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Engelberg and Mt. Titlis: feeling on top of the world

Engelberg means “Angel Mountain.” It gets its name from the Benedictine monks who still live there. Their monastery was founded in 1120 which makes 2020 the 900th anniversary of its founding.

This is one of the destinations we are adding to our list of places to visit once we can travel to Switzerland. It would be ideal for a multigenerational family trip.

Meanwhile, great care has been taken during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep things safe there. People are encouraged to buy tickets online, masks must be worn on the gondola, and UV irradiation like that used at Zurich airport is blown into each gondola. The 900th anniversary celebration has beenpostponed to 2021.

Getting there

Engelberg is in the heart of Switzerland and easy to reach. It is about 20 miles south of Lucerne, which takes about 30 minutes by car or 45 minute on the Zentralbahn railway.

The walk from Engelberg railway station to the cable car at the base of Mt. Titlis takes about ten minutes. There is also a free shuttle bus.

If staying overnight on the mountain, check to see whether luggage can be dropped off in the delivery area at the back of the valley station and collected at your accommodations. There are also luggage lockers at the train station.

SBB has station-to-station and door-to-door luggage handling options available for those traveling by air or public transportation.

Although only about 4,000 people live in this area, there are plenty of options for a stay. There are over 2000 hotel beds, 330 guest house beds, 1,000 dormitory beds and 800 holiday rental flats, group houses, bed and breakfasts and campsites. One of the campgrounds has a 5-star designation. There are 33 restaurants in the village and 21 restaurants in the mountains.

Mount Titlis

This region is best known for the 10,000′ high Mount Titlis, a ski resort with the only publicly accessed glacier and highest vantage point in Central Switzerland.

The round-trip Engelberg-TITLIS admission ticket includes the gondola ticket to and from Engelberg-Titlis, entrance to the glacier cave, the Titlis Cliff Walk and glacier park, and the Ice Flyer ticket. More on those later.

It takes about 30 minutes to reach the summit. To get there take an eight seat gondola to the Rotair, the world’s first revolving cable car and a unique way to enjoy a 360º view.

In addition to the range of mountain excursions offered at the summit there are shops selling products ranging from chocolate to timepieces in the highest souvenir and watch shop in the world. Try one or more of the twelve flavors in a freshly baked waffle cone at the Movenpick Ice Cream Bar. Most restaurants offer window seating for the views.

You won’t want to miss the Ice Cave that is 50′ to 60′ below the surface of 5000-year-old ice. Take the Cliff Walk to Europe’s highest situated suspension bridge. It offer an unparalleled view from the highest point in Central Switzerland. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Italian Alps. For another great vantage point, take the Stotzig Egg Hike. You might see as far as the Bernese Oberland and the Black Forest.

Hop aboard the Ice Flyer chairlift for an adrenaline-filled view of the snow fields. Glide on the snow on a sledge.

Trübsee

There is an intermediate stop 6000′ up the mountain at Lake Trübsee, where you can enjoy nature by day and the brilliant stars by night. Hotels in this family-friendly destination cater to families by offering things like child care and playgrounds. Family activities are available every day of the week and are generally included with a stay.

Enjoy the alpine lake. Take a boat ride or rent a kayak. In winter head for the snow park next to the Trübsee Alpine Lodge for the balancer, minibobs and snowtubes. Relax in a pub.

The Adventure Trail

This area was along the historic trade route. From May to October the characters Engelbert, a muleteer, and his pack mule Schmuggli are featured in a new adventure trail’s traders and smugglers theme.

Engelbert and Schmuggli are said to have traveled the challenging route from Engelberg over the Jochpass to Engstlenalp and stashed smuggled goods around Trübsee. Children can delight in solving puzzles along the Trail of Schmuggli to find hidden treasure and win a prize.

There’s a playground with a smuggler’s tower, treasure chest, rope bridge, sandpit with gold, zipline, tunnel and trench mazes. The adjacent picnic and barbecue area in the Trader’s Camp is a relaxing place that is free to all.

It takes about an hour to walk the trail, but allow 2 1/2 to 3 hours to enjoy the stops.

Engelberg

The choice is yours, from rustic accommodations to 5-star luxury.

The 129 guest room 5-star Hotel Palace Engelberg Titlis will open in July 2021 with seminar and meeting facilities, a health and wellness area, a spa and rooftop finity pool. A contemporary annex has been added to complement the traditional elegance of the historic original building that dates to 1904. It is a short walk from the Engelberg train station.

Hiking

Two multi-day hikes showcase the history and traditions of this beautiful valley.

The Farmer’s Cable Car Safari

Switzerland was a poor country less than a century ago when building roads was more expensive than installing these cable cars.

The Farmer’s Cable Car Safari combines hiking in unspoiled nature with rides in cable cars (Buiräbähnli) once used by the farmers to transport goods. They are still used by area children to get to school.

These cable cars only operate on request. Pick up the receiver, turn the handle, and speak into the station for a ride. Get a Buiräbähnli Pass that covers all the cable cars for this 2-3 day wheelchair-accessible circular hike through the mountains.

The Alpine Cheese Trail

Spend some time sampling local cheese right from the source. Visit up to eight alpine cheese dairies on this 2-3 day hike that offers 360º panoramas of mountain peaks and glaciers.

If you prefer to use your accommodations as a base, divide the trail into separate daily loops. Bike rentals are available.

For a more authentic experience on either trail, stay and/or dine in farmers’ houses you pass along the way.

If night life is what you seek you might prefer accommodations in town. Or you can unplug and get away from it all with a stay at the Benedictine monastery, where you can join the 20 monks now in residence for a silent retreat, for prayers, or simply a relaxing stay. There is a  baroque church with the largest pipe organ in Switzerland. There is also a cheese dairy in a roundabout setting that displays the various stages and processes in the production from milk to cheese.

Seeking adventure or a place to where the Swiss go to relax? The Engelberg area may be just what you are looking for.

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