Jungfraujoch: Our Journey to the Top of Europe

No trip to Switzerland is ever complete without actually experiencing the Swiss Alps. There's a great abundance of Alpine mountain adventures you can choose from in the ‘land of milk and honey’ but if you have the time and the budget for it, why not go all out and visit the very Top of Europe itself or Jungfraujoch?

While some may claim that it's severely overrated, despite the struggle we faced due to the rainy weather when we visited it last June, I have to say that our Jungfraujoch experience was one of the most "mind-blowing" and unforgettable adventures we’ve ever taken together so far. 

So what exactly is Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch is a glacial saddle, which amazingly connects the two majestic peaks of Switzerland: Jungfrau and Monch, and boasts an elevation of over 3,466 meters above sea level. The Jungfraujoch railway station is also the highest in all of Europe with an elevation of 3,454 metres and thus earning it the title "Top of Europe". 

What can you do inside Jungfraujoch?
Growing up in a tropical country and now living perpetually sunkissed here in the Middle East, any activity that involves snow is enough to get us all excited. That's why we were thrilled to discover that whatever the weather and be it outdoors or indoors, you can actually do a ton of snow-related activities inside Jungfraujoch. Imagine walking through a glacier, visiting an actual Ice Palace, building a snowman, and even skiing at any time of the year. If the cold never bothered you anyway (move over, Elsa!), you can do all of these and more when you go to Jungfraujoch. 

How do you get to Jungfraujoch? 
The Jungfrau Railway is open all year-round and the journey time from Interlaken-Ost normally takes around 2 hours. You can book your ticket ahead of time online or you can buy it on the spot from Interlaken-Ost train station. But for me, it makes much more sense and in fact more practical to book it on the spot, so you'd get to check the weather first and know if it's something you can handle before you head out there.

One tip: If you have a Swiss Pass, present it upon purchasing your Jungfraujoch tickets to get an instant discount of up to 25%. You can also take a print out of the train schedule with you from the counter in order for you to pace your visit and not miss the last train from the top. The friendly ticketing staff even highlighted the important timings in the schedule that we need to take note of for our easy reference.

From Interlaken-Ost, first you need to ride the train that will get you to either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald via the Bernese Oberland Railway. Next, you need to change to the Wengernalp rack railway and go to Kleine Scheidegg. Then, you must ride the Jungfrau Railway, which will transport you directly to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe.

Do you need a tour guide to get to Jungfraujoch?
Honestly, I recommend that you just skip the tour guide and enjoy it at your own pace. The ticket to go up is already expensive as it is, so paying for a tour guide is an unnecessary additional expense. There are lots of signs and leaflets available in Jungfraujoch that you can read and will guide you throughout your visit anyway. Jungfraujoch is one experience you can definitely do and enjoy all on your own.

Our Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe experience
The weather in Jungfraujoch was totally bonkers the entire week we were in Switzerland. Visibility was near zero and the strong winds that came with the rain gave us no choice but to postpone our visit several times. But as we were nearing the end of our trip, we decided to just throw caution in the wind (quite literally I must say) and boarded the train from Zurich to Interlaken, praying for the best. 
 
Fortunately, it became sunny the moment we arrived in Interlaken-Ost, so we immediately purchased our tickets. But since it was almost noon when we left Zurich, the staff informed us that we'll have roughly two hours to spend at the Top of Europe (which was to be honest, more than enough for me because it was freezing), and that we must make sure that we catch the last train scheduled to go back down from Jungfraujoch.

Since we were the last batch to ascend, there weren't a lot of people with us and I really enjoyed the downtime relishing one of the most peaceful and probably most relaxing moments of our entire Switzerland trip. We even managed to take a lot of beautiful pictures for posterity's sake, which was such a great bonus. 
The Swiss villages and scenic mountain views we saw from the train ride were absolutely breath-taking, and I think that alone made the entire trip worth it. Eventhough it started drizzling midway, it honestly still felt like you're watching "the best of nature" series in high-def! If this isn't what dreams are made of, I don't know what is. :)



As we approached Eismeer station (the underground railway station bored into Mount Eiger and also the last station before Jungfraujoch), we started feeling extremely cold and the icy wind even added to the agony. Good thing the train briefly stopped in Eismeer for us to catch our breath. So the minute we reached Jungfraujoch station, we decided to rest for a little bit in the restaurant and share a bowl of hot cup noodles as we waited for the earlier crowd of tourists to disperse.


While everyone's raring to board the train and wrap off their Jungfraujoch experience, we were psyched to start exploring inside. Excitement came over us, and in an instant we were like energetic kids once again.

All smiles standing beside the gigantic snow globe inside the Alpine Sensation

Crazy, I know, but we couldn't help but literally lick the frosted walls of the Ice Palace 

The metal door leading to the outdoors forcibly swung open when we tried to open it and next thing we knew, we were literally slapped in our faces by a raging snow storm. That was the moment I realized that howling icy wind can scare the wits out of you. It was terrible! I was really taken aback at first and almost chickened out, but the minute I saw that famous “Top of Europe” red flag from afar (which was located right beside a dangerous cliff by the way. No easy feat I'm telling you), I powered through while repeatedly telling my husband “This is what we came for”. There’s no way we cannot complete this entire Jungfraujoch experience without getting outside.

The smile of a winner :)

It was totally deserted when we stayed out in that snow storm for almost 10 minutes. We were like two goofy kids who couldn’t care less if we’re swept off by the strong winds all the way down the cliff. I think we did the whole she-bang: tasted the fresh white snow (because we're total baboons like that. It actually tasted wonderful in case you're wondering), laughed our frozen asses off while throwing snow balls at each other screaming expletives at the top of our lungs (directed at the Swiss mountain peaks of Jungfrau and Monch because they're right in front of our faces but we could barely see them), and were even half expecting too see actual white walkers to appear from underneath the thick snow ready to eat us alive. It was a ridiculously fun moment in Jungfraujoch that I will talk about for many years to come, but knowing me, I will probably never forget it for the rest of my life. 

When we couldn’t feel our faces anymore that's when we decided to head back inside and complete the tour to see the exhibits, get our Top of Europe passport stamped, and purchase some small souvenirs from the shop. The last train back down was already waiting for us when we went to the station, which was such a nice surprise. They gave us small bars of Lindt chocolates as a treat when we boarded the train and we gobbled them all up in less than 3 seconds with a silly smile still plastered on our faces. It was incredible! :)

So when is the best time to go to Jungfraujoch?
Not even gonna lie, but there's really no perfect time because there's no way you can predict the weather especially at the top. The only tip I can give you is try to monitor the overall weather in Jungfrau and regularly check the live web cams as well to see the visibility, so you'd know what to expect. 

We visited first week of June and the weather wasn't at all ideal, but we still enjoyed our experience so much because we almost had the place to ourselves and there were still many indoor activities we managed to do. The staff told us that the skies were clear earlier in the day, but it was way too crowded that it was difficult to get some breathing space, much more take decent photos. So I guess being the last batch to see it that day had its perks too.

Please excuse our faces. This is us trying not to get *literally* blown away by the snow storm

Lastly, is it worth it to go?
If we're being honest, the ticket to get to Jungfraujoch is too expensive for my liking, but overall, for me, it's totally worth it. The Jungfraujoch experience is a definite YES in my books! It's one of the top highlights of our Switzerland vacation for sure and an absolute once in a lifetime experience that we will treasure forever.

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