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Reaching the Top of Europe – Jungfraujoch with Best of Switzerland Tours

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When researching Switzerland, there is a huge bucket list of places to visit and things to do. When I learned about Jungfraujoch it leapt straight to the top of mine! Of course, on a train adventure, we had to visit the highest train station in Europe. We are happy independent travellers but sometimes, it is nice to have the extra layer of information, care and simplicity that a tour offers so we decided to travel as part of a group, with Best of Switzerland Tours. Join us as we go up, into the clouds to the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch.

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Best of Switzerland Tours

When debating our options within Switzerland, we were taken with Best of Switzerland Tours. They have over 20 years of experience, have multilingual guides and offered just the itineraries I was thinking of. It was a no-brainer. For our Jungfraujoch tour, we had arranged to be picked up in Interlaken and then to travel all the way to Zürich with Best of Switzerland Tours that evening. This is always such a great way to move from one spot to another so check to see if they do multiple pick ups or drop offs on your chosen tour. The large coaches have room for bags underneath so no drama!

Pick Up in Grindelwald

All of the Best of Switzerland Tours adventures start from the front of the Interlaken Outdoor Shop. There were a couple of seats but we all huddled when it started drizzling. Luckily, it didn’t last too long and our guide took us around the back to the car park. We passed our big bags over to the driver and then head up the coach stairs to find some seats on the top deck. This gave us super views as the bus wound its way through the valley to gorgeous Grindelwald. Along the way, we had some interesting commentary and important information from our guide, Regula over the coach’s loudspeaker.

The Eiger Express

We were given a short bathroom break after everyone disembarked from the coach and then we all gathered together, ready to board the Eiger Express. To reach the first stop, Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier) everybody used to take the train but in December 2020 a huge new cable car opened. This lovely, modern cable car whisks you up in just 15 minute whilst affording some rather nice views.

The group had their tickets handed out and we were all told emphatically not to lose them. These tickets aren’t cheap and if you lose it, you are paying your own way back down! We scanned through the ticket barriers and divided into two gondolas. We all had a great view as the cable car whooshed out of the station and over the lush green fields of the Bernese Oberland.

About five minutes into the ride, we rose into the clouds and rain. Drops gently caught the windows and the photographers of the group started to look nervous as they tried to capture the evergreen forests below. Just two minutes after, however, we had bypassed the rainy spot and instead emerged into a world of white snow and dark rock. The beautiful icy vistas continued until we piled out at our second station stop.

Eigergletscher Station – 2,320 m

We had a short break once again to explore Eigergletscher Station or run for a wee. We wandered out onto the snowy plateau, excited to see the snow falling but sad that it was whiting out lots of the view. There were some people up there that had never seen snow before and watching the children, especially, discovering the joys and chilly wetness of it was so much fun. I wonder how many people have had their first experience of snow here in the last 125 years.

Of course, I dropped and nearly lost my important ticket and so had a quick rethink about where I kept it.

Jungfrau Cogwheel Railway

Once back together, the group took the escalator down to the platform for the iconic cogwheel railway. We were all given a pretend Swiss passport which had loads of info about Jungfraujoch and a space to get it stamped at the top. We decided to have a quick flick through it on the train ride.

The cogwheel railway has been running for over a hundred years and has two tracks. This one took us up and then we hopped on the other to come the other way. The cogwheel (or rack) railway works by combing a toothed wheel and a grooved middle rail. It makes a rather unique noise as it sets off and rattles its way up the hill. Well, actually it is through the hill. This railway actually travels steeply through the mountain in a long tunnel. There isn’t much of a view but it is very novel.

Halfway up is a stop that it usually pauses at, we were told that we were not going to be stopping there but soon, the plan changed and we found we were actually going to get the chance to see Eismeer Station.

Eismeer Station – 3,159 m

The main idea of Eismeer is to give everyone a view of Ischmeer (Ice Sea). We weren’t so lucky. Everyone rushed off the train, with calls of, “Only five minutes” ringing in our ears. Sadly, the fog/cloud had completely obscured any view and it was like the blinds were shut on the other side of the glass. We giggled at our bad fortune, took a photo or two and ran back to the train.

Touching the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch – 3454 m

The next station was the big one, Jungfraujoch! The whole train emptied out, everyone following their respective tour guides. Regula took us straight through the cafe, explaining that we would be meeting back there and the specified time. Half of our group didn’t seem to be listening so I was curious to see how that would go.

Jungfraujoch – The Sphinx

Our first stop was a group trip up The Sphinx. This rocky overlook holds the name of The Sphinx, as does the astronomical observatory on top. The public can head out onto the open metal platform and take in the view of the three main mountain peaks visible from here; Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. At least, that was what we were hoping for but we were greeted by a wall of grey. Tourists stood around taking photos of each other against the dull backdrop and of the Sphinx building, the only visible landmark. We did the same but when t started snowing, decided to duck back inside for the indoor activities on offer. (After scoffing our pretty poor packed lunch and waiting for our feet to warm up).

Jungfraujoch – The Alpine Sensation Exhibition

The group dispersed as some decided to go through the exhibition and others bypassed it. We wanted to see as much as possible so we head on in. This was a fun museum detailing the building of the railway and Jungfraujoch. I loved the section all about the old hotel which once stood up here that sadly, burned down. It would have been phenomenal to stay up here. Mr Fluskey particularly loved all the old black-and-white photos of the construction years with workers and their families looking so smart. We thought that the moving walkway was a nice touch for those that struggle with mobility but we walked back to take a longer look at the exhibits.

Jungfraujoch – The Ice Palace

I had seen photos of the ice tunnel that forms the entrance of the Ice Palace but I never knew the whole thing was frozen!? I guess it makes sense as this has been carved inside the glacier. Everyone half walks, half ice skates along the thin ice tunnel, giggling and trying to skid whilst hanging onto the railing for dear life. It was great fun. We traversed this corridor before arriving at an ice museum. There were some really cool ice carvings and we made ourselves laugh far too hard at the ice bar, (no vodka on offer here though). Sadly, Mr Fluskey’s boots were so good at gripping that he couldn’t skate very well, whereas I loved slipping and sliding through the attraction.

Jungfraujoch – The Plateau

We head up three floors and felt a cold wind blowing in. This was the exit to the Plateau. The snow was whipping in and it was a steep little climb out to the wide section of exposed mountain. We saw everyone taking photos over by a big Swiss flag so of course we went and waited our turn. As we did, the snow stopped and it began to brighten up a little.

As the sky was a little brighter we walked past this mildly cleared section and found knee-deep, untouched snow. It was really tempting to make snow angels but it seemed like a bad plan with no change of clothes. I nearly fell face forward into the drifts as we struggled across. Then, all of a sudden, a cloud shifted, the sun broke through and we could see the mountain peak behind, edged by blue sky. I mildly freaked out with excitement. Finally, a view…and it lasted for three whole minutes. We made our way back down the slope slowly and carefully, deciding to head back up the Spinx just incase we had another glimpse of sky.

Jungfraujoch – Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven

The Lindt shop is the highest in the world and so we couldn’t skip it completely but we did rather rush through it. There were two rooms, one which seemed like a little museum and then a smaller, very, very busy shop stuffed with delicious Lindt chocolate. We dashed through, mouths watering and thank goodness we did because, on the way out, an extremely kind cashier gave us a Lindt ball each. After our dry sandwich lunch, this was a real treat.

Jungfraujoch – The Sphinx 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

We stormed back down the stairs and up the long stone corridor to the Sphinx lift. I could see sunshine as the door opened and ran to the door for the outdoors. There, still hazy but distinctly visible compared to before was one of the three peaks. It was so crazy to see what that grey cloud was hiding, majestic mountains covered in pretty snow. I was far too happy! Soon enough the peak disappeared again but as the clear spot travelled across the mountains, the other peaks made their own cameo in our day. All in all, we got about ten minutes of glorious sunshine and stunning views. I am so, so glad we made our mad dash.

Jungfraujoch – The Cafe

As the cloud moved in again, we checked our watches and realised we had about 30 minutes left before the meeting time. We decided to go down to the cafe, wait and warm up. Plus, if they had some sort of delicious boozy hot chocolate to sip while we waited, I was all for it. Sadly there was no Baileys hot choccy to be had but we did find a nice table by the window. I was a little tempted by the schnapps but thought better of it. Giving up on the view, we stamped our pretend passports and waited for our group to appear. At the meeting time, Regula, our guide, and two other people had gathered. She gave everyone five more minutes but the train was leaving whether they were there or not so off we went.

The Cogwheel 2 – The Descent

Everybody ran and managed to make the train in time and we all settled in for our cogwheel journey downhill. We had a nice chat with some fellow group members who had discovered a bar. It was out by the area with the adventure sports. I was a little jealous but just at that moment, a lovely train conductor came through and gave us all a little Lindt chocolate bar. Two free choccies in one day!

The Final Train

The train came out of the tunnel and into a flurry of snowflakes. The snow we’d seen thus far was light and small but this was real snow, falling in big, insistent flakes. We had a 20 minute change at Kleine Scheldegg and everyone crammed into the warm, dry ticket office.

The final train of the day took us back into the world of green grass and tourist accommodation. We chugged down the sides of steep slopes through open-sided concrete tunnels and under ski slopes. Train wound down towards and around the car-free village of Wengen where the train filled up with people on their own day trips. The final leg took us through the beautiful town of Lauterbrunnen and its iconic waterfalls. We didn’t actually have any time to sightsee here so i was really glad we saw it the day before.

The Coach to Zürich

Everyone walked straight from the train station to the coach park where I ran for a bathroom stop and then back to the coach. We settled into our red leather seats, plugged in our phones and prepared for a comfy three-hour ride to Zürich. We picked the wrong side for the nice views but caught a few pretty vistas. Mr Fluskey slept for quite a bit of the way but just as my eyes started closing, we got some commentary about Zürich. I perked up as it meant Zürich was approaching and we were soon driving through the city streets. We pulled into the main bus station and grabbed our bags, ready for the fifteen-minute walk to Krone Zurich Pop Up Hostel.

Final Thoughts for Our Day at the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch with Best of Switzerland Tours

This day tour was a long day but it flew by and I loved nearly all of it. Of course, I was very disappointed when I thought that we wouldn’t see anything but the pure serotonin hit when the sun came out was divine. I wonder if we had still been up there if we hadn’t been on Best of Switzerland’s timeline? Either way, it was really nice to relax and be guided for the day after organising a month of interrailing. Leave the logistics to someone else and take it all in!

I can’t help it, I am a bit of a box ticker when it comes to Europe and I just couldn’t leave Switzerland without seeing the top of Europe, Jungfraujoch. Next stop, Tanggula Mountain Railway Station (the highest train station in the whole world).

Rosie xx

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