My first time travelling in the Jungfrau region was back in Sept 2003 with my husband. I just did another trip this 2019 winter time with my daughter this time. 16 years apart – and honestly things did not change much between now and then. We were there in Nov (yes – slightly delayed in posting this) – so it wasn’t full ski season yet. Now at the time of this post, the ski season is in full swing.
Top Of The World
Jungfraujoch is a mountain destination that is also labelled as The Top of Europe. Here, is where the highest railway station in Europe is located at 3,454m (11, 332ft) above sea level!
To get to Jungfraujoch, you can take the train from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg and then change trains to Jungfraujoch. Alternatively you can go via Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg and then onto Jungfraujoch. I would choose one way to go up, and the other way to go down – that way you can have different scenery going up and down. Both ways are amazing…
We were based in Lauterbrunnen, so that made it easy to get there. From the Lauterbrunnen station, we took the cogwheel railway up to Kleine Scheidegg early morning. It was quite empty (low season). At Kleine Scheidegg, there was a 10min stop – sufficient time to change for the next train to Jungfraujoch. The whole trip was about 1.5 hours. If you are staying in Interlaken, then you can take the train or the bus up to Lauterbrunnen and then change trains from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg. Note that it takes slightly more than 2 hours to go to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken.
You don’t need to join a tour or anything I feel. It’s a pretty easy DIY itinerary – I have done it twice now – first time back in 2003, when there wasn’t a lot of information available on your mobile device to guide you and so on.
Tip – if you plan to go in the peak season like the summer months, make sure you book the trains in advance.
Swiss Travel Pass
I had the Swiss Travel Pass that covered all land and water transport – I was in Switzerland for 5 days. Its kind of worth it as you can get also a Family Card that allows your child (between 6 to 15 years) travel for free. One adult full pass allows one accompanying child to travel for free. But note that if you want to go up to Jungfraujoch, you have to buy also the Jungfraujoch pass (discounted if you have the Swiss Travel pass).
The Swiss Travel Pass is expensive, so before you make the purchase, you may want to calculate the costs of just buying tickets outright at the various stations or just opting for the Half Fare Travelcard. Note that if you are staying in just the Jungfrau region – Jungfrau also has its own Travel Pass.
When To Go
For winter sports – December to March; this is when you have the ski crowd. I went around November. So October-November time, there is less crowd – it still gets busy but not as bad. Early November is all time low perhaps because it is in between seasons when a number of resorts are closed, preparing for the ski season and cable car maintenance work is going in certain areas. But you still have snow up at Jungfraujoch and all the trains are working of course – so no big deal. I honestly prefer to go places when there is less crowd/tourist. However, in the non-winter months, you have longer days and if you love hiking then you’ll have a great time in the region. So – plus-es and minus-es…
Whatever it is – if you can spare a few days in Jungfraujoch area that would be good. You need good weather up there to enjoy the beautiful mountain sights and the weather is not really predictable. So you have to watch out for the weather forecast and decide whether to go up or spend your time elsewhere on that day.
Note also that the Snow Fun Park at Jungfraujoch is open only from mid May to mid Oct. This is where you can do snowtubing, sledging, flying fox etc. I didn’t check in advance on the opening times of the Snow Park – I wanted to bring my daughter there. So that was a bit of a miss on my end.
If you go on your own, its good to do a bit of research about the place.
Sphinx Observation Deck
I would start with the Sphinx Observatory. You get beautiful mountain views up here on a clear day. It also gets quite busy on the deck by the way, so the earlier you get here before the tourist groups come through, the better. There is a lift that takes you up to the observatory and there is a small coffee shop – it was closed when we were here. Disappointing…
The weather changes quite fast up here. The sky was clear for a bit and then gets cloudy quickly after that. Like I said – check the forecast before coming. In my case, it was not a choice, I didn’t have that many days in Jungfrau. Anyway – if there is clear skies when you get up there, head there first. If not – then enjoy the other facilities first.
The Ice Palace has been here a long, long time. The sculptures may be different, but it was one of the things I remembered about Jungfraujoch in 2003. The aisles and halls were created in the 1930s.
This is a 250 metre long corridor between the Sphinx Hall and Ice Palace. On the wall along the corridor, you will see stories about the miners who worked on the railway.
Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven
If you love Lindt – you can get your chocolate fix here. This place is basically a chocolate shop with a small exhibition on the history of Lindt chocolate and explains the chocolate making process.
Snow Fun Park
I will just mention this because I think this is one of the main highlights of Jungfraujoch especially if you have young kids and you just want to have a bit of fun in the snow (ie. not into the whole ski/snowboarding full package). So if you go outside the winter time, you can do sledding, snow tubing, fly on the flying fox rope etc at the snow park. You have to pay extra for the activities but hey you don’t go to Jungfraujoch every other day right?
I remembered back in 2003, riding the snow disc in the snow (it was free), I don’t think this is offered anymore, I could be wrong.
There are three restaurants here and two cafes. One of the cafes, the Sphinx Bar is located at the Observatory side – it was closed when we visited which was very disappointing because we had to walk all the way back to the other side to get a cup of coffee. There is a Bollywood Restaurant specialising in Indian cuisine that opens during the peak periods between Apr to Oct. Anyway I noticed that Indian cuisine is very popular up on Switzerland mountains – I had Indian food when I was up at Titlis a few days before. Jungfraujoch is our fourth mountain on this trip by the way. (My daughter told me after that – she has had enough of mountain excursions for a bit)…
Anyway back to the restaurants, if you come in during the winter period, for heavy meals, you have a choice between Restaurant Aletsch (a self service restaurant) and Restaurant Crystal (serving ala carte menu) – both are opened all year round. Restaurant Crystal has a halal option. We didn’t feel like having a proper meal that day. So we joined the Korean tour groups eating instant noodles at the Coffee Bar…Somehow hot spicy noodle on a cold day sounded brilliant at the time.
Is It Worth It?
I would say – yes – if its clear skies. And perhaps visit before mid Oct so that you get to enjoy the Snow Park. Depends what you want to do I suppose.
If you there in the winter months, and there is a snowstorm etc, you may be disappointed as you may be stuck indoors mostly. That’s why you should check the weather/webcams before going up there. Although if you join a tour group, I suppose you don’t have much of a choice in terms of when you can visit. If you do visit in the summer, though bear it mind that the place is very popular with tourists. I was at Schilthorn – and going down was awful, you really had to squeeze your way through the cable car (and it was a quiet period). So in the summer months, book in advance, get seat reservations if you can and take the first train up as it is a bit more quiet in those busy months.
Anyway – if you are there when it is clear skies – the views are unforgettable. Even the ride up and down is simply amazing – breathtaking scenery!
For more information, click here to visit the Jungfraujoch website.
Check out also my other posts on Switzerland.