Wengen is an attractive, traditional, car-free Swiss village, on a gently sloping shelf beneath the legendary Jungfrau and Eiger mountains. Family oriented and a firm favourite among British skiers, many of whom return year after year, Wengen has some of the best views in the Alps.
Wengen is a traditional Swiss village that is seamlessly lift-linked with neighbouring Grindelwald, and also has a rather more complicated railway and cable-car link with Murren, to form the mid-sized Jungfrau ski area. The awe-inspiring Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains form a stunning backdrop to the slopes, but the runs above Wengen are surprisingly mild: even the the resort’s famous Lauberhorn World Cup downhill course is not as testing as you might expect (if taken at normal speed).
The skiing therefore best suits relaxed skiers who want to enjoy a quintessential Swiss winter holiday, and value spending some of their time on the mountain eating, drinking, chatting, soaking up the sunshine and admiring the views, rather than relentlessly ‘piste-bashing’ all day. Advanced skiers who want a challenge should hire a guide and explore the off-piste, or make the time-consuming journey over to Murren which has steeper runs. Beginners have nursery slopes in the village and higher up the mountain, accessed on a cheaper pay-per-lift basis. The local ski school and private instructors have a good reputation, particularly for teaching children.
Snow quality can be a concern at the start or end of the season. At 1275m above sea level, Wengen is not very high; Grindelwald is even lower at 1035m; and very few of the slopes they share are above 2000m. Murren, across the valley, has higher and more snowsure runs, but it is not a trip you will want to do every day.
Skiing, however, is only part of the reason to come to Wengen. Nestling on the mountainside above the Lauterbrunnen Valley, this old farming village is a charming mix of large Victorian-era hotels and traditional chalets, some of which have been sensitively divided into apartments. Most have stunning views. Wengen is car-free apart from taxis, which makes getting to Wengen more difficult, but adds to its ambience. This partly explains its enduring appeal to families, some of whom have been coming to Wengen for generations. A few may be members of the historic Downhill Only Club, honouring the first British visitors who persuaded the railway company to keep the trains running in winter, thus providing them with a means of getting to the slopes without having to walk up – something we can all be thankful for.