Engleberg and Kloster Engelberg. - (c) Engelberg-Titlis Christian Perret
With its high, north-facing slopes, its glacier, and a great snow record, the town of Engelberg can justifiably claim to be one of Switzerland's most snow sure ski resorts, with a great reputation amongst advanced-level skiers.
Engelberg sits at 1000m in the bottom of a steep-sided valley in the canton of Obwalden, just 35km south of Luzern, making it handy for a combined city break with both Luzern and Zurich, which is just further north.
Warning: Well-used pun alert... Engelberg literally translates as "mountain of the angel", and for those skiers who love their off-piste then Engelberg certainly is a heavenly destination (sorry, it was too hard to resist). Anyway, carrying on with the religious theme, the town is built around a famous monastery that dates back to to 1122, constructed in the valley bottom. The monastery is still there to this day and is accessed via the cobbled streets of the Dorfstrasse, it's an impressive sight, looking particularly spectacular when viewed from the mountain slopes looking down onto Engelberg.
The early 1900's saw a real boom in tourism for the town, and it became very popular with wealthy British travellers in particular. The advent of skiing as a major pastime through the 20th century saw Engleberg listed amongst the best known winter resorts in Switzerland, as it developed its slopes, ski-lifts and other facilities, including the ski jumping area for which it's also become famous. Maybe it's a combination of all this history, the abundance of challenging slopes and its wealth of off-piste that helps give Engelberg the feel of a proper old-school skiers resort.
The skiing takes place on both sides of the valley, with Brunni to the north side of the town providing some slopes for beginners and early intermediates, whilst the main areas for more advanced skiers are on the south side of the town, with a gondola on the valley floor taking skiers up to Gerschnialp (there are actually some nursery slopes in this area ) and then on to Trubsee. This gondola can get very busy at the weekends when 'locals' from Luzern and Zurich hit the slopes, so you can expect queues of around 20 to 30 mins if you're not up there early. The two main ski areas up here are Titlis-Stand and Jochpass, you can to the Stand station by getting a cable car from Trubsee, and then you can get the world's first 360 rotating cable car (the Rot-Air) up to Klein Titlis at 3030m. This is a also a popular excursion in the summer months, with tourists being attracted up to the Titlis glacier area (unfortunately it's no longer possible to ski here in the height of summer because of the reduction in the size of the glacier in recent years), whilst the top of Mount Titlis stands another 200m above this. Rather strangely, this area can get busy with tourists from India, as Engelberg and the surrounding mountains have been a popular destination for the Bollywood film industry, so keep a look out, you might end up sharing a lift with one of Asia's most famous movie-stars.
Engelberg's location is truly spectacular, and the town centre is not too bad, dominated by the beautiful monastery (Kloster Engelberg) at the eastern end of the town. At the other end of the town lies the train station and just beyond that the small picturesque lake Eugenisee. Engelberg's main road, the Dorfstrasse, links the two ends of town. Dorfstrasse and Klosterstrasse are home to most of the resorts shops, bars and restaurants. Engelberg's weekend nightlife is livelier than some of its rival Swiss resorts, and its best known spots are the Yucatan Bar, located in the Hotel Bellevue-Terminus in the square opposite the train station, the Eden Bar, and the Spindle Bar, located on Dorfstrasse.
Engelberg has plenty of accommodation dotted around the town, but unfortunately, some of Engelberg's grand old Victorian-era hotels have been joined by some 1960s inspired concrete monstrosities. Prince Charles would have a field day with a couple of the carbuncles that were somehow allowed to be built. However, as with many mountain resorts, the towns spectacular geographical setting compensates, and one gets used to somehow blanking out the bad from the good, especially when it's got a good covering of the white stuff !
The table below shows train times from the main cities and transport hubs of Switzerland to Engelberg.
A link to the tourist information site for Engelberg and any other useful links about the resort.
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