A Visitor’s Guide To Engstligenalp: Discovering Alpine Beauty and Adventure

Switzerland is world-famous for its epic nature, with countless waterfalls, mountain plateaus, pastures, and tall summits. That’s precisely what you can expect to see in Engstligenalp, a wonderful mountain plateau close to the Adelboden village, in the western Swiss Alps. 

Your journey to Engstligenalp begins with a 7-minutes cable car ride that offers a preview of the fabulous nature that awaits at the top. Explore hiking trails, discover a mesmerizing waterfall, do some (ice) climbing, or ski until you can no longer stand on your feet – those are just some of the top things to do in the Engstligenalp region. Keep reading to learn more about this fabulous Swiss attraction, and see all the ways you can spend your time there! 

How to Get to Engstligenalp

Engstligenalp Pasture

The Engstligenalp mountain plateau is a bit tricky to reach but it’s absolutely worth the hassle. First, you need to get to Adelboden, the lovely village famous for the Adelbboden-Lenk ski resort.

By Car

The village is just an hour away from Bern by car and some two hours away from Basel. Driving in a car is the fastest way to reach the Adelboden area, but it is worth noting that it’s also possible to reach the village by train. 

By Train

Traveling by train will take longer and include several trail changes. It’s approximately an hour and a half from Bern to Adelboden, including and a train change in Spiez and switching to the bus in Frutigen. It takes about two and a half hours to travel by train from Zurich and Basel, with multiple train changes. 

Take The Gondola From Adelboden

When you’ve arrived in Adelboden, you’ll need to take the bus and then ride the gondola. Take the bus from Ausserschwand to Unter dem Birg cable car station, where you can get in the gondola lift to Engstligenalp. It’s possible to ride ski lifts from there to explore further up the mountains, but the Engstligenalp gondola station is the main destination to reach in this beautiful area.

The cable car opening times are 8 AM to 7 PM. 

Additionally, it’s worth noting that it’s possible to reach this plateau by hiking up in the summer. It will take a lot longer than a gondola ride, but it’s a unique experience that will reward you with magical views of alpine pastures. 

Attractions on Engstligenalp

Engstligen Falls

Engstligen Falls

The enchanting Engstligen Falls are one of the most impressive natural landmarks in this area. The stunning waterfall is more than 600 meters tall and it’s known for the powerful stream that rushes down the cliff face. It’s without a doubt one of the best landmarks you will see in this region, and easily the highlight of any trip to Engstligenalp. 

What makes this waterfall so popular is that anyone can reach it quickly and easily. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the Unter dem Birg station, but a slightly longer hike if you’re descending from the Engstligenalp plateau. 

If this is one of the main reasons why you’re planning a trip to Engstligenalp, I would highly recommend going to Switzerland in late spring. The waterfall looks the most amazing when it’s been fed by rainwater, whereas it might be a little underwhelming during the warm summer or chilly winter days. 

Another thing to note is that there is a fixed rope climbing path next to the waterfall, which offers you an entirely different perspective on this gorgeous landmark. The climbing path is suitable only for experienced Alpinists and it is quite challenging, but worth the risk once you reach the top. 

Globi Kinderland

Engstligenalp Igloo

Engstligenalp is more than just a mountain plateau with natural landmarks, easy access to ski trails, and pastures full of cows. The tourist office of the region has gone a long way in making the area as family-friendly as possible, and they’ve designed a variety of attractions and activities for the youngest visitors in the region. While parents enjoy themselves skiing or hiking, they can let their kids hang out with Globi, a famous Swiss cartoon character that’s pretty much the face of Engstligenalp. 

Globi Kinderland is a vast children’s area with a ski school, a Globi cable car, a special Globi igloo, and much more. Globi can teach the kids how to ski, he can engage them in special challenges that require solving various tasks, and take the kids on a fondue dinner in a special Globi igloo. 

Everything about this experience was designed to make the kids feel special and enjoy their time in Engstligenalp. I’m sorry to say this, but there’s a good chance that your little ones would prefer to spend their time with Globi, the iconic cartoon character, as opposed to their boring parents.  

Engstligenalp Cattle Procession & Dairy Tour

The vast pastures of the Engstligenalp mountain plateau are in fact owned by an alp cooperative consisting of some 100 farmers. From June to September, you can see hundreds of grazing cows roaming the pastures, as well as visit local dairy farms to try the best Swiss specialties right from the source. 

The cattle drive from Frutigen to Engstligenalp takes place at the end of June every year, and it’s an extremely popular event in the region. Many tourists come to the area just to witness this procession, which allows them to see some 500 cows climbing the path to Engstligenalp. Hiking on the trails during this event is not allowed for safety reasons. 

It’s worth noting that this event is so popular that it sells out most rooms on Engstligenalp. If you want to be part of this wonderful Swiss experience, it’s best to plan the trip months in advance, when it’s still possible to get a room in the area. 

In addition to the cattle procession, many visitors will also go on an Alpine dairy tour. This activity is available only in the summer months, and it’s one of the top things to do in the region. You can witness the process of cheese making, as well as indulge in a delicious breakfast consisting of the Bernese Alp’s best cheeses. 

Fun Activities on Engstligenalp

Hiking

Engstligenalp Hiking

Engstligenalp in the summer is a wonderful playground for hikers and backpackers with an epic network of hiking trails. Mountain bikes are not allowed in the region, so the trails are popular only with hikers and walkers. 

The wide variety of hiking trails in the region means you could spend more than a week just hiking and walking, and you would discover only a small fraction of Engstligenalp’s mesmerizing nature. The trails range in difficulty from very easy to extremely challenging, and there’s everything from short loop hikes across flat terrain to difficult mountain ascents. 

Hike: Adelboden – Engstligenfalle – Engstligenalp

One of the main hikes people who don’t want to catch the gondola up is to hike up from Adelboden via the falls. It’s a great hike, but takes around 3 hours and you have to hike up nearly 800m. So, it is no walk in the park and if you would prefer just to enjoy the area and do something less taxing, then this hike is not for you.

  • Hike Time: 3 hours (one way)
  • Height Difference: Up 770m
  • Map: AllTrails

Keep in mind, you have to catch the gondola down.

Other Hiking Options

The other hikes in the area are generally easy, and can usually be done in 3-4 hours. Most take place on easy terrain and are suitable for everyone, including families with small children. You can find a whole range of these hikes on the Engstligenalp website.

Adventurers who want to take on the more challenging hiking trails in the region will find themselves climbing over steep and rocky paths, to reach the summits of the tallest mountains in the area. Tschingellochtighorn is known for the limestone towers that make up its castle-like summit, and it’s one of the top mountains to climb in the area. 

Ice Climbing

Davos Ice Climbing

Winter experiences in Engstligenalp are wildly different from summertime adventures. Whereas most summer activities in the area are fairly easy and family-friendly, exploring the region in the winter can become quite dangerous and is suitable only for more experienced Alpinists. But, people who are looking for a proper adrenaline rush and a challenge can absolutely have a blast in the region. 

Engstligenalp boasts an ice climbing arena, situated immediately below the top station of the Engstligenalp cable car. Admission to the arena is 10 CHF for an entire day and if you’re caught without an entrance ticket, you will be fined. There’s also an ice climbing school here for beginners and younger adventurers who are just getting into ice climbing. 

The arena boasts many ropes that are secured to the icy rock face, and you can choose from multiple paths up the cliffs. Some paths are shorter than others, but none are exactly easy. You will need adequate ice climbing gear for this adventure, including appropriate clothing, footwear, ice axes, etc. 

Via Ferratas

The ice climbing arena near the top station of the Engstligenalp cable car is accessible and popular in the summer as well. It’s home to the Chäligang via ferrata which will take you to a lookout point directly above the fabulous Engstligen waterfall. Don’t let the cascade distract you too much because the via Ferrata requires your undivided attention. 

Even if you’re not a very experienced Alpine climber, you can go on this adventure and experience a great view of the waterfall and the general Engstligenalp region. Sign up for a guided via ferrata tour, and do the climb with experienced Alpinists who will help you progress up the steep cliffs.

It’s worth noting that it’s possible to rent climbing equipment at Bergbahnen Engstligenalp station, so you can take on this adventure if you didn’t come fully prepared. 

If you are interested in other climbing adventures, try some other via Ferratas in Switzerland.

Winter Hiking

It’s possible to explore Engstligenalp by hiking trails even in the winter months, but it’s an entirely different experience from casually strolling through the pastures in the summer. The circular hiking trail of 5.5 kilometers takes you on a loop hike around the entire plateau, allowing you to discover some of the prettiest winter scenery in the region. 

It’s important to note that snowshoes will be necessary for most winter hikes in Engstligenalp. The plateau is entirely covered by a thick layer of snow, and you can’t explore much of the region without proper winter hiking attire. 

Also, many ascents and uphill trails are off-limits to hikers and snowshoers in the winter. But strap on a pair of skis or a snowboard, and you’ll be able to explore even more areas of Engstligenalp!

Skiing & Snowboarding

skiing

Engstligenalp and Adelboden-Lenk are known for some of the best ski pistes in this part of Switzerland. In fact, Adelboden-Lenk is one of the country’s best ski resorts, which manages to attract countless avid skiers to the area every year. Not only do the resorts here boast a wide variety of pistes of all difficulties, but they also stay open until late spring, allowing for some six months of epic skiing adventures. 

It’s worth noting that there’s more to Engstligenalp than classic ski trails. The area is also popular for freeriding and cross-country skiing, so there are plenty of different ways you can enjoy your time on skis in the region. 

Where to Eat on Engstligenalp

With an abundance of mountain restaurants, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding where to eat your meal in the middle of the Alps. The top station of the Engstligenalp cable car boasts a couple of excellent Swiss restaurants, where you can try some of the local specialties. What makes these restaurants so amazing is that they’re supplied by local farmers, so the cheese is always fresh and absolutely delicious. 

You’ll survive mostly on fondue while you’re there, but that’s the way things should be since it is one of the most iconic Swiss specialties, especially in the region known for grazing cows. 

Where to Stay on Engstligenalp

Engstligenalp Chalet

There aren’t too many different options for accommodation on Engstligenalp itself. There’s one hotel called Berg- & Naturhotel Engstligenalp which has multiple buildings, and that’s pretty much the only place you can stay if you want to be near the top station of the Engstligenalp-Adelboden cable car, at 2,000 meters above sea level.

The good news is that the hotel offers a variety of stays and experiences. You can rent a classic hotel room in Berghotel Engstligenalp if you want, or you can choose to spend the night in an actual igloo. 

Berghotel is the main hotel building, but there’s also the Chalet Wildstrubel mountain hotel branch. It’s only about 50 meters away from the main building and the rooms are equally cozy, albeit a little more modern than the rustic Alpine rooms of the Berghotel. 

Consider staying in the Adelboden village as well, if you’re planning a longer trip to the region. It has better infrastructure than the mountain plateau, so you will have access to more restaurants, cafes, and even a range of shops. You can still travel to Engstligenalp every day if you want, either by bus and cable car, or a two-hour hike from the bottom gondola station. 

Staying in Adelboden means you will have many more accommodation options, which range from a cheap hostel to a luxury hotel. You will also have easier access to other landmarks and tourist attractions in the area. 

Is Engstligenalp Worth Visiting?

If you want to see a mesmerizing natural spectacle and spend your time exploring some of the prettiest pastures that exist in Switzerland, then yes, Engstligenalp is absolutely worth visiting. 

It’s a great place for people who are into hiking, skiing, and climbing, with a wide variety of landmarks and attractions to explore in both summer and winter. The area is generally more popular in the winter months, mostly because of excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities. But there’s no lack of fun things to do in the summer either, especially if exploring hiking paths and natural landmarks is something you truly enjoy. 

On the other hand, if your idea of a good time consists of trips to museums, fancy restaurants, and nights out at bars and clubs, this likely isn’t your ideal destination in Switzerland. 

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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