Ask any traveller about Switzerland and they’d wax lyrical about the country’s gorgeous landscapes. Indeed, look in any direction and you’ll be greeted with towering snow-capped mountains, rolling lawns of green, and mystical valleys that look like they just fell straight out of a picture book.
There’s so much to do in the country, but one of the best ways to experience its nature would be to make your way to the top of its mountains. Here are five incredible mountain excursions to include in your itinerary:
1. Gornergrat – from Zermatt
If you love chocolate, chances are that you’ve snacked on many Toblerone bars. How would you like to see the mountain depicted on its iconic yellow packaging in real life? Head to Zermatt for a trip up to Gornergrat, which offers some of the best views of the Matterhorn.
Take the first train to Riffelsee, where you can catch the sunrise and a beautiful reflection of the Matterhorn in a lake. From Riffelsee, continue up to the summit of Gornergrat for spectacular panoramic views. From the summit, you can either take the train or embark on a four-hour hike back down to Zermatt.
2. Mt. Titlis – from Engelberg
The season of winter has this magical quality about it, an enigmatic promise of charm entangled in its flurries of snow. At Mt. Titlis, you won’t have to wait for long to experience the magic of winter — in fact, it’s a place that experiences snow all year round!
Frolic in the snow, engage in snowball fights, take lots of pictures with walls of snow that’re taller than the average human, and even explore an enchanting glacier cave. Hop onto the Ice Flyer, and soar through the air to reach the Glacier Park, where you can try snow-tubing. Don’t forget to muster up your courage to make your way across the Cliff Walk, a 100-metre long suspension bridge with a see-through mesh flooring.
3. Mt. Pilatus – from Lucerne
Getting up to Mt. Pilatus is half the fun! The route is called the ‘Circular Golden Round Trip’, which requires you to take a variety of transport options, such as a boat ride, cogwheel train ride and a bus. Besides soaking in the gorgeous views, there’s plenty to do at the summit of Mt. Pilatus — climb up a short flight of steps to a panoramic vantage point and tackle the Tomlishorn hike, which will take around one and a half hours to complete. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some wild alpine ibex — a species of wild goat that resides in the European Alps — along the way.
On your way down the mountain, stop at the Frakmuntegg station for the Frakgaudi Toboggan Run which, at a length of 1,350 metres, is the longest in Switzerland. In addition, you can also try a variety of high-element activities and the Dragon Glider, which allows you to glide — whilst suspended from a harness — through a lush forest canopy.
4. Grindelwald-First – from Grindelwald
This is for all the adventure buffs out there — get your fill of adrenaline at Grindelwald-First, aptly named the ‘Top of Adventure’! Like Mt. Pilatus, getting up and down the mountain is all part of the fun. Take a cable car up to the summit of the mountain, then descend via various modes of transport. You can choose to fly down on a zipline or mountain glider, trundle down on a mountain cart or whizz along on a trotti-bike, which is a cross between a bicycle and a scooter.
Don’t be so quick to leave the summit, however; make your legs go weak at the First Cliff Walk, a mesh bridge that hugs the side of the mountain and extends 45 metres out into the air. You can also choose to go on an easy one-hour hike to the tranquil Lake Bachalpsee.
5. Jungfraujoch – from Kleine Scheidegg
Known as the ‘Top of Europe’, Jungfraujoch is one mountain excursion that you simply can’t miss. Standing at 3,454 metres above sea level, Jungfraujoch offers a winter wonderland packed with plenty of activities and unbelievably scenic views to boot.
Take the fastest lift in Switzerland up to the Sphinx Observatory to enjoy views of the Aletsch Glacier. If the weather is good, you can go on a hike across the glacier as well. Explore the depths of the Ice Palace, which is filled with numerous ice sculptures. Before you leave, don’t forget to get a commemorative ‘passport stamp’ of your trip, as well as pick up a couple of tasty souvenirs at the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven!
The next time you’re in Switzerland, venture high up into the clouds and feel on top of the world with any of the above mountain excursions. They’re all easily accessible within an hour from major cities or towns — with the exception of Jungfraujoch, which will take around one and a half to two hours to reach from either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald.
However, in Switzerland, every bit of the journey counts as part of the experience — and you’re definitely in for the adventure of a lifetime!