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A visit to the Top of Europe is pure Alpine bliss. And climbing the Alps has never been easier. The Jungfraubahn takes visitors to the top without a drop of sweat.
More than 100 years ago, the visionary entrepreneur Adolf Guyer-Zeller took it upon him to make the Jungfraujoch accessible to everyone.
Construction started in 1896 and was finished in 1912. Since then, the Jungfraubahn takes visitors from Kleine Scheidegg through the more than 7 km / 4.4 miles long Eiger North Wall tunnel to the Jungfraujoch - Europe's highest train station - 3454 meters (11,333 ft.) above sea level and entirely built into the tunnel.
The summit triumvirate Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau infuses a spell on everybody who comes eye to eye with these mighty mountains. It's pure bliss to experience the sunrise behind this powerful trio, and I can understand cultures who worship their mountains as holy places.
The 4158m / 13,641 ft. high Jungfrau - which means "young woman" or "virgin" - is the tallest of the bunch. To her left reside Mount Mönch - the Monk (4107m / 13,474 ft.) and Mount Eiger - or Ogre (3970m / 13,025 ft.), which might be the smallest of them, but by no means the easiest to conquer. The feared Eiger North Wall - often called "Mörder Wand" (murder wall) took eight lives before the first climber, Heinrich Harrer, finally made it to the top in 1938.
The Jungfrau Railway stops twice on the way up the tunnel. Once at the Eigerwand (2685m / 8,809 ft.), and then at the Eismeer (3010m / 9,875 ft.). Visitors can disembark to get a glimpse through picture windows unto a landscape of eternal ice and snow.
Once on top, a 250m long tunnel called "Alpine Sensation" connects the "Sphinx Hall" with the "Ice Palace", a cave filled with wildlife sculptures carved of ice. The tunnel is a new attraction and opened in 2012 for the centenary celebration. Alternating exhibitions are taking place and guests are transported on a moving walkway along a 90m long mural depicting the development of tourism in the Alps. The 360 degree cinema in the Sphinx Hall informs of the high-Alpine world surrounding the Top of Europe.
The panorama view from the Sphinx observation platform is nothing less than sublime. On clear days one sees not only the mighty Bernese Alps, the Aletsch Glacier and the valleys below but also beyond Switzerland's border to the Vosges Mountains in France and the Black Forest in Germany.
You don't have to starve on the Top of Europe. Five restaurants serve food and drinks - from snacks to gourmet menus to Indian cuisine.
A short walk on groomed glacier tracks is a memorable experience. Snow tubing, a short zip line and a small ski lift awaits the more adventurous.
For those who want to explore the World of eternal ice and snow close-up, a glacier trekking tour to the Konkordia hut (and overnight there) at 2850m / 9,350 ft. enriches the breathtaking adventure.
You don't need mountaineering skills to do this trek. Local guides bring the inexperienced safely through and over the Aletsch Glacier, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site.
Doing this trek, you could easily get addicted to the world of mountaineering. If that's the case, the "Konkoridia Climbing Garden" is not only for advanced climbers, but an ideal place for beginners to test the waters.
Where ever you stay in the Jungfrau Region, access is easy with mountain transportation.
The trip up to the Top of Europe - the Jungfraujoch - is not included in any Swiss Travel Pass:
All connecting tickets can be purchased at any train station in Switzerland on the day you visit the Jungfraujoch. Quick and easy. You could purchase tickets online in advance, but I don't recommend doing that. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and only go to the Top of Europe when the weather is good or you could get disappointed.
Tip: Connecting tickets are not exactly cheap, and when the peaks are shrouded in clouds, are rained or snowed upon, you wouldn't see much. Have an alternative plan ready.
It's a different thing when there's fog. Quite often during fall and the winter months, lower areas are thick with wafts of mist. But above the fog line, the weather could be brilliant. You wouldn't see the valleys below, but it looks like the mountains grow straight out of a sea of mist. Quite an enchanting experience.
I advise to make a seat reservation when travelling in July and August (only possible before noon). It's CHF 10 per person (return) and you can make the reservation without having to purchase a ticket in advance.
It's easy to get to the Top of Europe as an independent traveller.
However, if you prefer the comfort of a group, there are several options on offer. You can book tours through the regional tourist offices or the Jungfrau website itself. Following a few options:
If you want to visit the Top of Europe on a day trip while staying in Zürich or Lucerne, here some possibilities:
These are all-inclusive tours, guided or self-guided:
I'd say that depends on what you plan to do.
If you want to stay for a few days or longer to explore more than just the Jungraujoch and do some hiking, then one of the following options could be right for you:
Depending on what you are looking for - hotel, private rooms or apartments - this booking guide will help you find accommodation.
Warning: The Jungfraubahn brings you to the top very fast. If you experience strange signs of dizziness, headaches or even nausea, it could very well be that you suffer from altitude sickness. Return to deeper levels immediately. It's not advisable to bring baby's under the age of two.
If you only have a day for the whole Jungfrau Region, you can do the round-trip Interlaken - Grindelwald - Kleine Scheidegg - Wengen - Lauterbrunnen - Interlaken (or visa-versa) without having to go up to the Jungfraujoch. You'd be still face to face with the intoxicating Bernese Alps but would have time to linger in these towns a little longer. You can disembark trains where ever they stop and continue later, as long as you return to your destination before midnight.
Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning that when you book a trip through these links, I receive a small fee - at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your supported since it helps to keep this website alive. Thank you!
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