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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jungfrau region "Most Attractive Swiss Holiday Destination"

The Jungfrau is one of the main summits in the Bernese Alps, situated between the cantons of Valais and Bern in Switzerland. Together with the Eiger and Mönch, the Jungfrau forms a massive wall overlooking the Bernese Oberland and considered one of the most emblematic sights of the Swiss Alps.

The construction of the Jungfraujoch railway east to the summit in the early 20th century made the area one of the most frequented places in the Alps. Along with the Aletsch Glacier lying on the south, the Jungfrau is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area which was declared a World Heritage site in 2001.


Lauterbrunnen is a small town 10km from Interlaken, to which it is connected by road and rail. It is spectacularly sited at the entrance to the Lauterbrunnen valley - 400m white cliffs topped with pines and dotted with waterfalls.

Lauterbrunnen is well served by public transport, being on one leg of the rail line up to the Jungfraujoch (at 3454m, the highest train station in Europe), and the Lauterbrunnen region has numerous cog-railways, gondolas, cable-cars and funicular railways making getting around very easy indeed.

Above Lauterbrunnen, above the valley on either side are the car-free villages of Wengen and Murren (visitors can park in the large car-park at the south end of Lauterbrunnen and carry on up via train or on foot). The scenery is magnificent, with a glorious mountain view around every corner, and the comprehensive transport network means that one can ride up the tough bits, and walk along the edge of the valley wall. Though going up or coming down the 400 to 800 metres from the top of the valley can be tough on the knees, it is the only way to see some of the views. Of course there are so many spectacular sights in this region that it's impossible to miss out completely. The town has two banks, each with an ATM outside.

Schmadribach Falls

From Stechelberg it is a 45-60minutes' walk to the group of huts at Trachsellauenen (1,263 m/ 4,144ft), and from there another 1.25 hours' walk to the Schmadribach falls or a 1.5-hour walk to the Alp Obersteinberg (1,770 m/5,807ft), which affords a superb panorama of the mountains and glaciers around the upper part of the Lauterbrunnen valley.

Trümmelbach Falls

The Trümmelbach Falls plunge down in five mighty cascades through the gorge carved out by the Trümmelbach (open: mid April-end of October; entrance fee; electric elevator, stepped paths, floodlighting). There are breath-taking views of the falls, 10 of which are accessible, thundering down through the mountain at 20,000liters per second. They are fed by the giant ice walls of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Almost hidden inside the Schwarze Mönch they are the only waterfalls in Europe inside a mountain which are accessible.


Jungfraujoch is a col or saddle between the Mönch and the Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps on the boundary between the cantons of Bern and Valais, inside the Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area.

Strictly, the Jungfraujoch is the lowest point on the mountain ridge between Mönch and Jungfrau, at 3,471 meters (11,388 ft). It is just above this location that the mountain station of Jungfraubahn is located, Jungfraujoch railway station, which at an elevation of 3,454 meters (11,332 ft) is the highest railway station in Europe. The Jungfraujoch is often called the "Top of Europe" in tourist literature.

Not far east of the Joch rises a peak called the Sphinx, which tops out at an elevation of 3,571 meters (11,716 ft). It begins from the Jungfraujoch on the Valais side and at the Great Aletsch Glacier. There is an elevator to the summit of the Sphinx, where a small viewing platform and a scientific observatory, the Sphinx Observatory, are located.

The Jungfraujoch is also home to one of the Global Atmosphere Watch's atmospheric research stations. The Jungfraujoch can only be reached through a 7.3 km long cog railway tunnel, served by the Jungfraubahn, the highest in a series of cooperating railway companies that provide access to the Jungfraujoch from Interlaken.

Eiger Trail

With the official marking and designation of a trail beneath the imposing north wall of Eiger, Switzerland now has yet another spectacular, high alpine trail. This trail is easy, comparatively short, and a MUST for visitors to the Jungfrau region.

The long route begins at Mannlichen, up the gondola from Wengen or Lauterbrunnen. But we recommend that you cut out lots of pointless elevation drop and gain by starting at the Eigergletscher Station on the train to Jungfraujoch. Indeed, it is an excellent outing to visit Jungfraujoch in the morning, get off the return train at Eigergletscher, and hike down the Eiger trail to Alpiglen. This is a 5-mile route that will take around 3 hours at a pleasant stroll.

You start out beneath the massive Eiger Glacier and can watch it calve and avalanche while you sip tea and prepare for the hike.

Then, the well-marked trail (marked by blue-and-yellow bars painted on boulders where the trail is not obvious) heads around a shoulder and then runs beneath the massive north face. Try to pick out climbers on the cliff or the windows where you peek out at the stop on the Jungfraujoch railway.

Two hours into the hike you'll reach a series of waterfalls, culminating in a fairly spectacular one. Another hour or so later, you'll reach the Alpiglen station on the Kleinn-Scheideg to Grindelwald railway.

This hike is best from late July to late September. Carry plenty of water, and trekking poles will make you more stable.

Giessbach Falls

Giessbach Falls are near the Grand Hotel Giessbach, in the town of Brienz. The falls are really picturesque and are made up of about 9 to 10 falls. Most tourists see the lower cascades from a boat/ship, while cruising on the Lake Brienz.

From the hotel (rooms start at CHF$85 per person, per night, in the low season, but there's no charge to wander onto the patio and hike up the falls), there is a path up to the top six cascades. About halfway up, a rope bridge runs behind the falls, and you can reach out and touch the curtain of water!

The views of the 120+-year-old ornate Grand Hotel Giessbach, on the banks of Lake Brienz, with the snow-capped mountains in the background, is priceless.

Grindelwald valley

The Grindelwald valley, with the village Grindelwald, is situated south of Interlaken. The valley is well known because of the magnificent views at the Eiger, Wetterhorn and Schreckhorn. There are two glaciers, the upper and lower Grindelwald glacier, the lower glacier can be reached by cableway (to Pfingstegg) and from there it is easy to walk.

View-points of the Grindelwald valley (there are more): Männlichen, Kleine Scheidegg, Grosse Scheidegg, First, Lower Glacier, Pfingstegg. They all can be reached by train, cableway or bus and of course you can walk.

At Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg you have an magnificent view at the snow-capped mountains of this region.


The Wetterhorn dominates the Grindelwald Valley with its great triangular 1300 metre high limestone wall rising vertically from the meadows of the valley floor.

It is a 3 hour climb on a steep path traversing a series of cliffs to reach the large Gleckstein Hut situated in upper pastures.

From the hut (after the usual early morning alpine start) a track leads over stony ground to reach the Krinnen Glacier. On the far side it is a long, steep climb (alpine grade PD) over mixed ground - rocks, scree and snow to gain the Wettersattel - the col between the Wetterhorn and the adjacent Mittelhorn.

A final steep snow slope brings one to the 3701m high summit and a dramatic viewpoint - immediately below the summit the cliffs drop sheer to Grindelwald in the valley floor far below. The superb panorama of peaks that unfolds to the west includes the famous alpine trinity of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.


The Mönch (German: "monk") is a mountain in the Bernese Alps. Together with the Eiger and the Jungfrau it forms a highly recognisable group of mountains visible from far away.

The Mönch lies on the border between the cantons of Valais and Berne, and forms part of a mountain ridge between the Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch to the west, and the Eiger to the east. The mountain is located west of Mönchsjoch (a 3,650 m high pass) and Mönchsjoch Hut and north of the Jungfraufirn and Ewigschneefäld, two affluents of the Great Aletsch Glacier. The north side of the Mönch forms a step wall above the Lauterbrunnen valley.

The Jungfraubahn railway tunnel runs right under the summit at a height of approximately 3,300 metres. The peak was first climbed on August 15, 1857 by Christian Almer, Christian Kaufmann, Ulrich Kaufmann and Sigismund Porges.

North face Trail

This is a beautiful alpine stroll and every so often along the path you'll discover an info board on the facing mountain with details of how and when it was first conquered. It only takes about 2.5 hours with a refreshing mountain hut to stop at on route. Leaves plenty of time to discover the traffic-free village of Murren.


Mürren is a marvelous mountain village (7km from Lauterbrunnen, 1638m, 363 inhabitants). It lies on a sunny terrace at the foot of the Schilthorn mountain (with its famous revolving Pitz Gloria restaurant). There may be other Swiss mountain villages that are equally pretty, but none of them enjoys views like those from Mürren across the deep valley to the dark rock faces and white-and-blue glaciers of the Eiger (3970m), Mönch (4029m) and Jungfrau(4158m) - simply breathtaking.

Total travel to Mürren takes 28 minutes. First take the Lauterbrunnen-Grütschalp funicular, which comes every half hour (for example, at 11:02, 11:32, 12:02). The entrance is right across the Lauterbrunnen train station. The ride is 10 minutes long. From Grütschalp take the BLM train to Mürren The funicular and the train are well connected. They basically share the same mini-station. The train departs two minutes after the funicular arrives. The ride to Mürren is 16 minutes long. Grab a seat on the left side for the breathtaking panorama of the Alps. You will need a map of the area. If you did not have the time to pick up a free map at the Grütschalp station, you still have a chance to do it in Mürren – at the station you will find plenty of the local maps and brochures.

Kleine Scheidegg

Climbing up to Kleine Scheidegg. You can take an easy path or the mountain trail. The last one is heavier but mutch more beautiful. You can start in Lauterbrunnen or take the train to Wengen or Wengernalp and start there.

Everywhere you look you see mountains with snow and waterfalls coming down. The tour takes about five hours or more. At Kleine Scheidegg you can rest an have a drink of have something to eat. The view is excellent. In the direction of Grindelwald you can see the Eiger, Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn. More at your left de Mönch and the Jungfrau.


James Bond fans are not allowed to leave the Jungfrau region without taking the tram to Schilthorn. The famous Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed here, atop the craggy mountain.

Schilthorn is somewhat campy and touristy, as are most things in this region of Switzerland. But the views are stunning. And watching the paragliders leap off the cliff into a mile of vertical nothingness and float dreamily on the thermals is worth the tram price alone.

You can eat here in a rotating restaurant that is famous for champagne Bond breakfasts. The food is good, but pricey. Also, don't forget to catch the film about Schilthorn's history. It runs every 30 minutes.

The dizzyingly steep tram up to Schilthorn will ruffle even a skier's feathers. You can get there from Stechelberg (no rail service), at the head of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, stopping in Gimmelwald on the way. Or you can get there from Murren (where there is a cog railway accessible on your Jungraurail pass), via a private railway to Birg (included in the tram price) and then the gondola to the top.

Use your Jungfraurail Pass to get to Murren, then buy an early morning pass, departing Murren between 710am and 840am, and your round trip ticket will be around $38USD. Otherwise, plan on up to $55 round trip, depending on class.

It's best to use Schilthorn as your first stop in a transit of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, by going up through Murren ($10 in second class, one way), then down to Gimmelwald and Stechelburg ($29 in second class, one way). Then return to Lauterbrunnen on foot or bicycle, stopping off at Trummelbach falls on the way.

The Aletsch Glacier

The Aletsch Glacier (German: Aletschgletscher) or Great Aletsch Glacier (German: Grosser Aletschgletscher) is the largest glacier in the Alps. It has a length of about 23 km and covers more than 120 square kilometres (more than 45 square miles) in the eastern Bernese Alps in the Swiss canton of Valais. The Aletsch Glacier is composed by three smaller glaciers converging at Concordia, where its thickness is estimated to be near 1 km. It then continues towards the Rhone valley before giving birth to the Massa river. There is a panoramic view of the whole glacier from the Eggishorn.

The Aletsch Glacier is one of the most impressive features of the Swiss Alps. The whole area, including other glaciers is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.

Sphinx Observatory

Sphinx Observatory is an observatory located on Jungfraujoch in Switzerland.

Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz is located in the Swiss canton of Bern to the north of the Alps. There are no shallow ends in the lake and the shores are very steep. The river Aare flows through, joining Lake Thun after leaving Lake Brienz. Towns and villages in the area of the lake are Brienz, Interlaken, Unterseen and Matten. This lake has an unforgettable natural setting and offers a vast array of attractions with unlimited possibilities for sport and recreation throughout the year. The alpine region of Brienz-Meiringen-Hasliberg is one of 27 vacation resorts in Switzerland to have received the seal of approval from the Swiss Agency of Tourism.

Lake Thun

Lake Thun is located in the Bernese Highlands in Switzerland north of the Alps. It was named after the city of Thun on the north bank of the lake. Lake Thun was formed after the last Ice Age. In the distant past Thun and Brienz lakes were one. Recreational possibilities here include biking, hiking, a variety of water sports, canyoning, rafting and sky sports in summer and skiing, Nordic walking and snowboarding in winter. You can take a bike tour around Lake Thun and embrace the beauty of nature. There are 360 km of marked biking routes in the area.


Get in

Trains arrive frequently from Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Berne and Luzern. Connection at SpiezValais and to Italy via Lotschberg and Simplon tunnels. provides access to canton

There are two stations: Interlaken Ost (east) and Interlaken West, the latter is closer to the city centre. Most trains stop at both stations, except for trains to Luzern and the trains to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald which stop only at Ost station.

By car, follow Autoroute A8 (former N8) into the city center.Rental/autovermietung- car, bus, van, minibus rental.

By bus. Bus2alps operates direct private bus's from Florence, Rome, Paris and Munich to Interlaken. Timetables do vary but are busiest in February and March to cater for winter sport activities. Travel and accommodation packages are available and small and big groups are catered for.

Get around

Interlaken is small enough to get around on foot or bikes. Taxis are available from either train station and most hotels. With the guest card from your hotel, you can travel around Interlaken for free (it also gives discounts to local tourist attractions). Sightseeing Tours provided also in english by Panda1

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