Our first view of the Jungfraujoch glacier was blindingly bright, as we slid about on the icey viewing area, trying to avoid colliding with other tourists.
I had never heard of Junfraujoch before deciding to plan a weekend trip to Switzerland, but it turned out both of my parents had visited it separately in the travels of their youth.
Getting to the glacier comes with a hefty price in terms of train tickets, so I was hesitant to go, but it was absolutely worth the experience.
It is hard to show scale in photographs, but you can get an idea from the photo below. Those tiny people are walking out across the snow to a more distant viewing area. This photo is the view from the main viewing area, looking down.
The Jungfraujoch is accompanied by valiant marketing efforts. The glacier's very own subtitle "Top of Europe" is plastered everywhere.
We're taking things too literally, but the "Top of Europe" monniker made us giggle, as there are so many peaks in the area that are far higher than the glacier.
The Jungfraujoch elevation is 11,332 feet. The nearby Eiger, which you pass on the train up to the glacier, is 13,015 ft. The highest peak in Switzerland is actually the Monte Rosa, at 15,203 ft.
The name is applied as the train up to the glacier ends at the highest railway station in Europe. I don't know, that's a tough sell for me.
So to understand getting to the Jungfraujoch, it is best to consider the trip in reverse.
The last leg of any journey to Jungfraujoch is via a cog railway from a little town called Kleine Scheidegg.
To get to Kleine Scheidegg, you have really two options--either take a train that runs through Lauterbrunnen and Wegen, or take a train that runs through Grindlewald.
You cannot drive the leg to Kleine Scheidegg, or the leg from Kleine Scheidegg up to the glacier, so the two train rides are the only real option. Warning: if you have a Swiss discount pass of some kind for railways, you will get either no discount or a lesser discount than normal on these two train rides.
Since seeing the Jungfraujoch was all we would have time for on our trip, we wanted to stay as close as possible. I chose Grindlewald because I liked the name, oh and after reading some feedback in forums. So I can't speak to what staying in any of the other towns would be like, but Grindlewald was a nice place to stay, and very convenient to the glacier.
Following the lead of some posts in the TripAdvisor forums, I decided that after viewing the glacier, we should take the train just to Kleine Scheidegg, and then hike down from there. There are some train stops along the way, and the folks in the forum said it took them about an hour and a half to pass the first train station and get to the second.
First, of course, we had a nice lunch to keep our energy up.
Well, let me tell you, we are not in terrible shape, but walking downhill with no flat bits is tough! It took us about two hours to get to the first train station, at which point we were definitely ready to ride the train back to Grindlewald!
At least we got a nice view of the Eiger while hiking!