Staggering Views Riding the World’s Highest Railroad
The scenic wonders of Switzerland all come into focus in the central region called the Bernese Oberland, and the rail trip up to the Jungfraujoch is the acme of all high-altitude excursions.
At 11,400 feet, the Jungfraujoch terminus has been the highest railroad station in the world for more than a century and, as one of the most popular excursions in Switzerland, it can often seem like Grand Central Station at rush hour.
Come early or late in the season to avoid the worst of the crowds, and treat yourself to some of the most staggering mountain scenery anywhere in the world. There are stops along the way and things to do once you arrive, including a visit to the chilled depths of the famed Eispalast (Ice Palace), a cavernous area carved out of a glacier and featuring permanent ice sculpture on display. Check out the Sphinx Terrace, from which the views of the Mönch and Jungfrau peaks are topped only by that of the 14-mile icy expanse of the Aletsch Glacier, Europe’s longest.
Head for the Top of Europe restaurant for a lunch break that gives new meaning to “haute” cuisine (the food is definitely not the point here). Vary your return trip by taking the route to the traditional mountain village of Grindelwald, which shares its first-class ski area with equally adorable Wengen. It is one of the region’s most picturesque year-round resorts (especially favored for its high-terrain hiking), dramatically set beneath the towering north face of the Eiger peak. In Interlaken, stay at the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa.
With refinement and service as lightweight as an eiderdown quilt and as efficient as a Swiss-made watch, the hotel is a monument of luxury, seemingly untouched (thanks to frequent but seamless renovations) since it was built in 1865.