Top Lift: 3028m
Ski area: 82km of pistes
Adult lift pass: CHF282 for six days
In a Nutshell
Tall, steep and narrow, Engelberg’s ski area is home to two of the best off-piste runs in the Alps. Not bad for a resort nobody’s heard of.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
It’s time we all put Engelberg back on our skiing maps. For years it’s been neglected by the English speaking world, and it deserves more respect. It’s one of the best resorts we know for ski weekends.
Three things raise it into the superleague. First is the terrain, which comes courtesy of the 3238m Titlis – a mighty Alp if ever we saw one, and home to several world-class off-piste runs, notably the Laub and the Galtiburg. When we arrived here we couldn’t understand what all the Swedish freeskiers were doing in town. Once we’d skied these two runs, we knew exactly why.
Here’s a little taste of what’s out there – filmed in 2011. But bear in mind when you watch it that not all the terrain is as hard-core as this. In fact one of the things that distinguishes the Laub is its lack of technical difficulty. Read our guide to Engelberg skiing for more.
The second factor is the snowfall. Engelberg is one of the first resorts in the Alps hit by snowstorms coming from the north or north-west, and it seems to get more than its fair share of the white stuff (in recent winters, 8-10m has fallen on the ski area, which is a lot for the Alps). Bear in mind, however, that the town itself is low, so it may be raining on your hotel while it’s dumping on the Titlis.
Finally, don’t forget the the nightlife. It’s pretty dead here midweek, but come the weekend, when half of Luzern piles up the valley to play, Engelberg rocks. The city slickers bring their urban tastes with them too – and the bars have a lot more class than you’d expect from a town of 3,600 souls, tucked away in the middle of the Swiss Alps.
So, are there any drawbacks? Yes, one major one: there are only a few easy intermediate pistes in the ski area, and most of those are on the lower slopes, below 1800m. So it’s not a place to ski if you’re still mastering your basic technique. There’s also the minor annoyance that comes from the fact that you must catch a bus each morning to the lifts (the walk takes 15 minutes). But don’t let that put you off. For advanced and expert skiers, this is a must-ski destination.