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Wengen, Switzerland

Charming village, stunning views and extensive intermediate terrain.

Given the charm of the village, the friendliness of the locals and the drama of the scenery, it’s easy to see why some people – including numbers of middle-aged people who have been going for decades – love Wengen. But non-devotees should think carefully about the lack of challenge, the unreliable snow and the dependence on cog railways before signing up.

The last of these drawbacks is slightly less serious than it was. The avalanches of 1999 had one happy outcome: the new station of the Männlichen cable car has been built in the heart of the village, where it is not only less vulnerable to avalanche but also much more convenient. Of course, the cable car is now more popular, and gets lines. So those willing to gear their holiday activities to timetables – or to accept half-hour waits for trains – will still mainly rely on the railway. The rest of us will go probably elsewhere.

What’s Great

  • Some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps
  • Traditional, ‘traffic-free’ Alpine village, reached only by cog railway
  • Lots of long, gentle runs, ideal for intermediates, linked to Grindelwald
  • Rebuilt cable-car now an attractive alternative to trains up to the slopes
  • Beginner slopes in heart of village
  • Calm, unhurried atmosphere

What’s Not-So-Great

  • Limited terrain for experts
  • Despite some artificial help, snow conditions unreliable – especially on sunny home run and beginner slope
  • Trains to slopes from here and from Grindelwald are slow and infrequent – life revolves around timetables
  • Getting to Grindelwald’s First area can take hours
  • Subdued in the evening, with little variety of nightlife
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