Next up in our “Destination Inspiration” series is Adelboden, Switzerland. We’re here to give you a peek into a picturesque winter wonderland with all the quaintness you’d expect from a quiet Swiss village.
Staying at Our Chalet
Adelboden is gifted with sun, snow and some pretty amazing scenery. With five leaders and eight Girl Guides in tow, we set off at the end of March to visit the village hidden beneath the Bernese Alps. Having never visited Switzerland before I was blown away by the beauty of the mountains, surrounding us on either side of the train as we entered Frutigen.
A short taxi ride from Frutigen and nestled in between mountains, you’ll find Adelboden, a sleepy village that comes alive every January when it plays host to the Ski World Cup. Head East up a mountain and you’ll find Our Chalet, a Girl Guide and Girl Scout World Centre. Packed with Swiss culture and history, Our Chalet has been welcoming guests since 1932.
One of five WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) World Centre’s, Our Chalet opens its doors to members of Girl Guiding, Girl Scouts and the public too, who are welcome to visit for the day or stay overnight.
Whilst staying at the Centre each night you’ll experience different Swiss dishes in a homely and friendly environment, where you’re encouraged to sit with other guests and international staff to learn more about their culture.
Not only can you get a first-hand taste of the food, Our Chalet also presents a Swiss night. The Swiss night is a great opportunity to learn more about the culture, and even witness a demonstration of a traditional alphorn being played.
So, what is there to do in Adelboden? Well as it happens, quite a lot!
Hiking is an absolute must when visiting, and with epic scenery surrounding you, there’s no better reason to get out and about.
During our trip we hiked from Our Chalet over to the famous Trummer Woodcarvers. The Woodcarvers really is one of a kind, every wall is filled with hand carved items that are more than just a souvenir. Look up and you’ll see the ceiling filled with Guide and Scout badges from across the globe. The Trummer Woodcarvers is a favourite with both Guides and Scouts, with Our Chalet within walking distance and the International Scout Centre, Kandersteg is only a stones throw away.
Situated at the top of Jungfrau, Jungfraujoch is the highest train station and visitor centre in Europe at 3,454m. Just a short bus and train ride from Adelboden, Jungfrau, ‘the Top of Europe’, has a number of activities to do whilst you’re there. The Ice Palace is a frozen wonderland of sculptures, walk through the icy tunnels to find breath-taking carvings that will leave you amazed.
Overlook Europe out on the plateau, with some dicey “handrails”, you’re treated to views across the mountainous range. Unfortunately, we had exceptionally poor visibility and the white of the sky matched the snow beneath us. To avoid disappointment, the best time to visit Jungfrau is from May to September.
Not only can you admire the scenery, Jungfraujoch has its fair share of retail therapy too. My personal favourite is the Lindt shop. Before reaching the store, you can discover how the chocolate is made, to really whet your appetite. Along with the famous chocolate, you can find other Swiss specialities like Victorinox, and of course a souvenir shop.
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Alps without a variety of winter activities. We made the most of the March snow with a breadth of snow sports.
You can’t visit Switzerland without trying out some form of skiing. With numerous areas to ski in, we tried our hand at cross-country skiing. A slightly different technique to your usual ski lesson, our group definitely had its fair share of falls. On narrower skis, and following pre-made tracks in the snow, cross-country skiing gives you a rigorous leg workout, and definitely don’t forget the sun cream (I learnt this the hard way).
For some real Swiss fun, head over to Tschentenalp for snow-shoeing and tobogganing. You can hire snow-shoes when you reach the top, and choose from a number of different routes depending on how long you want to stay on the mountain. Snow-shoeing will give you beautiful views over the town. Unlike skiing, snow-shoeing is easy to pick up and a unique way to get around if you’re a beginner.
Tobogganing on the mountain is dissimilar to any other sledging I’ve known. Rent a retro wooden toboggan and travel down the mountain on numerous routes at speed. Start your day on the beginner slopes to get used to steering the sledge, and experience it again and again by catching the ski lift back to the top of the mountain.
Kit top tips:
Tip 1: Layer up!
At some point during your stay you’ll be exposed to pretty cold conditions, but equally you’ll encounter your fair share of heat too. Equip yourself with a good baselayer, fleece and waterproof combo so you’re ready for any weather.
Tip 2: Accessorize
As mentioned above, you’ll experience both high and low temperatures. Hats, gloves and sunglasses are a staple to prepare for every eventuality. A Buff or a chute is also a versatile accompaniment, with the ability to wear it in different ways, it’s an easy way to add warmth without weight in your suitcase.
Tip 3: Pack it up
A rugged daysack is a must. I took an Osprey Questa 27L backpack, plenty of space for clothing is especially handy, and lots of pockets make it simple to organise your belongings too. A big advantage is side mesh pockets for grabbing water on the go, and a stretch bungee cord on the front of the bag is useful for easy storage and access of top layers when you’re hiking.