Five ways to do Switzerland in the off-season

A holiday to Switzerland doesn’t have to be all about skiing

If, like me, you prefer walking on grass to prat-falling on snow, then visiting this alpine wonderland off-season, is an unbridled joy. The ski season gets back underway in December and comes to an end in May, so there’s time to either sneak a quick trip in before the year’s end or plan ahead for 2018…

Take the train

Summer is the best time to take advantage of Switzerland’s outstanding vistas by train. The Glacier Express, considered one of the best train journeys in the world (and proudly dubbed the ‘slowest express in the world’) takes you through Unesco World Heritage landscape from St Moritz to Zermatt, covering 291 bridges, 91 tunnels and miles of breathtaking landscape, including the famous Matterhorn (aka the Toblerone mountain). It’s just one of many similar journeys boasting eye-watering views and/or novelty value; from the Bernina Express and the Golden Pass Line to the Furka Steam railway and the Swiss Chocolate Train. All the info you need is here.

The Bernina Express (iStock)

Get your spa on

Switzerland has no shortage of luxury hotels with plenty of spas – and summer is the perfect time to go: with none of that pesky skiing getting in the way. Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, in Interlaken, is a renovated Belle Epoque dream, with a pool that would have been installed in Gatsby’s mansion had Cleopatra ever moved in. Bogn Engiadina, in Scuol, is one of Europe’s most illustrious spas or head to Le Mirador on the Swiss Riviera for unrivalled views while you languish in the hot tub. For serious spa-ing, make for Clinique La Prairie in the village of Clarens, where wellness is an art-form. 

Be cultured

There’s more to Switzerland, in summer or winter, than just outdoor pursuits. Culture vultures can find much to enjoy – particularly in the summer months. Music plays a prominent role in the Swiss alps, from Montreux Jazz Festival in July to the Verbier Festival of classical music that runs from July-August every year. Zurich Film Festival runs from the end of September to the beginning of October and there is, of course, the world-famous Art Basel.

An exhibit at Art Basel earlier this year (iStock)

Hike the Wispile in Gstaad

Less daunting than it sounds, one of Gstaad’s highest mountain is actually its most family friendly during the summer. It’s accessible a five-minute drive from the centre of the village, where you can spend the morning eyeing up the Louis Vuitton store and Bernie Ecclestone’s hotel. A swift, but steep, cable car ride takes you to its gently undulating, green-carpeted peak; where you can amble through woods, forage for mushrooms, ogle the brilliant view and even take your kids to play with some baby goats (pun intended). Find out more here.

Get in the saddle

Equestrians will delight in the stunning riding trails through the Swiss Alps, which are never more beautiful or accessible than in the off-season months. The alpine-resort village of Klosters has some of the best horse trekking in the country, Locarno, in Italian-speaking Switzerland offers some of the warmest weather riding or, should you be feeling slightly more traditional, why not ride a Swiss cow? A farm in Hemishofen, Bolderhof Farm, offers you the chance to do just that.


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