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The much-ballyhooed "Top of Europe" is the crowning achievement of many a vacation. Indeed, the railway itself, opened in 1912, is an engineering marvel, carved 7km (over 4 miles) into solid rock for its ascent to the highest railway station in Europe at 3,454 meters (11,332 feet). On the way, you get a chance to stop at two intermediate stations (Eigerwand and Eismeer) for some breathtaking views through plexiglass onto the glacier. At the top, all sorts of view terraces, shopping malls, and restaurants await you. All you need is money.
In 2007, a round-trip ticket costs CHF 176.60 from Interlaken, CHF 158 from Grindelwald, and CHF 157 from Lauterbrunnen. Early birds can save a bit of money with a CHF 152.60 "Good Morning Ticket." UPDATE: Swisspass holders get a 25% discount, plus the ride is free from Interlaken to Grindelwald or Wengen (i.e., if you go via Lauterbrunnen, you'll pay CHF 100). Eurailpass holders get a 25% discount as far as Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald, but no discount on the Jungfraubahn itself.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Höheweg 37, CH-3800 Interlaken
Phone: +41 (0)33 828 72 33
My favorite place to visit in the Alps is the village of Kandersteg. Conveniently situated on the local train line between Spiez and Brig, Kandersteg has an excellent array of hikes and things to do. Among the attractions in or near Kandersteg are the Sunnbuel gondola (and hike to the Gemmi Pass), the Allmenalp gondola, and the gondola to the Oeschinensee, an alpine lake with many excellent hiking trails. Destinations such as Lake Thun, Zermatt, Montreux, and the Jungfraujoch can all be visited as a day trip from Kandersteg.
For more information, take a look at my Kandersteg page, or the Kandersteg VT Guide.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Kandersteg Tourismus, CH-3718 Kandersteg
Phone: 41 33 675 80 80
Fly over the Swiss Alps, forests, lakes and glaciers and land to share a glass of Fendant between friends...
Take a little plane from Sion Airport for 1 to 3 passengers. Prices are very competitive, for example I paid around CHF 290.- a 60 minutes flight for two people to Mont-Blanc then Matterhorn. You could also plan your flight route with the pilot. Enjoy your flight !
If you prefer helicopter, I recommend :
Matterhorn 20 min. roundflight for CHF 195.-.
Flights from 10 to 60 minutes, up to 4 passengers in a helicopter. 10 min flights from CHF 86.-.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Where are exactly the peaks, precipices, gorges and waterfalls that romantic poets celebrated? There are many, so I will give you just a couple of suggestions.
The waterfall that in 1779 inspired Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to write his Gesang der Geister über den Wassern (Song of Spirits over Water) is the Staubbach waterfall, in the Lauterbrunnen valley.
George Byron chose the Jungfrau mountain as the place where his Manfred wanted to jump to his death.
You can visit both on the same day if you wish.
Updated Aug 20, 2009
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle loved to take holidays in the Swiss Alps, so when he decided his most famous character should die, he chose a spectacular setting for Holmes's final exit.
In the story The Final Problem Doyle gives an impressive description of the Reichenbach waterfall, where Sherlock holmes meets his death heroically fighting the criminal Dr Moriarty.
'Any attempt at recovering the bodies was absolutely hopeless, and there, deep down in that dreadful cauldron of swirling water and seething foam, will lie for all time the most dangerous criminal and the foremost champion of the law of their generation.'
This was the author's intention, but neither his public nor his publisher agreed (a lady wrote to Doyle a letter consisting of just two words 'You brute!') so three years later Doyle resurrected his character, in a very clever and plausible way, in the story The Adventure of the Empty House, where the readers learn that Holmes, thanks to his knowledge of Japanese wrestling, had managed to throw Moriarty into the abyss, and then had gone abroad for three years to escape from Moriarty's accomplices.
The Reichenbach waterfall is actually a cascade of seven waterfalls, over 300 metres high. The firts fall, the upper one, is the most spectacular. It can be reached by a funicular, built around 1930, that takes visitors to a sort of natural terrasse.
The view from there is great, but it is worthwhile to walk uphill on the path by the side of the fall to get views of it from several vantage points.
Updated Aug 20, 2009
Address: Near Meiringen, in the Bernese Oberalp
The passage between Italy and Switzerland at the Grand St Bernard is now through a tunnell, but the visit I want to recommend is to the ancient pass, a trip to be done in summer, because for eight months a year there is too much snow over there.
The pass was used for many centuries. There was just a narrow path there, until the Romans built one of their roads in the year 12 bC. They also replaced the old Celtic gods by naming the place Mons Jovis (Jupiter's Mountain) and built a temple to Jupiter Penninus.
The stones of that temple were used, one thousand yeras later, as foundations of the Hospice run by Augustinian monks, which is still there. Those same monks have been employing for centuries the famous St Bernard dogs in their rescue missions.
A visit to the Grand St Bernard pass must necessarily include a visit to the museum and the kennel. However interesting the museum can be, the dogs are certainly the major attraction.
Updated Aug 19, 2009
Address: Col du Grand Saint Bernard
This was fab! The express goes from St Moritz to Zermatt . Regular trains run the route as well, however Glacier express has panorama cars so you can see everything, has head set points with guide information about what you are seeing, and you can order a very nice three course lunch as well.
The train travels through the Swiss Alps and the scenery is amazing. It does stop at various stations on the way.
Written May 25, 2008
Address: St Moritz to Zermatt
Here is my personnal ranking from my own experience even if the 4 alpine options are worth to experience:
#1 Matterhorn (Zermatt)
If you like high peaks, Zermatt and the Matterhorn, our Swiss pyramid with impressive sharpen faces and edges naturally made, are the place to see. 38 of Europe's 76 four-thousand-metre peaks are in the area surrounding Zermatt, I find the most impressive panorama from the 4 alpine destinations.
3 excursions scenic way are possible to enjoy the local views:
- Klein Matterhorn summit after riding 3 cable cars to the panoramic outdoor platform at 3883 meters above sea level. You could also visit the heart of the glacier thanks to an ice grotto digged 15 meters under the glacier surface
- Gornergrat summit is accessible by cogwheel train. From there you could admire of course the Matterhorn and the Swiss highest top Dufourspitze (4634m) which is part of the impressive Monte Rosa peaks. At its base, two glaciers, the Grenzgletscher and Gornesgletcher, are joining to offer you an impressive view on this iced sea.
- At Rothorn summit, you could enjoy a superb panoramic view to the Matterhorn and the Alps. After taking an alpine underground to Sunnegga, you could easily continue with gondolas and an aerial cable way to reach the Rothorn (3'100 m).
The 3 local stars: Eiger - Mönch -Jungfrau are worth to admire. You will get best views from Kleine Scheidegg or Männlichen easily accessible by cogwheel train from Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen/Wengen. You could continue up to the Jungfraujoch to the European highest railway station Jungfraujoch (3454m). You will travel in the heart of the Eiger and Mönch through a 7km long tunnel, two intermediate stations, Eigerwand and Eismeer, will offer you panoramic views thanks to windows carved in the rocks. After a 50minutes train trip you will reach the top and enjoy a sunny and snowy/icy experience.
To reach the summit you could enjoy the world's steepest cogwheel railway or som cable car rides. The view from the top is "less alpine" than the 2 previous destinations. You will see Luzern region with the Vierwaldstättersee and an overview on the Nothern Alps.
Accessible from Engelberg after 3 cable car rides up to 3020m above sea level, the Titlis mountain is the highest excursion and view point and the only glacier in Central Switzerland.
Greetings from the Swiss Alps.
Written Apr 7, 2008
Address: Swiss Alps
Trekking in the Swiss Alps is a great way to see spectacular alp scenery and enjoy the mountains. I went on a guided trek from Chamonix to Zermatt carrying only a few items in a light pack and staying at small hotel and mountain huts that served great local food and offered opportunities for meeting interesting people doing the same. High mountain lakes and glacier covered peaks made for great pictures.
Written Jan 19, 2008
Address: swiss alps
While not exactly off the beaten path, Saas-Fee is one valley over from the far more famous (and touristy) Zermatt. In Saas-Fee, you will have no shortage of things to do if the weather is good; hikers and skiers will be especially pleased. There are also a number of cable cars to choose from... and even the highest "subway" in the world. For more information, feel free to visit my Saas-Fee page. VT friend sandysmith also has an excellent page.
Written Nov 2, 2007