsewhere.
To incoming tourists, Jungfraujoch is "pure" Switzerland. To the Swiss, it is Switzerland's Little Asia. Hundreds of thousands of people from China, India, Japan, as well as from the Gulf states flock to Jungfraujoch every year as their main point of interest in Switzerland. But what about the Swiss? It is more likely that you meet them vacationing somewhere in a quiet valley in Valais or Grisons.
Please keep in mind that these are just my subjective observations. In the end, your decision comes down to your own personal preferences. If you want to see truly spectacular scenery, embark on the train ride of a lifetime and you do not mind masses of people while saying goodbye to a little fortune, do not hesitate to get your ticket to the highest railway station in Europe.
If you do mind, there is always the option of climbing it.
(My source of inspiration...)
She is into travelling, photography, handicrafts and online marketing. She doesn't spend the weekends home, and she will never say "no" to an invitation to go hiking in the mountains.
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