Wengen ski resort
Beautiful scenery and excellent runs for all abilities intertwine to make the idyllic resort of Wengen one of the best all-round ski destinations in the world.
Firstly, there’s the dramatic Alpine scenery of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, which is almost enough to distract your attention from the slopes; then there’s the traditional Swiss village feel with a cog train line the only way to access the resort (cars are banned and must be parked in the valley below). And lastly, there’s the giant Jungfrau ski region on the doorstep linking Wengen’s Kleine Scheidegg / Männlichen ski area to that of its neighbours Grindelwald and Mürren, which together offer a plethora of slopes for all standards.
It’s hard to believe that Wengen is in fact one of the world’s earliest purpose-designed mountain holiday villages, growing up largely in the 19th-century, with Lord Byron an early visitor 190 years ago.
After the arrival of the railway in the 1880s, more than 30 hotels were built over the subsequent 20 years, and it has continued to grow (slowly) ever since. But for all its ongoing modernisation, Wengen still has that magical feel, and the trains still chug through like clockwork.
Wengen is located in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, in the canton of Bern in south-central Switzerland.
On the slopes
Wengen’s ski area is located on the surrounding slopes of Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg, which it shares with Grindelwald. The regional Jungfrau pass covers all lifts in this area, as well as those at the separate First ski area above Grindelwald, and at Mürren, a train ride down and then up the valley on the other side. This train line continues up to Europe’s highest railway station, Jungfraujoch, where there’s year-round snow but no piste back down from the top.
The slopes at Kleine Scheidegg are reached by train (a 25-minute journey that, except for upgraded rolling stock, has changed little for skiers in 80 years), or by cable car from the village, which takes only five minutes. Both options open up all kinds of exciting terrain and great routes down to Grindelwald and back to Wengen.
Whilst the whole area is open to intermediate skiers, beginners will find good nursery slopes right in the centre of the village. More experienced skiers will wish to pay homage to the legendary Lauberhorn racecourse, where the famous downhill race is staged each January – as it has been since 1930. The course is one of the longest – at 4.5km (2 miles) – and toughest, descending over 1,000m (3,280ft). Before and after the skiing race, the downhill piste is open to the public.
Thanks to improved snowmaking capacity in recent years, snow in Wengen is relatively reliable, and the ski season here usually runs from early December to mid-April.