While summer continues to be the most popular travel period to Switzerland, more and more travellers are discovering that a Swiss winter holiday is equally appealing and eventful.
With the colder months transforming the country into an icy wonderland, bringing out different characteristics and personalities of the country, Switzerland Tourism has listed five ways in which travellers can make the best of their Swiss winter stays.
From Zurich (home to Europe’s largest indoor Christmas market), to Basel (where fairytale dollars are used as legal tender in the markets), and Montreux (the gateway to Santa Claus’ Swiss abode atop Rochers-de-Naye), these seasonal markets never fail to impress. The intoxicating atmosphere and magical setting along with live entertainment, traditional food, craft, beverages and art all contribute to the incredibly nostalgic experience.
Elite sports events
There are sports events and there are elite sports events that are popular among the well-heeled polite society. These include Snow Polo, White Turf (horseracing) and Cricket on Ice which take place every January and February respectively on the frozen lake in the winter resort of St Moritz. Established in 1985, the Snow Polo World Cup St Moritz is the only high-goal polo tournament played on snow, while White Turf has a history dating back to 1907. Cricket on Ice will be in its 31st year in 2018. All three events not only see the gathering of sports-lovers, but also the rich, royal and famous.
Panoramic rail rides
Taking in the unmistakable Swiss scenery by train is an absolute must. And while the lush verdant meadows and fairytale-like villages are some definite highlights no visitor should miss, so is the equally captivating snow-capped landscape. The Glacier Express (from Zermatt to St Moritz) and Bernina Express (from Chur to Tirano) and the GoldenPass Line (from Interlaken to Montreux) are three panoramic rail journeys that take their passengers through some of the country’s most spectacular snowscapes.
Traditional winter delights
It’s impossible not to talk about cheese at the whisper of “Switzerland”. There is no surprise then that the two most traditional culinary delights during the cold season are the cheese fondue and raclette (a specialty grilled cheese). Warm, tasty and hearty, they are served at almost every restaurant during winter, and best washed down with white wine or warm tea.
Cosy Alpine chalets
It’s not every day that one can indulge in the design, comforts and surrounds of a traditional alpine chalet. As such, it is advisable to stay in one of the many cosy winter hideaways on offer, where guests can relax by their very own fireplace. Ski-in, ski-out hotels are as readily available as are ski-in, spa-out and cross-country ones; it all depends on the location and type of snowcation planned.