Switzerland for the second time visitor : Offbeat and unique Swiss experiences
Most of us plan to visit Switzerland once in our lifetime and places like Interlaken, Lucerne, Jungfrau and Titlis make for a pleasant first time visit. For the first time visitor to Switzerland a week is easily spent seeing one or two mountain peaks, sailing on alpine lakes, visiting waterfalls, exploring Swiss towns, seeing a chocolate factory and indulging in some history in cities like Geneva and Bern.
But we tend to miss out on many hidden gems of Switzerland. Also once you visit the mountains they compel you to visit again and again. So here are some fantastic travel suggestions if you plan to return to Swiss or for those who plan to explore more than the usual places. These suggestions are destinations unto themselves where you can park yourself for a few days and enjoy what Switzerland is all about: Living peacefully with Nature.
Stay in Switzerland's most Panoromic Hotels
Live on the top of the Mountains like a bird, not in the valley like a mouse!
Ok well you have to be one lucky mouse to be living in the valleys of Switzerland but there is something just so majestic about sleeping on the top of a mountain. Most first time visitors to Switzerland tend to make a convenient base in places like Interlaken or Lucerne and visit the glorious mountain peaks of Swiss on daytrips.
Stay on top of these peaks and when the crowds of day trippers leave you will have the mountain paradise all to yourself. The experience of living at such high altitude where ideally only mountaineers and researchers reach is unique.
In Switzerland you can do this with all your creature comforts firmly in place. Your first choice should be Switzerland’s highest hotel 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat Zermatt. Located at the height of 3100 meters above sea level with fantastic views of the Matterhorn and 28 other peaks above 4000 meters is a view to behold. There are a few other mountain top jewels in Switzerland above 2000 meters as well.
The beauty of living in these high altitude hotels is that you don’t need to travel anywhere else. No need to take trains, trams etc. this is where it all begins. Step out and you are already on a hiking and biking path. Infact these hotels let you enjoy the mountains from the luxury of a warm heated pool or Jacuzzi, whilst you sip on a drink. You will wake up to mind boggling views and at night you enjoy the night skies lit with thousands of stars.
Switzerland: Your unexpected Wine destination!!
Does it really come as a surprise? Think about it, Switzerland borders France, Italy and Germany, some of the countries that not only produce most of the world’s wine but also the best of the world’s wines. Man may have drawn borders but nature does not, the climate, soil and other conditions in regions of Switzerland bordering these countries produces some fantastic wines.
Incase you are wondering why visit the vineyards of Switzerland over the illustrious vineyards of neighbouring France and Italy the answer is simple. Wine makers in regions like Bordeaux etc have many restrictions; from the grapes they can use to how they can process and label their wines. In Switzerland such restrictions donot exist and hence not only are young Swiss winemakers today experimenting and producing some of the best wines Switzerland has ever produced but here in Switzerland they grow everything from Gamay to Merlot and many indigenous varieties of grapes you won’t find anywhere else.
What is better in Switzerland, you can enjoy a vineyard and wines with views of the Alps and lakes. And to make this experience even more rewarding you can sleep in classic chateau hotels surrounded by vineyards or opt for more unique options like bubble stays or barrels converted to rooms.
Depending on rest of your Swiss itinerary we can recommend different wine regions of Switzerland. We also take into consideration what wines you like and pick the region for you. Like the wine produced in Swiss regions near Geneva and bordering Jura region of France produce some nice earthy reds while the region south of lake Geneva produce fantastic ‘Only in the Alps’ whites made from indigenous Swiss grapes Chasselas that make light fresh and fruity wine that smells of Alpine air.
A wine hotel in Switzerland makes for a welcome and heady (pun intended!) break from the mountain and alpine activities.
Leukerbad: Splendid 365 days a year!!
Let me paint you a picture. Imagine a pool of warm therapeutic water, surrounded by snow, high up in the mountains. Now imagine yourself relaxing in the pool, all the stress and worries melting away in the warm bubbling water. This is Leukerbad.
Be it summer or winter, Leukerbad is great to visit all year round. Leukerbad is the largest thermal resort in the Alps where 3.9 million liters of bubbling natural spring water fills more than 30 pools belonging to various category of hotels, resorts and public wellness centers. The waters are also the warmest in the alpine region with temperatures upto 51°C (122°F).
In winter Leukerbad makes for a fantastic ski destination with ski-in ski out accommodation options and over 30 pools of therapeutic thermal water to soak in post all the physical exertion of winter sports.
In summer the region is great for hiking, biking and climbing with interesting via ferrata routes. Incase you don’t know what via ferrata is read about it here. The town of Leukerbad also has many restaurants, a good nightlife and a huge sports arena for days when the weather is bad. The surrounding region also grows some fantastic wines and makes some delicious cheese.
Whether you come take a dip in the nude at the Roman Irish baths with specific bathing ritual or enjoy the family friendly pools, one thing is certain, you will love Leukerbad.
Arosa: the Swiss gem they kept a secret!
The town of Arosa is located at the end of the romantic Schanfigg Valley at an altitude of 1800 mts above sea level. Because the town is not on any major road routes there is no transit traffic which makes the air very clean making Arosa an Alpine health resort since 1877.
Our favorite wellness hotel here is the Tschuggen Bergoase Grand Hotel. Its located just 5 mins outside Arosa’s town and has a private mountain railway to take you up to the slopes to 225km of pistes and unspoilt Swiss countryside, making it popular with skiers and hikers. Out favorite feature about the hotel are Carlo Rampezzi-designed interiors and the 5,000-sq ft spa, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. The spa is carved into the mountainside, goes 4 stories underground with many pools, saunas and treatment rooms. Large sail-like skylights flood the space with light, by day and by night look really pretty all lit up. The hotel has 4 restaurants one of them being Michelin-starred.
When you are done fawning over the hotel and the views from your room there are many activities to enjoy in Arosa. The hikes here are especially beautiful with names like the 10 lake hike! Arosa has also been awarded the quality seal ‘Families Welcome’. This seal is only given to the most family friendly places in Swiss.
Locarno: The place that has it all!
Switzerland is not quite known for its nightlife, infact most places in Switzerland tend to call it a night by 10 p.m. But the towns of Switzerland bordering Italy are a bit different. In Locarno you are not just very close to the Italian border and beautiful rivers and valleys of Swiss but you can actually party the night away.
Summer sees many festivals and tourists and the little town of Locarno is where you want to be if you like exploring by day and partying by night.
Locarno is perfect for a second time visitor who does not need to run around to visit various attractions of Switzerland and would rather just enjoy one region and all it has to offer at their own pace.
Besides enjoying the nightlife, the casino and the many festivals Locarno actually offers access to some of the most beautiful valleys of Switzerland, one such being Val Bavona. Boat rides on Lake Maggiore, at the tip of which Locarno is located rewards one with views of the alps but also of grand Italian villas. The town Square of Locarno is one of the grandest in Switzerland. Local food and wine are divine. Locarno feels like a proper mix of Italy and Switzerland, offering you the best of both.