With just two nights available to us in Lauterbrunnen, I think doing both Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch isn't feasible. Which one should we choose? Or are they both not to be missed?
I chose to do neither when I was there, so I can't give you a comparison. I can say that I had a wonderful time and did not feel like I had missed out because there were so many other (less expensive) things to do. I do know that you want to check weather before you commit to either to make sure you are not paying to climb up for a lovely view of a cloud.
The Jungfraujoch is spectacular but it is expensive and time-consuming to reach. The Schilthorn is less expensive, less time-consuming, and a little less spectacular (but still lots of wow!). Keep in mind you'll only get your money's worth if the weather is clear.
I'm glad I did the Jungfraujoch but I would not do it again. It's about 4 hours round-trip, time which I would much rather spend on a glorious hiking trail.
I've been to the Schilthorn three times and was always glad to be there, but so far have not taken the longer trip to Jungfraujoch.
With only 2 nights (and 1 full day) you'll have plenty to see and do without doing either of these trips. But if you just absolutely must choose 1 then go for the Schilthorn. You'll get to see Murren and Gimmelwald on this trip as the gondola for the Schilthorn (Schilthornbahn) passes through both those villages. Get off, explore the town, and get back on to continue your ride to the top.
Two nights in Lauterbrunnen will only provide one full travel day, so it's unlikely you'll be able to do both. Both are spectacular but unique, and given the short time frame my suggestion would be to take the trip to the Schilthorn as it's both shorter and cheaper than the Jungrfraujoch. That will also allow you a short time to have a look around Gimmelwald and Mürren as they're on the same side of the valley.
A few thoughts on each.....
- While either of those sites can be socked in with bad weather, the Schilthorn is more tolerable in bad conditions. The Schilthorn is somewhat "famous" as it was partially used in the filming of the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service several years ago starring George Lazenby and Diana Rigg. While there you can have a "Martini shaken not stirred" in the James Bond Bar, tour the James Bond exhibits (which I believe have been renovated since my last visit), enjoy a fine meal in the revolving restaurant while (hopefully) watching the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau glide by the windows, or admire the fantastic scenery from the patio and watch the Paragliders launching.
- Much of the Jungfraujoch is inside the mountain, so bad weather doesn't affect that part, and you could tour the ice caves and other attractions there. However, if you want to enjoy the scenery by venturing out on the glacier or enjoying the view from the Sphinx Observatory, that will be a problem in bad weather. Especially with the Jungfraujoch, it's advisable to check the weather forecast before you go, and even then there are no guarantees that the weather at the top will be the same as the valley (that was the case last time I was there).
They're both first class attractions and if you have the time and money you should do both. The Schiltorn is mostly a mountain-top panorama attraction, Jungfrau is mostly an engineering marvel/glacier experience. If had to choose just one it would be Jungfrau. While it takes longer to get to the top and is more expensive, it also has more to do. In addition to the commanding views of the glacier valley at the very top, you can also walk on the glacier where their are activities like a zip-line and mini-luge. Then you can take the elevator down and walk inside that glacier and explore the ice-gallery, the network of tunnels in the complex also have lots of exihibts about the region. Hard to put into words but Jungfrau seems more "Mount Everest" to me.
I totally agree with Michael's advice.
Well, yes, I would recommend doing both also...but not with only 1 full day. There's so much beauty in villages and in the valley to take in that to do ALL of that in 1 day just means you're gonna be sitting on the train all day.
Thank you everyone for your replies so far. I'm trying to maximize my time here. We'll be in Switzerland the last week of August and we have the Swiss Travel Pass. Is this a feasible option?
We'll be coming from Zermatt to Lauterbrunnen our first day. If we leave Zermatt early enough we could be in Lauterbrunnen in the early afternoon. We have two nights booked in Lauterbrunnen. When we leave there we're heading to Lausanne for two nights (hotel bought and paid for and cannot be changed). But we could leave Lauterbrunnen later in the day if necessary, as one full day in the Lausanne region will be fine.
So I'm thinking that gives us the possibility of two half days and one full day of touring the Berner Oberland area. Obviously everything will depend upon the weather. But assuming it is clear, if we plan on our full day for Jungfraujoch Is a half day enough time to do Schilthorn? And if yes, better to do Schilthorn in the afternoon when we arrive or in the early morning before we leave?
Schiltorn is better in the mornings. Most afternoons the clouds start to roll in making visibility poor.
There is absolutely so much to see and soak up in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Stechelberg, and the surrounding alpine villages of Murren, Gimmelwald and Wengen you just absolutely do not need to bother with the Jungfrau. Of course it's totally up to you, but the Jungfrau is a long long train ride up to the top of the glacier. With 3 full days I would suggest "perhaps" the Jungfrau, but it's so high up and away from the idyllic alpine villages it's just not going to be what you expect. And there will be LOTS and LOTS of tour groups packed onto the Jungfrau train. I'm just afraid you're going to miss what you came here to see - Swiss Alpine life with glass of wine/beer, rosti with vegetables at the Stager Stubli, meandering down the path from Murren to Gimmelwald, stopping to admire the wildflower in total bloom and the cows/sheep/goats and their tinkling/clanging bells. The sights from the Jungfrau are far and wide on a clear day, but the Jungfrau is TOURIST CENTRAL! I'm there every year with a small group of high school students, and honestly the pushing and shoving and elbowing of some of the ethnic groups that visit this area in full force is becoming quite overwhelming.
And there will be LOTS and LOTS of tour groups packed onto the
Not So. The tour groups have their own dedicated trains/cars which they reserve ahead of time. Independent travelers are not effected by any kind of "overcrowding".
pushing and shoving and elbowing of some of the ethnic groups that
visit this area in full force is becoming quite overwhelming.
That somebody needs to point out/is bothered by non-Caucasian tour groups tells you all you need to know about his advice. When traveling through Europe, I and most all others don't arrange itineraries based on the ethnic make-up of other travelers.
"Independent travelers are not effected by any kind of "overcrowding"."
That hasn't been my experience. The last time I travelled on the Jungfraujoch, it was VERY crowded. I don't know if they were a tour group or otherwise, but the cars were extremely crowded just the same.
As you may be aware, your Swiss Pass does not cover the full fare to the Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn, so you'll have to budget for the extra costs.
If you are willing to be a very early riser for your full day, I recommend doing the Good Morning Ticket to the Jungfraujoch. You have to leave Kleine Scheidegg by 8 or 8:30 which means leaving Lauterbrunnen earlier than that. Not only is it less crowded, there used to be very significant price discount and the weather is more likely to be favorable early in the day. You have to take the train back down no later than 1pm, but that will be plenty of time.
Well, I would suggest neither! But, I have been to neither so I guess I'm not a good judge. But, the whole area is so amazing/ stunning that I would instead use my time to go up to Murren by gondola then take the Allmendhubel funicular up higher and hike from there. You can hike for hours slowly coming down the mountain with views to die for. You will hike among the cows with their bells ringing, smell the grass and alp air and just leisurely enjoy your day. We hiked not that far below the Schilthorn, and didn't feel the need to go all the way up. If I had a ton of money and time I'm sure I'd go, but it is so amazing doing what we did I didn't feel at all cheated that we chose not to. We have been to the Berner Oberland twice and still would repeat the same hikes we have done before and likely wouldn't go to the top unless I had lots of time and cash.
OK, Michael, what are you trying to imply with this: "That somebody needs to point out/is bothered by non-Caucasian tour groups tells you all you need to know about his advice."
I think what we're dancing around, and let's just say it because Rick does, the Jungfrau has become very popular with Indian tourists because it features in a lot of Bollywood films. And perhaps they are mostly package tours so they can be, like more tours, a bit overwhelming with a move-aside-we're-coming-through attitude. Who hasn't ever seen that in any museum or cathedral we've visited? Heck, I ran into that with a Japanese tour group on the streets of Banff that was hell-bent on their destination and taking no prisoners.
Anyhow, back to the movie - I too was conflicted between Jungfrau or Schilthorn, I did a lot of tour book reading and also video watching (besides Rick's shows, Youtube is full of people who have posted their home movies). I decided that since I had only one day, the Schilthorn was a better choice and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are lots of webcams and forecasting sites so it's easy now to determine if your chosen day is the right one. Be aware that the spinning restaurant, like the rest of Switzerland, is crazy expensive for what you get (aside from the view).
As noted, you'll also be passing through most of the little villages that are recommended stopovers in the BO so it maximizes your travel time. Get off at the cable car at Murren and either bike, hike or take the other train down to Lauterbrunnen.
there is lots of good tips here already and you might be confused. You will want to stay longer. Have a look at the web cams for each eg. [Jungfrau Web cam] and Schilthorn webcam. The weather is what needs to help you decide. The forecasts can be bot right ie, cloudy in Lauterbrunnen but mostly clear up top.
For sure the Jungfrau is a full day and stopping off at Kleine Scheidegg is a must and a walk around for an hour before heading down and then a walk around Wengen for an hour or laze in the afternoon sun taking in the vie from the station before continuing down.
I would pick Jungfrau over Schilthorn, there is more to see, if you can only choose one. If you arrive early afternoon it could be too rushed and cloudy up Schilthorn - suggest you stay another day. Rick Steves recommends '3 days: Berner Oberland ' and "For a short trip of a week or so, I’d just focus on the Berner Oberland, Luzern, and Bern." Ricks"s notes
Tip: stay longer :)