Today I’m sharing a guest post from photographer and writer Kristin Reinhard of Swiss Family Travel! She’s originally from Australia, but fell in love with Switzerland and has lived there for the past 18 years. I know you’re going to love this post – so many breathtaking options to explore in Switzerland. Be sure to check out her blog for more of her adventures!
Switzerland is full of natural beauty and is a great destination for an active vacation. Even the views out of the train windows will have you forget about your daily stresses and that beeping phone that vies for your attention – it’s a great place to switch off. With its 65,000 km of signpost hiking path, thousands of lakes and of course the skiing, there is plenty to explore.
If you are looking to take your active holiday up a notch, head to the Bernese Oberland. Visit Glacier 3000 and walk over the only suspension bridge to connect two mountain peaks and in summer enjoy the toboggan run through the Alps. Another great option is to base yourself in Grindelwald and dare to fly at up to 85 kilometers an hour along an 800m long cable through the Alps or walk on the First Cliff Walk which has you 45 meters above ground on a glass platform. For the ultimate sporting experience and only for the fittest, hire a guide and hike up to the first ever 4000m peak to be conquered in Switzerland, Jungfrau.
Switzerland is home to an extensive hiking network depicted by the tell-tale yellow signs you will find all over the country. These signs not only show the direction to follow but often how long it will take to hike from one destination to the next.
But where to go?
Your best bet is to decide on an area you would like to explore and visit the local tourist office or gondola station in the mountains for specific paths in the region. These maps point out hike difficulty, playgrounds for the kids, where you can stop along the way to grill sausage and locations with panoramas that will take your breath away.
My favorite? The Panorama Trail on my local mountain Rigi. This 7km long trail has some stunning views stretching across the Swiss Alps and is accessible in both summer and winter. For those with kids and even if you don’t, I recommend the Liselotto themed path which hikes down from Männlichen – taking in views of the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau massives along a path filled with activities.
You may not associate Switzerland with enjoying a refreshing summer swim, but its over 1000 lakes is one of its best-kept secrets. Badis (grassed areas next to lakes that have facilities), lakes and rivers will beg you to jump into their crystal clear waters and there are plenty all around the country to check out.
For a rather chilly swim consider the lake Seealpsee in Appenzell or the crystal clear waters of the river flowing down the valley of Verzasca in Ticino. For swimming right in the city, try the kid-free Seebad Enge, where it isn’t uncommon to find business people in their suits visiting for a cooling midday swim. The Badi has standup paddle boards to rent, morning yoga classes and delicious food.
Skiing in Switzerland really needs no introduction, which makes it popular and the slopes can get busy. If you want to enjoy quieter pistes avoid Christmas and New Years – the Swiss mostly take 2 weeks off and all head to the mountains, as well as February where most schools take off 2 weeks especially to go skiing.
You can ski in the more famous resorts of St. Moritz, Zermatt and Verbier – but why not also consider some of the more local areas? Saas Fee near St. Moritz is a little less touristy, try Zuoz near St. Moritz or stick a little closer to Zürich and visit the newly connected ski region of Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis.
Explore on Foot
Swiss cities are best explored on foot, so ditch the rental car and bus tour and bring instead a good pair of walking shoes. Get lost in the winding cobblestoned streets of the old towns or have someone guide you. In big cities like Zurich, you can find free guided tours (where they appreciate a tip if you enjoyed it).
The Swiss love their outdoor pursuits, but they love rewarding their tired and sore muscles just as much. Soak in pools filled with natural spring waters dotted over the country, organize a massage or enjoy a steam bath. Here are some of the most popular: Scuol in Engadin, Leukerbad in Wallis, Yverdon les Bains in the French side and closer to Zurich, Baden and Bad Regaz.
Emily again! Can you believe just how many breathtaking active adventure spots there are in Switzerland?! I’ve only been there once (you can read more about that here), but I cannot wait to return to explore these spots, especially Glacier 3000! Which of these places would you most like to visit?
Side Note: If you’re looking for great active adventure travel gear, be sure to check out Nomatic – Life on the Move
Kristin loves Switzerland so much she never returned to her native Australia after what was supposed to be just a 12-month stay. That was 18 years ago and today she lives in Zug with her Swiss husband and three kids. She is a photographer and writer and combines both of those passions on her blog Swiss Family Travel.
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