Day Trip to Jungfraujoch From Lauterbrunnen/ Grindelwald: Is It Worth It?
Jungfraujoch, known as the Top of Europe, is the most popular day trip in the Bernese Oberland. This post will let you know everything about Jungfraujoch and if it’s worth the money to visit Jungfraujoch.
Jungfraujoch is one of the most famous attractions in Bernese Oberland.
It is often hailed as the No.1 day trip spot when they visit Lauterbrunnen/ Grindelwald. I personally had never heard of Jungfraujoch before I visited but saw signs of “Top of Europe” all over the place.
Tucked away in the heart of Bernese Alps, Jungfraujoch is like a postcard come to life. It is the highest train station in Europe and it took some engineering wonders to build the tunnel and train track going up to Jungfraujoch.
Jungfraujoch is a family friendly destination, making it a wonderful day trip if you are visiting Bernese Highlands.
So if you are thinking about visiting Jungfraujoch, read on!
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What is Jungfraujoch? (Jungfraujoch is not Jungfrau)
Jungfrau is a mountain in Bernese Oberland and Jungfraujoch is a glacier saddle at an altitude of 3466m (11371ft) that connects the mountain of Jungfrau and Mönch.
Jungfraujoch is known as the “Top of Europe”, not because it’s the highest mountain in Europe but rather the highest train station in Europe. The train that goes to Jungfraujoch goes through the tunnels inside the mountain of Eiger and Mönch to eventually take you to the top station.
There are many family friendly activities at Jungfraujoch making it the most popular attraction in Bernese Oberland.
Not only is Jungfraujoch cool to visit, the view from both the train ride and the Sphinx observation deck are spectacular. You will get amazing views of the valley and surrounding mountains on the Cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch. The view from the top of Europe is also out of this world.
Jungfraujoch gained international fame after being featured in various films, such as Clint Eastwood’s movie The Eiger Sanction as well as the Bollywood Musical romance Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. This is why you will see many international tourists at Jungfraujoch.
Things to Know About Taking the Train in Switzerland to Jungfraujoch
The trains in Switzerland are always on time; if the train schedule shows you the departure time then it will definitely depart at that time, not a minute early or a minute late. If you miss the train you will have to wait for the next one usually in 20-30 minutes.
You always need to have a valid train ticket or travel pass
The Swiss are pretty strict about checking tickets on the train, and if you are caught to not have a valid train ticket you will be heavily fined.
The train ticket to Jungfraujoch have 2 classes: 1st class and 2nd class. Most people will get 2nd class train ticket because it’s cheaper.
However if you are visiting during peak summer time and don’t want to end up standing for hours on the trains, you should consider purchasing ticket with seat reservation.
If you have a seat reservation, board the train at Kleine Scheidegg at the green gates. If you don’t have seat reservation then board at the yellow gates.
Tour groups go to the purple gates.
There is one stop before Jungfraujoch; the stop is called Eismeer where you have 5 minutes to get off the train to use the bathroom and take a photo of the glacier from the window.
Personally I didn’t think the view was that impressive due to the reflection and glare from the windows. And trust me, you will get better view from the top so no need to get off the train at Eismeer.
Best Time to Visit Jungfraujoch and How to Beat the Crowd at Jungfraujoch
Jungfraujoch is open all year round, with the most popular season being June to September when the weather is nicer and warmer. But with warmer weather means there are more tourists visiting Jungfraujoch since all the bus tours go there.
If you want to avoid the tour groups at Jungfraujoch, you literally need to take the cable car to Eigergletscher and get to Jungfraujoch at 8:11am. This means you need to calculate backwards to see when you need to leave your hotel depending on where you are staying.
It used to be that you could take the first train at 8am out of Kleine Scheidegg since the tour groups we saw started boarding the train at 8:27am. But it looks like the earliest train from Kleine Scheidegg is now 8:27am so you may be out of luck if you take the train route.
How to Get to Jungfraujoch
Getting to Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen or Wengen
Jungfraujoch is easy to get to and the only way to reach Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen or Wengen is by train.
Kleine Scheidegg is the station where you need to transfer to get on the cogwheel train to Eigergletscher then another transfer to Jungfraujoch. The cogwheel train from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch takes about 44 minutes and goes up thousands of meters in altitude.
Start at Lauterbrunnen train station, take the Lauterbrunnen train to Kleine Scheidegg, with a stop at Wengen (you don’t need to get off). At Kleine Scheidegg you will have to transfer to Eigergletscher then transfer to another train to Jungfraujoch.
See below for the route from Lauterbrunben to Jungfraujoch (if you are coming from Wengen then you have a slightly shorter trip). It will take you about 1 hour 41 minutes to travel from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch and an hour and 25 minutes from Wengen to Jungfraujoch.
There is a train every 30 minutes from Lauterbrunnen or Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg then to Jungfraujoch.
Getting to Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald or Interlaken
If you are staying in Interlaken or Grindelwald you will have a slightly different route. In fact it is shorter to go to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken or Grindelwald than from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch thanks to the new table car Eiger Express.
From Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch
With the opening of Eiger Express in December 2020, the trip from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch significantly shortened and became more convenient.
Previously, you would need to take a train from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg first (38 minute ride) then transfer to the cogwheel train from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch.
But with the new Eiger Express Cable Car, you can now directly take the cable car from Grindelwald Terminal to Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier) in 15 minutes, then change to the cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch.
Keep in mind that the cogwheel train from Kleine Scheidegg stops at Eigergletscher first anyway before heading up to Jungfraujoch. You can get out of the cogwheel train at Eigergletscher to take a photo briefly.
With Eiger Express, the trip from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch is less than an hour.
Interlaken to Jungfraujoch
Those who are traveling from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch can also benefit from the new Eiger Express cable car.
Previously, you would need to take the train from Interlaken to Grindelwald, transfer at Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg, then transfer to the cogwheel train from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch.
This whole process would take about 2 hours from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch.
With the Eiger Express cable car, you can significantly cut down travel time from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch. Now it only takes about 1 hour 36 minutes from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch.
From Interlaken OST, take the train towards Grindelwald Terminal, transfer to Eiger Express to Eigergletscher then transfer to the cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch.
You can still take the trains to Kleine Scheidegg then transfer to Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald or Interlaken. The cable car is just another option that can shorten your trip.
How Much Does It Cost to Visit Jungfraujoch?
It generally takes about 200+ Swiss Franc ($223 USD) to visit Jungfraujoch.
The prices of round trip transportation tickets to Jungfraujoch varies by season and by departure station. As you can imagine, summer is the most expensive time to visit Jungfraujoch.
As an illustration, it costs 222 Swiss Franc to visit Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald in August but only 171 Swiss Franc to visit in November.
It is the same price whether you choose to take the Eiger Express cable car or traditional route on the train and the cost is the same whether you stay for 1.5 hour at Jungfraujoch or 4 hours.
However there are some discounts to Jungfraujoch you can get.
One way to get discount is through Good Morning Tickets if you know you are visiting Jungfraujoch early in the morning, another way is to get train travel passes to cover part of your journey or get discounts. See more on those two points below.
Where to Buy Tickets to Jungfraujoch
There are 3 easy ways to buy Jungfraujoch tickets.
Buying Jungfrau Tickets Online
This means that you have to take the 7:45am, 8:15am or 8:45am train from Eigergletscher to Jungfraujoch. This is possible if you are coming from Grindelwald on Eiger Express. If you are traveling from Lauterbrunnen or Wengen, this would be more difficult to do since the first train from Kleine Scheidegg is at 8:27am.
Buying Jungfrau Tickets In Person
The second option is to buy Jungfraujoch tickets at a local train station.
You get more flexibility as you can see the weather forecast before you buy. However buying Jungfraujoch tickets at the train station could be risky during peak summer time as tickets could potentially get sold out.
Buying Jungfrau Tickets On the Train
Lastly you can buy Jungfraujoch tickets on the train to Jungfraujoch.
We actually didn’t know where to buy tickets so we boarded the train without Jungfraujoch tickets (we had a valid Jungfrau Pass). The ticket people on the train were able to sell us tickets during the trip and they accept cash and credit card.
Jungfrau Pass & Other Switzerland Travel Passes To Save Money
Switzerland has very expensive transportation cost but fortunately there are various travel passes to help mitigate the cost of train/ bus/ cable cars in Switzerland.
The Jungfrau Pass covers the Jungfrau region (where Jungfraujoch, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, Wengen and Grindelwald are) and you pay an upfront cost for the pass (3 day minimum).
With the Jungfrau Pass you can ride most trains and cable cars in the Jungfrau region for free.
With the Jungfrau Pass you also can pay a much cheaper price to visit Jungfraujoch (we paid CHF 61 instead of 200+ during September).
I had the Jungfrau Pass and it covered pretty much all of my transportation. Note that you cannot buy the Jungfrau Pass in the winter (after end of October), there is a special pass for the winter.
There are other travel passes such as the Swiss Travel Pass, Half fare pass and the Bernese Oberland Pass. You should look into all of them to see what fit your itinerary better and compare the discounts and benefits they each offer.
It’s not worth buying the Jungfrau Pass if you only plan to visit Jungfraujoch or if you have fewer than 3 days in the region.
Weather at Jungfraujoch
Weather at Jungfraujoch can be unpredictable since it’s practically alpine weather so things can change very fast.
In general it’s pretty cold up at Jungfraujoch given its high altitude and even in the peak summer time you should be prepared for near freezing temperature when you visit.
Alternatively you can look up to the mountains early morning and see if you can see the mountain peaks. If not, you might not want to go.
This is why I don’t recommend buying Jungfraujoch tickets ahead of time (more than 1-2 days that is) because you never know what the weather is like.
What to Wear to Jungfraujoch
As I mentioned earlier, it can be sub-freezing at Jungfraujoch even during summer given its high altitude. You should always dress in layers and have the following with you:
- Winter coat
- Winter Hat or Baseball Cap
- Sunglasses because it could get really sunny and blinding up on Jungfraujoch with all the snow and glacier
- Sunscreen: same reason as before, when it’s sunny it’s really sunny and you can easily get burned in high altitude
- Gloves: I wore gloves to Jungfraujoch because we went early in the morning and it was very helpful
- Cash: bring some cash to buy food at the cafe or huts although restaurants do take credit cards
- Snacks & Food: If you don’t want to spend more money at Jungfraujoch, I highly recommend you bring your own food since you will spend quite a while up there and it takes a long time to travel up and down Jungfraujoch
- Camera & Wide Angle Lens: the landscape at Jungfraujoch is vast, only a wide angle lens can truly capture all you see (also bring a zoom lens of course for everyday shooting)
- Layers: when I visited Jungfraujoch in mid September it was cold in the morning but it got really warm under the sun during the day. You should dress in layers so it’s easy to take off your winter coat
- Water: bring water with you to Jungfraujoch since you get dehydrated more easily at high altitudes
Altitude Sickness at Jungfraujoch
“Will I get altitude sickness at Jungfraujoch” was one of my main concern before visiting. Since Juntgfraujoch sits above 11,000 ft (3,400m) it is possible for some people to have an adverse reaction. That altitude is pretty much the altitude of Cusco in Lima which I actually had some issues with.
If you are truly worried about getting altitude sickness at Jungfraujoch, you can always ask your doctor for altitude sickness prevention drugs.
When I was there it didn’t seem like most people had any issues at all. I personally felt a little weird when I first arrived at Jungfraujoch (it could be mental) but I felt fine later on.
What to Do at Jungfraujoch
There are a lot of fun things to do at Jungfraujoch, whether you are a hiker, photographer or family with young kids/ elderly.
Sphinx Observation Deck
Sphinx Observation Deck is one of the most famous attractions at Jungfraujoch. The observatory is located on top of a rocky summit, and it’s one of the highest observatory in the world and the second highest observatory in Switzerland at 3571m (11,716ft).
Aside from being a tourist attraction, the Sphinx Observatory actually serves scientific purposes and has two large laboratories, weather observation station and other places for scientific experiments.
Once you get off the train at Jungfraujoch, you have to walk through a tunnel before getting to the elevator saying “Tour: The Sphinx”. I recommend you do this first especially if you arrive before 10 as it gets a lot more crowded later during the day when Chinese and Korean tours start arriving.
The view from the Sphinx observation deck is panoramic and you can see the peaks of Mönch, Jungfrau and Eiger, the valleys and the Aletsch glacier (the largest glacier in Switzerland) from the Sphinx. You can actuallt see this structure from the train ride before you enter a 35-40 minute tunnel.
After visiting the Sphinx, as you continue to explore Jungfraujoch, you will come across a 250m hall way named Alpine Sensation. At the beginning of the hall way are huge snow globes welcoming you, also an attraction kids often love.
This 250m hall way serves as a memorial to the miners who worked to opening up the tunnel leading to Jungfraujoch. There are photos of the work and progress done by these pioneers.
What do you feel about walking inside a glacier? That is what you will feel at the Ice Palace at Jungfraujoch.
The Ice Palace hasn’t always been at Jungfraujoch. In fact the Ice Palace was created in 1934 when a mountain guide started hacking inside Aletsch Glacier.
The Ice Palace is often the favorite attraction besides the Sphinx. It’s a series of hall ways made completely out of ice, including the floors (which could be slightly slippery). There are various ice sculptures throughout the Ice Palace and you can even go though ice tunnels. It’s definitely an attraction worth visiting especially when the weather is bad outside.
It takes about 15-20 minutes to explore the entire Ice Palace.
Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven
If there’s one famous Swiss Chocolate then it would be Lindt. Actually it’s so famous that I didn’t even realize it’s authentic Swiss. But anyway if you are a chocolate lover or you have kids then you May want to pay a visit to the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven.
This Lindt store is the highest Lindt store in the world. The store not only sells chocolate but also shows you how the chocolate is made. The prices at this shop is comparable to duty free shops at the airport.
Glacier Plateau (Outside)
The Glacier Plateau is outside of the main Jungfraujoch complex. If you want to take a photo with the Swiss flag then this is where you want to be.
Mönchsjochhütte Hut (Outside)
If you want to do some hiking in the snow then you can’t miss the Mönchsjochhütte Hut. It’s about a 45 minute hike from the main Jungfraujoch building.
The hut is not super crowded as most people don’t end up hiking there. From the hut you can get a nice view into Central and Eastern Switzerland and the Valais mountains. There are food and drinks at the hut after your uphill hike in the snow.
You don’t need to do the whole hike. You can just walk 10-15 min and get a nice view of the glacier and the peaks and get nice photos.
Snow Fun Park (Outside)
If you want to be outside but don’t want to hike, consider the Snow Fun Park. You can do snow tubing, zip lining (currently closed due to construction), snowboarding and many more snow activities at the Snow Fun Park. However the activities are not always available (it wasn’t open when we went).
The price of these snow activities are not included in your Jungfraujoch tickets. You can pay about CHF50 (cheaper for children) for all activities or pay separately for each activity. If you plan to do multiple things then it may be worth getting the all activity pass.
What to Eat at Jungfraujoch
There are 3 restaurants at Jungfraujoch as well as a cafe.
Restaurant Crystal is a nice sit down restaurant with a la carte menu.
Restaurant Aletsch is a self service restaurant.
Restaurant Bollywood is an Indian buffet restaurant that cost CHF 33 a person. I personally went there and thought the food was decent (mostly vegetarian) and you get Swiss yogurt as a dessert. All the Indian tour groups go there.
There is a cafe that sells muffins, pies, sandwich, hot drinks and Korean instant noodle that is relatively cheap. There are some tables near the cave for customers. You are not supposed to picnic there but many tourists (the bus tour kind) bring their own food and ignore the sign anyway.
If you end up hiking to Mönchsjochhütte Hut, you can also get food there.
How Long to Spend at Jungfraujoch
This really depends on how much you want to do at Jungfraujoch. You can spend as little as 2 hours or as long as 5 hours at Jungfraujoch if you are planning to hike to Mönchsjochhütte Hut.
If you plan to do other activities such as hiking at Kleine Scheidegg then you really should take the 13:13 train (at the latest) to go down the mountain.
Many cable cars and trains stop running around 5pm so you don’t wanna get stranded after your hikes. If that’s your plan then you definitely should get the Jungfraujoch Good Morning tickets.
Is Jungfraujoch Worth It?
Different people have different definition of what’s “worth” it.
You will think Jungfraujoch is worth it if:
- you want to see the largest glacier in Switzerland
- You want to see snow and amazing views
- You have a Jungfrau Pass
- You want to hike in the snow next to a glacier
- You plan to spend at least 3 hours at Jungfraujoch
You would not think Jungfraujoch is worth it if you dislike tour groups or anything commercial/ family friendly. Jungfraujoch is definitely not worth it if you are not going on a clear day.
ADDITIONAL READINGS TO PLAN YOUR SWITZERLAND TRIP
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