Last weekend I finally went to the ‘Top of Europe’ – the Jungfraujoch in the Bernese Alps. I had been waiting a while to make this trip, and having bought a half fare card for Swiss public transport earlier in the year the cost of the trip was no longer in my way. Initially I was incredibly excited, but in the days leading up to the weekend I started to doubt myself. Maybe it wasn’t worth the trip, I had been up lots of mountains in the last few years – what was different about this one?! How wrong I was! I had forgotten how much I loved being in the mountains, and as soon as I stepped off the train in Interlaken and saw the Bernese Alps in every direction I was no longer questioning being there at all. I couldn’t wait to get out and explore!
It’s a long train ride from Interlaken to the Jungfraujoch, about 2 hours 30 minutes. There are a number of stops along the way though so you can shorten this journey by staying in a town further along the train line such as Grindelwald or Wengen. The weather forecast was for clear skies in the morning followed by cloud in the afternoon. If you’ve ever been at the top of a mountain when the clouds are five feet from your face you’ll know it’s not a very satisfying experience, so I got up early and made it to the peak by 10:30am. I was certainly not disappointed!
I’ve been up a fair few mountains since moving to Switzerland and I think this one has the best glacier view of any I’ve seen with the monumental Great Aletsch Glacier sprawling away from it. I really love going up to the top of mountains and looking out at the world around them. For me it’s one of the greatest feelings you can have while travelling. It makes you realise how small you are and gives some perspective on just how awesome the natural world is, absolutely incredible. I am quite happy just standing and looking out at the world for a while.
Despite being named ‘Top of Europe’ this is not the highest point in Europe you can reach using publicly available transport. At 3883m the Klein Matterhorn near Zermatt is higher, as is the Aiguille du Midi next to the Mont Blanc in France. However it is the highest you can reach by train, with the others requiring a ride in at least one cable-car. So if you’re scared of heights (going up a mountain?!) then the Jungfraujoch is probably your best bet. In fact it’s the highest railway in Europe! And if the woman I overhead on the train is correct (and the Swiss usually are) once at the top you can also visit the highest watch shop in Europe. Now there’s a title to be proud of – only in Switzerland!
I still think it’s a rather sneaky marketing ploy to call this experience ‘Top of Europe’. Having said that it certainly felt like it when I was up there, and the work put into building the 7.3km tunnel that makes the final part of the journey possible made it feel even more special. The tunnel was built between 1893 and 1912 and it is a real triumph of engineering. Unfortunately a number of people died in the process and they are honoured in one of the many tunnels connecting the viewing stations at the top.
I would recommend a trip to the Jungfraujoch with no hesitation, although it is quite pricey. There is enough to keep you busy at the top for a couple of hours (or longer if you enjoy the mountains as much as me) with two viewing stations and something they like to call ‘Snow Fun’ if you’ve got the clothes for it. If you’re in Switzerland for any more than a day and planning to do this trip it’s probably worth getting a half fare card for the public transport, you will almost get your money back on this journey alone! The surrounding area is absolutely beautiful with countless peaks and hiking routes to explore. I think you could easily spend two weeks here and be completely satisfied – I know I could! I’ll have some more pictures up soon showing some of the other fantastic views you can find in the wonderful Bernese Oberland, but for now here are a few more from my trip to the Jungfraujoch – ‘Top of Europe’.
Have you been to the Jungfraujoch? Love the mountains as much as I do? Interested by the highest watch shop in Europe?! Feel free to comment below!
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