Surviving Switzerland

an expat's experiences navigating the land of mountains, cheese and chocolate

The Trip to the Jungfraujoch

on August 28, 2014

The second to left col is the Jungfraujoch, the right peak is the Jungfrau


The Jungfraujoch’s elevation is approximately 3500 meters, or 11,480 feet above sea-level. It houses the highest railway station in Europe, as well as an observation platform, an ice-carvings cave walk, a glacier hiking trail and some pretty spectacular views. By the time we reached the outdoor fun area, though, all I could think was, “I’m gonna get sick all over this white snow.”


The train trip up the mountain is more than half the adventure, in my opinion. Which is not to belittle the views or experiences visitors have at the Jungfraujoch, it’s just that the valley of Lauterbrunnen that we passed through is one of my favorite vistas in Switzerland. Waterfalls, towering cliffs, deep forests—I love it.

Lauterbrunnen Valley

Lauterbrunnen Valley


We went up together with my parents and nephew starting from Interlaken, where we had a hotel room. We had to change trains three times, and I wound up forgetting half of the picnic food on the second to last train. This did not make me a popular person. I mean, I could not forgive myself for being so thoughtless. All of the chocolate was on the bag I left under the seat of the cog-wheel train that took us up the valley. All of the chocolate. My dad offered to kick me so I could stop kicking myself. Fortunately, there is a solution to every problem and there are several restaurants from self-serve to fine dining at the top, and since this is Switzerland, there is even a chocolate shop. Not my favorite brand, but I had only myself to blame for my heart-break.

Several highlights for our group was probably the Ice-Palace (even the floor is ice), the zip-line at the top of Europe (not particularly fast or long, but how often can you zip somewhere at over 3,500 meters?), and the observation deck. It was warmer than I thought it would be considering the glacier below our feet, so I was glad that an acquaintance had recommended sweaters and wind-breakers instead of the ski-jackets I wanted to take. Gloves and scarves also come in handy, but I have to say I cannot recommend wearing beach thongs for shoes. Yes, I saw some people wearing those.

Zip-line starting point

Zip-line starting point

And now I know that elevation sickness can show itself in many ways. We weren’t up there long, but it was enough for my step-mom to grow weak and faint, for me to feel decidedly nauseated and for my son to start rambling incoherently for nearly 10 minutes before sitting down suddenly and asking for a Coke to drink. I am happy to say that no one upchucked on the snow and after sitting down and having some tea and water everyone felt better.

The entire trip started at 8:00 and we were back to Interlaken by about 5:00 that evening. It was exhausting—the trains were overcrowded and each change was stressful, but all-in-all it was an amazing experience, a once in a lifetime day.

Views of glacier

View of glacier

Train travel tips: visitors traveling for several days up to a month in Switzerland should check out the Swiss Travel Systems  for deals. We bought the half-fare tickets for my parents and when we booked the Jungfraujoch trip (at half price) we recouped the initial cost and saved an extra $60 or so. Then, every time we took the train during their stay we saved half on the normal price.

5 responses to “The Trip to the Jungfraujoch

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m too much of a wuss to zipline, but how gorgeous that must’ve been! I wouldn’t been content to just nibble on your forgotten chocolate and watch from afar. 😉

  2. Yay, I’m so happy to find a fellow expat living in Switzerland! 🙂 I’ve been here for a little over 1.5 years now and I just love everything about nature here. I like hiking and skiing so living here is pure bliss for me. Thanks for this little recap, guess I have another place to add to my to-visit list!

  3. angloswiss says:

    When the kids were younger, we always spent our holidays in the Bernese Overland, also in Grindelwald where we usually rented a chalet. We walked from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg station and took the Jungfrau bahn to the top. I was not happy at the top as i also felt very giddy. I put a brave face on it all, the kids loved it, but was glad to be back in the lowlands.

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