Living in Belgium opens up a world of travel opportunities in Europe thanks to the Schengen Area, especially road trips. Being an avid traveler, I aspire to travel to Switzerland and across Europe while living here. Recently, I made a family trip to Switzerland. August is the perfect time to experience the much talked about mesmerizing Alps mountain range of Switzerland which is when we planned our trip. There are several best places to visit in Switzerland. We were very clear that we wanted to experience the original landscapes and culture of Switzerland instead of opting for a Switzerland tourist package. With this precedent, I chose to stay in small quaint villages rather than the major cities. This was also feasible because we were doing a road trip.
Our route to Switzerland was via France so we started bright and early as we had a 7-hour journey ahead of us. The drive took us through spectacular landscapes and interesting towns. After an exhilarating drive, we entered the storybook land of Switzerland. The roads unfurled before us bordered by stunning mountains and glacier-capped peaks and exquisite blue lakes of Switzerland. It literally felt like a picture out of one of the many fairy tales my little daughter loved. Mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the land, we drove through to Schubelbach, a tiny town in the countryside about 50 kilometers from Zurich.
Switzerland's Alps mountains and lush landscape are incredible for road-tripping travelers
Away from the hustle and bustle of cities, Schubelbach with its awe-inspiring natural scenery was magical. Surrounded by mountains and a lake nearby, the place where we were going to spend the next couple of days was gorgeous. This quaint town was a charming getaway and exactly the ambience we wanted to experience. Checked in and refreshed, we ventured out to explore this picturesque town. Being the countryside, there were several animal farms in the vicinity. My little daughter was super excited because the ambience was perfect for her to role play one of her favorite cartoon characters, Heidi - The Girl of the Alps. She delightfully ran around petting the farm animals that were roaming around. It was a rather adorable sight!
That's my daughter, our very own Heidi in the Alps, fascinated with the deer in the farm
We then headed to the lake nearby and what a sight it was! The ethereal turquoise lake with breathtakingly splendid landscapes all around was the perfect spot for us to relax and absorb the bounty of nature. It is said that one of the major natural features of Switzerland second of course to the mountains, are lakes. There are around 1,500 lakes in Switzerland and this lake in Schubelbach was one among them. I could only imagine how spectacular this country is with so many lakes scattered all over. Just around the corner from the lake was a beautiful park, another picturesque spot where we enjoyed a refreshing walk. What a spectacular start to our trip! Content and relaxed, we retired as we had a rather adventurous day ahead of us, the visit to Jungfrau region.
This is one of the many famous lakes in Switzerland; the perfect spot to relax and be rejuvenated
My daughter and myself enjoying the spectacular ambience of one of the parks in Schubelbach
After a rested night, we were all set for an action-packed day as we were going to Jungfrau Summit, The highest peak in Europe. The 150-kilometer drive from Schubelbach to Jungfrau region had us mesmerized and awe-struck. The vistas were unbelievably stunning with snow-covered mountains and lakes galore. We did not realize how 2 hours had gone by and we reached the base of the summit. The journey to the summit is rather adventurous and involves several modes of transport. One can drive until Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald, which are the base of the summit. Public transport is also available that reaches you there. We drove to Grindelwald where we parked our car and boarded the Jungfrau Railway to the base Jungfrau Mountains. The 15-minute Jungfrau mountain train ride from Grindelwald to Jungfrau was a fun experience taking us through the beautiful landscape.
The view from the Sphinx Observation Deck at Jungfrau Summit called for a quick photo session
Alighting from the train, we boarded the cable car which was a 26-minute ride that offers the most spectacular view of the Alps mountain range. Traveling from the bottom of the mountain to the top, we were treated to majestic mountains, incredible landscapes and sightings of wildlife. It was a fantastic experience. Hopping off the exhilarating cable car ride, we boarded a tram and at the end of a 10-minute ride, we reached our final destination - Jungfrau Summit. A word of caution when visiting Jungfrau Mountains, check Jungfraujoch weather at least a day before visiting. Pleasant weather is critical for visitors to experience the real beauty of the place. Bad weather causes cloud cover which blocks the view of the peak. We visited in August and June to August sports great weather, so our timing was perfect. After August the Jungfraujoch weather is unpredictable.
The aerial view of the Alps mountain range and the spectacular landscape below us from the cable car was astounding
On reaching the Jungfrau summit, we purchased our Jungfraujoch tickets which were around 50 Euros per person and gained access to the Jungfrau Summit where there were many exciting things to do and experience. Having seen these views and spots in James Bond movies, it was exciting to actually be there physically. Jungfrau mountain height of 13,642 feet makes it the highest peak in Europe. We soon realized that we were actually at Jungfrau "Top of Europe" and it was truly incredible. I would like to highlight here that Jungfrau Summit closes by 4.30 pm so make sure you reach early in the day to maximize your experience of this icy wonderland.
Jungfrau Mountains with the ice cave and snow all around was truly a snowy wonderland
The ambience was like a museum and we were surrounded by attractive stores with everything Swiss, not to mention the world famous Swiss chocolates. My daughter was ecstatic but honestly, we were too. After indulging in some delicious sweet treats, we headed out into the open and wandered around taking in the ambience of this winter wonderland. The Ice Palace Jungfraujoch, a highlight here, is possibly one of the most astounding places I have ever seen. The isles here are believed to be created by mountain guides in the 1930s. Over the years, ice artists have created some of the most stunning ice sculptures decorating every nook and corner of the Ice Palace. At a temperature of minus 15 degrees, some life size sculptures of animals look like real animals that have frozen! We were mesmerized by the sheer beauty and skill that this frosty world showcased.
The tunnels in the Ice Palace Jungfraujoch showcase spectacular works of artists where ice looked like polished glass
After a rather awe-inspiring experience at the Ice Palace, we headed to an equally spectacular Jungfraujoch restaurant at the summit. The restaurant is surrounded by glass offering a fantastic 360 degree view of the snow-covered Alps. It is important to note that dine-in service at restaurants here close by 1.30 pm so plan accordingly if you want a luxurious dine-in experience. Snacks and beverages are available over-the-counter until 3 pm after which no food is available. We enjoyed an exceptional meal with the most exotic view after which we descended and returned to Schubelbach. Another day well spent!
The next day, we visited Zurich City. A charming gem in its own right, there are many places to visit in Zurich. After exploring some of the notable landmarks, we headed to the famous Zurich Lake. It is a well-known picnic spot for locals and visitors alike. There are certain spots in the lake where visitors can swim. We found a sweet spot along the lake that was decorated with pebbles where we spent some time relaxing and having lunch. As we strolled along the shore, we spotted boats and cruise liners parked in the distance near some bridges. Typically people take Zurich lake cruise rides which are between 15 to 30 minutes and can also indulge in a fancy meal on the cruise. People can also hire boats individually and sail along the shoreline. Adventure junkies can indulge in kayaking, fishing and other water sports as well.
Zurich lake cruise lines and boats that take visitors on a cruise along the Zurich Lake
As the sun set, the parks near the lake came alive with music and entertainment. With different events going on in various parks, we had an opportunity to enjoy a variety of programs. The parks exuded a festive vibe which was infectious and we spent several hours indulging in the entertainment. Driving back to Schubelbach, we were reminiscing about how phenomenal the past three days have been. From skyscraping peaks and stunning glaciers to lush landscapes and piercing blue lakes, this astounding country had us captivated. We had 3 more days, there are many things to do in Switzerland. The second leg of our trip calls for another story, so here goes part 2!
How do I get to the Ice Palace in Jungfraujoch?
You can take the Jungfrau Railway from Grindelwald to Eiger Glacier station. Jungfraujoch (Europe's highest railway station) can be reached by changing to the cogwheel train here. From here you can access the Sphinx Observation Deck and below it is the Ice Palace of Jungfrau.
When is the Ice Palace - Jungfraujoch open?
Ice Palace in Jungfraujoch is open 365 days a year during the Railway operating times until 4.15 pm.
How long is the train ride from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch?
Journey time from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch on Eiger Express is about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
What is the price of a Jungfraujoch cable car?
There is no specific price just for Jungfraujoch cable car. You can opt to reach Eiger Glacier from Grindelwald through Eiger Express Cableway instead of Jungfrau Railway. Then you can connect with the Jungfraujoch train for the final leg of the journey. The total cost of the journey is about CHF 200 per adult irrespective of the mode of transport you choose.
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