Swiss Alps

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Accommodation Near Swiss Alps

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.

When you 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, through to 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.

Swiss alps
Photo of mountain countryside near the Swiss Alps

If you 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 Gstaad and Grindelwald, and finally gorgeous vineyards near Lake Geneva down to the arty lakeside Montreux, home of the world famous summer jazz festival.

any international airlines including Emirates now fly directly into Zurich, which is also the cultural centre of Switzerland with a population of 1.7 million.

Near centre Zurich
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 Roman castle.

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
Lake Lucerne near the Swiss Alps

Holidaying 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 comfort food.

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 sensory overload.

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 lake
Iseltwald view over lake

Iseltwald cafe view
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.
Iseltwald sanitorium
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 Monk).

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 mountain.

Griselwald towards Gstaad
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 open fire.
Swiss Alps drive
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
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.  Accommodation near 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.
Hang gliders Swiss alps
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
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
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
Suisse Grand Majestic Hotel view over Lake Geneva

Now you're 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 that order).

A beautiful hotel with beautiful views here in Montreux is the Suisse Majestic Grand Hotel at 45 Avenue des Alpes.

Photo of 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.

Lavaux vineyards near Montreux
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.
Vineyards near Vevey on Lake 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
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 jazz festival
Montreux and all that jazz


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