Cradled high in Europe’s most beautiful mountains, Engelberg gives travellers the best of both worlds, both adventure and relaxation. In this awe-inspiring review, freelance journalist and Engelberg native, Andrea Hurschler, walks us through some of the valley’s most inspirational sights and things to do, with destination images from Claes Bech-Poulsen. Amidst the magic of the mountains is Kempinski Palace Engelberg, the ideal base from which to explore.
In Central Switzerland’s Engelberg Valley, we discover green pastures, gentle landscapes and the hustle and bustle of village life with its culture and handicrafts. While in the mountains, nature, spectacular wilderness and tranquility dominate. Engelberg brings these two worlds together in a wonderful setting that can be explored in many different ways, making it a particularly attractive holiday destination – in summer or winter. The panorama can be overwhelming at first, but seemingly isolated from the rest of the world, it’s surprising how we quickly relax and begin to explore.
Standing in the hollow of the valley since 1120, the tranquil Benedictine monastery has helped put Engelberg on the map. Legend says it was built here thanks to an ox! Zurich nobleman, Konrad von Sellenbüren, believed the creature would show him the optimum spot and it eventually chose Engelberg. Reflect behind the thick walls, then turn your gaze to the mountains.
Whatever the season, stay at Kempinski Palace Engelberg to experience the best of Swiss hospitality
Titlis, Hahnen and Gross Spannort are the three most distinctive peaks. Hahnen was formerly known as ‘Engelberg’ because legend claims angels flew around it. Hahnen and Spannort can be explored only on foot and with appropriate climbing gear. Titlis has been accessible by cable car since 1967. The ‘Rotair’ – the world’s first revolving cable car – takes us on the final section. Arriving at the top, at 3,020 metres above sea level, we alight in a different world: one of snow and glacier, 365 days a year. A ride on the Ice Flyer chairlift over impressive crevasses, a journey across the windy ‘Cliff Walk’ suspension bridge, and a tour of the glacier grotto complete an unforgettable visit.
Other cable cars take you quickly and easily from the bottom of the valley to soaring heights where you can enjoy many activities such as hiking, biking, climbing, and winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. On the Titlis side is the extraordinarily beautiful Trübsee mountain lake. Row to the middle or just enjoy the view of the mountains reflected in the lake, from the shore. Reach the Fürenalp on a small train that runs from the end of the valley up to 1,850 metres above sea level. The mountains seem close enough to touch!
Countless small cable cars known as ‘Buiräbähnli’ were once used by mountain farmers. They are now part of the unique Buiraebähnlisafari, a hiking tour incorporating several rides on different, sometimes spectacular Buiräbähnli. Fun fact: the Brändlen Cable Car is also used to transport the stocky Dexter cattle! On the Alpkäsetrail, a similar hiking tour, visit seven Alpine cheesemakers. It’s difficult to choose a favourite, but Rosmarie Hurschler from Hüttismatt and Sälmi Töngi from Gerschnialp have won various prizes.
Experience summer farms to get an inside look into cheese production. It quickly becomes clear why Alpine cheese tastes so good. The herbs growing on the unfertilised, species-rich pastures are particularly aromatic which comes through in the milk, and the cheese made from it.
Finally, take a tour around the Härzlisee, next to the Brunnihütte, to walk barefoot along a ‘tickle path’ encircling the small lake. One of the most beautiful high-altitude hiking trails starts here at 1,860 metres above sea level. The Walenpfad offers spectacular, unobstructed views of the Mittelland.
The Tal Museum, an old Engelberg farmhouse, is full of stories. There’s a striking coat of arms emblazoned on its façade, alongside more representing local families. Inside, the historic living quarters reflect everyday life in the 18th century, including the distinctive local dialect, and the history of the valley. Traditional crafts, still practised in the valley, are one of its many delights. In Wolfenschiessen, Beat Mathis artistically embroiders cowbell straps. In the Blatter Holzkunst souvenir shop, next door to Kempinksi Palace Engelberg, Werni Blatter carves impressive wooden figures.
It’s worth leaving the village centre to discover local eateries serving traditional Swiss cuisine. Look out for Ende der Welt, Schwand, and Gasthaus Gerschnialp. It’s this combination of modern and traditional; mountain and valley; being active and relaxing, that makes Engelberg truly unique!
Embraced by the majestic Swiss mountains that attract visitors to Engelberg-Titlis, Kempinski Palace Engelberg is the first international five-star hotel in Central Switzerland’s largest all-season holiday destination. With a history rooted in the Belle Epoque, this beautiful property has a genuine sense of place at the centre of the village. The two are intertwined and have grown together to create a truly wonderful location.
Historical elements have been carefully preserved throughout the hotel. Tile mosaics and marble, hexagonal motifs, coffered ceilings, chandeliers, and the niches in the bedrooms of the Belle Epoque wing, are a reminder of a golden age.
Yet while Kempinski Palace Engelberg embraces its elegance and history, this beautiful property has been carefully reinterpreted for today’s travellers. Taking inspiration from its stunning Alpine surroundings, the interiors mirror the subtle textures and restful colours of nature. Local materials such as wood and stone are featured in contemporary details crafted using traditional techniques. The 129 spacious rooms and suites each look out onto spectacular panoramic views of the mountains and guarantee a good night’s rest. Their décor blends historical details with contemporary furnishings in sumptuous materials such as brushed oak and leather, while gentle hues of green and blue echo the fresh Alpine air.
Infused with Swiss flair and charm, this luxurious, peaceful haven is set next to the spa gardens, with easy access to many attractions and activities in the area. The famous Engelberg monastery is a ten-minute stroll away and golfers can spend a leisurely afternoon on the nearby 18-hole course.