What is the Jungfrau?
Switzerland is one of the most scenic countries in the world! When people ask me where they should visit on their first trip to Switzerland, I always answer with the Jungfrau region. (You can pronounce Jungfrau like “Yoong – frow.”). This region is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers some of the most dramatic views in one small area. The Jungfrau mountain is the highest mountain in the Bernese Alps and is at the center of this region along with the Mönch and Eiger mountains to make a trio of mountains right in the middle. Another thing to note is that the Jungfraujoch is a mountain railway excursion inside the Jungfrau region. This train takes you to the Jungfraujoch tourist complex located on the glacier saddle between the Mönch and Jungfrau mountain peaks.
This Jungfrau region is in the heart of the Bernese Oberland (larger region) located in central Switzerland. It is in the canton of Bern (like a state in the U.S.) but is actually 1.5 hours from the city of Bern. So, don’t get confused by thinking that you must stay in the city of Bern to get to the Jungfrau region. You must first travel to the town of Interlaken and change to a separate train that will take you in and out of the Jungfrau region. Keep in mind that this train will split, and half of the train will go to Lauterbrunnen on one side of the mountain trio (in the middle) and the other half of the train will go to Grindelwald on the other side.
Once inside the Jungfrau, you will find majestic mountains, alpine meadows, classic Swiss chalets, rural farms, dairy cows, gushing waterfalls, soaring cable cars, a historic cogwheel train and endless breathtaking views. Here are some fun things to know about some of these small Jungfrau towns.
Towns in the Jungfrau
- Interlaken: is known as the gateway to the Jungfrau region and is not technically in the Jungfrau or in the mountains. Interlaken sits between the two beautiful lakes of Brienz and Thun. This is the largest town closest to the Jungfrau region and is often full of tourists in the summer months.
- Wilderswil: is a very small traditional Bernese village in a rural setting. It is the first town in the Jungfrau after departing Interlaken and is a great place to access the Schynige Platte mountain excursion.
- Lauterbrunnen: The view you see as you walk up the valley from the train station is the view that greeted a 19-year-old J.R.R. Tolkien who visited the Lauterbrunnen Valley in 1911. He sketched the valley and it later became the inspiration for Rivendell.
- Stechelberg: is a tiny village at the end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and at the base of the Schwarzmönch mountain. Just before reaching Stechelberg you can take a cable car up to Mürren and the top of the Schilthorn mountain.
- Mürren: is perched high on a shelf at the foot of the Schilthorn mountain. It is a charming car-free mountain village with breathtaking panoramic views. Mürren is the highest, continually inhabited village settlement in the canton of Bern and at an elevation of 1650 meters.
- Wengen: is a car-free holiday resort that lies on a wind-protected sun terrace at the foot of the Jungfrau, 400 meters above the Lauterbrunnen valley at an altitude of 1274 meters. This region boasts some of the most beautiful vantage points of the Jungfrau region, including impressive views of the rock massif of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
- Kleine Scheidegg: There are some small hotels and restaurants here, but mainly this is a hub for hiking trails and the railway station for trains coming from Grindelwald, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken. It is where tourists change to a train specifically going up to the Jungfraujoch.
- Grindelwald: is in a lush green valley surrounded by the north face of the Eiger mountain and the Wetterhorn mountain. Grindelwald is one of the most popular excursion destinations in Switzerland and has the largest ski resort in the Jungfrau region.
The Jungfrau region is a special place to visit and the best time of the year is from June to September. Of course, this Jungfrau area is best known for endless hiking trails crisscrossing the whole region. Be sure to read about our 5 Best Day Hikes in the Jungfrau region. We also offer many great hikes and excursions on Alpenwild’s Best of the Swiss Alps tour and our Exploring the Jungfrau tour.