31 things you need to know before visiting Switzerland’s biggest tourist attraction, from tickets and trains to climbing the glacier plateau.
What is Jungfraujoch Top of Europe?
Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is a mountain-top tourist attraction on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch, in Switzerland. The attraction includes a tricable gondola ride, the highest railway in Europe – the Jungfrau Railway, and a tourism facility comprising an indoor Ice Palace with ice sculptures, the Sphinx Observatory and Terrace, a Lindt chocolate shop, a gift store, a multi-media museum, three restaurants, a lounge, and outdoor access to the Jungfraujoch glacial saddle between the Jungfrau and Mönch peaks. This is the feature that most people go to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe to see. The facility and most of the railway have been built inside the mountain itself.
What you need to know: While it is uncommon, altitude sickness can be experienced at this elevation. Signs of altitude sickness include headache, nausea and vomiting and you should alert a staff member if you have any of these ailments during your visit. However, exploring the region at this elevation can also make you feel a little light-headed, or leave you out of breath easily.
Where is Jungfraujoch Top of Europe?
Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is located in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland and is only accessible by train. The attraction sits within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch, the longest glacier in the Alps and the first natural heritage site of the Alpine region. The closest town is Grindelwald.
What you need to know: There are more alpine activities and experiences to be had at Grindelwald, so allow time to stay in this village for a night or two to get the full Jungfrau experience. At Grindelwald-First Top of Adventure, you can explore the First Cliff Walk, zipline on the First Flyer and First Glider, ride mountain carts and trottibike scooters or visit Lake Bachalpsee. In summer, you can explore the glacier canyon in Grindelwald proper, and its 170-square-metre ‘Spiderweb’.
How to get to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe
The closest town to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is Grindelwald, and this is the closest you can get by car. There are train services that connect Grindelwald to Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Bern and Zurich. It’s around a three-hour trip from Zürich and one hour from Wengen.
Jungfraujoch Top of Europe tickets include transport within the rail and gondola system of the Jungfrau region. When purchasing a ticket, visitors can set their departure point as Interlaken Ost, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Eigergletscher, Kleine Scheidegg, Matten, Mürren and Wilderswil. You can choose the quick route via the Eiger Express gondola, or the traditional route via the Rack Railway, which takes an additional 45 minutes. The journey from Grindelwald is the easiest.
The quick route via Eiger Express
Catch the SBB train from your departure point to Grindelwald Terminal. From here, catch the Eiger Express tricable gondola to Eigergletscher, which takes around 20 minutes. From Eigergletscher, catch the Jungfraubahn to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe, which takes around half an hour.
The traditional route via Kleine Scheidegg
Catch the SBB train from your departure point through to Kleine Scheidegg. Here, swap to the Jungfraubahn to complete the journey up the mountain. Sit on the right side of the train on the way up for the best view.
What you need to know:
- Your ticket includes transport on either route, regardless of what you selected online during checkout. You can take the fast route up, and the traditional route back down, or vice-versa. The attendants at the stations can advise you where to go for each route.
- You can pay for a seat reservation with your ticket. This doesn’t reserve you a specific seat. Rather, it gives you access to the ‘reserved seats’ entry line and carriages which can be much quicker during peak times.
- You will be sharing the Eiger Express gondola with skiers and snowboarders.
- Your Jungfraujoch Top of Europe ticket QR code is what you’ll use for access to the SBB trains from your ticketed departure point, the Jungfraubahn, gondola and the attraction itself.
- The traditional route is the most scenic.
- Allow time to stop off at Eigergletscher station on your way back down the mountain as there is a viewing platform and some really beautiful outlooks of the peaks to enjoy here. It connects to the hiking and skiing area at the foot of the Eiger North Face, and you can even go sledding here in winter, hiking in summer, or grab a bite to eat at the restaurant.
- The final leg of the journey to Jungfraujoch is via the Jungfraubahn, regardless of the route you choose, and is mostly inside the mountain, so don’t expect too much in the way of views on the home stretch.
- The Jungfraubahn does make one, five-minute stop at Eismeer Station before the final destination. This isn’t so much a station as a viewing platform where you can see the mountainside through a window. Beware, if you get off you may need to find a new seat when you get back on the train. Jungfraubahn is a first-in, best-dressed situation. You’ll get much better views at the top, though.
Things to do at Jungfraujoch Top of Europe
When you arrive at Jungfraujoch Top of Europe signs and arrows point guests towards the start of the tour, and appear throughout to guide you towards all the things to do at Jungfraujoch Top of Europe. In addition to the main attractions, there’s a Lindt chocolate shop with a small informational display, a small store selling Swiss souvenirs and watches, two public restaurants, a private restaurant, and a lounge bar.
Snow Fun Park
Access to the Snow Fun Park is seasonal and only open from May to October. Visitors can ride the zipline, hike to the Mönchsjochhütte, go sledding, ski or snowboard. In summer, events and activities are also hosted here.
What you need to know: These activities are not included in a typical ticket and will need to be purchased separately. However, it is free to go outside and snoop about.
The Ice Palace
This short tour through tunnels of ice is punctuated with ice sculptures and carved from 1000 square metres of ice, some of which moves more than 10cm per year.
What you need to know: It takes around 20 minutes to see it thoroughly and while the ice floor is easy to walk on it can be slippery, so take care. It’s cold, but not unbearably so.
At the start of the tour is a series of multi-media rooms, screens and exhibits collectively known as Alpine Sensation that tell the story of Jungfraujoch and the development of the region.
What you need to know: These displays are relatively short and simple, and while they utilise moving images, colourful lights and curated displays, are more suitable for adults who have a genuine interest in learning about the development of the Jungfrau region and the history of the attraction itself.
The Sphinx Observatory and Terrace functions as both an international research station and an attraction. The Sphinx Terrace allows visitors to step outside onto a safe and fenced steel viewing platform to marvel at a view that is otherwise enjoyed only by mountaineers and professional explorers. From here, visitors can gaze at the peaks of the Swiss Mittelland and the Vosges on one side, and the Aletsch Glacier on the other.
What you need to know: The Sphinx Terrace is unmonitored and gets crowded very quickly. Try to arrive at Jungfraujoch Top of Europe as early as possible and head straight for the elevator to the Observatory, which can be found at the start of the tour.
Access to the glacier plateau is found at the end of the tour and is undoubtedly the main drawcard. Here, you can step out into a raw and unsheltered alpine environment and snap a pic with the Swiss flag. On a clear day, you can see across the Aletsch Glacier, the Mittelland and as far as the Black Forest and the Vosges.
What you need to know:
- The glacier plateau is unstaffed and unfenced, gets crowded quickly and you can expect a long line for a photo with the flag.
- The edges of the plateau are a sheer drop to the white desert beyond. With this in mind, children should be closely monitored and only go outside with a parent or guardian’s supervision.
- The conditions on the glacier plateau change drastically and often. Expect anything from blinding sunshine and powdery snow to howling winds and hard, icy surfaces.
- Temperature can be -10 degrees Celsius or less, so be sure to wear thermal clothing, a down-filled jacket, a hat and gloves.
- Snow boots or sneakers with a high-grip tread are the best footwear for this attraction. However, a walk across the plateau is much easier if you have slip-on rubber ice cleats for your shoes. Just don’t wear them in the Ice Palace.
What you need to know before visiting Jungfraujoch
Is Jungfraujoch really the top of Europe?
Despite the marketing, Jungfrau is not, in fact, the highest mountain in Europe, Mount Elbrus in southern Russia is. However, Jungfrau is the highest accessible point in Europe and it is home to the highest railway, the highest railway station, and the highest post office in Europe. In summer, Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is also where you can find the world’s only velogemel training course. A velogemel is a bicycle-sled hybrid made from timber for skiing down slopes.
When is the best time to visit?
The attraction is open every day of the year – even Christmas Day – and has snow all year round. Some attractions and activities are only available in the summer months, such as the Snow Fun Park. While you can visit the attraction any day of the year, it’s best to go on a clear, bright or sunny day so you can enjoy the views and avoid any snow storms that may pass by the plateau. Jungfrau has an average temperature of -7 degrees Celcius, and the highest wind speeds recorded here were 267.5km per hour.
How much does it cost to visit?
Children under five years old can visit the attraction for free with a paying adult. Otherwise, tickets for children aged six to 15 years old are CHF20 (around AUD$35). For children aged 16 years and older and adults, pricing starts from 100CHF per person (around AUD$177) but expect to pay anywhere up to CHF237 (around AUD$418) per person. Always purchase your tickets in advance and check the weather forecast before you hit the ‘purchase’ button. Clear, sunny days are best.
How to get a discount on Jungfraujoch tickets
You can reduce the cost of your ticket by up to 50% if you hold a Swiss Travel Pass, Eurail/Interrail Pass, Half-Fare Card or GA Travel Card. Be sure to read the terms, conditions, inclusions and exclusions of these cards before purchasing them.
How high is Jungfraujoch Top of Europe?
Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is 3454 metres above sea level.
Can you get altitude sickness at Jungfraujoch Top of Europe?
At such high elevation, it’s common to feel a little light-headed and easier to become out of breath. Altitude sickness is rare among visitors but isn’t unheard of. Symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting.
The history of Jungfraujoch
Adolf Guyer-Zeller had the idea to tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch to create an electric cog railway line from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfrau in 1893. Construction started in 1896 and by 1898 the railway stretched to the edge of Eiger. It wasn’t until 1912 that the line reached Jungfraujoch, and the Sphinx Observatory was built in 1937. The project was completed by men – not machinery – wielding shovels, picks and muscle power. It wasn’t until new technology was available that machinery was used, and only then on the final stretch of line.
Sadly, Guyer-Zeller never saw the completion of his vision, passing away in April 1899. While eventually successful, the project was not without its challenges and was hindered by worker strikes, management changeovers, financial issues, worker deaths and blasting accidents. Interestingly, the employers tried to improve worker morale by providing each with one bottle of red wine per day. The facilities of Jungfraujoch went on to grow and develop from that time on, eventually becoming the attraction it is today.
What should I wear?
Adopt the ‘onion’ method and layer up with thermals, a jumper and coat. Bring a hat, gloves and sunglasses and choose footwear with good grip, such as sneakers, snow boots or hiking boots.
How much time do you need there?
If you aren’t visiting the Snow Fun Park or planning to undertake activities such as hiking, skiing or sledding, you can easily see the whole attraction within two to three hours. Don’t plan on doing anything else the day of your visit, though, because you’ll need to factor in time to get there and back, navigating any stopovers and waiting in lines along the way.
How long does it take to go up Jungfraujoch?
Expect to spend around one to two hours making your way up the mountain to the Top of Europe attraction.
What countries can you see from Jungfraujoch?
If you visit the attraction on a crystal-clear still day you can catch a glimpse of Italy, France and Germany across the alps.
Is it worth visiting ?
After visiting this attraction myself in 2023, I can say it’s one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had – it was also the most expensive. However, the scenery from both the gondola and the train was breathtaking. I’m not a mountaineer nor am I a skier, so being able to walk on the glacier plateau and see snow-covered mountains at such a high altitude was a wondrous feeling.
I watched snow move in wave-like formations, rising and swirling in time to the rhythmic gusts blowing through the peaks. The Sphinx Terrace was the perfect place to snap panoramic images of the mountain range and the landscape beyond without the worry of slipping. It was also nerve-wracking to stand on the plateau when the wind picked up and the surface was more ice than powder. Conversely, I found the Ice Palace, Alpine Sensation and eateries disappointing.
Should you visit?
To determine whether this attraction is right for you, your travelling party or children, it’s important to keep in mind that Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is a highly commercialised tourist attraction, but also a historically significant destination home to the highest railway in Europe.
The highlights of the tour are the gondola, rack railway, Sphinx Terrace and the glacier plateau. If you’re desperature to see the world from this perspective and can afford the tickets, then I highly recommend a visit. However, if you’re just looking to spend some time exploring snow-covered mountains and taking in magnificent views, there are more affordable attractions in Switzerland offering a similar experience.
Are there other similar experiences in Switzerland?
Other alpine experiences in Switzerland are similar to Jungfrajoch Top of Europe, just as beautiful, easily accessible and more affordable.
Schilthorn Piz Gloria
This attraction in Stechelberg is famous for its 360-degree revolving restaurant and for being a film location for the 1969 James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Embedded in a pristine environment 2970 metres above sea level, Schilthorn Piz Gloria has views of Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, the Bernese and Valais Alps, Lake Thun, the Swiss central plateau and the mountains of the Jura chain. On a clear day, visitors can see out to the Black Forest in Germany or the Mont Blanc massif in France. Attractions include an outdoor viewing platform, Spy World, an interactive exhibition dedicated to the James Bond movie, a cinema, a snow area and a cable car.
Matterhorn Glacial Paradise
Known for being the home of Europe’s highest cable car station at 3883 metres above sea level, Matterhorn Glacial Paradise has a Glacier Palace with ice sculptures, viewing platform, cinema lounge, shop and restaurant. You can view the winter wonderland from the Matterhorn Glacier Ride cableways, enjoy the ‘Snowxperience’ plateau or ski. In summer, the area is open to hiking, carting, kickbiking and other outdoor activities. It offers a very similar experience to that of Jungfraujoch Top of Europe.
Read more inspiring stories by Vacations & Travel…