Jungfraujoch, aptly named “Top of Europe”, is the highest train station on the entire continent. Not only is it located at such an impressive height, 3,454 meters (11332 feet), but it is set in a spectacular location right in the heart of the Bernese Alps. The station is surrounded by 4000m peaks and glaciers and will provide you with an experience second to none.
If you’re coming from Lucerne and looking for an all-in-one uniquely-Swiss day trip, then a trip to Jungfraujoch is just for you.
The first thing to consider in doing a trip to Jungfraujoch is the amount of time needed to travel. It is quite a long journey – approximately 4 hours one way.
The best way to travel is by train. From Lucerne, you will travel along a scenic route beside two stunning blue lakes (Lungern and Sarnen) then over the Brunig pass, which itself is a journey worth taking. You will then descend the pass and head along the Lake Brienz, who’s blue color and mountain surrounds will have you filling your camera memory card in no time. So, although this is a long journey, the trip itself is a big part of the experience.
Eventually, you arrive in Interlaken-Ost and then catch a connecting train to Lauterbrunnen before reaching one of the first seriously scenic stops below the Eiger at Kleine Scheidegg. Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 meters where all trains to Jungfraujoch depart from. From this station, you will board a cog train (the cogs help the train climb the steep slopes) that weaves slowly on its ascent to Jungfraujoch.
It is also advisable to check the live webcam at Jungfraujoch before going on the trip. The weather in Lucerne can be very different from Jungfraujoch (as it is so high up), so it is better to make sure that your views won’t be covered with clouds (and your time and money wasted). Also, if you are flexible on when you can go (at least a few days) get up early and check before you leave – also take a look at the local weather on the web just to be as sure as you can.
Although you can take the train all way, it is possible to get most of the way by car. To Grindelwald, for example, takes about 2h 45min. Then you will need to park your car (not always easy, so check for car parks before you leave) and board the train from there. Which then takes about 1h 15m to the top.
So, timewise you are not saving much, but it will save you on the train costs (especially if you have the car anyway).
There are lots of activities you can do when you get to Kleine Scheidegg.
If you don’t have much time, there are a few shops at the station. Always a good opportunity to grab some souvenirs, wood carvings, clothes and watches to remind you of your awesome trip.
If you have a bit more time, then you can take a walk through the short trails along the Eiger North Face (best down on the way back), the gentler Jungfrau Eiger trail, or the Lauberhorn trail where you can also see the mountains in all their glory.
Keep in mind, if you decide to extend your day trip, there are several hotels in Kleine Scheidegg where you can stay. You can check out Berghaus Grindelwaldblick, Restaurant Hotel Eigernordwand, or Mountain-Lodge / Restaurant Bahnhof / Kleine Scheidegg.
Stepping onto Jungfraujoch is like stepping into a completely different world. Your face will be blasted by a cold stream of air as you take in the views of the Mittelland up to the Vosges on one side, and the insanely long and white Aletsch glacier on the other.
The cog train makes its final stop at Eismeer Station, 3,160 meters above sea level. Here you will get your first view of the sea of ice and panoramic 4,000-meter peaks surrounding you. I recommend you head straight to the Sphinx Observatory to get your bearings. This is accessible via a 25-second ride on a lift and whisks you to a height of 111 meters above the station. This international research station provides views of the stunning rock formation at the Jungfraujoch, as well as a panorama of the surroundings.
If you happen to visit on a cloudy day, you can still enjoy some kind of view by taking a look at the “Jungfrau Panorama”. This film projected on the walls will show you a 360-degree panorama of the mountains 365 days in the year.
The most popular attraction on the Jungfraujoch is undoubtedly the Ice Palace. The paths that make up the palace were carved into the mountain during the 1930s by local mountain guides. Now, the ice walls are designed and carved by artisans from all over the world. Their skill and technique will leave you wondering for sure! From there you can go through the
Once you finish there, you can take a walk through the Alpine Sensation, a 250-meter corridor that stands as a memorial for the sacrifices and work of the miners who opened up the Jungfraujoch to the railway.
The Mönchsjochhütte is a serviced hut at the highest altitude in Switzerland. After a 45-minute hike from Jungfraujoch, you get stunning views once again of the surrounding mountains and glaciers and can now take your pick from the many tours on offer.
One such tour you can take from the Jungfraujoch is a two-day hike to and around the Aletsch Glacier (seen above). While it’s not necessary to be an extreme athlete to do this hike, you still need to be fit and comfortable with heights. A mountain guide first leads you on a four-hour hike down the glacier to the Konkordia hut. Here, you will spend the night before you take the six-hour march over the Aletsch Glacier to the exit point.
Of course, what’s the point of all the snow if you can’t do winter sports? There is also a year-round Snow Fun Park at the Jungfraujoch where you can go snowtubing, sledging, snowboarding, or skiing. So, even if you are here in summer, you can still get a taste of a Swiss winter!
If the lowlands of Switzerland are too hot for your liking or you simply need a dose of stunningly fresh mountain air, a day trip to the Jungfraujoch is a once in a lifetime opportunity. (I even remember my first trip here when I was 5 years old!)
Coming from Lucerne might be a long journey, but if you plan your day well, spending a day or more at the “Top of Europe” is worth the trip.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!