Engelberg is one of the great ski resorts of the Alps for many reasons – some everyone agrees on, others mean more to some skiers and boarders than others.
First for many is the huge lift-served vertical of 2,000m – that’s one of the very biggest in the world. What’s more, ascending it is quicker and easier than most of the few areas than can offer a comparable vert. A fast, modern gondola connects with the amazing Rotair, a revolving cable car to whisk you to the top of this huge descent in just a few minutes
Then there is the snow security with year-round snow on the Titlis glacier at up to 3,020m above sea level. But not just that; Engelberg has its own microclimate which reliably delivers above-average snowfall each winter. So much so, in fact, that (and this is reason number three) the resort is regarded as a freeride powder paradise, revered for its fabulous off-piste descents.
All this snow delivers reason four – one of the world’s longest ski seasons, and the longest winter season in Switzerland, from October until May with an average of 220 days in total.
Engelberg: The Resort
Engelberg is an atmospheric destination, many of the buildings dating back to the stylish Belle Époque era, with a long history and rich traditions. It also has an international side to it, not only attracting big mountain fans from all over the world each winter, but also being a place where people have arrived from outside and settled for centuries.
Food choices are a big part of the village with a great range of establishments and flavours on offer to suit all tastes and styles.
There’s also a huge variety of accommodation to choose from, including apartments, bed and breakfasts, and hotels.
The village has a fairly compact heart to it, with everything you need on your holiday pretty close by and within walking distance, including the base of the ski lifts, but there’s also a free shuttle bus around the town centre.
Engelberg: The Slopes
Engelberg’s ski statistics are impressive, but besides that very long season, very snow-safe glacier slopes and huge lift-served vertical, we have not yet mentioned the very long descents – up to 12km from top to bottom (That is 2000 verticals from the glacier to the village!). Once you’ve done a few laps on that, perhaps the 1,500m vertical descent from Jochstock could be next?
In truth, there’s something for every type of skier or boarder here with pistes on both sides of the valley, the highest at Titlis and the sunniest at Brunni. About a quarter of the terrain is rated easy, a little over half intermediate cruising and the remaining 20% of runs are blacks, before we start to include the abundant freeride terrain. The slopes of Titlis are known worldwide for the numerous off-piste runs, and it is the place to be for all freeriders, with Brunni a family favourite.
Engelberg: Off The Slopes
Besides downhill slopes, Engelberg is home to 37km of cross-country trails. You can also swap skinny skis for winter hiking boots and enjoy 53km of signposted winter hiking trails. Toboggan runs are always fantastic fun, and Engelberg has three of them with a combined length of 7km. They are floodlit on Fridays and Saturdays between Christmas and early March for extra après-ski fun.
You can, of course, visit Titlis without planning to ski or board. There are spectacular views out over the Bernese Alps as far as Germany’s Black Forest from here, as well as some nerve-challenging ways to see them, perhaps from the Titlis Cliff Walk or the high-altitude pedestrian suspension bridge – Europe’s highest at 3,041m? If it all gets too much, though, you can always venture back indoors into the glacier cave.
Back down in the village, the Benedictine monastery, founded more than 900 years ago, is still a very important part of the community with monks still living, working and teaching there. And it welcomes visitors; they even brew their own beer.
Families are especially well looked after in Engelberg, with the resort holding the “Families Welcome” seal of quality, which guarantees a particularly strong offer for children.
If you can face taking a day away from the enticing slopes, or perhaps you have a non-skier in your group, the resort is just a short distance from Lucerne, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, situated on Lake Lucerne just 25km away.
Engelberg: Easy To Reach, Hard To Leave
Engelberg is one of the quickest and easiest major winter resorts to reach. It’s just an hour from Zurich if you’re driving, and even from the airport the trip by train can be made within two hours. There are loads of flights to Zurich from early morning to late evening, thanks to its status as a global financial hub, so you could take a morning flight and be on the mountain for lunch, and similarly, you can ski until late afternoon and still get back to the UK in the evening. This also makes it a brilliant choice for short ski or snowboarding breaks.
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