Adelboden ski resort is centred on a charming traditional village in Switzerland's stunningly scenic western Bernese Oberland region, and is regularly rated as one of the best-loved winter-sports resorts in the Swiss Alps.
One of Europe's classic Alpine resorts, promoted by Sir Henry Lunn as the destination for the world's first ski package holiday in 1903, and today is still ranked as one of the top five best-loved ski resorts in Switzerland.
Nestled in the midst of the stunning Bernese Oberland, the village of Adelboden rests on a natural terrace above a pretty valley surrounded by a backdrop of magnificent Alpine scenery. Filled with olde-worlde charm, the village has a lovely blend of rustic character and discrete modern amenities; traditional chalet-style buildings line the pedestrian-friendly high street and the quaint quiet lanes of the resort, dotted with a nice mix of shops, tea rooms, restaurants and quality hotels.
Although it doesn't actually have many attractions specifically for children, Adelboden is popular with families, many of its hotels feature family-orientated facilities and some offer in-house childcare services.
Four separate ski areas lie within close reach of Adelboden, plus two further more-distant areas are included with those on the full area lift pass. Adelboden-Lenk is the biggest linked area, covering 185 km of pistes shared with the village of Lenk in the neighbouring Simmental valley; local bus services provide the links with the other outlying areas.
There are two, separate, local ski areas accessible by ski lifts directly from Adelboden: the small yet enjoyable TschentenAlp area closest to the village; and the principal Adelboden-Lenk area, whose three-stage gondola connection is reached via a short mini-gondola link with the resort's lower suburb of Oey. Whereas there aren't any home-run pistes to Adelboden itself, there is an enjoyable long blue-graded home-run to Oey; covered, as are all of the lowest-altitude runs, by an extensive system of snowmaking equipment. The only slopes any closer to the resort centre are in a little nursery zone reserved for absolute beginners.
The Adelboden-Lenk area covers a nice variety of terrain across its linked Silleren-Hahnenmoos-Metsch sectors: the nearby Chuenisbargli zone is home to Adelboden's famously tough Alpine World Cup slalom & giant slalom run, and further challenging descents can be found higher up in the sectors beyond mid-altitude Geils, although the majority of the slopes throughout the area are easy reds and cruising blues, entertaining for intermediates and manageable by confident novices. There's also a fair amount of ungroomed inter-piste spaces to appeal to snowboarders and powder seekers, as well as the 'Gran Masta' snowpark for freestylers, high up in the Hahnenmoos sector.
Other, non-linked, outlying ski areas also covered on the regional lift pass include the fairly sizeable Lenk-Betelberg area on the far flank of Lenk, connected with the Lenk-Adelboden slopes by cross-town ski bus service; while closer to Adelboden, the high Engstligenalp plateau above Unter dem Berg features a designated freeride zone and is a popular ski-tour access point, alternatively, just 5 km in the opposite direction down the valley, the compact Elsigen-Metsch ski area is also worth a day-trip.
Off-Slope and Apres Ski
Nightlife in Adelboden is generally quite reserved and rather upmarket, well suited to the discerning clientele that the resort primarily appeals to. The resort does have a nice selection of bars and tea rooms to choose from, and there's often a spot of apres-ski jolliness for an hour or two at the end of a good day on the slopes, but after dinnertime most places begin to wind down. The exception to the rule is the week-long full-on party atmosphere that transforms the character of the resort when the annual Alpine World Cup tour comes to town. There are a couple of small late-night venues that have occasional live music and/or DJs at other periods throughout the season too: the Time Out Pub and the Arte Lounge are currently the liveliest apres-ski spots.
Alternative attractions away from the slopes include a couple of plush wellness spas and beauty treatment suites; hotel swimming pools (a few accessible to non-residents); and a sports centre with tenpin bowling, indoor climbing walls, ice skating and curling rinks. For slope users and non-skiers alike who wish to get out into the mountains on foot, there's a good network of walking routes and most of the gondolas and cable cars are accessible by pedestrians. The traditional toboggan run and the romantic horse-drawn sleigh rides are also perennially popular.