Wengen has approximately 1,300 year-round residents. This number swells to 5,000 during summer and to 10,000 during the winter peak tourist season.
Wengen was first mentioned in official documents in 1268. The origin of the name is unknown.
Originally a farming community, the first tourists started to arrive in the mountain village during the early 19th century. One of the first visitors was Felix Mendelssohn. The first hotel opened in 1859 and tourism greatly expanded after the construction of the Wengernalpbahn in the 1890s. As well as hotels, there are many apartments for summer tourists and skiers to rent.
Since 1930, the famous Lauberhorn ski races have been held in Wengen. The races traditionally consist of a downhill run, a slalom, and a combined event. In addition to being one of the technically most challenging downhill races, the Lauberhorn is the longest race in the FIS world cup circuit and arguably the most scenic. An average world cup racer completes the 4,455 metre run in about 2:30 minutes. The top speeds reached at Haneggschuss are the highest in the world cup circuit.
It is one of very few car-free resort villages in Europe, although there are a few electric vehicles for taxiing to and from the train station.
It is accessible only either by rail using the Wengernalpbahn from Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald by changing in Kleine Scheidegg, or by cable car down from the Männlichen on the Luftseilbahn Wengen-Männlichen.
The rail service from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen railway station runs daily from early in the morning until very late at night and is the most intensively operated section of the Wengernalpbahn. There are approximately 40 services between Lauterbrunnen to Wengen every day. Each service may consist of up to 4 separate trains, running closely behind each other.
The uphill journey takes around 14 minutes, and the downhill journey takes 17 minutes. The downhill services take longer because they arrive at the midpoint passing place below Wengwald slightly earlier than the uphill services, allowing the uphill services to pass them and proceed to Wengen without stopping. All trains now use the less steep but slightly longer route via Wengwald.
All freight is delivered by rail from Lauterbrunnen into a depot underneath the passenger railway station, and refuse is returned from the village also by rail.
Wengen is also the home of The Downhill Only Club, one of the very oldest British alpine ski clubs, founded there in 1925.
There are many activities that are open for visitors, even for those who do not ski. Although skiing is the main recreational activity in Wengen, the average tourist is not likely to be bored.
In the winter time - especially around the holidays - there are many shops open selling various gifts and electronics.
For the non-skier, one can learn to ice skate on either of the two rinks near the centre of the town. In addition, tourists can watch a curling practice or match which grew to popularity during the Winter Olympics.
Besides all this, there are countless hiking trails with the beautiful scenery and occasional sledder (sledger) flying down a hill.
Travel: Snowy Peaks and Greytops on 007 Trail; There Are Plenty of Familiar Sights in the Luxury Swiss Resort of Wengen and Several Pleasant Surprises. Paul Dale Explores This Favourite Haunt for British Skiers
Feb 28, 2004; Byline: Paul Dale Wengen, one of the most British of Swiss ski resorts, is surprising in more ways than one. The Brits...