Alpine Summer – Head for the hills

Blog by Darren Cooper

Blog by Darren Cooper

My recent summer trip through Switzerland by train took in the cities of Zurich and Lucerne, the mountain resort of Engelberg, and finished in Lausanne for a spot of wine tasting and Switzerland’s gay club night, the Jungle Party.

I caught my trip on video which I have included in this blog, and this really was a wonderful experience. I, like many people usually head to the mountains during the winter for skiing and snowboarding (and apres ski of course), but the mountains really are just as beautiful, and have just as much to offer during every season.

I hope you enjoy the video, and also the pictures which I took during the trip too.

I’ve included some other details of some of the activities you can do if you are thinking of heading to the mountains this summer – or you could just relax and enjoy the stunning scenery of course…


For more information visit www.myswitzerland.com

Gallery


Head for the hills
this summer for some inspirational experiences – and discover the rejuvenating effects of luxurious spas, breath-taking scenery, crisp clear air, exciting outdoor activities and delicious cuisine.  Further afield Switzerland has much more to offer the intrepid traveller. Beautiful mountains, historic towns and villages, lakes, rivers and picture postcard scenery viewed during a bracing walk or a leisurely train journey.

Whether you want to kick back and relax, or challenge yourself with some activities to get the adrenaline pumping – Switzerland has a dizzying array of options on offer.

The Glacier Express
One of the best ways to enjoy some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes is by taking one Switzerland’s scenic railways journeys, the most famous of these being the Glacier Express. The train runs throughout the year between the upmarket resort of St. Moritz to the lofty peaks surrounding Zermatt over the Oberlap mountain pass passing cascading waterfalls and crystal clear mountain lakes as it winds through Switzerland’s most unspoilt countryside. The dining experience onboard just as delightful as the views, chefs will prepare your meal from an extensive à la carte menu in the elegant dining car. Switzerland’s other railway journeys include the Bernina ExpressWilliam Tell Express and Centovalli.

Hiking
From a pleasant stroll along the banks of a mountain stream to routes which will challenge the most accomplished walkers, the sheer variety of Switzerland’s hiking trails is vast with something to suit all abilities. There are innumerable short circular walks as well as weeklong guided hiking tours which can be combined with gastronomic and cultural highlights of the country. Many of the networks of cable cars are open to walkers during the summer months and can be used to reach some of the highest alpine meadows and pastures for exhilarating views across Switzerland’s enigmatic mountain landscape.

Mountain Biking
Touring by mountain bike is a thrilling way to explore Switzerland’s and there are over 130 trails and tours to choose from. One of the most popular is The Grischa Trail is a multi-day round trip from Lenzerheide to Arosa, Davos and back again. There are various routes to suit different abilities and by using the numerous cable cars and mountain railways available there’s more downhill than uphill to look forward to. The best thing about the Grischa Trail though has to be that your luggage is taken for you to each hotel along the route!


Summer Skiing

For those who can’t wait to get back on the slopes the resorts of Les Diablerets, Saas-Fee and Zermatt all offer the opportunity for summer skiing on their glaciers. Contrary to what you may believe summer skiing is available to suit all levels of ability with powder skiing sometimes available in the right conditions due to the extremely high altitudes. Zermatt offers the largest and highest summer skiing in Europe which is accessed by the Klein Matterhorn cable car which whisks skiers, snowboarders and sightseers on a spectacular ascent to the top of the glacier at 3,820 metres above sea level. The best skiing is from early morning to mid afternoon and with many professional skiers and boarders honing their skills there’s some pretty impressive action on show, particularly in the half pipes and fun parks.

Thermal Spas
Leukerbad is the largest spa and wellness resort in the Alps, just perfect for rejuvenating yourself in the gorgeous surroundings of the Valais region of south west Switzerland. The thermal springs here have been used for their therapeutic qualities since Roman times and visitors still use the thirty indoor and outdoor thermal pools all year round to unwind and relax. An inexhaustible supply of 3.9 million litres of 51°C water flows into the thermal baths of Leukerbad every single day value but this isn’t the only reason visitors come here, the town is also popular with sporting enthusiast who come here to walk, climb, and play tennis too.

Golf
Switzerland may not be the most obvious golfing destination but it is home to some of the most spectacular courses in Europe. As well as the dramatic scenery and crisp mountain air the high altitudes and thinner air means you’ll be driving distances the likes of which even Tiger Woods would be proud of. With around 60 courses and 42 dedicated golf hotels offering golfing holidays all over the country there’s something to suit every standard of golfer. The courses in the Alpine resorts of Arosa and Crans Montana are just two of the highest and also have some of the most breathtaking scenery.

Climbing
You don’t have to be an expert mountaineer to experience some of the most thrilling climbing in Switzerland thanks to a network of Vie ferrate ascents. This new approach to climbing is making a big impact in the Alps making it easy for those with little or no know-how to discover the sport. These climbing routes have permanently installed wire ropes, suspension bridges and hand and footholds along the way so that everyone can challenge themselves against the vertical rock faces and steep gorges of the mountains.

Canoeing Tours and White Water Rafting
With so many lakes and rivers taking to the water is a must for many people who find themselves in Switzerland during the summer. Renting a canoe is the best way to explore the hundreds of lakes and more gentle rivers and find a secluded spot for a refreshing swim. The more adventurous can try shooting the rapids on a guided rafting trip, but it’s not for the faint hearted. Some of the most challenging rapids in the world are found here but it’s the only way to discover places like the awesome 350 metre deep Rheinschlucht gorge, you won’t be disappointed.

The Schilthorn Cable Car
Of the many cable cars in Switzerland the Schiltorn is one of the most famous being the one that was used in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Take the panorama cable car up past thundering waterfalls and sheer rock faces to reach the 2,970 metre summit for breathtaking view of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, an impressive mountain trio and great Trümmelbach gorge. Once at the top enjoy lunch, a few cocktails and 360 degree views in the panoramic restaurant.

Water Sports
Wakeboarding, windsurfing, sailing and water skiing are all popular ways to spend the sunny summer days on one of Switzerland’s many lakes. Estavayer-le-Lac on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel is just one of the many most popular lake-side resorts ad is also one of the prettiest. The medieval town has changed little since the 16th century and is overlooked by an impressive 12th century Savoy castle set against the jaw dropping backdrop of the Jura Mountains. The town has earned itself the name of the City of Roses as during the summer flowers cover virtually every building in are covered with cascades of bright, perfumed blooms.

Jungfrau Region
The Jungfrau just to the south of Interlaken is where the most memorable mountain scenery is to be found in Switzerland. The area is dominated by the mighty triple crest of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau (Ogre, Monk and Virgin), three peaks over 4,000 metres which soar side by side. The train which runs from Interlaken Ost stops in a saddle just below the peak to what is claimed to be the highest train station in Europe and offers spectacular views. The towns of Interlaken or Grindewald make excellent bases from which to explore the area further.

For more information visit www.myswitzerland.com

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