Worth going the extra mile to this Swiss Alpine village
The traditional Swiss village of Adelboden is found at the end of the Engstligen valley in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps.
From December to early-May, Adleboden’s snow covered mountain slopes are a magnet for winter sports enthusiasts.
From June to October, the mountainsides turn into a lush green tapestry of grass that carpets the area.
It is then the walkers and bikers who come to Adelboden.
Adelboden, is not as well known as some of the other Swiss mountain resorts, and it is this that makes a visit all the more enjoyable.
In 1903, Adelboden for the first winter package holidays organised by Sir Henry Lunn, who went on to create the Lunn Poly travel agency empire.
During the Second World War, Adelboden was used as an internment camp for some 600 Allied airmen.
Being interned in the village’s hotels, on full pay and with local girls bussed in for the Saturday evening dance, it is perhaps not surprising that few were inclined to attempt an escape.
Post war, Adelboden grew in importance as a ski resort, with many airmen and their families returning on vacation to Adelboden.
International Ski racing began here in 1955 and Adelboden hosts one of the heats of the Audi FIS World Cup every January.
Then there are the many local farmers who winter their small herds (of up to a dozen cows) in the valley before moving them up to the lush mountain pastures for spring and summer, staying with them in the summer chalets dotted on the higher slopes.
The farmers are called the gardeners of the mountains because their cows keep the grass down during the warm spring and summer months.
There is a wide choice of accommodation in and around Adelboden.
The Baren Hotel
The three star Hotel Baren, located right in the heart of the village.
This traditional Swiss hotel has been run for many years by Christine and Peter Willen and has the comfort and relaxed efficiency that so suits its Alpine location.
The hotel’s restaurant is open to non-residents and the outside cafe seating is always popular on sunny days.
Other hotels that come recommended are :
The Cambrian is one of the flagship hotel’s in Adelboden.
A four star delux hotel it is a modern, stylish, designer hotel with all of the services one would expect from a hotel that would impress anywhere in the world.
The hotel’s lounge and patio area, which is open to non-residents, has one of the best mountain views anywhere
Adelboden has 47 mountain restaurants and snow bars next to the ski runs and a fine choice of establishments in the village itself.
When to go
Adelboden has two seasons.
Adelboden in winter starts on 1 December, by and stretches to early-May, when the ski-lifts closethe first snow will have fallen, and stretches to early-May, when the ski-lifts close, when the ski-lifts close.
Adelboden then all but shuts down until June when the warm weather brings the summer visitors to hike and bike until October.
November is another very quiet month in Adelboden
During the winter season Adelboden offers every pursuit it is possible to peruse on snow – for beginners through to experts.
For those looking to try a winter activity holiday for the first time, all necessary clothing and equipment can be hired.
Alpine, or downhill, skiing is sliding down snow-covered hills on skis with fixed-heel bindings.
Adelboden is a skiers paradise with 210km of ski pistes, of which 92km are blue; 96km are red and 22 are black.
Snowboarding involves going downhill on a snowboard attached to the feet using a special boot set onto a mounted binding.
The development of snowboarding, in the 1960s to 1970s, was inspired by skateboarding, sledging, surfing and skiing and became a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998.
Regular guided snowboard tours are organised by the Ski and Snowboard School Adelboden.
There are 21km of cross-country skiing courses in Adelboden at Boden and Engstligen.
There are hiking trails, of varying difficulty, in the region that allow walkers to enjoy the snow covered landscape.
Each one tends to start and end at one of the mountain restaurants.
The first Skibock was developed in Adelboden, between 1920 and 1930, using a sawn-down ski and some form of simple seat.
The wooden seat is screwed onto sawn-down skis and children in Adelboden have used this to get to school more quickly in winter.
It is also a thrilling experience for visitors.
There are five sledge/toboggan runs of 15km in total in Adelboden: TschentenAlp-Möser, Sillerenbühl-Bergläger, Hahnenmoos-Geils, Hohliebe-Oey and Elsigenalp-Elsigbach.
And dog sledging
Sledge dog driver Markus Röthlisberger spends the winter months with his dogs on Engstligen from where he offers cross-country dog sled rides.
Snowtubing, which is high-speed and great fun, rubber tyre ride, for all ages, is on offer on the Engstligen.
Igloo building and sleeping
The Alpine School runs workshops on Engstligen for those wanting build their own igloo – and sleep in it afterwards.
The FIS Alpine Ski World Cup
The FIS Alpine Ski World Cup is one of the top international ski competitions in slalom and giant slalom.
The annual Ski World Cup heat in Adelboden in January is one of the most difficult, requiring great technical skill and can put the most experienced skiers through their paces.
The Adelboden ski festival held during the World Cup weekend attracts more than 40,000 enthusiasts.
How to get there
The best way to get to Adelboden is to fly into Berne.
It is then a 45-minute taxi ride, which costs approx CHF200 , or the oh so efficient train to Frutigen and then a bus the last 10km to Adelboden.
Visitors can also fly into Zurich, Basel or Geneva and then go by rail.