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Wengen, Switzerland, Bernese Oberland

ABOVE: Wengen, with the Männlichen in the background..

"Wengen, situated amidst meadows dotted with trees, below the precipitous Tschuggen, with a view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and of the Jungfrau and other mountains to the S., is much visited as a health-resort and for winter-sports."

So said Karl Baedeker in the 1911 edition of his Switzerland guidebook, which went on to list some two dozen hotels (a few of which are still in business under their original names). Wengen, like other villages in the Jungfrau district, has been popular with English-speaking tourists for at least 150 years, and it's hard to imagine a better location for an alpine holiday.

For starters, Wengen is a car-free resort. The only vehicles on the roads are farmers' tractors and the motorized carts that deliver goods to hotels and shops from the container terminal in the Wengernalp Bahn's railroad station. That's probably just as well, because the scenery is so spectacular that you could step in front of a car while gazing up at the surrounding alps or peering into the Lauterbrunnen Valley, more than 1,500 feet (474m) below.

Although Wengen is one of Switzerland's premiere ski resorts (and host of the famed Lauberhorn ski race), it's even more appealing when the mountain slopes turn green, cows graze in the high meadows, and walkers can enjoy the vast network of well-marked hiking paths that connect Wengen with other villages in the region.

For example, the hike from Wengen to Grindelwald takes only a few hours--and you can stop at Kleine Scheidegg for lunch or a snack along the way. What's more, if you get blisters, you can always catch the next train, since the WAB's cogwheel locomotives cover the route between Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, and Grindelwald at least twice an hour during the main summer tourist season.

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