Visiting Jungfraujoch with a dog

A Doggie Day Out: Visiting Jungfraujoch with a Dog

A visit to Jungfraujoch is one of the highlights of a trip to Switzerland. This saddle high up in the Swiss Alps, dubbed the “top of Europe” and home to year-round snow cover, is easily reached by anyone thanks to a crazily-constructed rack railway tunnelled through the mountains. That anyone includes dogs, who are allowed on the railway and inside most parts of the facilities at the top. (What else would you expect in dog-friendly Switzerland?) Find out everything you need to know about visiting Jungfraujoch with a dog.

Should You Take Your Dog Up Jungfraujoch?

There are two main reservations that some people have about taking a dog up Jungfraujoch: the altitude and the cold.

Schnitzel at the Sphinx Observatory
Schnitzel at the Sphinx Observatory, at an even higher altitude of 3571m

The altitude of Jungfraujoch is 3466m above sea level. In particular, it’s a large climb up from Grindelwald, down in the valley, which lies only at 1034m. This means that it’s possible to suffer from altitude sickness. For humans, this means taking it easy and trying to not over-exert yourself, particularly if you notice that you’re easily out of breath. This varies between everyone, with many people not affected, but some affected.

With your dog, they can’t tell you if they’re affected, in which case you should keep a close eye on them. If they seem reluctant to be active, take it easy with them and consider returning sooner rather than later down the mountain.

Path to Mönchsjochhütte
Pathway through the snow to Mönchsjochhütte, an optional but fun activity

When it comes to cold, some dogs from places that experience a cold winter will already be used to cold temperatures and snow on the ground. But if you come from a warm place (for instance, Sydney, like I do), snow and such cold weather could be quite a surprise for your dog. Most dogs should be fine to cope (for instance, in cold places most dogs still don’t wear jackets), but do take a jacket or jumper and bootees for your dog if you are concerned. If they’re small, picking them up and cuddling them into you can help them warm up quickly.

Our dog Schnitzel seemed to not be affected by the altitude. And while when we first headed outside he seemed unhappy with the cold (although that could have also been the wind), when we later went for a hike he seemed fine. I was mainly concerned with his feet getting cold (he had on a jacket), so I occasionally picked him up and warmed up his feet. We also took along a towel for him in case we needed to dry him off or wrap him up. Plus as we had carried him in his carrier bag, he had his blanket inside of that.

The Cost of Taking Your Dog Up Jungfraujoch

As the tickets to go up Jungfraujoch for humans are quite expensive, it’s a pleasant surprise that it’s free for small dogs and not too expensive for larger dogs.

Railway to Kleine Schiedegg
The railway up to Kleine Schiedegg is free for all dogs

The train to go up Jungfreaujoch has two parts to it. Firstly, there’s the regular railway from Interlaken Ost to Kleine Scheidegg, via either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. You’ll need to change trains at either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. Plus, it’s possible to start your journey from one of the intervening stations. (I started from Grindelwald Grund, near where we were staying, where there’s also a large carpark.) To take this section of the railway, it is completely free for all dogs. For a full list of the free routes, click here.

Schnitzel on Jungfrau Railway
Schnitzel in his carrier bag on the Jungfrau Railway

Next there’s the actual Jungfrau Railway in between Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch. This section is free for small dogs, up to 30cm shoulder height, that are in a crate or other suitable container. (This is how we transported Schnitzel, like we have on many other railway journeys.) For larger dogs, there’s a set fee of 35 CHF. It sounds expensive, but it’s far cheaper than the regular adult prices on the journey.

Why You Should Buy the Good Morning Ticket

About those expensive prices to get up Jungfraujoch. As my husband and I didn’t have a Swiss Rail Pass or similar, we were faced with paying about 190 CHF per person to travel from Grindelwald up to Jungfraujoch and back. This price varies during the year (when we were visiting in late August, it was more expensive than during the off-peak period), plus also varies slightly depending on where you start and end the journey.

 

On the Jungrau Railway
Heading up the Jungrau Railway just after leaving Kleine Scheidegg

To save a large amount of money, we elected to buy the Good Morning Ticket. This saved us about 30% off the regular ticket price, about 120 CHF combined. This ticket is available between May and October, when tickets are more expensive.

To buy the Good Morning Ticket, you need to go via a special link on the Jungfrau website. There are two conditions to the ticket. Firstly, you need to catch one of the first two trains up from Kleine Scheidegg, at 8:00am or 8:30am. If leaving from Interlaken Ost, the connecting trains leave at 6:35am and 7:05am. Secondly, the last train you can leave from Jungfraujoch is at 1:13pm. (You are however able to pause for awhile at Kleine Scheidegg on your return journey.)

Kleine Scheidegg
Kleine Scheidegg in the afternoon sunshine on our return journey

If you’re worried about not getting on the required train, you can also reserve a seat on the Jungfrau Railway section. This means that you have priority of boarding the train. This costs an extra 5 CHF per person per trip (or 10 CHF return). My husband and I paid for this, but on the day we visited in late August the trains weren’t full. But we did cut it fine getting on that return 1:13pm train!

On top of Jungfraujoch
It was easy to take photos at the Sphinx Observatory early in the morning without the crowds

The other advantage of the Good Morning Ticket? You get to explore Jungfraujoch without crowds of people. In particular, it was excellent being the first people on the Sphinx Observatory viewing platform. Plus, when we went for our glacier hike (more below), the snow was still firm and easy to walk on.

What to do at Jungfraujoch

Part of the experience of visiting Jungfraujoch is the train ride itself. The sections of the railway heading up to Kleine Scheidegg are very scenic. And while much of the Jungfrau Railway journey is in a tunnel, there is a stop along the way at the Eismeer station to view a glacier, plus it is amazing to realise the tunnel and railway was constructed over 100 years ago, cutting through these huge mountains.

Hills above Grindelwald
Views from the train above Grindelwald
Selfie on top of Jungfraujoch
Taking selfies at the Sphinx Observatory

At the top, I recommend firstly heading to the Sphinx Observatory viewing platform. There’s an elevator to take you up, to an even more impressive 3571m above sea level. You’ll have some of the most impressive views of the Aletsch Glacier and the surrounding peaks of Jungfrau and Mönch. And if it’s chilly, it’s easy to head back inside behind the glass walls.

Exploring the Ice Palace
Exploring the Ice Palace with Schnitzel
Sculptures inside the Ice Palace
Sculptures inside the Ice Palace

Next up I recommend the Ice Palace (free for all visitors). Walk carefully through the tunnels constructed in ice, with ice sculptures and great photo opportunities along the way. It’s least slippery first thing in the morning, though there are handrails to hold onto the whole way. We weren’t sure how our dog would handle the ice, but I think his claws made it a lot easier for him.

Looking back at Jungfraujoch
Looking back at Jungfraujoch, with the Snow Fun Park just below the rocky outcrop

Just after the Ice Palace is a small area where you can head out onto the snow. However, there’s a far larger area accessible near the Sphinx Observatory elevator, at the Snow Fun Park. Here you’ll have the opportunity to ski, snowboard, ride on a sledge or snow tube, or ride a zipline. All activities cost extra, with the option of purchasing an all-day pass or paying for individual rides. On the day I visited it was closed in the morning (I’m not sure why), but opened by lunchtime when we were departing. However, if you’re visiting with a dog, I recommend bypassing the fun park and instead hiking to Mönchsjochhütte.

Hiking to Mönchsjochhütte

The highlight of our visit to Jungfraujoch, other than the amazing views from everywhere of the surrounding mountains, was hiking to Mönchsjochhütte. It’s the highest altitude serviced hut in Switzerland, at 3650m altitude (so, yes, you’ll be hiking up hill). The hike is listed at taking about 45 minutes, but I recommend allowing 1 hour each way if you’re not used to walking in the snow. There’s a couple of handy markers along the way letting you know how much further it is to the beer at the hut!

Hiking to Mönchsjochhütte
Hiking to Mönchsjochhütte with Schnitzel

If hiking this trail, it’s best to head up Jungfraujoch early in the morning, using a Good Morning ticket. When we hiked the trail around 9:30am, it was still fresh and firm. This in particular made it easy for our dog, Schnitzel, who at only 5kg, barely left a dent in the snow. We were worried about how he would manage, but it seemed easier for him than us pair of snow-newbies. However, by the time we returned, the snow was already softening in the sun, and would have been tough if we were heading up hill.

View from Mönchsjochhütte
Beautiful views from Mönchsjochhütte

Along the way and once you get to the hut, there’s some more beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. It’s also a lot quieter and more serene than at Jungfraujoch itself. Fortunately there’s no restrictions on dogs entering the dining room. While it’s a bit early for lunch if you need to return using a Good Morning ticket, it’s a great spot for a scenic coffee or beer, plus to warm up in the cosy interior. Schnitzel was happy to snuggle up inside his carrier bag with his blanket!

Schnitzel warming up
Schnitzel warming up inside Mönchsjochhütte

Food and Beverages at Jungfraujoch

Just like everywhere in Switzerland, dining out is not cheap at Jungfraujoch. As we were leaving early and missing the normal breakfast hours at our B&B, our host kindly packed us breakfast, which ended up being large enough for lunch, too. Alternatively, I would recommend packing your own food, courtesy of the Coop supermarkets the day before.

Restaurant options at Jungfraujoch include the Crystal restaurant, a self-service restaurant, a Bollywood-themed Indian restaurant and a simple cafe. However, I do believe dogs are not allowed in most of these venues. In contrast, dogs are fine in the dining room at Mönchsjochhütte.

My Verdict?

Visiting Jungfraujoch was a great experience, and we loved being able to share it with our dog, Schnitzel, especially the hike to Mönchsjochhütte. It’s a fun adventure, in particular if you haven’t often visited ski fields and experienced snow before.

Just one extra tip: it’s best to leave buying tickets to the day before. Wait and see what the weather forecast is like, as it’s not worthwhile spending so much money if it’s going to be cloudy with low visibility. Luckily the forecast was good for us, and the day was beautifully sunny and clear.

Have you visited Jungfraujoch with your dog? Let me know your experience below!

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