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On the opposite side of the valley from Mürren, trains bound for Kleine Scheidegg grind up from Lauterbrunnen to WENGEN, another gorgeous, car-free haven perched on a shelf of tranquil southwest-facing meadow. Wengen is one of Switzerland’s best-known ski resorts, most famous for hosting World Cup downhill and slalom races on the Lauberhorn every January. It’s slightly bigger and livelier than Mürren but still no more than a chalet-style village, with as long a tradition of hospitality as its competitor. The resort stays bustling with skiers well into April. Once the snows have receded, Wengen sits amidst ideal hiking country, overlooked by the Jungfrau and the distinctive creamy cone of the Silberhorn. Its lofty outlook means it enjoys unrivalled valley sunsets.
Walks of varying degrees of toughness from simple strolls to taxing hikes thread through the countryside around and above Wengen. Even simple little excursions such as down to Wengwald below the village can reveal flower-strewn meadows, romantic footpaths and stunning views out over the great chasm of the Lauterbrunnen valley. Opposite, the horse’s tail of the Staubbach falls is clearly visible, while the jagged Lobhörner peak stands out, silhouetted against the sky. The cliff-edge Mönchblick viewpoint beyond Wengwald is less than an hour’s stroll (120m down) from Wengen. Longer walks lead up to Wengernalp (also with a useful train station) and on up to the rail junction at Kleine Scheidegg (3hr total). A cable-car from Wengen formerly crested the bluff overlooking the village to the beautiful plateau of Männlichen before 1999’s avalanches swept the whole thing away; until it’s replaced, you can hike the steep three-hour trail, which rises a testing 1070m.
Accommodation is plentiful, but watch out for between-season closures (as at Mürren) and also for the international skiing in January, which is great to watch but which can book the village, and the valley, out. Several hotels offer dorm beds: best is the Christian-run Bergheim (033/855 27 55, fax 855 27 26; b; dorms Fr.22), part of Hotel Jungfraublick at the top of the village, which is itself not a bad budget choice (b). Lower down the street, Eddy’s Hostel (033/855 16 34, fax 855 39 50; Fr.27) has comfortable clean dorms, but charges extra for breakfast. The popular Hot Chili Peppers Café (Tél. & fax 033/855 50 20; a), on the main street, has simple, lively dorms (Fr.24) and rooms. Smoke-free Edelweiss (033/855 23 88, fax 855 42 88; b) is a cosy choice overlooking the valley. The Belvédère (033/855 24 12, fax 855 37 30; c) is a beautiful old Jugendstil house from 1912 in a quiet location above the village centre. A handful of grand old palaces, including the Victoria-Lauberhorn (033/856 51 51, fax 855 33 77, www.hovic.ch; d) and the stunning Regina (033/855 15 12, fax 855 15 74; e) have got the rooms-with-a-view-plus-all-the-luxury-trimmings service down to perfection. There’s not much to eat outside the hotel restaurants – the Hot Chili Peppers does plenty of budget food (menus from Fr.14), while Da Sina’s is a pleasant and similarly priced pizzeria and pasta joint at the end of the main street, also with a pub attached.
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