Jungfrau is 13,642-foot mountain in the Switzerland Alps from which the region gets its name. The mountain is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps and is an attraction primarily due to the cog- (or rack-)railway. Cog wheels on the trains mesh with the rack rail and allows the train to make the impossibly steep assent from the Kleine Scheidegg mountain pass to the 1,223-foot saddle between the peaks of the Jungfrau and the Munch.
We took the Wengernalp Railway from Lauterbrunen to Keline Scheidegg. On the way down, we made a stop in Wengen Switzerland.
Top of the World
The train from Grindelwald takes an intermediate stop at Eismeer. Passengers can depart the train for a five-minute exploration of a windowed cave just above the middle of the Aletsch glacier.
Back on the train, we ended up at Kleine Scheidegg, the highest rail-station in Europe. Not surprisingly, it is has a tourist business called Top of Europe. For the price of the railway ticket, you also have access to a range of generally free activities.
First is the view, which is amazing. Stroll atop the world on an outside plateau along the saddle between the Jungfrau and the Munch, with views stretching into France and Germany. Or visit the Sphinx Observation tower for a 360-degree view.
In addition to the breath-taking views, you can also:
- Walk through a 250-meter ice cave, carved from to a smooth surface the glacier that is filled with ice sculpture, ranging from Charlie Chaplin, to Antarctic penguins and Arctic igloos and polar bears, and some fun dolls that are framed in ice;
- Watch a chocolate-making demonstration from Lindt Chocolate, with bowls of liquid milk chocolate, an hand-operated blending/stirring machine and a 3D video of chocolate making, followed, of course, by a chance to by the chocolate (which we did);
- Shop for anything from tee shirts to fine watches and Swiss Army knives; or
- Eat at one of two restaurants.
Jungrau Summit Restaurant
Restaurant Crystal is the fine dining option at the summit. We scored a table by the window and enjoyed the view up to the Munch’s summit and down over the Aletsch glacier. Our pleasant lunch consisted of a cold Swiss meat, cheese and pickled vegetable plate (dried meats, sausage, terrine, pate, hard and soft cheese, pickled mushrooms and assorted vegetables) and grilled devil fish (monkfish) with king prawns, sautéed vegetables and basmati rice.
Wengen is in the middle of the cog-railway between Lauterbrunen and Kleine Scheidegg. This 1,500-person alpine farming and winter tourism town more than triples its population in winter. The area is supposed to be spectacular. We can vouch for the views from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen.
We stopped in Wengen for lunch and a stroll through the town. By the time we left, it was raining and, except for limited views, pretty much socked in with poor visibility. But rain also brings beauty and a number of streams, albeit small ones, pouring down from the mountainsides.
We stopped for lunch at Restaurant Eiger. We choose raclette from its small menu. Joyce had hers the traditional way, with boiled potatoes, pearl onions. Tom did his atop a serving of rosti, topped with lots of bacon and a fried egg whose yolk flooded over the potatoes and cheese. Both nice as were our two glasses of minerally white Swiss wines, a Mont-sur-Rolle from near Lake Geneva and a more complex and rounded Burgundy Urlacher from around Bern.