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Wengen is an Alpine resort in the Bernese Highlands of Switzerland. It's at 1,274 m (4,180 ft) above sea level, reached by cog railway and with no vehicle access, on the route up towards the Eiger and Jungfrau. Its permanent population is about 1300, which swells in summer to 5000 and in winter to 10,000.

Understand[edit]

The clouds rose from the opposite valley, curling up perpendicular precipices like the foam of the ocean of hell, during a spring tide -- it was white and sulphury, and immeasurably deep in appearance. - Byron visited Wengen in 1816, fleeing yet another major scandal in London

Wengen was traditionally an alpine farming village: it has summer pastures and lies on the drove trail to the higher meadows around Kleine Scheidegg. It was never a major mountain pass, as you could more easily reach Grindelwald via the valley, and the formidable trio of mountains just north are impassable. Byron, Shelley and Mendelssohn were early 19th century visitors, re-defining mountain scenery to a public that had seen it as desolate. Guest houses and hotels began to appear, but until 1890 you still had to hike up. Then the cog railway changed everything.

In the early 20th century Mürren and Wengen were pioneers of "downhill only!" - skiers could ride up on the train, with no more days spent lugging kit up the mountain just for a single ski run back to the village. Sir Henry Lunn and his son Arnold founded a ski tourism business, and lift systems and prepared trails were developed, along with a calendar of ski races both straight downhill and by slalom. The Wengen area has a long reliable snow season, and many Alpine hiking trails in summer.

The tourist info center is next to Männlichen cable car station in town centre and open daily 09:00-18:00.

Get in[edit]

Railway station and village centre

For inter-city routes, travel via Interlaken, which has trains every 30 min from Bern.

Change at Interlaken Ost for the BOB train - the Berner Oberland-Bahn. Don't get off at Interlaken West, which is town centre.

You need to be in the front portion of the BOB train. This runs every 30 min and takes 20 min via Wilderswil and Zweilütschinen (where the rear portion detaches for Grindelwald) to Lauterbrunnen. There you change to the WAB train, the little Wengernalpbahn, for the scenic 13 min journey up the mountainside to Wengen, with the last connection leaving Interlaken at 23:00. These trains continue up to Kleine Scheidegg at the top of the pass. Change there for the train which burrows through the Jungfrau to the summit station of Jungfraujoch, and for the train descending to Grindelwald. Eurail passes get you a 25% discount on the BOB and WAB trains but are not in themselves valid for travel beyond Interlaken. A Swiss Travel Pass is valid to Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald and Mürren and gets you 50% discount on the WAB trains.

1 Wengen railway station Wengen railway station on Wikipedia is central in the village and has a staffed ticket office and baggage lockers.

Private cars are not permitted in Wengen, though service vehicles skitter about - it's not really "traffic-free". Visitors have to park at Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken, see those pages for details.

Get around[edit]

Wengen is compact so you walk. Some hotels have electric buggies for transfers.

Wengen at 1274 m is on a ledge above a U-shaped valley. There are limited hiking and skiing trails below it, but you can walk to Wengwald (1200 m) where the trains stop on the way up from Lauterbrunnen. East, a very steep slope ascends to a sharp ridge, with the peaks of Männlichen north, Tschuggen midway and Lauberhorn south, then the village of Kleine Scheidegg beneath the sheer sides of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Skiing and hiking out of Wengen is mostly on the gentler east slope of that ridge.

2 Männlichen cable car is the quickest way to reach the slopes beyond the ridge. It starts from Wengen town centre and has 75-person gondolas running every 10 min or so. In summer you can pay an extra Fr. 5 to ride outside on the gondola roof, in case you weren't cold enough already. A cable car from Grindelwald also ascends to Männlichen.

Use the train to ride up from Wengen to Allmend (1493 m), Wengernalp (1473 m), 3 Kleine Scheidegg (2061 m) and Eigergletscher (2320 m) at the top of the ski area. From there, another train plunges into the mountain to ascend to Jungfraujoch. This trip is very touristy in clear weather (and may be booked out) and pointless otherwise - see Kleine Scheidegg for description.

See below for the areas covered by the ski pass. Chairlifts and gondolas criss-cross the skiing areas and some are suitable for non-skiers and run in summer.

See and do[edit]

Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau
  • 1 Eiger (3967 m / 13,015 ft), 2 Mönch (4110 m / 13,480 ft) and 3 Jungfrau (4158 m / 13,642 ft) are the magnificent peaks towering over Wengen. You'll not regret paying for a room with a mountain view.
  • 4 Lutheran Church (Evangelisch reformierte Kirche Wengen). Perched on an outcrop at the north end of town, the austere interior of the church is not much to look at, but the pointy white clock tower is a local landmark and on a clear day the valley views from the gardens outside are breathtaking.
  • 5 Kino Wengen (next to Da Sina). Wengen's sole movie theater features standard Hollywood fare. Open most nights with a single viewing at 8:30pm. Adults/children CFH 15/10.

Summer[edit]

  • Hiking: lots of trails. Some good choices are:
    • Wengen to Männlichen, 4.6 km, 2 hr 30 min, medium difficulty. A nice quiet trek as the less energetic do it the other way round, riding the cable car up to Männlichen and walking down to Wengen.
    • Wengen to Wengernalp and Kleine Scheidegg, 6.9 km, 2 hr 45 min, medium difficulty. Great mountain views as you turn the corner at Wengernalp (which is on the railway, a bail-out option if the weather's closing in.) From Kleine Scheidegg you can continue down to Grindelwald.
    • The gentler trails are also open in winter, though you may have to share them with skiers, toboggans and bounding excitable dogs.
  • Swimming: The outside swimming pool is on Waldbort just above the main village. It has amazing views of the Jungfrau and glacier, and a friendly bar and cafe.

Winter[edit]

The "Royal Walk" to the summit of Männlichen in winter

Skiing is the main draw for winter visitors. Wengen is not a standalone ski resort, but merely a node in what is officially branded as the Jungfrau Ski Region. Since Wengen lies at the lower reaches of the valley, the only two lifts actually in the village are meant for children and absolute beginners. Access to the "real" slopes requires taking either the train to Kleine Scheidegg or the gondola to Männlichen (see (Get around), from which you can ski (red/intermediate pistes required) or even toboggan all the way back down to Wengen. The season is from mid-Dec to mid-April: Kleine Scheidegg being the highest starts earlier, and Grindelwald as the lowest starts latest. The lifts run for a couple of weekends before main season, then daily. It gets a bit scratchy by late March.

There are a number of lift passes available, but if staying in Wengen the most suitable is the Grindelwald-Wengen pass. This grants access to all 27 lifts in the area covering 155 km, including Kleine Scheidegg, Grindelwald, and First the far side of Grindelwald, as well as all public transport. In 2021/22 an adult pass was Fr. 69 for one day, for six is Fr. 324. The Mürren-Schilthorn area is a separate pass, or you can buy a Jungfrau Pass for the combined areas. No pass is valid above Eigergletscher on the train up to Jungfraujoch, but you can buy an add-on ticket for Fr. 49 return.

Ski equipment can easily be rented in Wengen. Rental typically includes access to the shared storage lockers near the station, so you don't have to lug your gear back to your accommodation every day.

  • Altitude Ski School, Dorfstrasse, +41 33 853 0040. The largest independent ski school in the area, the sky blue coats of their instructors are ubiquitous on the slopes. Excellent, personalized service at a premium price. Partnered with the SkiSet gear rental shop in Wengen.
  • Ski School Wengen, Silberhorn Hotel, +41 33 855 2022, . This is in town centre, next to the "magic carpet" lift for beginner practice. Group lessons run Sunday to Friday, individual lessons anytime.
  • Night skiing is free on Wednesday and Saturday from 19:30. It's on the dinky little Figeler run by the cable-car station, suitable for small children.

The ice rink for skating and curling is in town centre by the TIC and Männlichen cable car. It's open-air, with artificial ice, open daily 10:00-18:00.

Events[edit]

Cows plodding uphill for summer grazing
  • Lauberhorn is the premier ski race, held in January. The scary-fast run is from the Lauberhorn summit at 2317 m, over 4.27 km (a one km descent) into Wengen. There's often an associated air show, and the event drews global media and 30,000 spectators. The next races are 13-15 Jan 2023.
  • Music Day is a weekend in June. The next has a youth band on Sat 4 June 2022 and brass bands on Sun 5.
  • Eiger Ultra: see Grindelwald#Do for this 101 km ultra-marathon, held in July and passing through Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg.
  • Alpabzug is when the cows come home, clacking their cow-bells. These highlands still practise traditional transhumance farming, with herds and their minders moving up from the lowlands in spring, and leaving the heights to return to the valley as autumn closes in. There are no set dates, it depends on the weather and grazing, but mid-September is when you might encounter a cattle-drive descending through Wengen. Mind where you step.
  • Mendelssohn Musikwoche Wengen is a classical music week in August, with the next on 20-27 Aug 2022. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) often drew inspiration from the Swiss Alps - already by age 14, he'd composed two symphonies after a family visit to the Bernese Oberland. His descendants brought many of his memorabilia back to this area when they fled Nazi Germany.

Buy[edit]

ATMs are clustered at the railway station, and there's no shortage of shops for hiking, climbing and skiing gear.

  • 1 Coop. Daily 08:00-18:30. Small but well-stocked branch of the ubiquitous Swiss chain, this is Wengen's only real supermarket.
  • Swiss Made. Daily 08:30-18:30. Gift shop selling the usual Swiss Army knives and cuckoo clocks: the twist is that everything sold is here is actually made in Switzerland.

Eat[edit]

Lutheran Church of Wengen

For a town of its size, Wengen has quite a few dining options. Out of season, many are closed or have limited hours (often dinner only); in season, book ahead, especially in the evenings.

Budget[edit]

  • 1 Bäckerei Vincenz, Dorfstrasse (by railway station), +41 33 855 4244. M Tu Th-Sa 07:30-18:30. Cafe-bakery with rolls, pastries, chocolate, sandwiches, quiche and the like, by some way the cheapest meal in town.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 2 Da Sina, Dorfstrasse 1349, +41 33 855 3172. Daily 17:30-21:30, plus lunch Sa Su only. A local institution, this cavernous wooden barn stacked full of Swiss-Italian kitsch serves up pizza, pasta, steaks and has branched out into an attempt at an Irish pub as well. The pizza dough and oven are on point, but the toppings have room for improvement. Packed on weekends, so reserve a table in advance or take away. Mains Fr. 20-40.
  • 3 Golden India, Wengiboden 1303, +41 33 855 5855. Tu-Su 12:00-15:00, 17:00-21:30. Just when you'd despaired of finding a Bernese biryani. Tiny place, limited menu but reliable quality. They also have a branch in Grindelwald.
  • 4 Eiger, Bahnhof (by railway station), +41 33 855 7777. Daily 08:00-21:00. Sunny terrace for a rösti and a beer or three, with indoor seating if the weather is not cooperating. Come here for a leisurely meal not a quick bite.
  • Hotel Berghaus restaurant is open to non-residents, see Sleep. It serves dinner year-round daily 18:00-20:30, lunch is Sa Su in summer and daily in winter 11:00-13:30.

Splurge[edit]

  • 5 Bären, Am Acher 1363, +41 33 855 1419, . Daily 18:00-21:30. Probably the best place to eat in Wengen: no frou-frou molecular gastronomy here, just food made with love from locally sourced ingredients. They have rooms, which are small and modern. B&B double Fr. 250.

Drink[edit]

Family-friendly Wengen is emphatically not a party town, so if you're looking for wild après ski nightlife, try Verbier instead. However, there are plenty of hotel restaurants that will serve you mug of Glühwein, as well as a few dedicated drinking holes.

  • 1 Tanne Bar, Dorfstrasse (below Männlichen cable car station). Daily 16:00-02:30. On Wengen's main drag, Tanne Bar has friendly service, eccentric decor, and a good selection of drinks with a particular emphasis on gin and whiskies. Get in early, because in season it fills up fast.
  • Others nearby include On The Rocks, Crystal Bar and Schneebar Figeler. Hotel bars open to non-residents include Boutique Sens in the Regina and Bar Anonym in the Silberhorn.

Sleep[edit]

Wengen in 1929

There's no such thing as budget accommodation in this pricey resort - no hostels or camp sites.

Wengen has many serviced apartments catering particularly to families and larger groups. Local companies Alpine Holiday Services and Wengen Apartments have a stranglehold on the vast majority of the inventory, and it's slightly cheaper to deal with them directly instead of going through the usual suspects like Airbnb. High season rates for a 4-person apartment start from Fr. 250/night. Most have a 5-night minimum stay, booking Sunday to Saturday.

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • 5 Hotel Regina, Schonegg 1347a, +41 33 856 5858, . Atmospheric hotel opened in 1894, with great mountain views. Comfy rooms, 2 conference rooms, gym and sauna; stylish dining in Chez Meyer or Jack's Brasserie. B&B double Fr. 400.
  • 6 Hotel Silberhorn, Wengiboden 1347 (opposite railway station), +41 33 856 5131. The most central and probably the plushest hotel in the village, with fitness centre and good restaurant. B&B double Fr. 600.
  • 7 Beausite Park Hotel, Wengi 3823 (top of Am Schilt), +41 33 856 5161. Great scores for comfort, service and dining, though it's edge of town. B&B double Fr. 550.

Connect[edit]

As of Feb 2022, Wengen has 4G from Salt and Sunrise, which extends from the valley along the railway to Kleine Scheidegg but with many dead spots. You'll be lucky to get a signal from Swisscom. 5G has reached the valley but has not yet found its way up the slopes.

Go next[edit]

  • Go via Kleine Scheidegg for the train to Jungfraujoch, high up between the Jungfrau and the Mönch
  • Lauterbrunnen down in the valley is a short hike to Staubbach and Trümmelbach Falls.
  • Mürren is perched on a ledge on the opposite side of the valley. You can ride the cable car up through Birg to the top of the Schilthorn (2970 m), where the Piz Gloria restaurant continues to rotate in its kitsch 1960s splendour, and the Kanonenrohr is the notorious black-run descent. Ideally you'd arrive in a helicopter fitted with machine guns, as in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and rake George Lazenby for his ludicrous depiction of 007 James Bond.


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