Millions of people visit the Swiss Alps every year to see the snow-capped mountains that preside over an icy winter wonderland. The alpine setting offers breathtaking views of the Matterhorn and Eiger.

While the premiere ski destination offers plenty of powdery slopes, you can stay busy beyond the trails. From taking scenic train rides to browsing specialty gift shops to eating Swiss cuisine, your Alps memories will last a lifetime.

This complete guide to the Swiss Alps offers information about getting there, cities to stay in, accommodations, must-see points of interest, and local food.

Getting to the Swiss Alps

The closest intercontinental airport to the Swiss Alps is Zurich Airport. Upon arrival, you can take a train to Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn, in about 4 hours, according to Trainline. From neighbouring European countries like France or Germany, you can fly into small airports in Basel, Geneva, or Bern, according to MySwissAlps.com.

Cities to Stay In

Staying centrally located allows you to visit multiple attractions and neighbouring alpine villages. Depending on your wish list, use these home base cities, according to MySwissAlps.com.

  • Interlaken is in the heart of the Bernese Oberland and a gateway to the Jungfrau region. One of the top attractions is the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe—Europe’s highest train station. Cogwheel trains or cable cars travel to the Bernese Alps viewing points and even stop at an ice palace.
  • Bellinzona boasts a charming medieval atmosphere, thanks to its three castles. Its scenic Centovalli railway runs across picturesque areas of northern Italy and southern Switzerland.
  • Brig is a stop on the world-famous Glacier Express. The daylong train ride offers sweeping views from Zermatt to St. Moritz.
  • Zermatt features some of the highest peaks in Switzerland, including the Matterhorn. The haven is full of lush forests and ski slopes. Other local winter sports include snowboarding, snowshoe hiking, tobogganing, and paragliding.
  • St. Moritz hosted the Winter Olympics twice and is a lakeside celebrity hub. The town is built on a slope and boasts shops and restaurants, skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and ice skating on the frozen lake.
  • Grindelwald is home to Eiger and Wetterhorn mountains and is a busy winter sports resort. Train and cable car excursions take you high into the surrounding vistas.

Photo: kisamarkiza via 123RF

Accommodations

The Swiss Alps area offers an array of hotel, resort, and chalet accommodations for different budgets, group sizes, and activity preferences. Most places offer rooms with views of the surrounding countryside. MySwissAlps.com recommends lodging options under the Hotels tab for each city. Here’s an example of hotels in Interlaken.

Must-See Points of Interest

Home to magnificent views and railway excursions, a trip to the Swiss Alps wouldn’t be complete without these must-see points of interest:

  • The pyramid-shaped Matterhorn is the most photographed mountain on the planet, according to Switzerland Tourism. It is also one of the most difficult to climb. You can see it via Europe’s highest cable car station, Glacier Paradise, at 3,883 meters.
  • At 3,967 meters tall, even experienced climbers consider the Eiger a fearsome mountain, according to Culture Trip. Explore Eiger’s base via a hiking trail, and reach 2,320 meters altitude in 15 minutes via the Eiger Express gondola.
  • The Jungfrau Region is a winter sports hot spot, which includes a Jungfraujoch ride to the Top of Europe. On the 45-minute trip, you’ll see a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Aletsch Glacier. The gigantic ice mass contains 11 billion tons of ice, according to Switzerland Tourism.
  • Charming villages with specialty gift shops are scattered throughout the Alps. Take a break from the mountains to browse ski gear, boutique fashions, and Swiss watches.

Local Food

Who could ask for a better alpine food trio than Swiss cheese, chocolate, and wine? Local dishes include fondue, älplermagronen (Swiss mac and cheese), raclette, Zurich Ragout, and polenta, according to StudyingInSwitzerland.com. There’s also a Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven shop at the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe station.

A trip to the Swiss Alps offers stunning mountain peaks, gorgeous scenery, charming villages and shops, and delicious food you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

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