Getting to Jungfraujoch | Tapped Out Tips
Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
Now that you have successfully decided to visit Jungfraujoch, what of those underlying questions before you arrive. While I have already discussed what the tour will look like, Is it safe for kids? How do you get there? When do you buy tickets? There is a lot to getting to Jungfraujoch with less hassle and no underlying concerns.
Tickets | When & How
The Jungfraujoch website is really hard to navigate and even worst for information seekers. At the end of the day, buy tickets when you get there or call and have them walk you through it if you need to reserve. If your group is really that big though, calling or using a tour company may give your group some discounts so think about that before buying the wrong items online. Like any weather-dependent activity, buying in advance serves no purpose. If the weather is horrible and you have other days as an option, wait it out and hope for the best. Reserved seating is always an option but that is usually only for 1st class seating and for ultra large groups.
Small groups or families, or those purchasing 2nd class seating, there is always a seat available, or wait 30 minutes to get first in line for the next train. Tickets on poor-weather days are not discounted nor are they refundable. Be sure to check the website often for any special rates they may offer. Jungfraujoch Tourism and Grindelwald Tourism are not the same entity. There is currently a special Christmas rate that they are offering from Mid-November to early January. Be aware, the offer is for online purchases or coupon-holding guests at the train station, these coupons were printing in various Swiss newspapers. If there is such a promotion available during your stay, I suggest purchasing online in the early morning of the date intended, as the ticket office itself will not honour this price without a coupon.
How long to stay in town
In general, I would give it a few days. You can always visit the neighboring Interlaken, or even Bern / Thun / Montreux if the weather continues to stay poor. Everything is fairly close together, and with the free bus pass, it doesn’t take long to get down the hill and access regional trains.
I say so long because you can never predict the weather. On Christmas eve and Boxing day, the weather was perfect, but we decided to visit on Christmas day and it was storming at the top. Not only were we not allowed outside to visit the Monchsjoch Hut, but we couldn’t play on the glacier itself and go sledding. That was one disappointed little boy.
Is Jungfraujoch Safe for kids?
Jungfraujoch was absolutely safe for kids. Baby girl slept the whole time, of course, but Munchkin had a blast. There was an elevator for the stroller, and nothing was open enough for the munchkin to hurt himself should be get out of sight.
The trains are every 30 minutes so the crowds are spread out a little. The real trick is to run right through them at the beginning where they all huddle around the souvenir shop and cafe. Buy your trinkets at the end of the tour, and have lunch at the cafeteria instead of the cafe. More options and better seating.
In terms of altitude, they recommend children until 1 years old stay lower than 4000 meters so we are covered in that respect. I made sure to check on her breathing and we asked the Munchkin several times how he was feeling. They seemed to be OK with it all.
Speaking of food; when ordering lunch from the cafeteria, one serving is good enough for two adults. The kids had an adult portion of Chicken nuggets and fries and it was way too many fries for them to share, but the number of nuggets was perfect. My Beef strogonaff was way too big and ended up sharing with the hubby. They charge 20 CHF per plate for a reason, though I would have preferred paying less and receiving less.
The main lobby has a snack and drink bar. Due to the large number of Japanese tourists that come to Jungfraujoch on an annual basis, there is a significant Japanese presence in the menu. This can also be seen at Grindelwald, where they have a Tourism Office specifically for Japanese tourists.
The trains and inside of the mountain are extremely stroller friendly. There was an elevator directly beside every set of stairs, and they are more than wide enough to accommodate my wide Bob Revolution and family members.
We didn’t purchase reserved seats but once we arrived at the second train, The Jungfraubahn, at Kleine Scheidegg, we were escorted to the handicap car where we could roll the stroller on board and leave it open, out of the way of the door.
The first train didn’t have a special car and the seats can not be reserved so just like standard public transit, I had to stand with the stroller by the door and move it over whenever the doors opened for passengers.
They do check your tickets, going up and coming back down, so be sure to buy the proper ones and don’t let them out of your sight.
Dress for success
Even in December, the weather wasn’t too cold. I had my good winter coat and proper snow/hiking boots. I brought my snow pants just in case we went for a walk outside, but the weather stayed poor so they weren’t needed in the end. Hats and mitts were definitely required for the small time we were outside, and the Ice Palace. We even made sure to place an extra blanket over the baby while we walked around. It isn’t very long but it was still that cold.
If you don’t have proper gear or don’t want to pack them, there is a store on the resort that rents ski coats and pants, along with all ski equipment.
Entertaining the kids on the train
Depending on your point of departure, getting to Jungfraujoch is only 45-30 minutes long train ride. While there isn’t much to do on the train itself, and moving around in it isn’t exactly an option, there is still plenty of space for the children to do their own activities. Neither train had a table between the chairs, that we could see, but a book, tablet or colouring book can still be used on their lap.
The train leaves every 30 minutes from each station, in every direction, so you are never siting around, waiting, for very long. There is an announcement 15 minutes prior at Jungfraujoc just in case you were in a rush to get down.
From Kleine Scheidegg, it’s a 10 minute wait and you can choose which train you want, depending on destination.
There are several signs of altitude sickness that one needs to be aware of before making the ascend. The following information is pulled directly from Government of the United Kingdoms website, NHS.
Common symptoms of mild altitude sickness (sometimes called acute mountain sickness) can be similar to a bad hangover ( the symptoms are usually worse at night) and may include:
- feeling unsteady
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- upset stomach
- shortness of breath
- increased heart rate
- difficulty sleeping
- generally feeling unwell
At this altitude, it is not a major risk of sickness but it has been reported and should not be taken lightly. It can affect the most physically fit, youngest, professional skier, and not the fat old guy sitting next to you. Everyone is different, every time is different. Being acclimatized to the altitude may help some, but it doesn’t work for everyone.
Children are less likely to be affected because their oxygen intact differs than adults, in their little bodies, but do not discount them. They may not be able to verbalize their sickness until it is too late. Once symptoms start and don’t fade away after taking a rest, it is strongly advise you descend on the next available train. Also, parents traveling alone with small children should have a way to communicate to the kids that they, themselves, are not feeling well and what to do in case of an emergency. If they are too young for this, I advice having a temporary travel partner or always stay near a group.
Short of having any medical conditions, medications and allergies printed on your forehead, I also suggest making this information easily available. Be it in your wallet, pocket, or medical alert bracelet, it is always best to be over prepared than under prepared.
Is it worth the money?
The train switches in Kleine Scheidegg and we didn’t have a time frame to be back at Grindelwald so we did take the time to hang out there for a little while. There were restaurants, gift shops, hiking trails and a pub inside a tipis. Skiing is also a big deal at this train stop as well so there is no reason to continue down the mountain in a rush. While Skis are not allowed on the Jungfraubahn, they can be left in Kleine Scheidegg until your return, then spend the rest of the day skiing.
The idea of paying 160 CHF per person for a return ticket did seem like a huge deal at the time, but it was a pretty amazing experience once we reached the top. I’m sure if I had been able to actually explore the glacier and play in the snow, I wouldn’t have any reservations about answering this question. So I guess my final answer is, it is worth the money when it is a perfectly clear day. Anything short of that is questionable, only because my goal was to sled with my kids and I didn’t.
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