*In collaboration: Switzerland Tourism
The vast mountain range outside the window. Nothing but an adventure ahead of me. As the train started to slow down, I tied my hiking boots a little tighter and threw my camera around my shoulder. We had arrived to Engelberg – a little Swiss village I’ve heard stories of and seen breathtaking photos of for months before.
The name, Engelberg, actually means ‘angel mountain’ and there’s a reason for that. Back in the 12th century, someone had heard the angels sing up on the mountains and later a monastery was build in the village that still stands today.
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Engelberg-Titlis is located in central Switzerland in the Obwalden canton, mostly known as a ski holiday destinations, especially among freeriders around the world. We didn’t visit Engelberg during the winter season, though there will almost always be a bit of snow on top of the highest mountain tops. In summer months Engelberg is perfect for hiking or biking out in the wild unspoiled nature.
Summer was the perfect season for me as I’ve had to quit my ski’ing hobby 10 years ago after breaking my spine in that horse riding accident you’ve heard me speak of before. Well to be honest, after that I called it quits on most sports, but something has changed for me recently – especially over here in Engelberg. So much of the injury is a limit in the mindset, a limit I want to push through even when it hurts.
Already last summer I found myself back in the nature. I hiked among the mountains in Zermatt last summer in the rain after staying up the night before with one or two martinis too many, and despite, I felt full of energy.
I felt at place.
And I wanted more.
I remember dreaming how much I wanted to hike for miles on end and how motivated I got about healing my body from the injuries once and for all.
The mountains are where I feel most at home.
We were about to go hike for the whole day ahead and as I tied my hiking boots again, I felt the fear pop its head up. What if I can’t do it? What if I stay behind the group? What if I fall down? But I had the time of my life. So much so that I wanted to do it again right away – I still want to do it again. I dream of spending a month right here doing the same hike every day. I’ve learned that downhill helps me strengthen those muscles that have gotten so weak as the spine injury has damaged my nerves that make a right leg function.
But words cannot express the joy I felt walking down these mountains.
Fürenalp – the hike I’d rather do every single day
One morning, we took a tiny little red cable car up to the mountains in Fürenalp. We stopped at the lovely restaurant on the top for some apple juice and enjoyed the sunshine while soaking up that fresh mountain air.
Fürenalp offers several hiking trails lasting anywhere between 30 minutes to six hours. The trails are pretty easy and the views along the way will simply take your breath away. Mountains, waterfalls and cows roaming free.
We did a 3-hour hike down, hopped on another cable car down and stopped for lunch to continue hiking for another hour or so back to the station. Though I felt like I could have gone on for miles.
Something about this hike made me forget how injured I am and reminded me how much I love the nature. Now I even want to go mountain biking next time in the country – that hopeless city girl in my has officially vanished into thin air. I need that wilderness. I need mountains. The wind in my hair.
Along the hike, I also made several cow buddies. One simply has to make cow buddies when in Switzerland. Most of the cows are so friendly and enjoy a scratch behind the ear.
As the hike had came to an end and I got to lift my feet up in my hotel room, I noticed glazing back at the mountains through my windows. I wanted to go back. To stay. I know I’ll return to this place for a longer time some day. I have to. I need to. Something in my souls tells me to. Maybe next spring. Hopefully next spring.
Engelberg-Titlis – a little village from a fairytale
Engelberg is surely most known for its skiing opportunities among the mountains, but the village comes to life in summer too. Engelberg is situated 25 km from Lucerne at an altitude of about 1 km with the surrounding mountains of Titlis and Hahnen rising up to 2600 meters.
During summer months, Engelberg is an outdoor dream come true. Hiking, climbing and mountain biking. And not forgetting delicious culinary experiences (restaurant recommendations at the end of this post). 500 km’s of hiking paths offer something for every traveller.
There are only around 5000 people living in Engelberg, but it’s still lively enough to enjoy a fun holiday.
Winter season in Engelberg starts in October and lasts til end of May. The area is surrounded by three major mountain areas; Titlis, Brunni and Fürenalp.
Where to stay and dine in Engelberg, Switzerland?
There are several accommodation options in town and more hotels are getting build in the area as tourism continues to grow as more of the world find this fairytale village among the mountains. We stayed at Alpenclub, in the heart of town. Alpenclub is a simple but cozy alpine hotel with all that you need from a comfortable bed to a delicious restaurant.
If you look for something fancier, many travellers seem to recommend a stay at Ski Lodge.
There are also some budget options such as a Youth Hostel. You can also rent an apartment or stay at some small guest houses.
What comes to dining, you will be spoilt in Engelberg despite its being a village. The restaurant at Alpenclub offers a delicious fondue, pizzas the locals have to eat weekly, a crazy good cordon bleau and if you are fan – don’t leave this place without trying their schnitzels.
Other restaurants worth recommending in Engelberg would be Restaurant Eienwäldli, Bergrestaurant Fürenalp and Brasserie Kondrad. Also don’t miss out on the mountain restaurant Flühenatt and their delicious älpenmakaronen.
And make sure to visit Gerschnialp and Sälmi for some cheese. And if you are looking for a good coffee, SpannortInn has your back.
That clean Swiss cuisine and cheese to die for
As you probably noticed on my Instagram during this trip, Switzerland impressed me big time – and I mean big time. I’ve had such a passion for understanding nutrition and healthy eating that I wanted to understand a bit more about why the Swiss are so healthy – surely they are the outdoorsy kind, but nutrition has to play a big part too.
The crazy thing is that the Swiss consume a fair bit of dairy and meat products, which many of us have learned to see unhealthy in today’s world – and yes, that mass produced overly chemicalised s*it is bad for you. And I guess everything in excess is bad for you – even Swiss cheese for that matter, which I’m not willing to accept.
The thing I really respect about the Swiss and their food is how they try to eat what their own land offers first – no vegetables get imported before their own are eaten first. And whatever need to be imported will be prepared inside the country as much as possible to ensure a clean production with fewer chemicals, so yes, even Coca Cola is healthier in Switzerland!
And what comes to the consumption of meat and dairy – I believe the way the animals are raised make a massive difference. Most animals that end up on your plate in Switzerland get to live a happy life outside most of the year. Yes, of course there is still the same slaughter as for any animal in the food production, but the better treatment throughout their life surely has a major impact.
Combining that clean eating with that clean mountain air made me feel like a new person.
On our second night in Engelberg, we got to enjoy dinner at Jonna’s place who is a dear friend of Johanna from the tourism board who was with us. And our dinner outside in the summer rain under an umbrella was perhaps one of the most memorable nights of the entire year! So Johanna and Jonna – if you two are reading this, thank you so so much for the incredible experience! And the wine. And the cheese. And the more cheese.
Forgot my memory card at the hotel as we dined at Jonna’s place, so I only had this phone snap of the place
Thank you again Switzerland Tourism for this wonderful adventure!