Is Jungfraujoch Worth it? A Photographic Travel Guide to the Top of Europe
Also called “The Top of Europe”, Jungfraujoch offers impressive mountain views and fun winter activities (mainly for kids). To be technical, Jungfraujoch is a plateau of the Jungfrau mountain range. It has a train station which makes it accessible to the everyday traveller who wants to enjoy the mountains. It’s also a good starting place for those who are more adventurous and plan on doing mountain climbing.
Getting to Jungfraujoch isn’t cheap. The train ride can set you back about $200USD (less if you have Swiss train cards, read about this below). This may leave you wondering if it’s worth your time and money. I’m going to try to answer that question and share travel tips so that you can have the most enjoyable visit.
GO IF YOU LIKE:
SNOWBALL FIGHTS | ICE SCULPTURES | MOUNTAIN VIEWS | PICTURESQUE TRAIN RIDES
Getting to Jungfraujoch
Taking the train to Jungfraujoch
The train ride to Jungfraujoch is an ordeal. This experience can be enjoyable or the worst and it all depends on the time of day and season which you visit. Going on the first train in the morning is best because you will miss the group tours which seem to start around 10am.
I also noticed that the trains seemed to be less packed in the late afternoon, so if you miss the early morning trains I would suggest going after lunch when there will likely be less crowds.
I made the mistake of going around 10am in the end of May. This likely added an extra few hours of waiting to my commute time. Unlike the other trains in Switzerland, the Jungfraubahn is a privately-owned company. Group tours with reserved seating board the train first and everyone else has to wait. It was a frustrating system that was unlike the other experiences I had on Swiss trains.
Pro Tip: Sit on the right side of the train for the best views
If possible look for windows that can open. This way you can get fresh air and photos without a glare.
Arriving at Jungfraujoch
Once you arrive at Jungfraujoch the railway station can feel overwhelming. Groups of people will enter the building with you and there are signs pointing in all different directions for different activities.
I suggest starting with the interior activities, like the Ice Palace, since most people head outside for the views first.
Pro Tip: Do NOT book your train tickets in advance
I advise against group tours and booking your train tickets in advance. The simple rationale is that on a cloudy day, with low visibility, the views will be disappointing. Group tours will visit Jungfraujoch regardless of the visibility. You’re also beholden to their timetable, so if you want to stay longer OR if you feel sick from the altitude and want to descend earlier you’re outta luck.
Visit Jungfraujoch yourself and check the live Jungfraujoch webcam on the morning of your visit.
The Ice Palace (Eispalast)
The most popular indoor activity in Jungfraujoch is the Ice Palace. Just follow the signs and eventually you’ll be walking through ice tunnels which open up into areas with ice sculptures. I loved the little penguins.
My usual gripe was that it was filled with people and because of the nature of the tunnels the sound reverberated off the ice, making it even louder. The crowds, noise and effects of the altitude made for a somewhat claustrophobic experience so I quickly made my way through it and out into the fresh air.
The Snow Fun Park
On the bottom floor of Jungfraujoch you can walk out onto the ice plateau. This is where you can go tubing along with other fun activities for kids. There are also some lounge chairs where you can relax and soak in the views of the Jungfrau mountains.
Unfortunately, it was so packed that there was no chance of getting a chair. I quickly walked past the activities and got out on the snow trail. With the altitude I couldn’t walk very far but it was nice to get that fresh air.
If you’ve got the stamina, you can walk further out on the plateau or get in a snowball fight with your friends.
The Sphinx Observatory
This observatory sits on the Sphinx summit, a comfortable 3,571 m (11,716 ft) above sea level. Unfortunately, when I visited, the observatory was closed (I have no idea why there are people in my photo). This really sucked because the photos from online looked phenomenal.
From the observatory, you’re able to see the three main mountain peaks - Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger. You’re also able to look out across the vast Aletsch Glacier and really grasp its scope. At 22km in length it’s the largest glacier in the Alps. Also, if the clouds sit right you will feel as if you’re floating above them.
The reality of Jungfraujoch
I’ve said it so many times throughout this post but for the price, Jungfraujoch was a miss for me due to a mixture of things.
Reasons I had a poor experience at Jungfraujoch:
Poor Timing - Visiting around 10am seemed to be peak hours for group tours. The trains were packed and there were long waiting lines. Jungfraujoch itself had way too many people that I skipped several activities (like the Lindt chocolate area which looked like it was just a shop) because of it.
Busy Season - Visiting in late-May was one of the busiest seasons
The Sphinx Observatory - It was closed during my visit ( it seems to be opened now, Aug 2019)
Altitude Sickness - I felt lightheaded which only added to my irritability.
If you plan on visiting, take into consideration the above and set your expectations.
With that being said, I believe that the Swiss are incredibly efficient and maybe in the future they’ll find a system so that people don’t waste time standing in lines. I did appreciate one of the employees walking up and down the train handing out free chocolates. I think she knew there were a lot of unhappy travellers in the train.
Tips for visiting Jungfraujoch
Go at non-peak times
Use this timetable to get tickets for visits either first thing in the morning or the late afternoon. Most people visit in the late morning and over lunch. As of August 2019, the earliest train leaves Wengen at 7:24am.
Kill time at Keleine Scheidigg
If you arrive at the Keleine Scheidigg train station and there’s a mob of people on the platform waiting for the train, consider walking around the area until you notice a shorter line.
There are some beautiful trails around the station that will give you a chance to get away from the crowds and appreciate the views from different vantage points.
Related Blog Post: Hiking from Wengen to Keleine Scheidigg
I did a day hike from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg. Consider doing this before or after your visit to Jungfraujoch.
Take Precautions for the Altitude Sickness
I felt the effects of the high altitude quite quickly at Jungfraujoch. An overall sensation of feeling breathless, dizzy and tired. This made me highly irritable which didn’t help in the crowded spaces.
It’s important to drink a lot of water at high elevations. The night before you visit eat a meal with carbs and little fats and protein (which are harder to digest). In the morning try to stick to things like oatmeal and granola.
If the altitude sickness gets really bad, head down to a lower elevation. The effects should go away quickly. Considering I was only up there for a few hours I managed to get through it but I did see fellow travellers struggling more than I was.
Plan to visit for a half-Day
Yes it technically takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to take the train from Wengen to Jungfraujoch but I waited over 2 hours in lines. Plus once you’re at the top, you’re moving at a slower pace. Plan to spend half a day there.
Related Blog Post: Travel Guide to Wengen
For all my travel advice and 2-day itinerary for Wengen check out my blog post.
Eat your Meals before and after the visit
There are three restaurants at the top and as you can imagine, they’re pretty busy around lunch time and quite pricey. Arriving before noon may help you score a seat with a view. I opted to eat breakfast and lunch in Wengen.
As the name suggests, it’s an Indian restaurant. Last I checked they offer buffet dining including things like curry, chana masala, paratha and salads.
Traditional Swiss fare including, rösti, fondue, steak
A soups, pasta, sausage and fries sort of place.
Check the weather Just before you go
There will be nothing more disappointing than getting to Jungfraujoch and having no visibility of the mountains.
Check the live webcam to make sure that the views are worthwhile before going.
Train Tickets - Discounts
Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. As always, I only recommend products and services I trust.
If you’re travelling though Switzerland you will likely get a Swiss travel pass for discounts on the trains. Keep in mind the following (dated: Aug, 2019).
As with other train travel, this gives 50% off the train ticket to Jungfraujoch
Swiss Travel Pass
This gives 25% off the price of the ticket from Wengen or Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch
If you don’t have any passes a regular ticket can be purchased here
If you’ve got the budget and don’t want the hassle of waiting in line you can book a reserved seat on the train from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch.
Pro Tip: Download the SBB Train App
Download the SBB mobile app to make easy train purchases throughout your stay in Switzerland. It allows you to purchase tickets at full price or with discounted passes like the half-fare card.
What to wear at Jungfraujoch
Boots with good traction
Especially if you’re walking outside on the snow-covered plateau. I’m used to walking in snow but still had to find my balance. The ice palace is also very slippery.
It’s very bright at Jungfraujoch, especially in the winter with all the reflective snow. Protect your eyes and don’t forget the sunscreen.
Down Jacket, Gloves and a Scarf
Jungfraujoch is quite cold. Even on a nice day it’s good to wear a light down jacket on top of a t-shirt and sweater. If you’re visiting in the winter you will want a heavier jacket, scarf and gloves.
Snow Pants for Kids
If you’re visiting with kids who will be interested in some of the winter activities like the tubing then bring snow pants so they don’t get wet and cold.