Even though the Jungfraujoch is not as high as Mont Blanc or as instantly recognisable as the Matterhorn, it is still undeniably and justifiably a major attraction. In fact, seeing the truly astonishing place was my main motivation for visiting the region, and also proved to be an experience that I shall never forget.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site offers lots of dramatic scenery that should surpass all but the greatest of expectations, but aside from the beautiful vistas, the primary reason that it is so notable is the amazing level of accessibility. Switzerland's engineers, who seemingly cannot resist the challenges that their nation is full of, excelled themselves during the early 20th century by building what is still the highest railway line in the world.
The incredible project is definitely appreciated today, because around half of a million people now enjoy the superb train ride each year, despite the expensive fare. The initial part of the journey is the ascent from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg, which passes pretty sloping meadows and well-regarded ski resorts, providing a fine introduction to the local wonders as the lovely mountainous backdrop gets ever closer. Having alighted at the small group of buildings huddled in the shadow of the Eiger, there is little to do whilst waiting for the connection other than admiring the fearsome sight of the infamous north face, as well as views of the other two giants in the vicinity, Mönch and Jungfrau. The majority of the second stage involves travelling through a four-mile long tunnel, which probably suggests that there is little to see. However, there are perhaps surprisingly a couple of places on the route where it is possible to survey more of the gorgeous landscape through large windows.
Although the various aforementioned opportunities to gaze upon the unrivalled terrain are excellent, nothing compares with what can be seen from the viewing platforms of the weather station that is located at the summit. Steep and solid grey rock faces culminate in smooth white peaks both nearby and far in the distance, whilst below there is a patchwork of greens and browns encircling the area's tiny looking villages. The splendid panorama is completely breathtaking, and it was hard for me to leave it behind.
In addition, there are several other things to do at the so-called 'Top of Europe'. For example, the stunning surroundings can be further encountered by walking across the massive Aletsch Glacier, which by necessity has to be done at a leisurely pace due to the lower level of oxygen available at an altitude of over 10,000 feet. Meanwhile, a very popular and fun activity is going for a ride in a sledge drawn by a team of huskies. Finally, cut into the ice underneath is a series of unusually lit chambers that are full of remarkable frozen sculptures of penguins, polar bears and suchlike, which is nice to visit but hardly competes with what lies outside.