The landscape of Switzerland is truly spectacular. Among the many Alps summits, Mount Matterhorn and Mount Jungfrau are two of the most well-known and visited in the country. Interlaken is the major travel hub in the Jungfrau Region (the region of Bernese Oberland), and this beautiful Swiss Town is located between two breathtaking lakes: Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
In this guide, we will talk about a self-guided excursion to Mount Jungfrau from Interlaken. Find out “How do I get to Mount Jungfraujoch?”, “Can I go to Jungfraujoch without a tour?”, “Where to stay in Interlaken?”, “what to see in Top of Europe?” and many more.
Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe: The highest train station in Europe
Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe is a popular attraction in Switzerland, 3,454 meters above sea level. The region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous activities and viewpoints.
What is special about Jungfrau?
First of all, Jungfrau Railway has been operating since 1912 (Yes, The Jungfrau Railway celebrated its centenary in 2012). Being one of the world’s highest train stations, Jungfrau Railway is a showcase of Swiss advanced achievements in engineering and technology.
The railway operates on its own hydroelectric power plant and uses the braking power for energy-efficient mountain travel. The sustainable innovation transports millions of passengers to Jungfraujoch annually, and there are a few different ways to get there so visitors can truly appreciate the landscape from different angles.
Among the many peaks and summits along the Alps, visitors can see the largest glaciers in the Alps – the Aletsch Glacier, and the three summits on the mountain range: Jungfrau (4,158 m), Eiger (3,970 m), and Mönch (4,107 m). The region is icy all year round, and also operates and is open all year round, as if you arrived in a different world.
Getting to the Top of Europe
There are multiple ways to get to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken, the journey takes about an hour or two, leaving plenty of time to explore the mountains at your own pace. Jungfraujoch’s website has all the useful information you need for the time required for each attraction at Top of Europe.
For a day trip to Jungfrau, Interlaken Ost (East) is usually the starting point. If you own a car, park it at Grindelwald Terminal parking.
There are two routes connecting with Jungfrau Railway.
Quick Route: Take a train to Grindelwald, and then hop on the Eiger Express (Gondola) to Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier) (15 minutes).
- Traditional Route: Taken the Wengernalp Railway via Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg (40 minutes).
Jungfrau Railway is an underground railway and it has 5 operational stations: Kleine Scheidegg (terminal 2,061m) – Eigergletscher – Eigerwand – Eismeer – Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe 3,454m)
Either you arrive at Eigergletscher or Kleine Scheidegg, visitors will finally take the Jungfrau Railway to the final station Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe) – The highest railway station in Europe (26 minutes).
The Eiger Express triable gondola to the Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier) and the 10-person Gondola cableway to Mannlichen.
The Eiger Express is not just a mountain railway. In fact, it is a modern triable gondola in the world – The latest addition of this terminal and express ride offers a direct and fast connection to Jungfrau Railway in merely about 15 minutes. Visitors can reach to Top of Europe in about an hour from Interlaken. Of course, this is also a scenic ride with a unique view of the Eiger North Face, 1,800 meters above sea level.
Tickets and Prices, how to plan your day trip to Jungfrau
To have a full experience of the Jungfrau region, it is common for most visitors to go up on one side and then go back on the other. That way, you will enjoy different views of the mountains, and the terrain changes quite dramatically.
Circling back to the previous question: “Can I go to Jungfraujoch without a tour?” The answer is, “yes”. It is absolutely fine to set off from Interlaken and explore Jungfrau at your own pace. However, if you are visiting from Zurich, Luzern, or other cities in Switzerland, consider joining a guided tour to get around the region hassle-free.
If you are visiting during summer, it is very convenient and easy to get to the summit. For a one-day trip, all you have to worry about, basically, is really reserving your train tickets because they do sell out during peak seasons. If you want to take things a bit further, there are a couple of hiking trails and activities that you can consider – we will talk about those in the later section. Hiking Basics: What To Wear When You Hit the Trail.
Besides, you will have to set your departure and return time when you are purchasing your tickets. Junfraujoch’s website provides all the information you need, and the estimated time required for each attraction. While your seat on the ticket you purchased is guaranteed, in case you really want to go back down or leave Jungfraujoch on another train, it is possible to hop on a train lining up on the standby “queue”.
I will share a little bit more about what to bring and prepare for your visit to Jungfrau. However, I suggest heading there early in the morning to avoid the crowd. If you are physically fit enough for a hike up the glacier, or you plan on taking an activity, you will probably need about four to six hours (including lunch). If you plan on only having a walk around Jungfraujoch and the indoor attractions, it takes about 2 hours to complete the tour, and it depends on how much time you want to spend on your visit.
Jungfrau, Top of Europe attractions: what to see and do
The high alpine wonderland of ice, snow, and rock will definitely be a highlight of your Swiss journey but it has more than that. Once you head out of the train of the Jungfrau Railway you will immediately feel the temperature drop already.
It is because of the change in altitude. On a sunny day in summer, the outside temperature is approximately 2 degrees; but the body-feel temperature is much higher during the sunlight and exercise. Don’t be surprised you are only wearing one single T-shirt as you start trekking through or zipline down the glacier!
Jungfraujoch’s panorama is a great starting point for your visit because you will see everything about the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the Swiss Mittelland towards the Vosges, the Aletsch Glacier, and the summit of Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch.
Check out the following list of attractions and the time required to finish.
Glacier Plateau (15-20 min)
One thing that makes Jungfrau special is the flat and frozen Aletsch Glacier – the largest and mightiest glacier in the Alps. The glacier is 22 kilometers long (the longest glacier in the Alps), 900 meters thick, and 1.8 kilometers wide.
The glacier is a combination of 12 billion tonnes of ice over an area of 80 sq. kilometers. The enclosure is not big, however, it may take more than 20 minutes if you plan to take pictures with the Switzerland flag and more.
Sphinx Terrace (15 min)
The vantage platform on the Jungfraujoch offers a breathtaking unobstructed view of the glacier.
Connected by the elevator, visitors are taken to the vantage platform, 117 meters above the Jungfraujoch. At 3,571 meters above sea level, this is the ultimate “Top of Europe” spot where visitors may even get to see Italy, France, and Germany.
If you are a fan of Korean Television, you must know a thing or two about the popular TV romantic soap opera “Crash Landing on You” In 2020.
Part of the storyline was shot in Switzerland, mainly in Interlaken, and Jungfraujoch is also the place where Se-ri and Jeong-hook first met, and after they were separated, met again at Kleine Scheidegg (and I still cry my eyes out watching the show…).
Ice Palace (20 min) and Alpine Sensation (10 min)
At the elevator, visitors will find and 360 Cinema experience. This is also the entrance to the Alpine Sensation, a multimedia presentation with 4D effects that showcase the pioneering project of the Jungfrau Railway.
Take a walk through the exhibits and learn about the impressive works and breakthroughs that were done in the last century.
The end of the corridor connects to the Ice Palace. This attraction is located 30 meters under the surface of the glacier, and it is claimed to be the “coldest palace” in Europe.
The temperature in the ice palace is below zero degrees so the ice won’t melt – and it has about 30 ice sculptures on display, created by various artists.
Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven (5-10 min)
There are some shops in Jungfraujoch. One in particular, in case you are planning on getting some souvenirs, is at Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven. This is the highest Lindt shop in the world, and as you may know, Lindt is a famous Swiss chocolate brand in the world. Having said that, Lindt chocolate and Swiss knives are also readily available at many other souvenir stores around Switzerland.
Enjoy food at one of the Glacier Restaurants (45 – 60 min)
There are few restaurants on the Jungfraujoch and I recommend staying for lunch before leaving because the tables offer unbeatable views of the glacier. Restaurant Crystal is an upscale restaurant with fine Swiss dishes like fondue. At the Aletsch Self-Service, it is on the first floor with sensational views of the glacier as well.
To make things more interesting, have a meal at the Bollywood restaurant, serving Indian specialties with their Indian kitchen. For a drink, the café bar is located at the entrance hall with drinks and small snacks on their menu; the Ice Bar is in the middle of the Ice Palace for the icy cold experience.
Snow Fun Park (45 – 60 min)
Thanks to the frozen world remaining all year round, visitors can enjoy outdoor winter sports even during summer here.
The snow fun park offers some thrill rides and activities with a separate entry ticket: from zip lines, sledge park, skiing to snowboarding.
It will take at least 45 min for an activity and it will definitely require more time.
Glacier Expeirence (90 min)
This is the highlight of the trip because visitors can truly get immersed in the magnificent view and walk on ice. The glacier trekking trail begins at the Snow Fun Park to Mönchsjochhütte, the highest, guarded mountain hut in Switzerland. It takes about 45 minutes one way, however, it may take longer time because of the high altitude.
The hut is situated 3,657 meters above sea level and re-opened in March 2023. There are a couple of advanced scenic trekking tours available (for example, the high alpine tour begins here, and it is approx. 3 hours); and there is also a restaurant yet due to its location, not all dishes can be available every day throughout the lunch hour.
The walk is one-way, and therefore, you will be walking the same way back. So, it is not necessary to complete the entire trail because some sections might be too challenging, take it as far as you can, soak in the stunning view, and return to Jungfraujoch at your own pace. On a sunny day, don’t forget to prepare sunblock because the reflection of the sunlight from the ice can be intense.
Recommended Places in the Jungfrau Region
Heading back down from the Top of Europe, check out the other hiking and scenic experiences in the Jungfrau Region. You may have to consider the time and availability as you won’t be able to (or need to) complete it all in a day.
This is a wonderful starting point for another scenic hike because trails of all levels of difficulty and altitude connect to Kleine Scheidegg.
This is where anyone who wants to explore the most beautiful region in the Bernese Oberland comes. There are many options, always in the middle of nature.
Top of Eiger
Here is the starting point for the trip to the Jungfraujoch. Instead of taking the train, visitors can get there on foot via the alpine hiking trails or gently sloping paths, with the view of Eiger’s north face in view. Skiers and snowboarders can take one of the many downhill routes here in winter. The Jungfrau Eiger Walk is about 2.5 kilometers long.
Grindelwald connects with the gondola and the journey takes about 25 minutes. The First Cliff Walk is thrilling because of its height. To up the experience, there is also a flying fox, mountain carts, and trottibike scooter.
It is a truly unique experience with a traditional and historic touch the scenic train experience, 1,967 meters in height.
The train itself takes passengers a nostalgic ride on the Schynige Platte, traveling slowly with a picturesque view of Interlaken (and the two lakes) in the first half, and the Alps in the second half of the journey. At the top of Schynige Platte, there is a mountain hotel from the Belle Epoque. There is also the only botanical garden with over 777 Alpine flowers on showcase.
Harder Kulm, on Top of Interlaken, has a vantage platform at 1,322 meters above sea level, and it has a different kind of panorama that you may look down on Lake Brienz and Lake Thun on one side, and then the world-famous triumvirate of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau on the other.
The destination is about 10 minutes away from Interlaken.
This location is best for family travelers. Dig the fork into a moist cake, squint into the sunlight, and let the panorama work its magic as the children lose track of time at the playground. This location is reachable by train and the puzzle trail is something for the whole family. The detective trail invites you to a treasure hunt with 16 puzzles on the Grutschalp.
Attractions from Interlaken: from Lake Brienz to Lake Thun
Interlaken is the economic and cultural center of the Jungfrau Region. The pleasant village is located at the entrance to the most important attractions in the region. Therefore, it is the gateway connecting Jungfrau with the outside world. Most visitors stay here overnight, no matter whether they come from Bern, Luzern, Zermatt, or other parts of the country. Yet it has a lot to offer than Jungfrau.
Take the train to Ballenberg and visit the Swiss Open-Air Museum. It is one of the best museums in Switzerland, with over 100 traditional buildings and architecture on display in a natural setting.
The train from Interlaken to Ballenberg travels along Lake Brienz, which is quite a scenic journey because the turquoise color of the lake under the sun is simply beautiful. In summer, spare a day to visit one of the lakeside water parks like Strandbad Brienz. It is so enjoyable swimming in the clean lake water and cool off.
If you are a fan of Crash Landing on You – take the scenic cruise on Lake Brienz (as it was on the show) and visit the Sigriswil Panorama Bridge. The pedestrian suspension bridge straddles over a deep gorge and it is one of the most important locations of the entire story. Even if you didn’t watch the TV show, the bridge offers sweeping views of the Bernese Alps and Lake Thun.
Interlaken is also the most popular location in Switzerland to go tandem paragliding! If you have never tried this thrilling activity, this is one of the best places to do it around the world.