Jungfraujoch – Europe’s highest railway station
One of the most scenic railways in Europe is located in Central Switzerland, the Jungfraubahn (Jungfrau Railway) which is also known as the ‘Top of Europe’. Don’t be shocked about the high prices which have to be paid to go for a ride to the highest train station in Europe, the Jungfraujoch; this train ride is for those who love outstanding views of valleys, mountain peaks and beautiful villages. I have done this journey twice and I can totally say that every penny spent on this journey is worth it.
The railway was completed in the early 1930’s (when the first plans were made for the railway in the 1860s) and there are two railway routes visitors can take to get to Jungfraujoch (and two ways of getting back down of course). I would recommend riding up the mountain on one of the lines and come back down the other. I explain more…
The main starting point is Interlaken Ost (the east station) where there is a tourist information centre and a ticket office which sells the tickets for the line (as well as mainline services to the rest of the country and Europe). A few kilometres south of Interlaken the line splits at Zweilütschinen and depending which part of the train visitors boarded at Interlaken, one half goes to Grindelwald and the other via Lauterbrunnen and Wengen. Both trains still go to the final destination of Jungfraujoch.
Both routes are a must and if visitors have plenty of time or a few days in the area, Lauterbrunnen is a great place to check out the waterfall and for a walk through the valley, Grindelwald for hiking routes to other parts of the mountain range plus fantastic restaurants to eat out and Wengen for even more walking trails towards the Eiger mountain range.
Inside the rail carriages, the seating is very comfortable but there is a lack of legroom. The windows can be opened from the top to slide the cameras through to capture the magical landscapes. Inside the tunnels where the views are non existence then televisions are displayed at the end of each carriage giving updates and latest news from the Jungfrau area.
Both lines meet up at Kleine Scheidegg where the train takes the final 9km journey through the Eiger and Monch mountains via a long tunnel. Inside the tunnel are two stations which has windows built into the mountainside for views which are unbelievable (and also the windows can be pushed out by rescue teams if climbers are in trouble on that side of the mountain). Trundling up the tracks (which are 3ft 3’ gauge and runs on an electrified line), the train finally pulls into Jungfraujoch.
From the station (located at 3,454m – 11,332ft), visitors can explore gift shops, restaurants, exhibitions, the ice palace, see the Sphinx Observatory and take views at the viewing platforms. Also there is a hiking trail over the range which takes in one of Europe’s largest glaciers, the Aletsch. I would advise visitors to take proper clothing as it is very cold up there and the air is thin. In the summer suntan lotion is recommended because despite the cold, the sun rays are pretty strong.
The views from up here are totally amazing. After a few minutes of acclimating to the cold temperatures and the short lightheaded spell I encountered, I was out on the viewing platforms just take in the breathtaking views. From here views across Switzerland and into nearby Italy, France and Germany were to be had. Surrounding me were also the peaks of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch mountains where in the past, the world’s best mountaineers tried to conquer, to which some lost their lives. Now it takes over two hours from Interlaken to get to the summit and take in these amazing views.
What I love about this place is that the ‘Top of Europe’ is always open as it is always winter at the summit. The railway lines are always clear and somehow the train still runs to time. I came here in the summer and autumn on my two visits (within the space of a year) and the temperature is the same, bloody cold whilst the sun is always out (because I was above the cloud-line). After walking around outside for about an hour, I just had to have some soup and bread in the cafe here with a warm cup of tea before heading back down.
1) Allow a full day to do the rail journey and at least three hours at the top (five if you plan to walk to the tea hut on the other side of the ridge and have a quick cup of tea).
2) Make sure you have plenty of memory for your camera. If you are like me, you will be taking thousands of photos. The views are out of this world.
3) If you are late the train, the train won’t wait. Swiss railway operators are very punctual and run a very reliable service.
4) If you are the type of person who loves buying gifts and loves eating a lot, then take plenty of extra money. It can be expensive, but the goods are great in quality.
5) Take the proper clothing as conditions can change at the summit.
6) Enjoy yourself! Anyone who comes back down from the Jungfraujoch and says it wasn’t a great experience needs shooting.
7) Make sure you take something to post, there is Europe’s highest postal office. It’s great to send a postcard from here and a mountain stamp will also be issued on the mail.
For information like timetables and fares, please check out the official website for Jungfrau Railways here.
Please note that while I was not working with Jungfrau Railways, my review and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!