I was in a Swiss Air flight to Zurich, Switzerland. To say I was excited, would be an understatement. I was visiting the country after 18 years! I was to go to Interlaken and then to Jungfrau region for some awesome activities. It was going to be a nostalgic trip for me. A lot would have changed, a lot would have remained the same; these thoughts crisscrossed through my mind. It was for me to see it myself, now. 🙂
I knew it would be cold in December with snow all around, but I have lived in those temperatures and have also visited several countries in winters. So, the weather was not in my mind. It was the reminiscences that made me smile.
We went by road from Zurich to Interlaken. The route was picturesque with inviting mountains standing at a distance. I kept smiling looking out of my window. Next day I would go there.
By the time we reached Interlaken, it was evening past 4 PM. It was Christmas month in Europe. All streets, shops and markets were decked up to welcome the festival. Everywhere I turned, I could see the Christmas fever. No marks for guessing that my luxurious five star hotel, Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, too, was with resplendent Christmas decorations, colorful lights and the fervor to match.
After a quick cup of coffee in the lounge, I went to my room, and then to the balcony where the Alps greeted me again. Just a few hours and next day I would meet them.
Taking the Jungfrau Railways train
Next morning I walked to Interlaken Ost station to board my train to Jungfraujoch. In the train, I hurriedly grabbed a window seat as I could not afford to miss the breathtaking views on way to the Top of Europe. I love train journeys and this one was going to be one of the best I had ever taken.
It looked as if somebody had sucked out all the colors from nature. Everything was white, black and to some extent gray. Once in a while, I could see some moving specks of colors; they were actually people indulged in outdoor activities.
On reaching the top it was as beautiful as it could be! A winter wonderland with a beautiful sunny day welcomed me. We warmed up with a cup of hot chocolate and then next thing I wanted to do was to play out in the snow. The outside temperature was in minus but it was not that cold. Probably, I was too excited to feel it. 🙂 Of course, I had my winter gear including Quechua jacket on, which could save me upto minus 10 degrees!
Playing in snow has its own pleasure. There were many school kids playing and in no time I became one of them. They were dressed as Charlie Chaplin whose ice sculpture was to be inaugurated that day. The children posed for me, and it was a great fun to interact with them in my broken French. The enchanting panoramic view of surrounding mountains added to the joy.
What is Jungfraujoch?
Located between mountains Mönch and Jungfrau, Jungfraujoch is an alpine attraction and viewing point. It is in the heart of the UNESCO Natural World Heritage property “Jungfrau – Aletsch – Bietschhorn”. The cogwheel train, which runs all through the year, is the only way to get there. At an altitude of 3454M (11,332 ft) above sea level, Jungfraujoch is the highest railway station in Europe, and is close to the summits of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch mountains.
Activities in Jungfraujoch
Once in Jungfraujoch, there are plenty of activities to do, some of them indoors as well.
Among outdoor activities, if the weather is with you; you can opt for the following.
• Go out and play in the snow like I did and enjoy the view of the Grosser Aletsch glacier and other surroundings.
• Hiking across the glacier to the Mönchsjoch hut is another activity I like very much. It takes approx. an hour to do it.
• You reach 117M further up the Sphinx observatory by a lift. Here you can enjoy a 360° view, both from the terrace and from the comfort of a building with panoramic windows.
• In summer you can also go for sledging, skiing, snow tubing or snowboarding in the Snow Fun Park (not included in the train ticket).
You can enjoy following indoor activities.
• Explore the Ice Palace with many ice sculptures including one of the great comedian Charlie Chaplin.
• The Alpine Sensation is a moving walkway with images, light and music, maps and stories and statues of the excavators and miners who built the Jungfrau Railway network.
• Choose one of the many restaurants for a nice lunch. There are six different restaurants serving European and Asian-style food. In summer, the Bollywood restaurant is open, serving Indian specialties.
• There are several exhibitions and informative multimedia shows that are shown from time to time.
• Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven where, through a recorded film, you can learn about the history of chocolate and how it is made. Of course you can buy chocolate as well.
Tips and facts for preparation
• The Jungfraujoch is Europe’s highest train station.
• The Jungfraujoch is open 365 days a year.
• There are two routes to get there: via Lauterbrunnen and via Grindelwald. Many visitors come up one way and go down the other.
• Check the weather forecast before leaving.
• Dress in multiple layers. Take along gloves, sun glasses with UV rating, sun block cream and a good pair of shoes for snow. Note that it could get very windy at the top.
• Your trip could be a half a day trip or a day trip depending on your departure time and activities. Keep at least two hours for Jungfraujoch.
• Since Jungfraujoch is at an altitude of 3454 M, you may suffer from mild altitude sickness. Going slow is the mantra. Also if you have children under 2 years, consult your doctor. In most cases staying at such altitudes for just a few hours does not create any problem.
• If you are planning to hike across the glacier, do not leave the marked trail. Also, make sure the weather is good and you are have the proper winter hiking gear.
• Activities in Snow Fun Park is not included in the train ticket.
• It’s not a cheap excursion, but very unique and worth the money.
What is Grindelwald?
Grindelawald is a village in Interlaken district. It is said that the place was first settle during the Neolithic period. Grindelwald is surrounded by several alpine mountains. At an altitude of 1034M it is accessible by train too. In summer they have the famous Alphorn Festival. And in winters, people go there to celebrate Christmas and other winter sports activities.
The day I went to Grindelwald, the weather wasn’t really nice. It was snowing and it was quite windy. Nevertheless, it amazed me no end. The snow blurred the otherwise spectacular views, still I could manage to catch some unforgettable moments. In no time we were in one & a half feet of fresh snow!
Cliff walking – the world’s First Cliff Walk by Tissot at Grindelwald – was a breath-taking experience. It was really one of a kind. The views were spectacular, irrespective of the time of the year. Braving the snow and the strong wind, holding onto the strong steel railing when I looked down the valley, I was open-jawed.
At the other end, there was a buzzing restaurant called Bergrestaurant at 7100 feet, where I had lunch of pasta and salads and a glass of hot mulled wine to warm myself.
Next we had planned for snow-walk. Few steps into it, my guide said the snow was now thigh high and we’d have to abandon it. Not to worry, we had other activities! Sledging was one of them.
Activities in Grindelwald
• Admire the spectacular views of Swiss Alps while going up in cable cars. The window of the cable car could be opened halfway, to allow you to experience the ice cold weather and fresh air.
• Go Skiing. Grindelwald-First is a popular ski resort where all winter sports levels are welcomed.
• Try zip-gliding. If it’s winter season, make sure you have a face mask to save you from snow and chilly winds.
• Ride a Velogemel and if you master it, participate in world championship! 😀 Velogemel is a snow-bicycle to ride in large amounts of snow. The word ‘gemel’ means ‘sledge’ in the Grindelwald dialect.
• Go Cliff walking. When you walking across, the views were spectacular, irrespective of the time of the year.
• If you are not into very adventurous activities, I recommend you go for snow-walk. It’s easy and doable for any age.
• Snow shoeing anyone? I love this at any time. When you try to walk fast but walk like a penguin. 🙂 Or like Charlie Chaplin, he he.
• Sledging is a total fun activity which children and adults enjoy equally. Grindelwald is one of the best places in the world to have a go.
• Grindelwald is famous for all sorts of climbing. In winters ice climbing is the winner. There are level-specific routes and tours depending on your skills and experiences.
Note: While you can try all these activities, make sure the weather is good and you are wearing proper hiking gear.
Tips and facts for preparation
• Grindelwald can be reached by train and by road.
• There is a cable car to take you up.
• Once up, there is a shop to hire all your equipment, from snow pants to gloves, caps, ski, sledges etc.
• There are café and restaurants at the top.
In evening, it was time to return to Interlaken where it had snowed incessantly all night. Next morning I woke up to see not only my balcony cloaked in white, but the entire surrounding. Another magical moment which I wanted to etch in my mind forever.
When it was time to say goodbye, I promised myself to return soon.
Have you been to Jungfrau region? What was your experience?
— If you are looking for stay options in Interlaken, here are some.
Besides Jungfrau if you want to explore other parts of Switzerland, there are several Day trips and activities you can do.
— If you heading towards Bern, here are ‘Things to do in Bern‘.
If it’s a summer time I suggest you head to Chamonix for some summer activities.
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P.S.- This article, Top things to do in Jungfrau Region, Switzerland, belongs to Le Monde a Poetic Travail, an Indian Travel Blog, published by the travel blogging couple, Nisha & Vasudevan R. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. If you are viewing this on another website rather than the RSS feed reader or our travel blog itself, then that website is guilty of stealing our content. Kindly do us a favour by letting us know via Contact Us. Thank you