The Swiss people love mountains, and American visitors to the Jungfrau region can’t help but gain a greater appreciation for the splendor of the Alps when surrounded by the rugged, pristine landscape of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains. No wonder tourism has been flourishing in the area. Whether you love active winter sports or rejoice in summer’s cool mountain temperatures, you’ll experience an unforgettable vacation in nature’s grand playground. Here are some highlights to include in your Swiss escape:
One of the highlights in Switzerland is a trip to Europe’s highest railway station, the Jungfraujoch, located more than 13,000 feet in altitude. Running every day of the year, the railway leaves Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnern for Kleine Scheidegg, the railway station at the foot of the famous Eiger Mountain north face. On the two and a half hour journey, you‘ll head through the Eiger and Monch in tunnels, stopping at the Top of Europe for a tour of the Ice Palace, outstanding views (on clear days), and outdoor snow activities.
The view from Piz Gloria, the world’s first revolving mountain restaurant on top of Schilthorn, is fabulous. Dine as the restaurant rotates 360 degrees or head out to the terrace for a panorama showcasing more than 200 alpine peaks. Reach the 10,000 foot peak, famous for its 007 connection to a James Bond movie in the late 1960s, by a combination of cable car, train, and gondola.
Called Valley of 72 Waterfalls, the Lauterbrunnen Valley offers an impressive scene of steep rock walls carved by glacial water, most notably Staubbachfalls, the signature waterfall that crashes almost 800 feet down a mountain cliff on the edge of town.
Head inside a nearby mountain for spectacular views of 10 glacial waterfalls deep within the rocky interior. Trummelbachfalls showcases a variety of falls from powerful cascades to corkscrew formations that carry away up to 20,000 liters of water per second of glacial melt from three mountains of the region—Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau.
Hike, bike, or walk
Hundreds of miles of designated footpaths offer outdoor enthusiasts a variety of options, from paths suitable for strollers and wheelchairs to challenging overnight hikes and the Via Ferrata (walk on the side a mountain cliff). Mountain bike trails extend over the spectacular scenery of the Jungfrau Region with tours suitable for all ability levels, including families. Experienced guides can lead you to remote, yet beautiful, spots. Breathe in the scent of Alpine flowers in spring, feel the spray of waterfalls in summer, watch mountain peaks shine gloriously in autumn, and hear the crunch of snow underfoot in winter. Nature’s glory is the main calling card of the Jungfrau region.
Climb the mountains
Ready for mountaineering? The Monch is regarded as one of the most climable tall peaks in the Alps and can be reached relatively easily from the Jungfroujoch. If you’re a novice, it’s best to go with local guides who can lead you safely through the UNESCO World Natural Heritage site of the Aletsch glacier, the longest and largest glacier in the Bernese Alps (66 square miles). Breathless scenery for eager adventurers.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier