Visiting Fürenalp and the Fondue Sled – Engelberg, Switzerland
There are three main mountain areas to visiting on your trip to Engelberg – Titlis, Brunni and Fürenalp. While Titlis and Brunni are larger areas offering the more traditional winter mountain activities, Fürenalp has a unique experience to offer. In the wintertime, activities include sledging / tobogganing, winer hikes and snowshoeing, and even off-piste skiing for those adventurers. In the summertime, activities include numerous hiking trials, an epic via ferrata, rock climbing, and even paragliding. All year round, there is a mountain restaurant at the top that provides incredible panoramic views while enjoying Swiss specialities. Our main interest on our trip was to participate in the Sled Fondue!
In order to reach Fürenalp, there is a cable car that in six minutes takes guests over 6000 ft (1850 m) into the sky, situating you among peaks Titlis, the Gross Spannort and Chli Spannort. The cable car was established in 1979 in order to reach this area more easily and people in the area definitely take advantage of visiting Fürenalp.
Since the weather impacts the cable car – the day before our visit it was closed due to high wind – ensuring good weather is important for your visit. Making sure the cable car is operating is an obvious one, but you also want good weather to be able to see all the mountain views. Thankfully, we had a break in the rain and took the opportunity to head to Fürenalp.
The best way to access this part of Engelberg is to take the free bus #302. I guess it is technically walkable but it would be a very long walk but I bet you could have a beautiful bike here in the summer time. The drive out showcased numerous trickling waterfalls that I am sure have full effects in the spring.
The bus journey took about fifteen minutes from downtown Engelberg. We went inside to purchase our lift ticket and we were ready for our journey up as the sun began to shine. The price of the gondola is for a round trip (20 CHF). They do offer one way tickets which leads me to think there is the option to hike down in the warmer months. It is a six minute gondola journey and with two cable cars in operation so it can take a few minutes to wait for a car to arrive.
The cable car ride up makes quite an ascent in a short amount of time. This cables are steep and the drop offs had me very weak in the knees as the way down was dramatic.
Upon reaching the top (thank god!), we arrived at the restaurant and various activities that awaited us. The main reason for this trip was for the sled fondue for two – a truly unique experience. We checked in with the restaurant and they prepared our sled – we already spotted a few fondue sleds with wooden boxes attached at the ready. For 77 CHF, the Fondue Sled package includes:
- Fondue set for 2 people with plates and forks
- Do It Yourself cheese-fondue for 2 people from the cheese factory in Engelberg
- Crispy fondue bread and herbs & spices
- l bottle of white wine or alternatively hot tea in a flask
- Thermo cushion and woolly blankets
- A wooden sledge
Before long, our sled was ready and we were off. We asked for some recommendations on where to go and we settled on a flat spot a big higher in elevation from the restaurant. It is amazing that you can take your meal anywhere – and some people traveled quite far to do so!
We were blown away that we were actually seeing sunlight! We set up ourselves with two sleds to sit on and made a table out of the wooden box containing all the fondue gear. When I removed the tin foil from the fondue pot – I did not realize it was not at all ready for consumption – we had to really heat the entire thing and “do it yourself”! We struggled slightly to light our burner both due to wind and user error but after five matches we got a flame going. As we set everything else up, slowly things started to melt and our fondue was well on its way.
We could not believe this is what we were doing – making our own fondue at over 6000 ft looking into the tops of mountains. It was surreal and we certainly took our time enjoying this experience. The fondue itself was really delicious – I do not know what it was seasoned with but it had a smoky quality to it. I do know that the cheese in use is none other than Engelberg cheese that we have enjoyed this entire trip. The fondue bread was the perfect vehicle for the fondue – I especially enjoyed the crispy outside pieces. The wine was delicious! We discovered Swiss wine on this trip and it is so good. It is too bad this isn’t available internationally so we enjoyed it while we were here.
Overall I think this is a great deal, especially for this unbelievable scenery you get to enjoy while enjoying your fondue picnic.
We retuned our fondue sled and exchanged for sledding sleds – or as it is know here sledge/tobogganing. This was one of the activities I was most disappointed was not available due to the lack of snow as Engelberg mountains are full of sledge routes – some of which are several minutes long in duration.
The sledge run up at Fürenalp was one of the shortest and was even shorter due to the snow – but hey, it was at least offered and open to try. I have to say the walk to get to the start of the run was quite a hike and took quite a but more energy than I was expecting. Suddenly, doing this sled run on repeat did not feel so enticing.
We made it to the start, positioned ourselves on the sleds, and Kevin glided to the next hill whereas I did not move. I do not know what I was doing wrong but the sled stopped moving once I sat down on it. Kevin was able to get some good speed traveling the rest of the way down the run though.
Before we headed back down and to time it with the bus arrival, we walked on some of the hiking trails enjoying the views and just the scope of everything we were looking at. Though we were not nearly as high as the neighboring peak Titlis, the view from Fürenalp was special.
We grabbed a final drink at the restaurant before heading down the gondola. Not a bad view, and a wonderful afternoon. We spent a total of three hours here so I definitely think more time can be dedicated when all facilities are open or in the summer time to explore all the hiking.
The gondola down was not a terrifying – maybe because we were seated this time or maybe just not looking helped – but it did go much faster thankfully. We waited for the bus to arrive and we returned to downtown Engelberg for the rest of our day.