Me and Veera end our Swiss journey by hopping on a train that will take us to Engelberg. As we pass by cute houses and beautiful mountains we sip on coffee, eat Swiss chocolate and chat. I cannot stress enough how wonderful it is that Switzerland have such a well developed train network all across the country, and how easy it is to travel by train, bus and boat using the Swiss Travel Pass.
To have an all-in-one transport ticket that entitles you to unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network really promotes you to use the public network! It is available for purchase for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days so it’s easy to plan your travels depending on how long you’re visiting.
Outside the landscape is surprisingly green but at least the mountains are snowcapped. Before we reach our destination we enter a long tunnel and when we exit on the other side we suddenly find ourselves in a Narnia-like world. We have slowly been traveling more north but crossed the snow line while inside the tunnel which was quite the surreal experience that left us both a bit baffled and positively surprised.
Upon arrival we walk a very short distance (20 meters) to the hotel Ski Lodge Engelberg where we check in and leave our luggage. The hotel was founded in 2008 with the goal of creating a meeting spot for people who love mountains. As skiing fanatics who’ve traveled the globe, the owners wanted to take the very best experiences from those travels and turn it into a hotel of their own: A place with really good cuisine and local wines, a cozy bar and passionate staff who love service as much as they love mountains.
After dropping our bags off we go for a stroll through Engelberg and I immediately fall madly in love with this place, “oohing” and “aahing” a lot and stopping several times to say “I need to move here”.
This is a small village with about 4400 inhabitants, centrally located in a valley amidst breathtaking nature, with the most majestic mountains towering all around. People that live here really appreciate the nature, and that is also why people come here to visit. Because of this people here work hard to protect the nature we all love. The village is continuously committed to the efficient use of energy, climate protection, renewable energies and environmentally friendly mobility.
It is vey easy to access Engelberg by public transport. It takes about 45 minutes by train to come here from Lucerne and 1 hour by car from the Zurich airport. The free local bus in the village runs all year round from various stops on six different routes to all valley stations. These stations are also easily accessible on foot, and there are currently eight charging stations for electric cars in Engelberg. Because of this there is less traffic within the village and the air quality has improved significantly.
The Obwalden power station produces 100% renewable electricity. All municipal buildings and facilities in Engelberg have been covered with 100% renewable electricity since 2016. 50% of this is eco electricity. The Engelberg heating plant has a district heating system that covers all public facilities and as many private houses as possible. The wood needed for this is supplied from the forests of Engelberg and Central Switzerland as well as from regional residual wood.
The buildings are beautiful and there are a lot of local little shops. It seems like a smaller version of my home and I can really see this being a great place for the outdoor scene as well as small business owners and crafters. It seems to be a good sense of community here as well and everyone we talked to where very friendly & outgoing.
One of the smaller shops we visited was the Engelberg Roastery. It opened in 2015 and is owned by Swedes who thought that every village and town should have its own coffee roastery. Here they roast, package and deliver coffee and in the afternoon they open the doors to their shop and coffee bar. About a week after we left they re-opened in a bigger space and besides a Roastery and coffee bar it is now also a Papeterie – I have to go back!
I bought some of their sunny side roast to bring home with me
We also made a quick visit to the local cheese factory. Schaukäserei Kloster is Switzerland’s only publically accessible artisan cheesemaking production within a monastery and here you can watch cheese being hand-produced as well as regional milk being crafted into specialities, such as the famous “Engelberger Klosterglocke”. They have a big store with loads of local delicacies and a bistro where you can enjoy homemade food, they serve both warm and cold dishes (with or without cheese).
I have to say I envy the locals who have constant access to this!
Now, cozy village, amazing coffee and locally crafted cheese aside – like I mentioned in the beginning of this post this place is all about the nature, and especially so the magnificent mountains that surround Engelberg. Because above all else this is an alpine town.
After strolling through town me and Veera make our way to the lifts to head up the biggest peak here: Mount Titlis which sits at 3’020 meters above sea-level, thus being the highest viewpoint in Central Switzerland! Obviously the skiing and snowboarding is great on Titlis, and here you can experience a beautiful 2,000-metre descent from the Titlis to Engelberg, one of the longest ski slopes in Switzerland. This is also where you’ll find the only glacier in the entire region that is actually accessible.
But there’s a lot of other things you can do here in the wintertime if you do not ski or snowboard, or just want to break it up by doing something else. Since me and Veera where only here for one full day, we had no time for downhill and so we explored the other activities the mountain has to offer.
We had been enjoying really nice weather with partially blue skies earlier and as we started our ascent the views from the gondola where amazing but the higher we got the more we entered into a thick, white world.
Before reaching the top you have to switch from the regular gondola and get on the worlds first revolving rotair gondola. This is the lift that leads to the summit and as the cable car travels upwards it revolves 360 degrees during the five-minute trip so that you get to take in the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and vistas.
Once we got off at the top we started off by having lunch before going on adventures on the mountain. The panorama restaurant at the top of Mount Titlis is super cozy and offers great views – when the weather permits it. Once we got up, it was really cloudy and we saw absolutely nothing.
That’s okay though, the food here was delicious and we were very focused on the culinary experience! They offer both traditional Swiss food and pizza so we had a little bit of both. Veera went with Swiss Rösti and I went for a pizza. Something we did a lot during this trip was order two different things and split both, that way we got to taste as many different dishes as possible – win win!
After lunch we strolled through the Glacier Cave which sounded cool but as someone who’s been to the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi on multiple occasions, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. It was a short, ice tunnel that was lit up with different colors. Now it is cool that it’s the only accessible glacier in the region and a lot of tourists coming here have never even experienced proper winter so for them it is of course very exiting.
When we excited the cave we headed for the very, very top of the mountain. It had been very cloudy with poor visibility while we had lunch and sadly that did not change very much so standing on Europes highest suspension bridge was a bit anticlimactic since we could not see anything. I bet the panorama view from there is quite astonishing and exhilarating!
Once thing I’ve learned during my travels, especially in the Swiss mountains, is how fickle the weather can be. Up on a mountain top it can change very quickly and is something amazing to witness. Because of this it is also very important to stay aware, vigilant and prepared though – blue skies and sunshine can quickly turn into really bad weather with zero visibility.
As luck would have it, as we were about to head back to begin our descent – it cleared a little bit and the sun came out. It was -12 degrees, very windy and my hair was white from the frost. The snow glistened in the air in a bunch of Alpine Choughs start circulating above us, riding the strong winds. We are 3238 meters above sea level and I feel truly alive and once more the mountains grab a piece of my heart and hold it tight.
After this most amazing experience rushing through my body we started to head back down the mountain. We met a Swede in the lift and he said he’s been coming back to this place for a number of times now, and I understand him. Engelberg quickly took a piece of my heart and I have to say I have investigated moving there…
Once back down in the village we walked to our hotel to rest and get ready for dinner. It had been a long day with loads of new impressions so we we’re not really in the mood to head out to eat. Luckily for us, Ski Lodge Engelberg also has excellent cuisine: They house the lovely restaurant Brasserie Konrad, named after the founder of Engelberg: Konrad von Sellenbüren. They gather inspiration from the Swiss Alps as well as their Nordic roots and the chefs are very passionate about local produce and being out in nature. They have previously worked in high end restaurants in Sweden, Norway Italy and France with focus on seasonal crop and local protein.
So, needles to say, we were very content with staying in to eat at our hotel.
As always, we split half and half. I had Chicken with Kale, Beetroots and Gravy and Veera went for the Deluxe Burger with Truffle Mayo, Cheddar and Pork belly. Both dishes were an absolute delight! This is also where I finally found a nice IPA. Being in smaller villages in Switzerland makes it hard to find good craft beer, especially for someone who prefers IPAs. So I was very happy to come across a nice one from the nano brewery Keimling here.
This truly is an amazing little village, especially for people passionate about the outdoors. I cannot recommend it enough, it’s a great place to come if you want to go on a winter trip to enjoy the coziness of the season, ski, snowboard and be around a lot of really nice people. I feel certain that summers here as just as spectacular though, and I for one cannot wait to come back to explore the nature more through hiking, mountain biking and bouldering!
I feel very grateful to Veera for traveling and adventuring with me, sharing food with me and for helping me with photos of myself. We had such a good time and I cannot wait to travel with her again!
I also feel happy to have met so many nice people from the tourism organisations, the owner of the Roastery and the staff at the Ski Lodge: You all really made this trip very special and memorable, thank you!