I have just two nights to spend in the Swiss Alps in January, and would like to try to ride the lifts up to the Jungrau or the Schilthorn to see the views (weather permitting of course). Does anyone have a recommendation on which one I should go to? We were thinking about staying in Lauterbrunnen, so that we could make a decision first thing in the morning about which mountain to see based on the weather conditions. Does this sound like a sensible plan? Or should I stay in a more resort-like town closer to either the Schilthorn or the Jungfrau and just take my chances that it will be nice? Thanks!
As you've worked out Lauterbrunnen is the easiest to make the decision from on the day. Staying at Murren/Gimmelwald or Wengen/Grindelwald give you a head start on the Schilthorn/Jungfraujoch trips respectivly, but neither rules out changing your mind (will add 30-60 minutes to the journey each way).
Schilthorn gives 360 degree views from revoling restaurant, Jungfrujoch gives you views from the Eiger station and over the Aletsch glacier at the top. Theoretically you could do both in a day but it would be rushed and you'd probably miss the views in the afternoon - mornings are generally better viewing.
Best advice I can give is stay in Lauterbrunnen and look at the webcams in the morning (I'm pretty sure located at the train station) and choose whichever looks clearest right then. (If it's after heavy snow the Schilthorn may not run until late morning - avalanche protection for skiers)
(Personally I prefer the mountain villages, but that's not related to getting to the peaks)
This is a tough decision, they are both first rate sights. But if I had to pick one it would be the Jungfrau. Even though it's more expensive, you get more "bang" for your buck. In addition to the stunning views of the glacier valley at the top, you can also take the elevator down to the the glacier and walk on it for a bit, and then go down even further to the ice gallery inside the glacier! The train ride to the top is also amazing, its not everyday you ride through the inside of a mountain top.
A couple of more thoughts. It's a 2hr cog train up to the Jungfraujoch (highest train station in Europe) from Lauterbrunnen and a 2hr. ride down. Those crazy Swiss have bored a train tunnel right through the Eiger. You'll spend about 2 hours or so there if you visit everything and possibly have lunch. Cost of the round trip without any kind of pass is about $135-$140 depending on the exchange rate. The Shilthorn is a gondola trip all the way. You'll need to take a local bus from the Lauterbrunnen train station to the Stechelberg gondola station (runs every 30 minutes) to catch the gondola. The cost is about $90 per person for a round trip. Note that the best any Swiss pass will do is get you a 50% discount on these mountain top fares. My wife and I did both over 2 days. It was well worth it. I recommend the Hotel Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen which is about 500 feet from the train station. It was a great stay. www.silberhorn.com
Crazy Swiss? More like engineering geniuses!