Snowy adventures in The Swiss Alps

The Swiss Alps possess the perfect nature for you to take part in all kinds of sports and naturally hold every kind of adventure one could possibly think of. Because the Alps receive a great deal of snow and rain, tourists that visit Europe’s youngest mountain range to enjoy winter sport.

Photo Cred: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

5 exciting adventures in The Swiss Alps

Interlaken Activities is a one stop shop for adventure activities in Europe’s Number 1 adventure capital. You can book several winter activities with them, even if you’re a beginner.

1. Paragliding

If you would like to experience the purest way for flying, go paragliding! It’s time to realise your dream and fly through Switzerland’s unique mountain range. After receiving the gear to keep you warm: gloves, ski pants and snow boots, you and your pilot will be driven up the mountain. Prices start at roughly R3,000, depending on the type of flight.

The best places to paraglide are: Interlaken, Lauternbrunnen and Beatenberg.

2. Skiing

It’s true, you cant go to the Swiss Alps and not Ski! At 3883 metres above sea level, Zermatt is the highest ski area in all of Switzerland and promises fantastic skiing. For a beginner this popular activity will almost always involve a few falls and mistakes, but in time you’ll find your flow. It’s an exciting sport that requires patience and practice, so please remember to not give up.

One of the main reasons that Zermatt is the best ski resort is that it covers a dual nationality ski area. Yes, you can show off to your family back home by letting them know that you skied to Italy for lunch! With a total of 238 km, you can make the best memories cruising around on wide groom runs. Zermatt is open all year round, which means you can go skiing whenever you like. Maybe you should start practicing now so you’re a professional by next winter?

Other skiing resorts include: Verbier, Zermatt, Davos and St Moritz.

Photo Cred: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Photo Cred: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

3. Sled riding

Switzerland is a paradise for sledders and this activity can be enjoyed by kids and adults. Remember to dress warmly and wear a helmet. Gloves, water repellent pants, jacket and snow boots are ideal as you will get wet.

You can rent a sled in almost all toboggan runs, either hourly, for half or an entire day, or even longer if you wish. Prices start at approximately R120, but most hotels do provide sleds for their guests, free of charge. Hop on a cabin cart at the various toboggan runs which will bring you up to the top of the mountain.

Enjoy a 15km long decent from Faulhorn to Grindelwald, the longest toboggan run in Europe. Did you know that this is a great activity to stay fit in the winter? All while having fun zooming down a hill at breakneck speed.
Unlike skiing, sled riding is a relatively inexpensive hobby! Get ready, for an experience of a lifetime.

Photo Cred: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

4. Hiking

Switzerland is a true paradise for all outdoor lovers and hikers. There are about 596 winter hikes along the snow paths which will lead you through a snowy forest. There is no doubt that you’ll feel like you are in a fairy tale. Samedan philosophers trail is a 7km hike that is considered the best trail in all of Switzerland. With beautiful winter panoramas, this hike overlooks Bernina Massif and the Engadine Lakes, with views that will leave you breathless.

Photo Cred: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

5. A scenic trip

If winter sport is not for you, there are plenty of ways for you to enjoy the amazing scenery. The villages along Lake Lucerne offer a variety of attractions and are a delight for first time visitors. Only a 50-minute train ride away from Zurich, Lucerne is a beautiful old town with museums, monuments and wide views across the lake.

Another popular day trip from Zurich is the railway excursion to the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. Your local guide from Jungfrau Railways will meet you at our hotel in the morning and you’ll take a short walk towards Interlaken Ost Train Station and begin our two-hour journey to the snow-capped mountains of the alpine region.

After a quick stop in the lovely village of Grindelwald, you’ll take the next train to Jungfraujoch. The Sphinx Terrace is a viewing platform which gifts you an incredible view of the enormous diversity of landscapes. Temperatures can get to as low as -25°C, so make sure to suit up on your trip.

Photo Cred: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

When to visit?

Nobody does Christmas markets quite like the Swiss. Visit in December and explore these lively markets while enjoying a glass of Gluhwein (mulled wine). January and February are the coldest winter months and snow is practically guaranteed from elevations of around 1500 m. This is a good time for winter sports and cosy city trips.

Where to stay

The Alpina Gstaad – nested within the alps and west of Geneva, you can relax in this luxury resort in traditional Swiss Chalets. The Asian-inspired Six Senses Spa boasts indoor and outdoor pools. Prices start from about R5,000 per night.

The Arosa Kulm Hotel – This hotel is known for having the most scenic views of the alps. The property sits 1800 metres above sea level, in the mountainous region of Arosa, southeast of Zurich. Prices start from about R4,500 per night.

CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort – this is a 5-star hotel and you can choose to stay in classy chalets tucked in the slopes. Prices start from about R4,000 per night.

Photo Cred: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Visa Requirements

Because Switzerland belongs to the Schengen area, for a visit of less than 90 days, South African citizens are required to obtain a Schengen visa. Please note that you need to purchase a travel insurance and emphasize that you will be involved in winter sports.

A Schengen visa costs about R1,000 and can take up to 10 working days to process.

How to get to Switzerland

The only way to get to Switzerland from Johannesburg is by airplane. You can book your next flight from O.R. Tambo International or Cape Town international airport.

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