Visiting Switzerland  

        

 

Weather

If there's one thing important to have in Switzerland if your going outside is an accurate weather forecast. A word of advice. Don’t trust yahoo or weather.com. They’re often wrong and the data is old. The Swiss know their weather and are rarely wrong. Click here for the forecast. It’s in German, but you can look at the pictures.

Hiking

Rigi: You have to hike the up Rigi once in your life!  Takes about 3-4 hours to get to the summit from Arth-Goldau! Couch potato secret: There is a cog-wheel train straight to the top, so you can always get out the stop before the top, but not tell anyone. If you’re a real sport, hike down the other side to Meggen or Vitznau in just another 2-3 hours. Web Cam

 

Grosse Scheidegg: This is my personal favorite hike! From Meiringen, take the Post Auto up the mountain to Schwarzwaldalp. There is a small restaurant near the last stop. Follow the signs for the Grosse Scheidegg. Bring a picnic lunch, a blanket to sit on and your camera. On this trip you’ll find some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see. I always hike there at least once a year. It’s worth it!!  It takes about an hour if you’re in decent shape, but it’s still not too strenuous if your a couch potato.  Keep walking down the other side into Grindelwald if you want.

Bonus Trivia: Meiringen was the place where Sherlock Holmes was killed at the Reichenbach waterfall in the last novel.  There is a small museum in town devoted to this.

Engelberg to the Jochpass: A monster of a hike.

The road less traveled hiking

Solothurn to Farnen: From Solothurn, take the bus (or better yet, take the ski lift that’s open all year) to the Weissenstein restaurant. Have lunch there, I recommend the fleisch Teller and “pomm Frites”. (deli meat and french fries). Travel East and hike along the mountain ridge that runs towards Olten. There are some awesome views of the French Jura on your left, the Swiss Alps on your right, as well as the whole Berner Oberland. In some areas the trail is only a few meters wide, but the trail is flat most of the way and not really dangerous. Take the town bus down from Farnen, or continue walking all the way to Oensingen. Web Cam

Hoch Ybrig: In winter, this place is teeming with skiers from Zürich, but spring and summer are great for hiking. This place is about 40 mins from Zurich (near Einsiedeln), relatively unknown outside of Switzerland, and of course beautiful. The peak offers awesome views of Pilatus, Vierwaldstättersee and the Rigi. If your really adventurous, try to find and stay on the trail to hike down the other side to Muotathal. Web Cam

Zürich Zoo to Dubendorf to Gockhausen: Actually there are so many inter-connecting trails here it's impossible to get lost even if you try. There's a running trail with exercise stations for the marathon and Ironmen/women. Trail range form easy to medium. Just wander wander wander. If you're lucky you'll see a deer, a fox or some of the birds living at the zoo. I saw a stork for the first time (no baby hanging from the beak though)

Walenstadt to Weesen: This is a small but quaint town located right on the southern end of the Walensee. You catch any Post Auto that heads out of the main train station as long as it it heading up. You can walk it, but it's a long, hard walk. Once your up there are many choices of hikes: easy (walk back down to the lake and head to Weesen); medium (follow the ridge in either direction, but give yourself enough time to get back down; hard (head up, up, up and follow the ridge again. When I hiked this it was end of May05 and still 4 feet of snow on the top. We stopped and had a picnic on the roof of a mountain hut! Choose the way down that's a bit longer as sometimes the trail can be obliviated by avalanches in the winter.

Falsenegg to Uetliberg: You can take the goldola up or walk up from Adliswil across the ridge that parallels Zurich Lake. Once you get up it's quite an easy hike, but if you decide to walk up it's a good workout. Once your on the Uto Kulm in Uetliberg (which is called the Top-of-Zurich) you can take the train down or walk back down into town. On nice Sundays, this is where many Zürich locals are hiking.

Big Time Skiing

Davos: This is a world renowned ski region, but here are a few tips. Snowboarders go to Jakob’s Horn Skiers go to Parsenn. You’ll be happier.

Madrisa is another great place on the Klosters side; there’s usually less people, but be warned; if you’re not good on the tow ropes forget it!!

Engleberg: A bit of a drive from Zürich;, butexcellent slopes, excellent views, excellent skiers & excellent prices. Tourists abound. Not the easiest mountain to get up so get there eatly. You can ski all year round on the Titlis.  Web Cam

Flims-Laax: Two towns combined into one huge ski resort. It's about 1 and half hours from Zürich.  More parking at Laax then Flims. Some of the best glacier runs in all Switzerland. WebCams

The road less traveled for Skiing

Hoch Ybrig (SZ): About 50 minutes from Zürich, this is a hidden gem known mostly by locals. There are some challenging lifts and hadly anyone there during the week.

Flumserberg (SG): A little over 1 hour from Zürich, this is a great place for beginners and there are a number of challenging slopes as well. It’s great because it’s close to Zürich and the price is affordable for the size of the place. Try the last black run descent to the gondola lift. Yikes! Web Cam

Hasliberg (BE):  Opposite from Meiringen, Hasliberg is Swiss-German for "Little Rabitt Mountain". The accomodations are a bit scarce on the mountain so it's better to stay in town, but the skiing is great and when there's no snow, there's some awesome hikes!!

Brunni (SZ): Drive towards the popular town of Einsiedeln (Visit the monestary there if you want; the official "brown" Virgin Mary is located in the church) Follow the signs to Alpthal and just keep driving until the end. Very good prices, great for beginners and those who just want to get on the slopes ASAP. At night , try to arrange an evening Torch (Fachel) run down the mountain after a heaping portion of fondue.

Arosa (GR): Mostly well-oft locals; it's a charming little swiss hamlet with lots of well-groomed lifts and runs for the skiers and groomed paths for winter hikers

Nice little places to visit

Unteriberg (SZ): In the summer there is windsurfing on the Sihlsee, golf , biking, hiking, fly fishingand friendly locals. The Sport Hotel has a heated indoor pool with tennis courts. It is truely a vacationers pardise.

Wangen an der Aare (BE):   My sentimental favorite. I stayed here on my first visit to Switzerland. Relaxing & quiet during the day; you can sit on the banks of the river Aare and read a book, rent a boat, BBQ or swim.  At night, check out the Schützenhouse across the old Holtzbrücke (wooden Bridge) where you may find half the Swiss army out drinking and partying. Also, there’s a cool restaurant/bed and breakfast/bar across from Hotel Krone in the Altstadt where the pizza, beer and locals are friendly. The owner’s a bit of a Harley Davidson freak, so be sure to mention it.

Kilchberg (ZH): A nice, quiet, little community right next to Zürich. Home to one of the Lindt and Sprüngli chocolate factories. Two nice restaurants Oberer Mönchhof and a sister restaurant on the lake called Unterer Mönchhof.  Good Italian food at the Restaurant Schwelle. Check out the head waiters toupee!

Anzere (VS): Summer or winter you can't beat it. There are simply great hikes!! You can hike to the observation area where the Swiss universities study the effects of avalanches. Views of the Italian and French Alps.  Web Cam

Bellinzona (TI): Most people will tell you to go to Locarno or Lugano. In my humble opinion Bellinzona is the best of both. Sure there's no lake, but there are several beautiful castles, scenery and a much more local feel to the place  Virtual Tour

Ascona (TI): After visiting Bellinzona, visit this sun-soaked beautiful little town on the outskirts of Locarno. A bit pricey, but a great place to hang out when the weather is gray up north. There is also a lovely botanical garden located on a island a short 15 minute boat ride away.

Rapperswil (SG): The most beautiful city on Lake Zürich hands down! Take the boat from Rapperswil to Zürich and have dinner on the 3 hour trip. Web Cam

Baar (ZG): A suburb of Zug, but there's really only one reason to go here: Beer at this brewery

Basel (BS): I'm getting to know this place slowly, but surely. Lots of ex-pats here working in the pharmaceutical industry. A few cool bars to imbibe in; most noteable Mr. Pickwicks and Paddy Reilly's.

Fun Auto Trips

Always check to see if the pass is open. They don't plow some of them. Once, I was driving and the road suddenly ended with a 5 foot pile of snow.

Kandersterg to Goppenstein: If you like tunnels try this one. You drive you car onto the train, sit and 20 minutes later your in the French speaking part of Switzerland. It's an eerie feeling, sitting in your car, zooming through a pitch black, long, dark tunnnel at 140 kmh without steering. In fact, you can't even see your hand in front of your face!!  Experience it with someone you love.

Sustenpass to Meiringen:  You need to have nice weather in June to October to fully enjoy this one. Incredible glacier views and cool stops along the way. Try to find the signs in Switzerlands 4th official language, Romansch.  Special note: enjoy, but watch out for the motorcyclists doing their unbelievable "death pass" moves around slow moving vehicles (you most certainly will be one of these vehicles).

San Bernadino Pass: Take this pass from Chur or from Locarno. While all the German's, Italians and French are waiting in line at the Gotthard Tunnel, you'll zip through here in half the time. If you can, make sure you go over the pass and don't cheat and go through the tunnel. You'll be amazed at the views, peace and tanquility above. Get out and have a picnic during the summer; bring a sweater though.

Klausen Pass: The back way to the Gotthard Tunnel. You travel through several cantons and some beautiful old villages, Glarus, Schwändi, Linthal to get there; slowly climbing in elevation until you reach the Klausen Pass 1950m. Stop at the hotal on the top for a "Pflümli" and then it's down the other side into Altdorf. If you've got time, take the turn off at Schwanden to visit the towns of Elm and Matt.  Great for hiking and biking too!

Simplon Pass:  Connects Italy to Southwest Switzerland. Very steep at first, but the top is a pleasure to get out and hike when the weathers nice. If you're willing to do a bit of hiking you're not far from seeing the Matterhorn along with the dozens of other 4000m peaks in the area. Head down into italy for some pasta and then back again over to the Valais region of Switzerland for dinner. This area is famous for its unintelligible dialect even by the Swiss standards.

Grimsel Pass / Furka Pass:  Two passes in one. If you do one you might as well do the other. Take the main freeway in the direction of the Gotthard Tunnel.For the Grimsel Pall, head up from Wassen to Gletch, stop there and have lunch staring in the face of a huge glacier. Pay a few Swiss Francs and hike on the glacier. From there, take the Furka Pass to head back to Andermatt and the freeway you were on.

 

Links

www.switzerlandtourism.ch

Discover Siwtzerland

Zürich International School

Swiss Fun Facts

Got 6 hours in Zürich?

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