The Swiss Alps are magnificent all year round.
Ask anyone who's flown over the snow-capped peaks in winter
how impressive they are from the air, let alone the ground.
drive through the Swiss Alps, you can't help but be spellbound by
the sheer majesty and beauty of the world's purest mountains, from Gstaad in the west near France, to
Zermatt near the Italian border,
St Moritz in the east.
So let's take you on one of the world's great
adventures as we drive through what many have described as the prettiest
scenery on earth.
Photo of mountain countryside near the Swiss Alps
want to see the very best of the Swiss Alps and Swiss countryside all in
one region, take the drive from the financial capital of Zurich down to Montreux on Lake Geneva.
You'll pass through the beautiful Lake Lucerne with its white swans,
mountain passes including the famous Brunig Pass, more lakes with
breathtaking little villages like Iseltwald, ski resorts including
Grindelwald, and finally gorgeous vineyards near Lake Geneva
down to the arty lakeside Montreux, home of the world famous summer jazz
Many international airlines including Emirates now
fly directly into Zurich, which is also the cultural centre of
Switzerland with a population of 1.7 million.
Photo near centre of Zurich
The old city of Zurich is unforgettable, with its
quaint cobbled streets and old buildings dating back to the 800s.
These include the Grossmunster church (Great Minister) on Lake
Zurich and Lindenhof hill near St Peter, the location of the medieval
Strolling around this smart Swiss city that blends
old and new beautifully is one of Europe's most enjoyable experiences.
Zurich has been named repeatedly as the city with the best
quality of life in the world, as well as being Europe's wealthiest.
As you drive south, it's only 55 kilometres down to
the very pretty Lake Lucerne through the village of Zug.
Lake Lucerne near the Swiss Alps
near Lake Lucerne, you can park then stroll along the
lake, admiring all the fine Swiss hotels offering al fresco dining with
views through the moored yachts.
Or you can find cheaper dining options a street back from the
lake, with everything from Italian cafes to street vendors selling warm
Driving further south, it's only 40 kilometres to the Brunig Pass as those majestic Swiss mountains loom into view.
The mountains are wonderful in winter, but we believe even better
in summer when waterfalls are flowing, the countryside is the richest
green you can imagine and cowbells in the alpine meadows complete your
A good travel tip is to get here in June at the start
of summer when the beauty of spring is still visible and the July crowds
haven't yet arrived.
Past the Bruning Pass, there is an extraordinary
little village on Lake Brienz that many people miss on the way through
Interlaken down to Lake Geneva.
The village is Iseltwald, a beautiful little hamlet perched on
the edge of the lake with the bluest of blue water.
Iseltwald view over lake
Iseltwald lake view from Strandhotel cafe
Stop at the lakeside Strandhotel for lunch, or stay here for a
night or two to admire the region's sheer Swiss beauty.
The other option is the Hotel Bellevue on the other side of the
road overlooking a different section of lake. It's fun watching the
little ferries on Lake Brienz, with the better-known Interlaken only 10
minutes away around the bend.
Before you leave Iseltwald, take a walk down the hill
to the unique spit of land with the old hotel that's now a sanitorium
for the mentally challenged.
We wandered in here to take a photo and quickly left
when a white-jacketed nurse told us "Kevin's Room" at the top belonged
to an inmate.
Photo of Iseltwald sanitorium
Iseltwald has been visited very quietly by everyone
from royalty to Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, who hiked here in
1904. So far, it's one of
the world's best-kept secrets.
As your adventure continues south through Interlaken,
take the turn-off to the fun alpine town of Grindelwald only a short
distance on at the end of the rail line.
It's hard to find accommodation in this popular resort town in
peak times, so book ahead.
Grindelwald is surrounded by the three famous peaks
named Jungfrau, Eiger and Moench (translated as Young Woman, Ogre and
There are numerous cable cars leading up the mountain
here - go to the top and then try the
alpine thrill of biking down or even take the new "First Flyer". This is
a flying fox that delivers you down the mountain at 80
kilometres an hour. The cost
is 25 Swiss francs, but there’s better value in a combo ticket on
the gondola up from Grindelwald before you literally “fly” down the
Swiss mountain view from Grindelwald towards Gstaad
In Grindelwald, for accommodation near the Swiss Alps
try Hotel Belvedere overlooking beautiful mountain
scenery and only a short walk from the train station. This friendly
hotel has a free shuttle service to the two major chairlifts up
the mountains. The Hauser family has run this hotel for many
generations, providing hearty Swiss meals with a good value half board
option including breakfast and dinner, with a cozy interior including an
Swiss alps drive
The other cute town on the turn-off from Interlaken
is Wengen, where there are no cars and accommodation near the Swiss Alps
is also beautiful. Here there's no noise from traffic, only pure
mountain air and wonderful scenery including old wooden chalets that
give Wengen the charm of a traditional alpine village.
Wengen is also the starting point of the spectacular
train ride to the top of the Jungfrau mountain at 11,000 feet.
The village is on a sheltered terrace facing
southwest, allowing extra hours of sunshine.
Gstaad village near accommodation
Continuing south, it's only 60 kilometres from
Interlaken down to the famous ski village of Gstaad, known in winter for
famous people and crowds all enjoying the ski slopes.
Gstaad can be expensive and booked out in winter, but in summer
it's affordable, less crowded and beautiful in the sunshine.
Whatever you do in life, don't miss taking either the
Eggli or Wispile ski lift close to the village up the mountain.
When you get to the top, you can take a quick circular walk from
the café around the edge of the mountain, watching paragliders taking
off on the verdant slopes for Gstaad way down below.
Photos of hang gliders down the Swiss Alps
There is a big cross you'll encounter as you walk around,
reminding you that you're a little closer to Heaven.
Mountain cross near Gstaad
In Gstaad itself, the Gstaaderhof Swiss Quality Hotel
has wonderful views of the mountains.
It's only 2 minutes walk from the fun village centre with its
cute little restaurants and boutique shops.
Gstaaderhof Hotel view of Swiss Alps
The Gstaaderhof is top value in summer, and the best
rooms with remarkable mountain views are Rooms 410 and 510 or nearby. If
you're a family, ask for Room 608 which takes 2 adults and 2 children.
Half board including breakfast and dinner is good
value before you walk it off through the village centre promenade, which
is pedestrians only and full of cute wooden Swiss alpine chalets.
Stop at the traditional Family
Hotel Rossli here for
a warm welcome from owner Ruedi Wismer, the third generation running it
since 1922. Inside this
family restaurant, the meals are delicious and you're surrounded by the
traditional Swiss interior that you've always imagined.
If you want an adventurous night out in Gstaad, late
trains will take you to and from the nearby holiday resort of Chateau D'Oex,
famous for its annual hot air balloon festivals.
Suisse Grand Majestic Hotel view over Lake Geneva
near Lake Geneva and it's only an
hour's drive to famous
Montreux, the atmospheric town that attracts
everyone from rock stars to respected professors (not necessarily in
A beautiful hotel with beautiful views here in Montreux is the Suisse Majestic Grand Hotel at 45 Avenue des Alpes.
Suisse Grand Majestic Hotel Montreux
Ask for Room 407 or rooms either side for the biggest balconies
with retractable canopies overlooking the beautiful lake.
Then walk through this fine hotel across the road to the grassy
banks of Lake Geneva, lined with bustling cafes and happy travellers.
From here you can take one of the famous Lake Geneva
ferry trips. Head up to
Vevey, where it's fun to pull into the little harbour and get out to
explore the traditional cafes and bars.
Vineyards near Vevey on Lake Geneva
This is the edge of
Switzerland's famous Lavaux wine region, with vines hanging from hills
as you travel north around the lake on the Swiss side towards Geneva.
Lavaux vineyards near Vevey
Heading the other way from Montreux only a couple of kilometres
south along Lake Geneva, you'll come across the famous Castle of Chillon.
This is Switzerland's most visited historic monument, an
"architectural jewel" in the most beautiful setting between the shores
of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps.
Chateau Chillon is wonderful to walk
through with more than a thousand years of history, inspiring artists
and writers from Delacroix to Lord Byron.
Chateau de Chillon near Montreux accommodation
From Chateau Chillon you're heading around the bottom
of Lake Geneva across the French border into Evian and you're not far
from the French ski resort of Chamonix.
The proud Swiss will tell you the northern drive
around the lake is better, through more vineyard rich villages including
Ouchy and Morges. You'll also come across the city of Lausanne,
headquarters for the Olympic Games with its memorable Olympic museum.
Whichever way you go, you'll finish in Geneva with
its rapid transport links out including the superswift TGV train and
many of the world's major airlines.
Whatever you do, don't miss this memorable drive from
Zurich to Geneva through some of the world's most beautiful scenery.
You're sure to agree this trip belongs right at the top as one the
World's Best Holidays.
Montreux and all that jazz