The Via Ferrata at Fürenalp, Switzerland, is an exhilarating alpine adventure, perfect for those seeking a thrill amidst spectacular natural beauty. This climbing route, equipped with fixed cables, ladders, and bridges, offers an accessible way for non-expert climbers to experience the joy of mountain climbing. Beginning at the Fürenalp mountain station, the route winds its way through rugged cliffs and steep rock faces, boasting breathtaking views of the surrounding Alpine panorama, including the iconic peak of Mount Titlis.
THE FÜRENALP VIA FERRATA
The Via Ferrata in Fürenalp, Engelberg is known as one of the best routes in the country. It’s challenging but such an adventure! In this blog post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about doing the Via Ferrata in Fürenalp, how to get there, and what gear you need!
There’s an awesome 3-DAY Via Ferrata Tour in Switzerland completely dedicated to via ferrata. It takes you on a new and challenging via ferrata each day and includes all accommodation, gear, food UIAGM Guides and transport throughout the trip. You can Click Here to check out the details of that tour.
FÜRENALP VIA FERRATA DETAILS
- Hike Distance: The total hike distance was 6.54 kilometers, which includes the 1km walk from the shop/ticket office to the start of the Via Ferrata. Not sure how accurate that was considering the ups and downs but that is how my Garmin watch recorded the day.
- Hike Duration: Our total time from the shop to the wall to the summit was 4 hours and 12 minutes. Our total moving time was 2 hours and 17 minutes. We let a lot of other climbers pass us and went very slowly as always to take photos and just sit around and enjoy the views. It’s not the kind of activity to rush. It could be easily done from top to bottom in under two hours. You do need to catch the cable car down at the top or hike down, which adds a little extra time also.
- Hike Difficulty: This route is rated K4 difficulty. I haven’t done too many Via Ferrata’s but I was told this is one of the more challenging ones out there. It was actually my first time ever and was a pretty simple concept of clicking in and out so don’t worry if you have little to no experience. We climbed 773 meters of an incline in total and a lot of it was ladders and metal pegs out of the wall. If you have any fears of heights don’t do this. If you aren’t in good shape… don’t do this. If you like adventure and want a challenge then go for it.
- Hike Incline: Total incline for the day was 773m from the shop to Fürenalp. The hike starts in at the ticket-shop/Fürenalp cable car office and finished at an altitude of 1811m.
CHECK OUT MY GUIDE FOR ENGELBERG HIKING: 5 AWESOME HIKES IN ENGELBERG, SWITZERLAND
WHAT IS A VIA FERRATA
A Via Ferrata, Italian for “Iron Path,” is a protected climbing route found primarily in the Alps, but now can be encountered all over the world. The concept was first developed in Italy during World War I to facilitate troop movement across the rugged Dolomite mountain range. Today, they provide adventurous outdoor enthusiasts with an exciting way to experience the high alpine environment.
A Via Ferrata consists of a series of iron rungs, pegs, ladders, and cables fixed to the rock, creating a pathway that allows non-expert climbers to traverse steep and difficult terrain that would otherwise require advanced climbing skills. Additionally, there’s a steel cable that runs alongside the route, to which climbers can attach themselves with a special via ferrata harness for safety.
While Via Ferrata routes vary in difficulty, all require a good head for heights, a moderate level of fitness, and some essential equipment, including a helmet, harness, and a special via ferrata kit. They offer a unique way for people to access spectacular mountain landscapes, and enjoy the thrill of rock climbing without the need for extensive training or experience. The photo below is of the famous Murren Via Ferrata.
DO YOU NEED EQUIPMENT
You can actually buy your own Via Ferrata gear for pretty cheap on sites like Amazon and then you don’t need to rent it at each Via Ferrata course. They usually cost about $20-40 USD to rent per day and can be bought for about $200 for a full kit such as this Petzl Via Ferrata Kit.
HOW TO GET TO THE FÜRENALP VIA FERRATA
If you are staying in Engelberg, there is a free shuttle bus that takes you all the way to the starting point for this adventure. Take the Engelberg Bahnhof, which leaves from just near the train station (about a 200m walk). Just put it in Fürenalp on your Google Maps and select the ‘public transit’ option and it will take you to the nearest stop for the free shuttle.
The Via Ferrata starts at the Fürenalp Cable Car office and costs $20 return trip. You will only need one way as you are taking the Via Ferrata up. One-way costs $14 although if you have the Swiss Half-Card you will receive a half-price on your tickets.
I bought mine when I arrived in Switzerland and it has saved me over a thousand dollars. If you want to hike down after the Via Ferrata, there is obviously no need to buy a ticket at all. The cable car office is also where you will rent the gear for the Via Ferrata, which includes a harness, helmet, and carabiner set. The rent for the equipment is $25 and you don’t need a guide unless you want one.
FÜRENALP VIA FERRATA MAP
On the below map you can see the route we took from Fürenalp Cable Car office to the wall and then up the wall to Fürenalp summit. Although… you really can’t get lost otherwise you won’t be attached to the wire! I’ve attached our GPX route so you can see where we went. You can download it here for use on your Garmin, smartwatch or another app.
FÜRENALP VIA FERRATA: MY EXPERIENCE
Our journey began in Engelberg Town where we walked from our accommodation to the bus stop. At the time we didn’t know it was a free bus/shuttle but when we went to pay the driver said, ‘No thanks’ and on we hopped. Fürenalp is the last stop on the bus and most people will be heading off into the park for hiking and other activities.
When we got off the bus, we still needed to walk another few hundred meters further down the road to reach the cable car/ticketing office. Here you can rent the Via Ferrata gear for $25 or pay your cable car tickets.
If you only want to ride down from the top, you can either pay before or when you get back down. It’s just an honesty system as it is not a manned station at the top. We caught the cable car down from the top and paid when we returned.
Once we had our gear, we headed off further down the paved road into the park. It was about a 1-kilometer walk through the valley and then we found the sign that led us through the forest to the base of the wall where the Via Ferrata began. It was all signed and is very easy to follow and find your jump-off point.
At the base of the Via Ferrata, we were a bit nervous. We had never done a Via Ferrata and had actually watched one on Youtube the night before to see how it worked. A family went before us and it looked simple enough!
If you prefer to watch a quick video about your experience rather than read on, you can watch my vlog below.
Okay… so off we went. Learning the ropes and the clips turned out to be pretty easy. The route begins with more rock-climbing than ladders and it wasn’t too challenging although it still felt pretty physical and like moderate rock-climbing. We did seem to be heading up in a pretty vertical manner so it was still quite tiring as you are literally just climbing ladders, steps, or vertical rocks for a few hours.
The route had a mixture of rock climbing, ladders, and pegs that had been inserted into the wall. They all felt very secure and it seemed to be quite well maintained… which is handy! Josh and I are in quite good physical shape and we didn’t find it incredibly easy. Neither of us has huge issues with a fear of heights but it still challenged us physically and mentally so if you aren’t up for an adventure then this isn’t just your average activity.
As you can see in the video I posted above, there are quite a few sections where you walk sideways along with pegs, almost like little steps across the wall. This part was epic with views across the valley and a huge drop below. You got to feel as if you were a crazy rock climber without the danger!
The final part of the route was probably the most challenging. A 50-meter-long hanging vertical ladders lead you to the final summit. It shakes a little bit and would make quite a few people physically sick just looking at it.
For us, it was a thrill but by this point we were a good 600 meters or so above the valley, holding on to a shaking, rope ladder that was hanging a couple of meters away from the rock wall! I took some photos with the drone of other climbers on this section after we had finished.
Once you reach the top there is a small pond to cool your feet and take in the view. We sat here for a while just grabbing some sun, had a drink, and sat our feet in the water trying not to annoy the tadpoles!
Just another 100 meters up the hill from this little pond is the restaurant. We were up there on a sunny Sunday, which meant half of Engelberg was up at the restaurant enjoying a coffee and a chat. It was a great vibe and a real buzz to be up there. We had a zucchini soup (highly recommended) and a coffee while sitting out in the sun.
The views are top-notch and it’s an awesome way to end the day. You can also fill your bottle here with fresh, cold water for free.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Fürenalp Via Ferrata in Engelberg.
SWISS TRAVEL PASS or HALF-FARE CARD
OPTION 1: Buy the Swiss Half Fare Card: Switzerland trains, buses, and cable cars are EXPENSIVE! I found the best way to get around cheaply was to buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card before I arrived. It gives you 50% off every regular train, bus, and even many cable cars. It only costs $150 USD but pays itself off in just a few days with many train tickets in Switzerland costing close to $100 alone. If you are staying for more than 5 days, I suggest buying the Swiss Half-Fare Card.
OPTION 2: Buy the Swiss Travel Pass: The second option is to get the Swiss Travel Pass, which gives you unlimited train, bus, and (many) cable car rides but it’s pretty expensive at around $100 USD per day so if you don’t travel each day it isn’t worth it.
OPTION 3: Buy the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass: The final (BEST) option is to get the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass, which allows you to buy 8 days’ worth of transit but you can choose the night before if you want to activate the next day. That way you don’t need to travel every day to get your money’s worth, you can just activate the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass on the days when you are doing sizeable transits. My advice is to book the Swiss Half-Fare Card or the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass in advance before your trip so it’s ready to go when you arrive.
MY SWITZERLAND HIKING GUIDES
I spent 100 days hiking in Switzerland and created a guide for different regions around the country. You can click on one of my Switzerland hiking guides below to help you plan your trip.
- The Complete Guide: 50 AWESOME HIKES IN IN SWITZERLAND
- The Via Ferrata Guide: 4 EPIC SWITZERLAND VIA FERRATA COURSES
- Lauterbrunnen Guide: 10 AWESOME HIKES NEAR LAUTERBRUNNEN
- Interlaken Guide: 15 AWESOME HIKES IN INTERLAKEN
- Grindelwald Guide: 12 AWESOME HIKES NEAR GRINDELWALD:
- Mürren Guide: 7 AWESOME HIKES IN MURREN
- Appenzell Guide: 9 AWESOME HIKES NEAR APPENZELL
- Chur Guide: 7 AWESOME HIKES NEAR CHUR