Switzerland is home to the Swiss Alps which have some of the highest mountains in Europe. With so many well known mountain destinations in Switzerland it can be difficult to choose where to visit. Not on this occasion, The Jngfrauhjoch Top Of Europe is one of the most iconic and beautiful places in the Swiss Alps. If you fancy standing on the top of Europe, you can. Catch the train from Interlaken in Switzerland to the top of the Jungfraujoch and you find yourself on top of Europe. I did this and had one of the best days and now I can say ‘I’ve stood on top of Europe and been to the highest train station, cafe and post office in Europe’. And you can say this too. In this guide, I share my experience visiting Jungfraujoch Top of Europe and include practical information you may want to know to plan your day trip to Jungfraujoch. Without further ado, here is how you can enjoy a day on Jungfraujoch on top of Europe.
What is the difference between Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch
Before I get into it, let’s get the terminology right first. The difference between Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch. The Jungfrau is the mountain, whereas the Jungfraujoch is Europe’s Highest Train Station and refers to the ‘saddle’ between the two peaks of Mount Jungfrau and Mount Mönch. You take the train to the Jungfraujoch (train station) and enjoy fabulous views over Jungfrau (the mountain) and other mountains and a glacier. Jungfraujoch is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site called Swiss Alps Jungrau-Aletsch.
See many snow capped mountains on the way up to Jungfraujoch
A brief history of Jungfraujoch
It is amazing the ideas people have. It was a Swiss entrepreneur, Adolf Guyer-Zeller, who came up with, some say, a crazy idea to build a tunnel and a railway line to the rocky summit Sphinx (now the observation deck at Jungfraujoch). Construction started in 1896 and took 16 years to complete and you can marvel at this significant achievement as you ride the railway to the top.
What does Jungfraujoch mean in English?
Jungfraujoch means ‘maiden saddle’ and is the saddle connecting two mountains – the Jungfrau and the Mönch.
Where is Mount Jungfrau and the Jungfraujoch
Mount Jungfrau is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps, which are located between Interlaken and Fiesch in Switzerland. The area consists of a couple of valleys – Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen – south of Interlaken.
The best time to visit Jungfrau
You can go to the top of Jungfraujoch all through the year as most of the things to do at the top are indoors. However, the best weather is during May to September when you may have more blue skies offering better views over the snow capped mountains. These are the warmer summer months in Europe, but also the busiest months, so I would suggest you book your ticket in advance. I went in May and there was plenty of snow on the mountains, in fact, there is usually snow all year round. It was very cold, but it was a sunny day and I had great views over the area.
Why go to the top of the Jungfraujoch – Attractions at the top of Europe
If you go to the top of the Jungfraujoch, you won’t be disappointed. I found it to be more than just a mountain destination, as there is plenty to see and do at the top. So make sure you budget a whole day to visit.
The train / gondola ride to the top
The day will start with the train or gondola ride up the mountain – which is fantastic. As the train climbs higher the views become more and more spectacular with many snow capped mountains, valleys and villages below. The final part of the railway is through a seven kilometre tunnel and at the end, you will be at the highest train station in Europe. On alighting the train you will find many things to see and do.
The train ride up to Jungfraujoch is lots of fun
Sphinx Observation Deck and Aletsch Glacier
The Sphinx Observatory is an astronomical observatory at the top of Jungfraujoch, but unfortunately, not open to the public, but you can visit the open viewing deck – the Sphinx Observation Deck. After taking a quick elevator to the viewing platform you are treated to fabulous views, well, as long as it is a clear day! On one side is the view of the Mittelland up to the Vosges and on the other the Aletsch glacier – the longest Alpine glacier at 23 kilometres and is believed to be 1 km thick. It truly is an experience you will never forget. And hopefully you will see some birds, yes birds, are a common sight.
As well as the great views I think the Ice Palace is second on my most impressed with list. Walking through the Alpine Sensation, the 250 m long corridor connecting the Sphinx Hall with the Ice Palace starts off the great experience in the Ice Palace. The tunnel is a tribute to the miners who built the railway and shows the history of this unique place. Then into the Ice Palace under the glacier to see many different ice sculptures that can take your breath away. And you never know what you will find because they change the sculptures quite often. The day I was there, one of the sculputures was this car.
Ice car in the Ice Palace
If you unfortunately get a less than beautiful day for views don’t worry, the Jungfrau Panorama is a film providing 360o views of the mountains. It was great, but I was blessed with a clear sunny blue day and so the views were great.
A visit to the Glacier Plateau will provide great views and is a popular photo stop. Check out me on top of the world!
On Top of Europe – What a Buzz
Snow Fun Park
The Snow Fun Park is only open outside of the ski season (early May to Mid October). So if you have missed the winter where there are plenty of ski slopes and sledding runs to enjoy you can visit the Snow Fun Park and enjoy snowboarding, skiing, sledding and snow tubing. There is also a Flying Fox that silliness above the glacier – how cool! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do this.
If visiting Jungfraujoch during the summer months you can hike to Swizerland’s highest serviced mount hut, Monchsjochhutte (Monchsjoch Hut). It is only accessible during summer from Jungfraujoch on a marked footpath. It takes you through the glacier with the return journey taking 1.5-2 hours. I don’t know I would do this unless with an experienced guide.
Restaurants and Shops
There are a number of shops and restaurants at Jungfraujoch. Why not post a letter from the highest post office with its own post code (3801). Or perhaps buy some souvenirs, a Swiss knife or some clothes in one of the shops. Definitely spend some time in the Lindt Chocolate Heaven shop experiencing chocolate making or just enjoy the chocolate. Feeling hungry? Then you have the choice of a self-service restaurant or an a-la-carte restaurant with not only amazing food, but amazing views.
How to get to the top of Jungfraujoch?
There are two ways to reach the top of Europe – train and cableway.
Take the train to the top of Europe
For over 100 years, the Jungfrau railway has been making its journey to Europe’s highest-altitude railway station, Jungfraujoch at 3454 metres above sea level. The journey takes around 2 hours. The train winds its way through the valleys and mountains offering great views before reaching a tunnel. The tunnel is seven kilometres long and was built between 1896 and 1912. It takes you to the train station, but there is one stop along the tunnel which offers spectacular views onto the glacier outside in the Eiger North Face. A word of warning – the higher you go the less oxygen available, so you may find many people nodding off during the journey. You can catch the train from Interlaken to Kleine Scheidegg then change to the Jungfrau Railway up to Jungfraujoch.
Take the Aerial Cableway ‘Eiger Express’
5 December 2020 saw the opening of the Eiger Express, a cableway that enables the journey from Interlaken to the Jungfraujoch to be undertaken in one and a half hours. You can catch a gondola from Grindelwald to the Eiger Glacier station where you change to take the train for the last section to Jungfraujoch. This quicker journey allows for more time at the top. This wasn’t available when I went to Jungfraujoch but it looks spectacular.
You can undertake either one of these ways to the top independently or you can join an organised tour from a number of Swiss towns – Zurich, Lucerne or Interlaken. See the tours following.
Why is Jungfraujoch expensive?
As Jungfraujoch is the highest train station in Europe building and maintaining the railway so high in the mountains is very costly. Furthermore, trains that can drive to Jungfraujoch in a day is limited, which limits the number of visitors. Together, this makes it a more expensive destination. To some, it may be too expensive however, I would be budgeting to undertake a trip to Jungfraujoch because I believe, it was well worth the cost.
What to wear on your day to Jungfraujoch
Even in summer you need warm clothes when visiting Jungfraujoch. You will mostly be inside on your way to Jungfraujoch in heated comfort. However, if you go outside it can be very cold. I have been told on average it is -6 degrees up there. I suggest you wear warm clothes including a jacket which can easily be taken off if you get too warm. Bring a hat, scarf and gloves to wear when you go outside into the snow. Supportive shoes with good tread will stand you in good stead walking on the snow and in the Ice Palace.
Where to stay near Jungfraujoch
Even though you can visit Jungfraujoch as a day trip from many major Swiss cities, you can also stay nearby. The closest hotel to Jungfraujch is Hotel Bellevue des Alpes at Kleine Scheidegg. It is located on the mountain and is expensive. There are other towns nearby such as Grindelwald, Lucerne and Lauterbrunnen where accommodation is available. A couple of hostels include the Camping Jungfrau Alpine Lodge in Lauterbrunnen and Valley Hostel. For a hotel try the Alpenhof and Hotel Gletschergarten, both in Gindelwald. For more options, check out the accommodation map.
Practical Information and Tips for Visiting Jungfraujoch
- Jungfraujoch is open 365 days of the year.
- Budget one full day for your visit to Jungfraujoch. The train trip up takes 2.5 hours.
- Have a look around Kleine Scheidegg if you have time – it is the town where you change to the train to the top.
- Reserve your ticket to Jungfraujoch in advance.
- If staying in the area for longer get a regional pass – Jungfrau Travel Pass
- Visit in the winter season – it is 50 CHF cheaper.
- Jungfraujoch is 3454 metres above sea level. And the views at the top are fabulous.
I wasn’t aware the Jungfraujoch existed until I got to Switzerland. And I’m glad I discovered it because it was such a great experience standing on top of Europe. If you want to stand on top of Europe I highly suggest you visit Jungfraujoch. Have you been to Jungfraujoch? I would love to hear in the comments following.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.