Essential Information for Swiss Alps
How to Reach Swiss Alps
The easiest way to get into the Alps is by taking a flight until the nearest cities of Zurich, Bern, Basel, or Geneva and hire a car to get to the Alps.
Switzerland has an impeccable train network that is designed to let travellers sightsee. You can opt for trains like the Gornergrat Bahn, Glacier Express, The Golden Pass, and The Bernina Express. The closest train stations to the Alps are Letzigrund, Friedhof Sihlfield, Herdernstrasse, and Krematorium Sihlfield. Alternatively, you can also opt for a traditional cogwheel train or cableway. This train journey will take around 3.5 hours.
You can also take a bus from Zurich to the Alps via Brunnen, Fluelen, Andermatt, Bahnhof, etc. This journey will take approximately 4.4 hours.
Best Time to Visit Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps are extremely pleasant in the summer months of May to September. The temperatures range between 25-28°C, perfect for being in the magnificent outdoors. You can enjoy hiking and sightseeing to explore the wondrous beauty of the place. Swiss Alps in May offer astounding views of green meadows full of colourful wildflower, waterfalls, and lush forests framed by snow-capped peaks in the distance.
Fall months of mid-September to October bring a nip in the air in the Alps. Swiss Alps in October look beautiful in the foreground of rust coloured trees and golden-yellow meadows. The temperatures range between 10-14°C, still great to be outdoors hiking and sightseeing.
December to April is the winter season in the Alps. It starts raining and harsh cold starts to set in with temperatures going 20-degrees below zero at times. This is the peak ski season in the Alps that attracts people from all over the world.
This might not be a great season to hike, but you enjoy activities like snowshoeing, ice climbing, ski touring, and cableway riding to see the beauty of snow-shrouded mountains, glaciers, and frozen lakes. Being the peak skiing season, this is when most of the places to stay in the Swiss Alps become quite expensive.
Swiss Alps Quick Information
The official currency is the Swiss Franc (CHF). The current Indian Rupee (INR) exchange rate to CHF is 77.75.
Yes, Indian citizens need a visa to travel to any place in Switzerland. The visa can be obtained either from the Consulate General of Switzerland offices in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Bangalore or from the Embassy of Switzerland situated in New Delhi.
While Switzerland has an active alarm system for typical mountainous hazards like landslides and avalanches, it is always better to be self-prepared. Since the weather in the mountains is unpredictable, one should be dressed appropriately and be updated with weather-related information. Follow your guide’s instructions, stay with your group, and don’t take unnecessary risks. It is always advisable to take travel insurance before you venture into the mountains.
For languages are spoken in the Swiss Alps- German, French, Italian, and Romansch. However, most of the people, especially the ones interacting with tourists, can understand and speak in English. However, it always helps to know the basic phrases of the local languages to get by comfortably.
Places to Visit in Swiss Alps
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge
This grandiose vantage point, with its highest point being at 237 ft., lets one into the undulated beauty of the Swiss mountains of dense oak forests, meadows, and the most iconic peaks like Matterhorn, Weisshorn, and the Bernese Alps.
The road leading to the pass offers a stunning and super-exciting drive full of dramatic hairpin turns and curves that lets one see the remarkable beauty of the Alps, forests, and meadows, that changes at every turn.
What’s more, this glacier allows people inside its hidden and fragile beauty. Every year since the 1870s, a fresh cave is dug, which allows people into expanses of illuminated hues of blue. This is an ice grotto that’s created when the sun’s angular rays fall on ice making it appear in bluish shades.
One of the most interesting things to see here is that every year during summers, the locals cover the glacier with huge UV resistant fleece blankets to protect it from global warming and melting.
Due to its secluded location, the lake’s shores are abundant with the rarest of Swiss flowers like bellflowers, buttercups, sticky primroses, German gentian, Common Monkshood, and Pasque. The lake is reachable through a simple hike on the ancient Mark Twain path from the Riffelberg station. Don’t miss to see the ancient Riffelberg chapel that once housed Brother Klaus, the patron saint of Switzerland.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is a holiday destination in itself. Here, you can experience the world’s highest cableway, visit an underground glacier palace, see films at the cinema lounge, ski on more than 70 kilometres of prepared pistes, and enjoy winter hikes.
Other amazing adventures here include snowshoe trekking, glacier trails, and mountain biking. After a day of adventures, dine at ‘En Guete’, the world’s highest mountain restaurant. Tuck into Swiss specialities like fondue, pasta, salads, fried shrimps, and even Indian food. Down the food with the finest Valais red and white wines, gins, and liquors.
One of the most amazing ways to explore this place is by taking a horse carriage ride that lets you see this amazing natural beauty up and close. The roads leading to the valley are popular with mountain bikers for their exciting bends and turns. This is also a great place for cross-country skiing in winters and for nature hiking.
Things to Do in Swiss Alps
Get Amazed at One of the Highest Observatories in the World
Located at around 11,500 ft., it is named after Sphinx, which is a rocky summit here. Don’t miss to visit the observation deck of the centre to see the majestic Jungfrau in all its glory. The deck is reached via an ultrafast elevator that climbs 108 metres in 25 seconds!
Enjoy a UNESCO World Heritage Train Route
This journey will take you over 196 bridges and through 55 tunnels and 25 stops to let you soak in the paradisiacal beauty of the place. It being considered amongst the most phenomenal train journeys in the world, has led to parts of the line along Rhaetian Railway being declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Indulge in Traditional Alpine Food
You must try cheese fondue (melted cheese), Tartiflette (melted cheese, potatoes, bacon, and crème fraiche), Diots (cured, smoked and uncured sausages served with mushrooms and cabbage), Crozets (square-shaped buckwheat pasta), salads, aged goat & sheep cheese, and mountain butter. Don’t miss to try desserts made with the freshest local berries, chocolate, and honey like Berry tarts, and Bugnes, etc.
Admire the Unique Culture
Every village in the Alps has its own choir or band that plays traditional instruments like the Jew’s harp, trumpets, and flutes. You will see traditional folk arts like yodelling and alphorn still being practiced in the villages. Most of the houses have very unusual ornamentation called sgraffito made by etching the plaster around the doors and windows and is quite beautiful.
Enjoy Winter Sports
Not to mention the astounding landscape of high peaks no less than the likes of Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, etc. Depending on your experience you can explore the sharp vertical drops or the gentler slopes as you enjoy winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snow horse racing, tobogganing, Nordic skiing, kite skiing, etc.
Hikes at Swiss Alps
Eiger Trail, Grindelwald
There are metal ladders and ropes that lead climbers onto the mountain’s north face via craggy rocky edges and steep trails. The trail offers beautiful views of the Wetterhorn and the Grosse Scheidegg.
The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge Trail, Zermatt
Lac De Louvie, Verbier
The 13-kilometre trail is beautifully lush surrounded by emerald-green meadows and offers a chance to spot the elusive chamois and ibex. Go a little further and you will see the pristine Lac de Louvie, one of the most beautiful of Swiss lakes surrounded by century-old barn houses and dense forests.
The Faulhornweg Trail, Grindelwald
The hike passes through Interlaken where you will see glimmering high mountain lakes to finally end at Schynige Platte. The plateau offers panoramic views of undulated Swiss beauty, which is the house to over 600 native wildlife species.
Murren Trail, Lauterbrunnen
This trail will traverse through picturesque traditional Swiss villages like Murren, forested slopes with flower patches, glistening streams, and lush green meadows. This is the perfect trail to explore the waterfalls like the Trummelbach Falls (the largest underground falls in Europe) and Murrenbach Falls (the highest waterfall in Switzerland). You will see the shimmering Lutschine River in all its glory before the trail ends at Stechelberg.
Things to Know for Swiss Alps Trip
Places to Stay in Swiss Alps
Counted amongst the top luxury hotels in the Swiss Alps, Hotel Belalp tops the charts when it comes to the most stunning views of the landscape here. Located on the Aletschbord Plateau, this hotel offers uninterrupted views of the longest glacier in Europe- the Aletsch, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The place is designed in a traditional Swiss style with cosy wooden interiors and each room offers views of the Alps. The hotel is popular for its authentic Swiss and Valais cuisine served at its beautiful flower-laden sun terrace.
Located at around 10, 170 ft this is the highest hotel in the area and is located amidst 29 peaks of the Alps, offering remarkable ring-like views of this mountain range. A Swiss astronaut, Claude Nicollier who stayed here once, remarked that this property has the clearest and widest sky views in the entire Europe.
The hotel, amongst the best luxury hotels in the Swiss Alps, can be reached by a funicular that is the highest train ride in Europe. It offers 22 luxurious rooms each with its unique views of the Alps. Don’t miss to try the huge range of international and Swiss cuisine at the hotel’s inhouse restaurant,
Established in 1853, this is the second oldest hotel in the area and amongst the most famous luxury hotels in the Swiss Alps. Initially built to house mountain climbers, this hotel still has that old-world alpine charm. The hotel has an outdoor whirlpool spa with stunning close-up views of the Matterhorn.
Its rooms, built in solid stone and wood interiors, all offer views of some of the highest Alps peaks. Its restaurant menu includes the best of Swiss cuisine like Rosti, cheese fondue, Kaseschnitte, and mountain-style aperitif.
Places to Eat in Swiss Alps
This cottage offers amazing views of not only the Alps but also the Aletsch Glacier, which is the longest glacier in the Alps extending for almost 82 kilometres. This rustic restaurant, with wooden décor & furniture, has a lovely sunny terrace where you can enjoy authentic and rich Valais cuisine like tomato fondue, Raclette, and the famous Cholera, which is a delicious & flaky pastry filled with bacon, cheese, potatoes, etc.
This Michelin star restaurant is one of the best bets when it comes to enjoying the finest Swiss cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients. This charming chalet-style place, one of the best places to visit in the Swiss Alps, is famous for its huge selection of Swiss cheese, wines, meat-based dishes, and desserts. What’s more, the terrace café of the place looks onto beautiful views of the high peaks of the Alps.
A visit to this place takes you the closest to the traditional Swiss spirit. This 1962 restaurant built in cabin style has a very charming old-world feel to it. You can enjoy traditional Swiss and Valais foods like cheese crusts, rostis, fondues, salads, etc. The restaurant’s location allows you to savour uninterrupted views of the mountains, ski trails, and glaciers.
Accessible from almost all the major skiing trails, this is the perfect place to enjoy a midday snack or a ski lunch break with authentic Swiss and Valais food made from the freshest local ingredients and meats. Their roasted goat cheese, salads, fruit tarts, and wines are a must-try. Enjoy all of this on the terrace area of the place, which is one of the best locations in the area that offer incredible views of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanche.
Reasons to Visit Swiss Alps
- The Alps are the home to over 13,000 types of minerals, mountain crystals, plants, and flowers native to this part of the world. There are more than 30,000 species of wildlife thriving in this unique landscape. There are unexplored trails, hidden lakes, and peaks that allow you to venture into this magnificently unique world of nature.
- This is where you can enjoy a ride on the 18th-century Bernina Express that’s so incredible in itself that it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- The Swiss Alps are also the top destinations in the world for winter sports. Due to their Olympic-level pistes, landscape, professional trainers, and over 300 ski resorts, people from all over the world visit the Alps for Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe walking, winter walking, etc.
Things to Carry
Pack these if you are travelling to the Alps in summers: