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 level) left me with a whole lot of vivid impressions and thoughts in favor for seeing it (and not). The Top of Europe is certainly the selling point for Switzerland in Asia. Also, this Swiss mountain has attracted more than a million visitors in 2015 and 2017.
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, the Jungfraujoch would be the ultimate cathedral. The way to this natural pilgrimage destination is worth the world itself. 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.
The Jungfrau railways are over a hundred years old. This engineering marvel goes to show that the Swiss are pioneers in creating cogwheel trains. (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 much to keep you busy for the entire day. How about an underground ice palace, various 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.
The views from there 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. You could have a morning coffee on your birthday up there. Or you could enjoy 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 it.
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.
Finding your way out to the viewing deck but getting lost in souvenir shops instead can touch someone’s nerves. Because after the 1.5 to 2-hour ride, the anticipation to finally "get out there" is quite strong. 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 a regional card for a more attractive fare. Be aware, though, that no money guarantees nice weather...
There are other (less expensive) alternatives.
To start with, you could head to the Eigergletscher station and go for a scenic hike from there. Another good alternative is the nearby Schilthorn with its splendid views of Eiger, Mönch and the Jungfrau herself.
Some other impressive train rides in Switzerland at high altitudes: Gornergrat (3090 m), Ospizio Bernina (2253 m), or Bernina Lagalb (2100 m).
Some alternative cable cars will take you even higher up than the Jungfrau Railways: Klein Matterhorn in Zermatt (3883 m) and Mittelallalin in Saas-Fee (3456 m).
Most Swiss go elsewhere.
To incoming tourists, Jungfraujoch is "pure" Switzerland. To the Swiss, it is Switzerland's Little Asia. Hundreds of thousands of tourists from China, India, Japan and the Gulf States flock to Jungfraujoch every year. It is 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. Do you want to see a truly spectacular scenery? How about embarking on the train ride of a lifetime? Do you not mind masses of people?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, heading to the highest railway station in Europe is your calling. (Just be ready to say goodbye to a little fortune along the way…)
If you do mind, there is always the option of climbing it!
Now, sit back and be inspired by this video while you make up your mind about Jungfraujoch:
More information about visiting the Jungfraujoch
- Railway timetable
- Official website
- My family has figured out the perfect day trip to the Jungfrau Region
+41 (0)33 828 72 33