Switzerland’s ski resorts are the stuff that winter dreams are made of. But summer in Switzerland holds its own distinctive appeal. Travel Agent checked in with Alex Herrmann, director Americas for Switzerland Tourism, for some ideas.
“We recommend resorts in the Swiss Alps, such as Verbier, Gstaad or Davos, or cities along the lakes and rivers, such as Bern, Basel or Zurich. For families, smaller destinations in the mountains might be a better fit, such as Wengen, Engelberg or Pontresina. Or for travelers interested in culture, visit the festivals of Montreux (Jazz Festival), Locarno (Film Festival) or Lucerne (Lucerne Music Festival),” Herrmann tells Travel Agent.
For active travelers, Interlaken, the Ticino (Italian-speaking part of Switzerland) and St. Moritz are best bets.
“They’re top destinations for all kinds of adventure travel, including mountain biking, climbing, canyoning and kite surfing. And any resort in the Alps offers active travelers endless hiking trails,” said Herrmann.
With more than 40,000 miles of trails, there’s something for every skill and fitness level.
“You don’t have to be a big hiker. It’s all very accessible,” Monika Leuenberger, president and CEO of Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff, AZ tells Travel Agent.
The Swiss-born Leuenberger notes that on most trails, “it’s usually only a half-hour walk to a restaurant with cold beer and warm food.”
In family groups, avid hikers can continue along the trail for a strenuous hike. The rest of the family can go back down the mountain in a gondola.
E-bikes are another popular summer time option. They’re readily available for rent at train stations and other public areas.
“To me, Switzerland in summertime is all about the outdoor life. The lakes are so beautiful, the cafes are full. And there are flowers everywhere. Houses are decorated with them. You miss that if you’ve only experienced Switzerland in winter,” said Leuenberger.
The Jungfrau town of Grindelwald is one of Leuenberger’s favorites in summer.
“It’s got adventure parks for families. There’s a ropes course and also a gorge to do white water rafting. Interlaken is half an hour away, with a beautiful lake for swimming. And you can go to the famous Top of Europe. It’s the highest train station in the world. It’s really a great experience to look down on a glacier,” said Leuenberger.
For an authentic, rural experience, Herrmann recommends the Appenzell in the North-East of the country, or the Neuchatel/Jura region in the westernmost part of Switzerland.
“While the Appenzell region is famous for its traditions and cheeses, the Neuchatel/Jura region is close to the heart of the watch industry, and it’s famous for its wineries, said Herrmann.
Switzerland is also famous for pampering the luxury traveler. Innovative summer programs at The Alpina Gstaad fit the bill nicely.
"As the first luxury hotel to open in this Swiss Alpine resort in 100 years, it was natural for us to want to differentiate The Alpina Gstaad from the 100-year-old luxury properties in the village," managing director Eric Favre tells Travel Agent.
The design of the 56-room property is a contemporary take on the traditional Swiss Chalet. Executive chef Marcus Lindner presides over the Michelin-starred Restaurant Sommet. The hotel’s Six Senses Spa features a resident practitioner named "Best Masseur in the World" by Spa Finder. And artist Pierre Keller has been appointed art advisor for the hotel’s growing modern art collection.
“This summer we are offering quite a variety of programs and packages, which we expect will interest our discerning guests. We have programs for yogis, spa enthusiasts, nature lovers, aspiring chefs, foodies, fitness enthusiasts, romantics and those that just want to completely disconnect,” said Favre.
Guests interested in outdoor activities can opt for river rafting, paragliding, cycling or hiking to wildflower-covered mountain tops.
Of course, when it comes to mountains, there is none more iconic than the Matterhorn. This summer is the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the mountain.
“In Zermatt, there will be special celebrations throughout the summer to commemorate this milestone in mountaineering,” said Herrmann.
For Leuenberger, taking guests to Zermatt is always a must.
“We like to take people where locals go. But the Matterhorn is something everyone should see. Maybe I’m too partial. But, it must be the most beautiful mountain in the world,” said Leuenberger.