Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch: What Is the Difference?

Perhaps you have heard the terms Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch and wondered whether they are the same. Some people might use the terms interchangeably, although this should not be the case. There is a difference between Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch. In fact, Jungfrau is not just a short version of Jungfraujoch.  So, what’s the difference between Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch?

You can see the panoramic map below. You will find two signs: Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch. 

Image taken from the Jungfrau Region brochure by TouringSwitzerland.com

Essentially, Jungfraujoch is not the same thing as Jungfrau. Jungfrau is a high mountain, while Jungfraujoch is the saddle between Jungfrau and Mönch. Jungfraujoch is also the location of the highest train station in Europe. Both Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch can be visited, but Jungfrau requires more experience and effort since it is an alpine trek. 

JungfrauJungfraujoch
MountainA saddle between Jungfrau and Mönch
4,158 meters high3,454 meters high
Third-highest mountain in the Bernese Alps
after Finsteraarhorn and Aletschhorn
“Top of Europe” Railway Station

Jungfrau – The Mountain

Jungfrau and Kleine Scheidegg by Brigitte from Pixabay

While Jungfrau is still quite high at 4,158 meters (or 13,642 feet), it does not top the list of Europe’s highest mountains. In fact, Jungfrau is neither Europe’s highest mountain nor Switzerland’s highest mountain. The highest mountain in Switzerland is the Dufourspitze (Monte Rosa), while the highest mountain in the Bernese Alps is the Finsteraarhorn.

Jungfrau is situated between the cantons of Bern and Valais. The Jungfrau is part of a massive wall of mountains; alongside the Eiger and Mönch, it overlooks the Bernese Oberland and the Swiss Plateau. Switzerland’s Jungfrau massif is one of its most famous sights. Moreover, the Jungfrau Region as a whole is one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist destinations.


Jungfraujoch – The Saddle

Image taken from Jungfraujoch by aranha from Pixabay

Jungfraujoch –  It is often referred to as the saddle between Jungfrau and Mönch. The word Joch in German means “ridge between two peaks.”

Railway Station – “Top of Europe”

The railway station at Jungfraujoch, on the other hand, is the highest in Europe, and never fails to market itself as such. The statement is true. With an elevation of 3,454 meters (or 11,332 feet), it is the highest railway in Europe.

Rail construction began in 1896. In 1912, the railway was officially opened after sixteen years of construction. As a tourist destination with easy train access, Jungfraujoch was given the nickname Top of Europe. This station lies just below Sphinx station and is connected to the Top of Europe building.

The Top of Europe building houses panoramic restaurants, shops, and a post office. From outside, you can also see the surrounding mountain peaks and the Aletsch Glacier. 

 In 2001, the Jungfrau was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with the Aletsch Glacier.

Image of Sphinx Observatory by Susanne Stöckli from Pixabay

Sphinx Observatory

A viewing platform of 3,572 meters (11,719 ft) height at the Sphinx Observatory is the second highest in Switzerland. It is also one of the highest astronomical observatories in the world. From the Jungfraujoch, an elevator takes you to the observatory easily. Within 25 seconds, it goes 108 meters high.

Things To Do in Jungfraujoch

Standing on Jungfraujoch, at the height of 3,454 m above sea level, will surely give you a wonderful feeling. While visiting it, you can also do the following:

  • Ice Palace – Sculptures of penguins, polar bears, and birds made of ice adorn Jungfraujoch’s Ice Palace. About 1,000 square meters of the room are covered in snow. The temperature never exceeds -2 degrees Celsius.
  • Eismeer – The Eismeer is a 5-minute stopover at the train station.
  • Alpine Sensation – The Alpine Sensation connects the Sphinx Hall and the Ice Palace. In this section, they provide an explanation of how Jungfraujoch came about.
  • Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven – The store is there to tempt you to buy Swiss chocolates.
  • Jungfrau Panorama – This provides a visual representation of what Jungfrau looks like. It’s especially useful in bad weather. Still, make sure you come on a good day.
  • Snow Fun Park – If the weather permits, there is also a snow park with a zip line.

From Jungfraujoch To Jungfrau

Jungfraujoch is the gateway to Jungfrau. However, this is not a casual undertaking. You will need to be healthy, have good equipment, and preferably an experienced guide.

Fog, storms, and strong winds can make the route to Jungfrau extremely dangerous. The situation is also quite dangerous directly after fresh snow, and artificial avalanches must be prepared before you proceed.

Mönchsjoch Hut (Mönchsjochhütte) at 3,650 meters is an ideal starting point for Jungfrau. The road from Jungfraujoch to Mönchsjoch Hut is prepared, marked, and relatively safe from March to October. It is, however, dangerous to proceed when the hut is closed. 


Jungfrau Region

Having made the distinction between Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch, it’s time to move on to the Jungfrau Region.

All of Jungfrau Region is situated around the famous trio Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. This region includes the following resorts: Wengen, Mürren, Lauterbrunnen, and Grindelwald. There is also Hasli Valley (in German, Haslital), which is a bit farther from the rest of the Jungfrau Region, but still a part of it. 

Personally, I have known people who have described it as THE most beautiful place in Switzerland. Whatever the case, the Jungfrau Region is without a doubt one of the most scenic areas in Switzerland. 


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