Winter wonders of Switzerland

Winter wonders of Switzerland

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

Switzerland is one of the greatest places to visit during the winter months with its breathtaking landscapes, picturesque villages, and an incomparable, magical atmosphere. Whether you want to ski, hike unwind at fancy spas or indulge in tasty Swiss delicacies, Switzerland has something for everyone. Plan your winter getaway to some of the best resort towns the country has to offer.

Grindelwald


A view of Eiger village in Grindelwald. 

The charming Swiss village of Grindelwald is located at the base of the north face of the Eiger Mountain. Grindelwald’s quaint shops, numerous restaurants, and an abundance of winter activities make it a perfect location to explore the wonders of Switzerland. Enjoy the surrounding mountainous views while you ski, hike or simply relax in the village.

A part of the Jungfrau region, one of Europe’s most popular skiing destinations, Grindelwald is directly linked to the Wengen ski area and offers 132 miles of ski terrain with over 50 ski runs and 20 chairlifts. Skiing enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels will appreciate the vast array of ski runs in the Bernese Alps. Families often find Grindelwald a prime location for children to learn to ski. The Bodmi slopes are gentler for beginners and the ski school can be easily accessed from the base village. While the beginners enjoy the tamer slopes, intermediate skiers can be assured that there is something for them as well. The majority of runs are red and blue. Though experts may find that there aren’t many black runs, they will find plenty of-run and glacier skiing.

Skiing isn’t the only draw to Grindelwald in the winter. For those who prefer not to be strapped into ski boots but still want some fresh air, dazzle your senses with a hike on the First-Waldspitz-Bort trails. This series of mountain trails feature simultaneous views of snow-covered huts, forests, and valleys, all while the cliffs of the Wetterhorn and Eiger dominate the backdrop. The hike takes approximately two and a half hours, but don’t worry about getting hungry. The mountain restaurant Waldspitz is just waiting for you to refuel on the patio while delighting in the lake scenery. Don’t miss the First Cliff Walk, a lookout platform for thrill seekers that hovers 147 feet above the valley, offering a marvelous view of the Eiger.

If you are seeking a winter getaway that doesn’t include traipsing through the snow looking for an adrenaline rush, consider relaxing at Belvedere. This four-star hotel is home to a spa and wellness center that will melt away all your problems. The spa area has a swimming pool, whirlpool, salt water jacuzzi, Finnish sauna, glacier steam bath, heat mine gallery, and much more. In addition to the pools and saunas, the spa offers massages for a total relaxation experience. Finish up with a facial and feel fresh as a spring daisy, despite the cold weather.

Zermatt


Snowy Zermatt makes the perfect backdrop. 

Surrounded by the peaks of the Pennine Alps, including the famous Monte Rosa and Matterhorn, Zermatt also offers a plethora of activities. Though the small town only boasts three main streets, Zermatt has numerous cross-streets filled with restaurants and hotels just waiting for tourists to come knocking on their doors. It takes a mere 30 minutes to walk across this remarkable town, which is convenient, as only a very few battery powered cars are allowed. However, electric shuttles are available.  

To begin your Zermatt adventure, hop on the world’s first fully electrified cog railway, the Gornergrat Bahn. It is Europe’s highest open-air cog railway and transports passengers from Zermatt station to the summit of Gornergrat. After a scenic 30 minute ride to the top, be prepared for a photo opportunity of a lifetime. The panoramic view showcases Monte Rosa, Switzerland’s highest peak, Gorn Glacier, and the Matterhorn. If you don’t want the experience to end, consider staying at the 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat, where you will find a restaurant, astronomical observatory, chapel and shops.

From the top of the Gornergrat there is access to multiple hiking trails. Strap some snowshoes on your feet and explore Challenge Trail. This leisurely trail is close to the railway and descends about 985 feet, for a pleasant hour-long hike. Exceptional views of the railway and the snow-covered landscape are guaranteed.

After all that fresh air and exercise, pamper yourself with some serious down time at one of the many local spas. Hotel Eden Wellness has an indoor pool and spa to ease the most tense of muscles. Book an appointment in the evening for a massage, holistic therapy, gemstone therapy and much more to wrap up a successful winter day.

St. Moritz


The fabulous St. Moritz. | Photo by takepicsforfun.

Nestled in the Engadin valley, the glamorous village of St. Moritz has earned international fame for hosting the Winter Olympics not once, but twice. Lake St. Moritz adds even more village appeal with its White Turf horse races, snow polo, and ice cricket tournaments. Throw in some devilish ski runs, après ski clubs, and a bobsled run for the perfect combination of winter activities. This swanky village resort area has something for everyone.

For a skiing experience you won’t soon forget, check out Diavolezza. Legend has it that once upon a time a lovely, red-haired she-devil lived on this mountain. If the legend is true, she certainly left some particularly hellish runs for the more experienced skiiers. The runs on Diavolezza include over 13 miles of red and six miles of black. This snow-covered behemoth is not for the faint of heart!

For some aprés-ski activities, consider going to the Alpina hut on Corviglia Mountain. This rustic hut sits on a large rock overlooking the town and the lovely Engadin valley. Relax with a drink from the snow bar outside while you soak up some rays on the sun terrace. If you are craving more than just a drink, the hut restaurant serves local specialties and traditional home-style Swiss dishes.

A trip to Switzerland just isn’t complete without trying traditional cheese fondue and an Engadine walnut tart. Reserve a table at Restaurant Engiadina for a truly spectacular taste of local cuisine. Their menu offers a variety of cheese fondues, along with other traditional favorites. After enjoying the fondue, finish off the night with dessert at Confectionary Hanselmann. Here you can find the famous Engadine walnut tart, a local favorite that confectioners have been perfecting for years. Filled with crème, caramel and walnuts, this sweet treat is sure to leave you feeling satisfied.

Switzerland has so much to offer during the winter months, from skiing to relaxing at the spa, there are enough activities to keep everyone entertained for days. Spend some time exploring where Swiss watches, army knives, chocolate, banks and yodeling originated. You’ll return from your trip invigorated from all the fun you had flying down the slopes and over-indulging in delicious food. Why wait? Start planning your getaway to experience the winter wonders of Switzerland today!

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