the top of europe
The Jungfraujoch has been on our to-see list for awhile, especially since it was also on my parents’ wishlist after the TODAY show broadcast from the “Top of Europe.” Unfortunately, their last few trips here just weren’t convenient for such an outing, at least not with a newborn granddaughter (September) or a three-month old and stormy weather (November). But since Reese had a great trip up to the top of Titlis over Christmas and we had a better chance of clear weather, we went for it when my parents visited a few weeks ago.
After stocking up on Starbucks and Sprüngli treats, we ventured towards Interlaken early Saturday morning. While Reese napped we snacked, took in the snowy peaks along the drive, and listened to a great interview with Spotlight director, Tom McCarthy on Studio 360. The forecast was for partly cloudy weather and so we spent some of the drive debating between visiting Grindelwald or just going for the top. Eventually we decided to take our chances on the Jungfraujoch, figuring that even if it was cloudy on top, the trip up and views from Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg could still be great. We weren’t disappointed.
It took just under 2 hours to drive to Lauterbrunnen, find a pair of baby sunnies for Reeese (as I accidentally left hers at home), and head to the train station. It was a beautiful, clear morning in the valley and the train ride up through Wengen made us want to hop out and spend the rest of the weekend exploring the village and skiing. But we continued up the mountain and after a few delays were eventually inside the Eiger on the Jungfraubahn. Reese didn’t seem too bothered by the trip or elevation and napped most of the way up the mountain. It was nice that it is not peak tourism season so there was plenty of space on the train and it wasn’t too crowded at the top.
The best views of the day were from the train stops along the way from Kleine Scheidegg to the top–the Eigerwand and Eismeer–as it was still clear. At each stop we had 5 minutes to hop off the train and check out the view. Finally, in just under another 2 hours, we finished our nearly 9,000 foot ascent from Lauterbrunnen to the Jungfraujoch (elevation: 11,332 feet / 3454 m).
At the top, we were all hungry and felt a little off due to the elevation, although this dissipated after lunch and the very fresh air (-17° Fahrenheit) of the Sphinx Terrace. Sadly, the top remained mostly fogged in, but we did enjoy exploring the Alpine Experience chronicling the development of tourism in the Alps and history of the Jungfrau railway. The photos of the construction of the railway were fascinating. And, just as we got ready to head down the clouds lifted just enough so that we could see down across the glacier.
All in all, it was a day trip worth taking and we’re excited to go back sometime in spring/summer when we can enjoy all the views and activities at the top.
- If you are touring Switzerland and want to visit the Jungfraujoch and ride the train/bus/tram other days during your visit, do purchase a Swiss Half Fare card for the month of your visit (or consider another Swiss travel pass) as you will save 50% on the Jungfraujoch ticket price (nearly CHF 200/person), a savings of nearly the whole cost of the Half Fare card.
- For more details about making the trip with older kids and an example of summer activities at the top, see also moms:tots:zurich.
These are great pictures. Reese is so adorable. Mom and dad are so lucky to be her grandparents, and she is lucky to be their granddaughter!