It’s not hard to conjure up romantic images of the Swiss Alps, from the stark, formidable peaks of the mountains to the cozy fireplaces in the après-ski huts. The very best thing about visiting the Swiss Alps is the fact that it will live up to your expectations and more. The Alps really are storybook-perfect and yes, the chocolate and cheese really are that good.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or a winter sports expert, you’ll learn something new, get an incredible perspective on the mountains and find a party to help you wind down after a strenuous day of activities, all of which mean the Swiss Alps need to be on your list of dream vacation spots. We picked some of our favorite activities to get you started, so why not add them to your BUCKiTDREAM planner and begin to make the dream a reality?
Get Your Skies On What is the Swiss Alps without a spot of skiing? If you’ve never even tried on a pair, the time to strap yourself in and try it out is undoubtedly now. The New Generation Ski School offers group adult beginners or private lessons and one of its many locations is in Villars, a laid-back resort that is perfect for the amateur skier.
Test Yourself If you’re an experienced skier looking for a challenge, test yourself by tackling the steep slopes of Verbier where the 900-meter vertical run in Gentianes will challenge and thrill you.
Don’t Get Bored, Get a Board Laax is one of the most highly-regarded places to snowboard, making it a prime spot to learn or to perfect your freestyle. Despite a long season, it remains largely free of tour operators. If the weather isn’t your favor, you can always train at the Freestyle Academy.
Go To the Top Of the World Whether via an organized tour or by making your own way, don’t leave the Alps without visiting Jungfraujoch. A scenic train ride will bring you to the highest station in Europe and from there, you can take a lift another 117 meters up to the Sphinx observatory for incredible 360-degree views.
Peak Fun There are plenty of peak attractions to choose from in the Swiss Alps but Sunnegga is something special. Get to the top of the mountain easily on the funicular, where you’ll find a great family area, lakes, and plenty of walking trails to explore.
Soak Your Cares Away The Swiss Alps done properly will result in some tired muscles for sure, but fear not: there are thermal pools and spas to provide some welcome relief. Bogn Engiadina in Scuol gives you the opportunity to relax in saunas or hot pools with spectacular views of the mountains. You might even catch a poolside concert while you’re there.
Take the Slow Train Ensure you book early to get a window seat for the Bernina Express. Here you’ll be able to travel in comfort on the highest railway line through the Alps, starting from the scenic Swiss city of Chur and bringing you all the way to Tirano in Italy.
Zip Through the Alps In the market for a different type of thrill? Head to Zermatt’s Forest Fun Park to explore the forest through ziplines over the treetops or rope courses to challenge your strength and balance.
High-End Get back to nature without leaving your luxuries behind with a stay at the Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel. By day, the hotel will organize activities for you like hiking with dogs and paragliding or you can use their own private slopes; oh, and their homemade pastries are the perfect way to refuel. At night you’ll retire to your very own personal pod for the ultimate cozy experience. It’s worth setting your alarm for the middle of the night to catch a glimpse of the picture-perfect stars above you.
Mid-Range If you like to get your breathtaking views from the comfort of a hotel, stay at the 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat, the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps. If you enjoy waking up face-to-face with the Matterhorn or spending your evenings on the terrace sipping hot chocolate while getting up close and personal with the stars and clouds, this is the place for you.
Budget The term ‘budget travel’ doesn’t mean as much in the Swiss Alps as it does elsewhere but there are still plenty of (relative) bargains to be had without compromising too much on comfort. One such option is the WellnessHostel4000, an innovate hostel that combines clean and comfortable dorm rooms with full (nudist) spa access, perfect for easing those aching muscles after a long day hiking.
The chill of the Swiss Alps, combined with the physical activities you’ll be enjoying during the day will inspire you to leave the clean eating behind and indulge in warm and comforting Swiss food once you retire to your chalet.
When the weather is cold, there’s nothing better than sharing a big pot of cheese fondue. Dunk chunky, fresh bread into a melting pot of delicious Swiss cheese, infused with garlic and wine and pair with a glass of Viognier wine from the Rhone Valley to cut through the richness of the Gruyère cheese.
If you’re on a budget and prefer to do it yourself, Swiss supermarkets are a dream come true. As well as providing a large variety of food and drinks, the Swiss place a huge emphasis on local, organic produce so there’s plenty of these ingredients to work with.
For a quick energy break in between your time on the slopes, you’ll simply have to stuff your snowsuit pockets full of that famous Swiss chocolate. It would be rude not to.
Drinks & Nightlife
Should you wish, you can bypass the activities and head straight for the après-ski, which usually kicks off sometime mid-afternoon. If nightlife is a big priority for your Swiss Alps holiday, you’ll have to choose your resort carefully, as some are very quiet and family-friendly; great for relaxation but not so much for socializing. Although Austria has more of a reputation for partying, with French resorts quickly catching up, you’ll still find plenty of places to let your hair down on the Swiss Alps.
Zermatt is the best resort for those who like a little wine with their skiing. Much of the action takes place in the little huts you’ll find dotted around the lower slopes of the Matterhorn sector. Check out the live music at the Hennu Stall or for something a little more low-key, you’ll find excellent cocktails and selection of fine wines at Elsie’s Bar.
Tips & Culture
Switzerland is not cheap and the steep slopes of the Swiss Alps come with a suitably steep price tag. If you’re on a budget, careful planning ahead is key. Do as much research as possible and stick to your plans if you don’t want to run out of funds halfway through your vacation.
The most major faux pas you can make in Switzerland is to be late. To show up tardy for even the most informal gathering is considered the height of rudeness and will not be looked upon kindly. If you’re the kind of person that is always a few minutes behind, set an alarm so you don’t offend your Swiss hosts.
If you see nothing else in the Swiss Alps, ensure you get as close to the Matterhorn as you can. There are plenty of accommodation options around the region that offer spectacular views but it’s even better if you make the journey to the mountain. Navigate the cable cars and brave the chilly temperatures to be rewarded with once-in-a-lifetime views of one of nature’s most spectacular creations.
On such a special trip you’ll want to bring your camera with you, so ensure you have plenty of memory space! Post your favorite snaps to Facebook or Instagram afterward and you’ll be sure to inspire plenty of other travelers to put the Swiss Alps on their bucket list.