Switzerland: On tracks to the Top of Europe
What if I told you that you can “climb” a mountain in the comfortable seat of a train – but still be rewarded with some of Switzerland’s most glorious views to snowclad alpine peaks and the magnificent Aletsch Glacier! Wouldn’t you like to follow those tracks?
I did so a while ago, but it still stays with me as one of the most memorable experiences I have had in Switzerland – well, in Europe for that matter. And I wouldn’t mind to repeat.
I got the opportunity to take this iconic rail journey as I was touring Switzerland by train, and what better than to include some of the country’s best mountain railways, like the Jungfraujoch Railway that takes you to the highest located train station in Europe at 3454 meters above sea level.
Firstly, this train experience is perfectly combined with a stay in the nearby city of Interlaken, which is a great base for exploring this alpine area. From Interlaken’s Ost (east) train station you can jump on a train to Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald, where you make your first change to the Wengeralp Cable Car. This will take you to the Kleine Scheidegg mountain pass, which offers both restaurants and hotels, but on this journey simply acts as a changeover-station from where to take the actual Jungfrau train.
The story about the Jungfrau Railway is extraordinary and can be discovered in an exhibition at the top station. The main part of the journey is the impressive tunnel which takes you inside and through the mountains of Eiger and Mönch, with a short viewpoint-stop along the way before you make it to the Top of Europe. The short stop offers breathtaking views from behind a large panoramic window but also a chance for passengers to slowly get used to the less oxygen in the air up here.
The entire journey up on the Jungrau train takes about 50 minutes (less going down), with most parts of it being inside the tunnel that took 16 years to complete. Therefore the light will be brightly reflecting in the snow when you arrive and exit the station at Jungfraujoch, which is described as the saddle between the two mountains Jungfrau and Mönch.
Up here, the views are out-of-this-world-spectacular, and you will feel humbled by the impressive mountain peaks surrounding you – but there is much more to experience too. The complex includes no less than three different restaurants, a Lindt chocolate experience and souvenir shops – but also the Ice Palace experience that allows you to venture through icy tunnels inside the actual glacier, where you can admire ice sculptures on your way.
You also shouldn’t miss the viewing platform at the Sphinx observatory above (at 3571 meters) and the entertaining snow park below. And then there is the exhibition about the history of the Jungfrau project, so you should plan to spend a few hours on top – and wear warm clothes as you will get several opportunities to step into the snow (glacier hikes can also be booked).
This was such a memorable experience and the perfect day out when visit this part of Switzerland. It takes around two hours to make it there from Interlaken. but trust me – it’s worth it!
FIND MORE about the area and the Top of Europe at Jungfrau.ch
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