Wengen is the perfect destination for those wanting to experience a historic, charming ski village in the Swiss Alps. It is conveniently located in the middle of the huge Jungfrau Ski Resort.
- Spectacular 360 deg views from almost everywhere on the mountain
- Ski the famous Lauberhorn downhill run
- Catching trains instead of chairlifts… slower but great fun.
- Easy intermediate cruising runs
- Plenty of traditional hotel options to choose from in the charming old village
- Good slopes for first-timers right in the village
- At just 1275m high it is not the best choice for early season skiing
- Peaceful and quiet with just enough après scene to give it a pulse
- Navigating the ski area can be challenging at first
- If you are skiing here for more than a few days head to Murren for a day for a change of scene
Wengen is the central village of large Jungfrau ski area making it a great base from which to explore. This review focuses on the village and skiing on the Wengen side of the valley (including the ski area at Grindelwald) – see our Murren review for more detail about that side.
Situated above the Lauterbrunen valley and perched on the edge of cliff, the small car-free village of Wengen is peaceful and relaxing. Where Murren is quaint and cute with wooden chalets, Wengen is more classically “Swiss town” charming thanks to the Victorian era buildings and train station right in the center of the village. The first tourists came to Wengen in the mid 18th Century and it was the spectacular mountains, including the famous trio - the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch, that drew them there. The first guesthouse was opened in 1859 and skiing was introduced in the early 1900’s. Following the end of the Second World War tourism boomed and many hotels that sprung up in the village are still in use today.
Accessing the village sets the slow pace of Wengen – it can only be reached by a 15 min cog train from Lauterbrunnen. Most hotels can be reached by walking from the main train station (pre-arrange for the hotel to help with your bags). The village has 16 hotels of various standards, 23 restaurants and a handful of bars – in otherwords it’s big enough to feel like it’s happening, yet small enough to feel quaint and personal. Wengen village is lovely to explore on foot and the outskirts of the village have some wonderful wooden chalets with impressive Swiss log piles.
Every January Wengen’s peace and quiet disappears as tens of thousands flock to watch the famous Lauberhorn downhill men’s World Cup race. The town bursts at the seams with partying locals, accommodation is booked up way in advance and the wait for trains can be excruciatingly long. However, if you happen to coincide with the race week (or purposely come here for it) and don’t mind the crowds it can be great fun.
If you’re after a quintessential Swiss experience and prefer a more relaxing style of ski holiday (later starts, longer lunches in the sun, no adrenaline pumping runs) then Wengen makes a fantastic choice.
Despite being based under some of the biggest mountains in the world and home to the longest World Cup downhill race, the Jungfrau ski area is best suited to mild intermediates. For them, there are plenty of great slopes to explore not only in the main Wengen/Grindelwald area but also further afield at Murren and the other side of Grindelwald (Grindelwald First/Oberjoch). Those areas can be skied on the same Jungfrau ski pass, though each really requires the commitment of a whole day to make them worth the trek - it takes about an hour and several forms of transport to get to Murren.
The main Wengen and Grindelwald ski area includes 110 groomed runs – 50% of which are intermediate. The Jungfrau ski area is a great choice for beginners progressing onto intermediate slopes as there aren’t too many runs that have intimidating sections. Less than 20% of the runs are black (which includes the Lauberhorn run) and advanced skiers wanting to explore some of the off-piste are recommended to get a guide, and/or head to Murren. There is some decent and safe off-piste just to the side of runs (particularly around the Wixi/Wengernalp area) that is a good challenge for intermediates and advanced skiers when the snow is good.
In the morning skiers will start their day by taking the tram from the center of Wengen village up to the Mannlichen area which accesses the Grindelwald side, or by taking the slower cog train up to the Kleine Scheidegg area. Very little skiing is done close to the village apart from the first timers’ slope, and on your final run down at the end of the day.
While not unique for a European ski resort, the use of trains as ski lifts at the Jungfrau ski area is prominent and skiers will enjoy the slower pace for a chance to take in more of the scenery. Apart from the trains, most of the lifts are decent and fast, including the new Grindelwald-Mannlichen gondola which makes access back to Wengen from the base of Grindelwald much faster and more efficient than prevoiusly. A new Eiger express tram will whizz people straight up to the Eiger base station – though tourists will benefit more than skiers. Weekends can be busy with the main cable car often having a wait in the mornings, but during the week there are rarely problems.
With most of the slopes lying below 2,000m the snow conditions can be variable and many on the Wengen side get a lot of sun (which is a pro or a con depending on which way you look at it). A lot of snowmaking has been added recently which helps. When Scout visited in mid-January during the Lauberhorn Downhill race week (which was SUPER fun btw) we had excellent conditions and got plenty of fresh tracks in lovely powder just off the side of runs, right until the end of the day. Like any ski trip – timing is all about luck.
There are plenty of great restaurants throughout the ski area and the Jungfrau hotel at Wengeralp is a favourite.
Wengen would make a fantastic choice for family of lower intermediate skiers or boarders looking for a relaxed and authentic Swiss ski holiday. Families with first-time children are also well catered to, though be mindful that the nursery slopes in the village are a long way from the rest of the ski area.
A family ski trip to Wengen can easily be combined with a few days in Murren and city stopovers at Zurich, Interlarken or Bern to complete the authentic Swiss experience. It would be best to stay in one of the charming family-friendly hotels with a half-board option to make it all even easier. The village of Wengen is perfect for families – its mostly car free roads making it a safe and pleasant option for wandering around. There are a few non-ski activities for the kids, though not a lot. Babysitters and childcare are available, including a creche at the top of the Mannlichen station if you prefer to have your child closer to where you are skiing. Ski schools offer group and private lessons for children from the age of 3.Search Hotels
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Wengen has a great selection of 3 and 4-star hotels – some more traditional and grand than others. There are also self-contained apartments. We recommend picking your accommodation location carefully (particularly for less agile people or families) to be close to the cable car or train station, as some parts of the village are a little hilly and a decent walk in ski boots from the center.Get your
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Wengen has a few non-ski activities for down days or non-skiers. The highlight would be enjoying one of the many winter walking trails which are well sign-posted and offering plenty of options to take in the scenery. There is no cross-country skiing on these trails – the nearest trails for that are down in the valley.
Other activities include ice-skating and curling at the central town rink and sledging (tobogganing). There is a cinema which often shows movies in English. Many of the hotels have wellness spas. It is relatively easy to take day trips to Interlarken and Bern.
You may also wish to join the hordes of tourists up at the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe experience. Apart from taking in the mind-blowing views, there are other activities including exploring the depths of a glacier, shops, exhibits, a Lindt chocolate shop (of course) and you can even hit a golf ball and try to win an Omega Swiss watch by getting a hole in one.
Getting to Wengen is a big part of the whole mountain experience. The car-free village can only be accessed by a 15-minute cog train ride from Lauterbrunnen. Lauterbrunnen is accessible by car or train from major airports. The total trip from Zurich airport to Wengen takes about 3 hours, usually with 3-4 changes required. It is just under 4 hours from Geneva airport. If you are staying more than a few days, we recommend the very efficient Swiss Rail luggage forwarding service which will transport your bags all the way to/from your hotel in Wengen to/from your train station destination (such as Zurich Airport). If you don’t want to lug all your bags to Wengen you can store large luggage at Lauterbrunen station and only take a small bag and your ski gear on to Wengen.
If you are driving, you will need to park at Lauterbrunen and then catch the train up to the village.
Getting around Wengen is easy on foot. There are a few hills, but the main part of the village is fairly flat and small. By prior arrangement your hotel can help move your luggage from the train station to the hotel.
Due to the lower altitude we would recommend visiting Wengen after the new year for best conditions.
The Lauberhorn Downhill ski race and festival is always held in the middle of January. It attracts over 30,000 spectators on the race days, so is an extremely busy time for the village and the trains (particularly from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen) can have very long queues. That said, being there to see the race is the experience of a lifetime for all keen skiers so well worth combining a visit to coincide – just make sure to book your accommodation well in advance.Search Hotels and Deals
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