Winter is fast approaching and the cold months will be here before we know it. While many of us would prefer to hibernate only to emerge in the spring, there is something absolutely magical about winter, especially in Switzerland.
This winter, instead of retreating indoors, consider embracing the cold. Switzerland is a playground for winter recreation, so make the most of all this country has to offer. If you are not a skier, no problem, there are lots of alternatives.
A Winter Adventure
One of the most enjoyable activities a family can engage in each winter is sledding/sledging. While sledding can be a fast-paced, wild ride, there are sled runs that are family-friendly and suitable for those not interested in crazy speed.
Fürenalp (1850 m), located at the back of the valley in Engelberg, is the perfect destination for families offering an easy sled run, plus the use of the sleds are free! That’s right, just exit the gondola and grab your sled.
The downhill run is 1 km and is a genuine delight for everyone! You will need to participate in a short walk (roughly 30 minutes) to get to the start of the sled run, but the views are so impressive that you won’t mind. Pull your children on their sleds and get ready for a downhill adventure. If you are sledding with small children, have your child ride with you in the front of the sled. Older children are capable of navigating their own sled alone after proper instruction.
More Than Just Sledding
While the sled run may be short, you can certainly partake in the run multiple times. The area is also perfect for a winter walk and snowshoeing trails are also available. With well-marked trails (pink for walking/snowshoeing and blue for sledding) this area is perfect for full immersion in nature.
If you work up an appetite from walking and sledding, enjoy the outdoor terrace at the Mountain Restaurant Fürenalp. With delicious food and panoramic views, this is the ideal location for a relaxed outdoor meal. If dining at a restaurant isn’t your thing, pack a picnic lunch, pull up your sled and enjoy your meal as mountains tower overhead.
Some Tips to Get Started
Before starting any winter outing, it is advantageous to be prepared. Plan your journey with the following tips:
Check the Conditions
Webcams for the area you plan to enjoy.
The weather forecast for the day. Never attempt to participate in outdoor activities when the weather is poor.
Check operating times of the gondola or chairlift in the area you are visiting.
Wear good quality winter clothing (dressing in layers is best) that will keep you warm throughout the day!
Pack plenty of sunscreen and don't forget your ski goggles/sunglasses and gloves.
Helmets are recommended for sledding as are good winter boots. You will use your boots to stop and steer your sled, so sturdy boots are a must for all participants.
Pack a spare change of clothes for children should they get wet after a day of winter recreation. Don’t forget a plastic bag to store wet clothes.
Always stay on the designated trails/paths, which have been checked for safety and avalanche risk. If you elect to leave the marked routes, you risk becoming lost or even starting or getting caught in an avalanche!
Winter season doesn’t officially start in the Engelberg region until the 17th of December.
Parking is available at the Fürenalp cable car station, though parking is limited. Keep in mind that in the winter months, there is only way up and down the mountain, which is by gondola.
Looking For More Inspiration?
For additional winter inspiration, don’t miss the newly published Winter Kids Switzerland, available in late November in English, German and French. A book by Melinda and Robert Schoutens that provides 36 winter inspired activities with over 80 additional locations mentioned.
With four distinct chapters, including how to safely enjoy Swiss winters, where to go and how to make the most of winter recreation, plus an entire chapter devoted to the children in your family, this one book is everything you need to make the most of winter this year.
Here’s to making this winter one of your best yet!
Melinda Taylor Schoutens
Melinda is an American who lives in Basel. She loves exploring the Alps with her husband, two children and anyone else who is up for an adventure. She writes, reads, listens to podcasts, hikes and enjoys sweating at her local gym. She’s passionate about sharing her love of nature with others and has a dream of having a little chalet in the Swiss Alps!