Yodelei, yodelei, yodelei jiju my dear wonder friends and greetings from Switzerland! Today is my last day in this wonderful country and I’m already looking forwards to visiting it again.
You see, Switzerland is one of those places that will make your neck hurt since you’ll be turning your head around every single time to fully take in the majestic landscapes that will surround you.
Not convinced yet? Well, I hope you’re ready for this following article that includes my personal highlights of the month I spent exploring the Jungfrau region plus the answer to the one million dollar question about how expensive is Switzerland.
My Alpine Life of Wonders
There was once a lonely man in a lonely mountain. Each day he woke up to the sound of cows grazing in the plains. Each day he walked aimlessly for hours. Each day he slept under the starry sky waiting for the next day to arrive.
He breathed fresh air and drank the water that come from the glaciers. He befriended the animals that were kind enough to share their lives with him. He sang the songs that only the mountains can understand as he smiled to the horizon and exclaimed:
“I’m living the dream. This is what true freedom looks like. I am the Man of Wonders and I’m glad for the life I have built for myself…”
That was the life of self-discovery. That was the life of freedom and adventure. That was the life of wonders. That man was me and now it pains my heart to depart this wonderful land where I learned so many things about myself and where I have now left a piece of my soul behind.
Living in the Swiss Alps will change your life and sometimes, all you have to do is to close your eyes and listen carefully to the calling of Mother Nature. You see, Mother Nature is the most talented designer of them all and the Swiss Alps are one of her most beautiful masterpieces.
Are you ready to explore the Jungfrau region with me, my wonder friends?
Note: Please be aware that most maps of the region are upside down and the mountains of the Jungfrau region are actually located South of Interlaken; this is very important in case you want to hike with a compass and also to select the best spots for watching the sunrise/sunset.
The way from Interlaken to Kleine Scheidegg/Jungfraujoch is better understood as a circle meaning that you can go up from the right via Lauterbrunnen or from the left via Grindelwald (and you can come back down the opposite way without paying anything extra).
Highlights of the Jungfrau Region #01: Explore the 72 Waterfalls of the Valley of Lauterbrunnen
Starting from Interlaken, your number one stop in the Jungfrau region is Lauterbrunnen (30 minutes by train), known as the valley of the waterfalls. In fact, you can find 72 waterfalls in the 3-hour hike that goes from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg.
From Lauterbrunnen you can either continue your way to the Jungfraujoch via Kleine Scheidegg or take a small detour to the Schilthorn-Piz Gloria (via Mürren), the peak where James Bond’s “On Her Majesty Secret Service” was filmed.
Highlights of the Jungfrau Region #02: Enjoy the peace and quietness of the car-free village of Mürren
Mürren is a really small village (you can go from one end to another in 10 minutes) and its best known for being home to the cable-car that goes to the Schilthorn-Piz Gloria although I definitely recommend you to spend at least one night at one of the traditional hotels and guest houses located here.
Due to Mürren’s high altitude, you can enjoy majestic views of the Eiger-Mönch-Jungfrau mountains during the sunrise plus, you’ll have plenty of time to take the last cable car from the Schilthorn-Piz Gloria allowing you to see the sunset from there.
Top things to do in the Jungfrau Region #03: Retrace James Bond’s footsteps at the Schilthorn-Piz Gloria
From Mürren, you can take a cable-car all the way up to the Schilthorn-Piz Gloria (or hike for a little bit more than two hours). During summertime, the last cable car going back to Mürren departs at 20:25 giving you enough time to enjoy the sunset from the peak (see timetable here).
The Piz Gloria, once a secret super villain lair, is now a revolving restaurant where you can order a 007 Martini (shaked, not stirred!). And yes, I admit that the film “On Her Majesty Secret Service” wasn’t that good but trust me when I say that the views from the Schilthorn-Piz Gloria definitely make up for it!
Highlights of the Jungfrau Region #04: Do the UNESCO World Heritage Eiger Trail from Kleine Scheidegg
Once you’re back to Lauterbrunnen, it is time to continue your epic train journey to the Top of Europe and your next stop is Kleine Scheidegg, one of the most epic train stations in the world and the starting point of my favourite hike of the region: The Path of Endless Wonders (yes, I named it after me).
The Path of Endless Wonders (copyright pending) is the hike from Kleine Scheidegg to Eigergletscher: a very easy one hour journey in which you will see cows, mountains, trains, lakes and much more! PS. Did I mention the fact that Clint Eastwood filmed a movie here?
Highlights of the Jungfrau Region #05: See fresh snow all year round at the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch
Have you ever imagined touching snow in the middle of the Summer? Located at an altitude of 3,454 meters (11,332 ft), the Jungraujoch is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you can walk in the snow all year round and enjoy an up-close view of the most famous peaks of the region.
Wonder Tip: Make sure to arrive very early in the morning if you want to avoid crowds and be aware that tickets to the Jungfraujoch can actually be sold out during the summer. Also, don’t forget to stop at the Lindt chocolate shop to get some free samples! Who doesn’t loves Swiss chocolates?
Highlights of the Jungfrau Region #06: Take the cable car to Grindelwald First and zip-line from the top
After having fun at the legendary Jungraujoch, it is time to go back down and instead of going to Interlaken using the same route, you can choose to go down from the opposite direction by boarding the Grindelwald train from Kleine Scheidegg.
From Grindelwald you can take the cable-car up to the place known as the First (no, there is no Second or Third) from where you can zip-line and take beautiful hikes with the Wetterhorn mountain in the background. My favourite one? The easy one hour hike to Lake Bachalpsee in which you can see beautiful reflections of the Alpine mountains.
Highlights of the Jungfrau Region #07: Ditch the map and get lost in one of the many trails of the region
Finally (and trust me, I saved the best for last), the last personal highlight of my time at the Jungfrau region is the many improvised hikes I did in this incredible corner of the world.
Have you ever drank from the Alpine waters? Have you ever listened to the cows as they graze in the green pastures? What are you waiting for? Come visit Switzerland to do all of this and more, my dear wonder friends!!!
How expensive is to travel in Switzerland?
“But wait a minute, Raphael…isn’t Switzerland one of the most expensive countries in the world? How did you managed to afford to travel that much there?”
Well, my dear wonder friends, while Switzerland is way more expensive than the European countries that surround it (France, Germany, Italy and Austria), there are many ways to explore its wonders without breaking the bank.
However, I must warn you that you better prepare yourself for the many heart attacks you’ll suffer once you see the price of some of the most basic stuff now that the Swiss Franc (CHF) is virtually on the same level as the Euro and the USD.
Trains in Switzerland are very cost-effective although prices can quickly add up if you don’t have a rail pass and while the Eurail Pass is one of the best options when traveling from city to city, most railways that operate in the Swiss Alps are private owned and at best, they offer a 25 to 50% discount to Eurail Pass holders.
Trains in the Jungfrau region are operated exclusively by Jungfrau Railways and the fares are reasonably priced up to Kleine Scheidegg (40 CHF one way from Interlaken via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen). The most expensive leg of the journey, however, is the way from Kleine Scheidegg to Junfraujoch (62 CHF one way).
You can see all prices for individual fares here.
Luckily, there are many alternative rail passes that you can purchase to see all of the Jungfrau region without breaking the bank (bear in mind that a return ticket to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken is already 204 CHF) such as:
The Jungfrau VIP Pass (3 days for 245 CHF) offering unlimited travel within the Jungfrau region including 1 visit to the Jungfraujoch. This pass is perfect for you if you want to focus on the Jungfrau region only.
The Bernese Oberland Pass (4 days for 240 CHF) offering unlimited train travel in the greater Bernese Oberland region including Interlaken, Jungfrau, Kandersteg and other interesting areas plus a discount on the Kleine Scheidegg-Jungfraujoch route.
The Swiss Travel Pass (3 days for 210 CHF) offering unlimited train travel within Switzerland national railways plus 50% discount on mountain private railways (such as Jungfrau Railways) and cable-cars. It also includes free admission to over 480 museums.
The Swiss Half-Fare Card (1 month for 120 CHF) offering 50% discount on every single bus, boat, train, funicular and cable-car in Switzerland. If you’re spending more than one week in Switzerland, this pass is your perfect companion. Read all about my favourite places to visit in the Swiss Alps here.
Finally, food and accommodation in Switzerland can be as expensive or as cheap as you want them to be. In Interlaken, there are budget hostels for backpackers (read all about it here) while Lauterbrunnen has a fairly big campsite for the adventurous ones.
Food in restaurants can set you back about 20-30 CHF for a one person lunch and 50-100 CHF for a one person dinner although supermarket prices are relatively low and you can cook your own dinner for as little as 5-10 CHF.
In the end, I must say that enjoying the nature itself is always free although getting there might be a little bit expensive but overall, you shouldn’t let high prices stop you from experiencing the incredible life at the Swiss Alps!
Have you ever visited the Jungfrau region? What were some of your personal highlights? Would you like to hike The Endless Path of Wonders? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!
Until next time my friends!!!