Visit Engelberg for rich history and high-quality family skiing

Monday, 26 March 2012 12:26 PM

Although the first signs of spring are starting to appear in the UK, that certainly isn't the case in Europe's mountainous regions, so there is still time for winter breaks this year. Engelberg in Switzerland offers the ideal mix of culture and action.

The ski season in this picturesque Swiss village typically runs from October to May every year, so there is still time to hit the slopes if you're keen to pull on your skis or board once more and carve up the powder. Don't think that Engelberg is only about winter sports, though, as there's plenty of history and culture to be discovered here too.

In fact, this range of attractions is one of the things that makes it an ideal destination for family skiing in Switzerland, as there's plenty to do if you fancy having a day or two away from the snow-capped mountains.

Culture in Engelberg

The name Engelberg translates to the 'Mountain of the Angels' and the settlement you'll find nestled below the Titlis - Switzerland's highest glacier - sprung up around a Benedictine monastery that was founded in the valley in approximately 1120. This monastery is still very much in use today and the convent runs three schools in the village.

It's possible to visit the monastery during you time in Engelberg - make sure you don't miss its baroque church, which houses the largest pipe organ in the country and is quite a sight to behold.

Another historical attraction you should visit during your winter break is the Talmuseum - or Folk Museum - which is a converted 18th-century farmhouse. The rooms inside are furnished and decorated as they would have been hundreds of years ago, giving you the opportunity to understand what life was like for the people who inhabited the mountains.

For an afternoon that's typically Swiss, visit one of the cheese dairies in the area - there are two of them, the Stafeli Cheese Dairy and the Show Cheese Factory, the latter of which is actually located within the monastery complex. At either of these facilities, you can learn all about the cheese-making process and sample some of the produce.

Skiing in Engelberg

Of course, if you've booked a skiing holiday in Switzerland, you'll want to spend a fair amount of your time out on the slopes and you certainly won't be disappointed by the variety of runs on offer in Engelberg, especially if you've got some experience on the slopes. Off-piste skiing or boarding is particularly popular here, with excellent routes on offer from the Jochpass and Titlis ski areas.

Downhill skiing isn't the only pastime you can have a go at, though, with cross-country skiing through the Engelberg valley another one of your options. There are several trails marked out for this purpose, so you can strap on your kit and set off on a route that suits your abilities.

If you and the kids are after a different sort of thrill, you can both have a go at sledding. There are two dedicated sled runs in the valley - one at Brunni that stretches for 2.5 km and another at Gerschnialp that is 3.5 km long. It's exhilarating to race down the mountain and, as you can have two people per sled, it's an excellent thing to do with the children.

Another adrenaline-pumping activity to try in Engelberg is riding on a snowXbike, which is similar to a go-kart that operates on the snow. Head to Lake Trubsee and you can try your hand at steering one of these vehicles over a specially-designed course at the snowXpark.

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