Image credit: Switzerland Tourism
Switzerland is famed for mighty snow-capped peaks, glittering glaciers, and postcard-pretty ski resorts, and it’s true that its image as a winter playground has been greatly solidified over the years. But come summer, the country morphs completely, becoming a splendid locale brimming with verdant pastures and mountains that inspire outdoor relaxation, adventure and recreation aplenty.
To get a taste of its natural gems, Quotient handpicks five unmissable experiences that will give any curious traveller the right perspective about Europe’s mountaineering capital.
Hike with Saint Bernards
Switzerland and Saint Bernards share a long history. The legend of these fluffy canines stems from a local hero named Barry the St. Bernard, a rescue dog that used to wander high in the Alps and saved the lives of over 40 people. For many years, a monastery located on the Great St. Bernard Pass used these faithful dogs to rescue people from avalanches, but contrary to the popular culture, these four-legged heroes do not carry martinis in a barrel around their necks!
Today, travellers can meet real Saint Bernard dogs in Martigny in the canton of Valais, where they can also visit the only museum in Switzerland devoted to the breed. Here, can admire the exhibition area of the “Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard” as well as play with the Saint Bernards and watch as they frolic around in the park grounds. For a more interactive experience, dog lovers can as can also experience a 90-minute walk with the gentle giants in their namesake pass every day from July to August.
Explore the Valley of the 72 waterfalls
For a treat of natural beauty at its rawest, the Lauterbrunnental, or the valley of 72 waterfalls, is the ultimate escape. Experience awe-inspiring scenery in the most glorious glacial valley in the Alps and don’t be shy to venture high and low and discover myriads waterfalls. These picturesque, plunging cascades on the trail from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg are a marvel to admire in summer, when they are flowing strongly. There is also an underground funicular to Trummelbach Falls, a stunning cascade featuring a slew of observation paths, tunnels and platforms you can explore.
Take a walk on the Appenzell Whisky Trek
Switzerland may not be famous for whiskies, but the newly-introduced trek in the historical canton of Appenzell is a totally different story. Located only a 1.5- hour train ride east of Zurich, the Whisky Trek is known as the highest in the world. Not only will this experience make travellers pulsate with adrenaline as they walk high up, at an altitude of 2,502 metres, but the unique distillates from Appenzell coupled with the pure mountain air of the Alpstein will definitely enhance the experience — visually and sensorially! Hikers can venture to visit either nine mountain inns or do a 27-stop complete experience through terrain surrounded by the famous summits of the Hoher Kasten, Ebenalp, Kronberg and Santis. The best time to attempt the trek is between June and September, when the weather is nice and warm and all the huts are open.
Enjoy a scenic ride on the Swiss Chocolate Train
Melding palatable treats with some of Switzerland’s most scenic routes, The Swiss Chocolate Train is an experience like no other. Departing from Montreux on the Swiss Riviera and making its way to Gruyère, where you get to visit a factory that makes the delicious cheese of the same name, before moving on to the Cailler-Nestlé Chocolate Factory in Broc, the train is a great opportunity to explore the country’s bucolic countryside in summer as it offers lovely views of vineyards, green pastures and imposing mountains.
Learn the tradition of flag throwing in Grindelwald
Alongside traditions such as yodelling, alphorn blowing, ländler-music and Schwingen (Swiss wrestling), flag throwing represents an inherent part of the Swiss culture and heritage and is one of the oldest national sports in Switzerland. Visually, this folkloric spectacle is truly mesmerising as throwers whirl fluttering flags through the air while flaunting a perfectly composed and calm attitude. From June to September, travellers can participate hands-on in the art of flag throwing and be introduced to its basics by flag-waving experts who will create the choreography for the team, with accordions, alphorns and yodelling in accompaniment.