News from the snow
A very picturesque resort that is set in some of the most spectacular scenery that exists anywhere in the world, Wengen has welcomed skiers since the turn of the century and is one of the handful of 'original' downhill skiing destinations pioneered by British tourists (it celebrated 110 years of winter sports in the area in 1998). The resort is the base of the famous Downhill Only Club (DHO), established in 1924 when the early English visitors first persuaded the locals to keep the railway running in the winter to get a lift up the mountains, then jump out and ski 'downhill only'. Many members of the Club still return every year, content to go back to the same resort annually, (often the same week in the same room in the same hotel). Wengen first appeared 'on the map' in the 1880s, before alpine skiing was invented, with the construction of the Wengenalpbahn, the first mountain railway in the area. This ultimately went on to reach the legendary Jungfraujoch, Europe's highest railway station, perched at 3454 metres (11,332 feet). Much of today's Wengen was then build on a sunny 'balcony' on the mountain along one main street ending, at the station. It is still reached by the antique but eternally efficient cog railway, which connects with the international European rail network. Car drivers must leave their vehicles in a carpark in the valley and take the train up. No introduction to Wengen is complete without mention of its other legendary and spectacular attraction - the Annual Lauberhorn World Cup downhill course, the longest and many believe the greatest there is.
A very picturesque resort that has welcomed skiers since the turn of the century. Car-free, with life centred on the railway (which ultimately reaches Europe's highest station) and a spectacular back drop of the Eiger as well as the Mönch and Jungfrau. Site of the world-famous Lauberhorn race.
The main ski area shared with Grindelwald is the Kleine Scheidegg. It is reached by the cog railway from Wengen to Wengeneralp in about 25 minutes (this may also be busy with non-skiing tourists on their way up to the Jungfraujoch, especially later in the season). The second main area is Männlichen, reached by cable-car from the village or accessed from Kleine Scheidegg.
Beginners will find nursery slopes in Wengen proper with friendly and efficient English-speaking schools and another area up at Wengeneralp . Intermediates will be most impressed by all that the Jungfrau top ski area has to offer, with many long, wide open runs above the tree line. Highlights include a trip over to Grindelwald for the 8km (5 mile) run down from the Oberjoch to that resort on its separate First ski area.
Grindelwald itself can be reached by another popular 8km (5 mile) run down from Männlichen. Experts will not want to miss the opportunity of a descent of the Lauberhorn, even if they can't match Franz Klammer's pace. This is now reached by a new chairlift from Scheidegg, above which the tough trails include the succinctly named "Oh God!" off-piste descent.
Many skiers and 'boarders tend to end the day with the 7km (4 mile) run down from the top of the Lauberhorn back to Wengen, perhaps calling at Mary's for a pre-après ski drink en route. A day trip over to Mürren on the train should not be missed in order to try another legendary run, the 6km ( 4 mile) black down to the resort from the famous Schilthorn revolving restaurant.
Several of Wengen's major hotels offer special arrangements for children - get current information from the tourist office. The public kindergarten for children from age 18 MONTHS to 7 is located in the Sport Pavilion and is open from, 8.30am to 5pm daily. Ski kindergarten takes kids from age 4. There is also a small but well designed and popular public playpark at the Club Med Hotel end of the main street.
Trains run up and down the mountain until nearly midnight so it is possible to consider going for a meal down at Lauterbrunnen or even Interlaken. Alternately go up the mountain to the Wengeneralp restaurant (you can rent a toboggan for the return run if you miss the last train!).
After the lifts close the pavement cafes that spill out around the station are generally crowded, happy places and tea dances begin at the nearby Silberhorn and Belvedere. Lively bars through the evening include the Tanne and the Pickle. Sina has live music and karaoke nights. Apart from partying options include the cinema, often showing English language films and occasional floodlit slalom races and ski jumping to watch, as well as ice hockey matches. Later on there are a number of discothèques.