Skiing Switzerland’s slopes

By Elloise Bennett

When I picture Switzerland in the wintertime I see: Towering mountaintops. White slopes with slashes of trees and rock. Little houses dotting the landscape. Cowbells echoing across the valley. Villages with twinkling lights. Smoke coming from the chimney tops. People stepping oddly in their ski boots. Sound blanketed by the snow.

Where can you get all of those within a few feet from your hotel door AND fantastic ski options?

The answer: Wengen.

But don’t tell! You’ll ruin the charm of it!

Wengen is an amazing spot. It has a picturesque feel to it that comes only from the sense of small town, the sense of separation from the rest of the world.

It sits on sloping mountains above Interlaken and in one of the valleys of the Jungfrau region. The great setting, the views, and the more than 200 miles of ski slopes make it an ideal location for skiers. It is some of the best skiing in the world. In fact, every January for the last 82 years, the World Cup Downhill Ski Race has been held on one of the nearby slopes, the Lauberhornrennen.

Some of us don’t ski – and since I factor into that section of the population, I totally get that a perfect ski location has to offer something for everyone. And once again, Wengen is going to be the champion!

There are adorable shops to wonder through. There are cozy cafes to have some mushroom cheese fondue or a tall glass of frosty beer. There are walking routes to follow through the woods. The hotels make you feel like you are stepping into another era – one where F. Scott Fitzgerald may just come through the door, brushing off snow from his collar and offering to have a drink with you by the fire. Make sure to have lunch at Da Sina’s – their fondue is self-proclaimed as the best in town… and they are right! Pair it with a nice bottle of Swiss Fendant wine and you are set!

And if you feel more adventurous, go for a paragliding trip through the icy valley!

To reach Wengen you have to go by train – the closest that you can get with a car is the town of Lauterbrunnen (about 20 minutes by train from Interlaken). From Lauterbrunnen, everyone who wants to access Wengen goes by a cog-wheel train that runs like good Swizz clockwork every 20 minutes up the mountain. It’s part of why this charming town can stay so charming – no cars! Only residents of the town and the hotels are allowed vehicles, and even those are almost all electric.

But what is also fun is to take the cog-wheel train further up the mountain! Whether you are heading up for a day of skiing or because you just want to see the views — the train ride from Wengen up to the next mountain outpost of Kleine Scheidegg is breathtaking. For a fun day, take the train from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg, and then onward to Grindelwald. Make sure to sit by the window – and from Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald, in the section of the train that has a glass roof! From the warmth and comfort of the train you see skiers flying past only a few feet from you, sheer cliffs, beautiful vistas, and the gleaming blue ice of the glaciers of Jungfrau.

For those with no fear of heights, take the train from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch itself – This station dating back to 1912 is not for nothing called the Top of Europe! Have a hot chocolate there to help handle the wind and cold.

Tip

: Switzerland is expensive! So make sure to save where you can! One way to do that is to be smart about riding the Swiss trains. Visit

https://www.swisstravelsystem.ch/en/

for information about transfer tickets from airport to mountains, or trains to mountains. Up front it may look more expensive, but it will save you in the long run!

Where to stay?

All the hotels of the village are charming and beautiful. But the best of them all is the Hotel Belvedere. Located just off the main street, this hotel has an interior that is beautiful and charming and cozily welcoming. Whether sitting in the bar enjoying a drink and gazing through the windows up at the Jungfrau, or dining in the restaurant, this is a place where you can easily while away a week under the care of the friendly staff.

The Hotel Belvedere is class and charm all rolled into one. And it’s also family friendly – with lots of spaces like a reading room with daily international papers and card tables as well as a game room for kids. Big comfortable chairs in the lobby invite you to read or have a drink by the fireplace, and the bar is perfect in the day for the views and at night to sit and recount your ski adventures, or play a game of Scrabble with friends. Rooms are comfortable and all have great views of either up or down the mountain.

Tip

: Book your room with half-board, which includes breakfast and dinner. The Hotel Belvedere has a great dinner buffet, and this option can work out far less expensive than eating in the restaurants in town! Plus – you get to go down to dinner with dry and warm feet! Also be aware that most of the hotels only open the week or so before Christmas for the winter season.

So when looking for your next European ski break – look no further… Wengen has it all!

For more information on the region, visit:

https://www.myjungfrau.ch/en/welcome.cfm

For more information on the World Skip Cup hosted in Wengen each year:

https://www.lauberhorn.ch/en/home

Elloise Bennett is a San Diego educator and traveler. Formerly a European history teacher and school administrator at Torrey Pines High School and Canyon Crest Academy, she now teaches online classes at her alma mater, University of San Diego, School of Education and has an educational services business in Carmel Valley. Her flexible schedule allows her to travel, explore, and share those experiences with others. She has lived in San Diego, London, Johannesburg, and now splits her time between San Diego and Amsterdam. You can follow more of Elloise’s travels on

https://foundtravel.wordpress.com


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