Destination of the Week: Swiss Alps
Are you ready for your ski holiday this year? Switzerland’s ski resorts rank as some of the best in the world and the Alpine heart offers sheer valleys, impossibly picturesque country towns and high peaks with thunderous waterfalls. Then, there’s green meadows dotted with peacefully grazing cows, historic log cabins and the sound of bells tinkling in the air. If you love the classic children’s book, ‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri, Switzerland will take you into the storybook land and far beyond.
What to do
For ski fanatics, head to Switzerland’s premier resorts to spend your days on some of the world’s best ski slopes. Zermatt is dominated by the famous Matterhorn and it’s home to one of the world’s highest ski areas, Glacier Paradise. The charming village of St Moritz is a jetsetter’s paradise, with spectacular cross-country skiing by cool lakes and rolling valleys. Murren is surrounded by awe-inspiring alpine scenery, with a car-free village and a claim to fame in the James Bond Film, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’.
Lucerne is a popular base for daytrips to resorts and it’s sprinkled with all the things that make for a storybook Swiss city, like medieval bridges, colourful houses and lakeside promenades. Take the mountain rail from Interlaken to the Jungfrau Region and the icy Jungfraujoch.
For the quintessential Swiss country experience, head to the Lauterbrunnen valley and take a scenic half-hour walk to the Trummelbach Falls, which are fed by glaciers and thunder down the inside of the valley walls. Visit vineyards, castles, high-end boutiques and world-class restaurants all in one day by making use of Switzerland’s brilliant train and bus system, which connects you to everything you desire on your Swiss holiday.
Where to stay
Do you want to stay in a vibrant resort with the slopes and nightlife at your door? How about a cosy log cabin, a castle or a family hotel surrounded by gushing waterfalls? Though accommodation can be pricey, there’s bargains to be found and it’s all surrounded by dream-like scenery.
Chateau Gutsch (£££)
Make all your fairy-tale dreams come true and stay in a 19th century castle, overlooking Lake Lucerne. Chateau Gutsch offers panoramic views from the bar and terrace, plush bedrooms and an on-site restaurant, close to the famous Chapel Bridge, the Lion Monument and Lucerne Station.
Unique Hotel Eden (££)
In the pedestrian zone of St Moritz, the Hotel Eden offers discounted ski passes for guests, which include mountain rail and cable car tickets, a ski school and ski storage space. You’ll enjoy a glass-covered courtyard, a wood-panelled breakfast room, a TV lounge and a tearoom, all within a stone’s throw of the bustling resort town.
Valley Hostel (£)
With tremendous views of the Staubbach Falls, the Valley Hostel in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, is the perfect spot to stay and explore the Jungfrau region. The hostel is also close to restaurants and shops and offers single, twin, double and family rooms, as well as dorms. There’re three onsite kitchens and a booking service for tours and activities.
Where to eat
Switzerland is a foodie paradise, with chocolate, cheese, potatoes, beer and wine topping the food staple list. If you have your fill of fondue (though that’s surely not possible), you’ll also find a huge array of international restaurants and acclaimed eateries.
Burgerstube, in the Old Town of Lucerne, is not a place to come for burgers, but it is where you can try high-quality, traditional Swiss dishes in a restaurant charmingly filled with period details. You’ll find rich, warming soups, wild game and seasonal produce at its best.
To eat fondue with the locals, head to Engiadina, in St Moritz. Famous for Champagne Fondue, the restaurant ensures you can try fondue in all its guises, with condiments and added surprises, like mushrooms. But, they also serve up pasta, salads, meat and desserts.
Airtime is a café in Laurterbrunnen where you can check your emails, book adventure tours and have a homemade snack at the same time! You can get sandwiches, cakes, organic coffee and wraps while you work up the courage to book a bungee jump!
Featured image source: (c) istock/thinkstock