Magnificent peaks tower-like white citadels against the brilliant blue sky while the long frosty tongue of the Aletsch Glacier reaches out into a never-ending white valley. The view from the Jungfraujoch, which is a platform at the top of Europe, 3454m above sea level, takes my breath away. The train journey aboard the Jungfrau railway to Europe’s highest altitude railway station is a bucket list experience. Standing on the southern ridge of the mountain, gazing at the jaw-dropping scenery, I can’t help thinking that if there is a heaven, thus must surely be it.
This region was the first to become an Alpine Site in 2001. Centred around the frozen landscape of the Great Aletsch Glacier, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains are breathtaking sights that have inspired artists, writers and poets over the centuries. The Jungfrau is not the highest mountain in Switzerland but together with the Eiger and the Monch, the area is one of the most stunning Swiss mountain regions. There are several vantage points you can go to see the Aletsch Glacier, all accessed by mountain railways of cable cars, such as Moosfluh, Bettmerhorn and Eggishorn. However, taking the railways up the Jungfraujoch is an experience for your bucket list! The amazing thing about the Jungfraujoch is that before 1912, you would have had to be a skilled mountain climber to reach this height.
Getting from Interlaken to the top of Europe is a scenic rail journey and an exciting one for train buffs. You travel on three separate trains – the Berner Oberland Railway, the cogwheel Wengernalp Railway and the Jungfrau Railway. In 2021, the Eiger Express is another option between Grindelwald Terminal and Eigergletscher station.
The Berner Oberland Railway starts from Interlaken, a charming town with picture-postcard views. You can take this train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. The fastest way is to go via Grindelwald and board the Eiger Express cable car. In itself, Interlaken is a picture-perfect Swiss town worth spending time in for its lovely views and charming atmosphere. Interlaken lies on a flat valley floor between the lakes of Brienzersee and Thunersee. The Lauterbrunnen Valley can easily be visited as a day trip from Bern too if you happen to be in the Swiss capital.
Although the train journeys to the top of Europe are quite an experience, the new Eiger Express cable car is the quickest option to get to the Top of Europe. It offers the opportunity to see incredible views without spending as much time travelling. The 15-minute tri-cable gondola ride from Grindelwald’s new state-of-the-art terminal takes you to the Eiger Glacier station (Eigergletscher). From there you can board the train to the top of the mountain for the final stretch. It gives travellers the option of combining the traditional Jungfrau railways route with a cable car ride for faster access at the same cost.
At Lauterbrunnen, board the 19.11 kilometres (11.87 miles) cogwheel Wengernalp Railway bound for Kleine Scheidegg. This train winds past splashing waterfalls and towering trees past herds of brown and white cows grazing on the sunny alpine slopes. The spotted cows wear leather collars and brass bells that jangle delightfully. The scenery from this Jungfrau train is a picturesque vista of the Swiss countryside and one that shows off the beauty of the region.