“ 2,970 metre high summit in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland with views of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau „
Switzerland is expensive without question and unless money isn't an issue, you will probably find that you cannot visit everything you may want to whilst there, if you want to stick to a budget. We had planned to visit the Jungfrau whilst staying in Murren, and we knew this was going to be very very expensive, but in the end our planned took a little change.
Our host in the chalet we stayed at in Murren actually directed us toward the Schilthorn, rather than the Jungfrau. THe Jungfraujoch may be the highest train station in Europe, but it is apparently crammed full of tourists all fighting for the views. The Schilthorn on the other hand is the lesser known and quieter of the viewpoints. Rather than a train jouney to the viewpoint, you take a cable car.
Now, visiting the Schilthorn is not cheap either, and a one way ticket from Murren will cost you £90. If you have a Swiss pass you will get half price fares, which is very beneficial - so we only ended up spending £45. The jungfraujoch however is even more expensive, so as I said, unless money is in plentiful supply, you will probably have to compromise somewhere.
The cable car to the Schilthorn can be taken from Stechelberg on the valley floor, and there are many stop offs along route, so walkers can get on and off and walk various paths as they please.
Locals, as well as guide books will tell you however, that like the Jungfrau, there is no point in spending the money to travel to either of these places when the weather is cloudy or wet. You really do need a good clear day to appreciate the scenery and get your money's worth. We were extremely fortunate that whilst in Murren, the weather was extremely good and we were blessed with glorious sunshine and clear skies. Nonetheless, we were advised to travel up to the schilthorn early, just in case cloud would come in later, as the morning tended to be when it was at its clearest and best, plus it was at its quietest.
We took the 8.35 a.m. cable car up to Schilthorn and we were glad we did, because when we wer leaving, it was a lot busier. When we arrived up at the viewpoint, there were only a handful of people around, and in fact, it was so early that the gift shop wasn't even open. We of course were rewarded with wonderful clear views over the three mountains the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, as well as views over the Swiss alps, with Lake Thun clearly visible as well. THis viewpoint is panoramic and you can walk the entire way round, to view and photograph at different angles.
Now, we were concerned that it would be very cold, and had even packed our hats and gloves, however our host told us that in the summer months, when the sun is out it can actually get quite warm and she was absolutely right. You do need a coat and also plenty of sunscreen, but it really isn't necessary to have winter woolies in the summer sun.
One of the attractions, apart from the outstanding scenery on offer is the Piz Gloria, which was the setting from the James Bond film 'On your majesty's secret service'. Inside the building at the circular building, you can watch a presentation about the making of the film on the schilthorn and the surrounding mountains. Bond fans will also love the revolving restaurant, where even the coffee cups carry the James Bond 007 number and logo. For those not interested in Bond, then just enjoy a cup of coffee or morning breakfast, as the restaurant revolves giving you the complete panorama, however you need to sit on a table beside the window, which is the only level of the restaurant that revolves.
A small gift shop is also within the Piz GLoria building, although it does not open until later in the morning. You can pick up a few souvenirs and plenty of Bond themed tacky gifts as well.
All in all, this trip to the Schilthorn worked well for us for several reasons: it was cheaper than the Jungfraujoch but still with outstanding views, it was closer to Murren than the Jungfraujoch (which is closer to Wengen), it is linked to the Bond films (my husband is a big James Bond fan) and we simply loved it all and felt it was worth every penny. So before you head straight for the Jungfraujoch, take a minute to consider the cheaper, but equally stunning Schilthorn