18 February 2016

Eight reasons to visit Switzerland in the summer

With it's snow-dusted mountains, bazillions of ski slopes and propensity for producing the perfect mulled wine, it's easy to see why Switzerland is so hot damn popular in the winter.

And while it is a little sleepier in the summer, when the apr├Ęs ski has long gone, the country is so worth a trip during one of the sunshine months. Because, guess what? There's tonnes to do if you fancy a holiday filled with fresh air, mountain views and some serious relaxation.

Here are my top eight to do's in Switzerland...

1. Grab a gondola

If you're not the most graceful skier, like me, then heading up a mountain with a pair of skis in your paws is a little bit daunting. How am I going to navigate this slope without landing on my butt? Well, hop into a gondola in the summer - floating up above the beautiful mountains and lush grass - and your own two feet will march you back down the mountain, easy peasy.

Many Swiss ski resorts operate their lifts through the summer months and they tend to have really good offers on summer passes. We bagged a three day pass around Gstaad's mountain range which allowed limitless cable car use and train transport around the area to boot.

2. Mountain walks

Quick tip: make sure you pick up a map at the bottom of the mountain before you head up. Then, when you've been deposited by your gondola, follow your merry way along any number of the well-marked walks. We set off with homemade sandwiches and bottles of water in a rucksack, then spent a casual FIVE HOURS walking around one mountain. Fill your lungs with the freshest air, coo at the pretty alpine flowers and say hello to some massive cows as you go. (Cow bells will be the soundtrack to your mountain walk). Feeling sleepy but exhilarated, we stopped for a well-deserved beverage at a chalet half way back down the mountain.

3. Hire bikes

Peddle past rivers, along valleys and through woodland until you find a quaint little town to stop for lunch. We did exactly that, scarfed a huge lunch and decided to cheat by getting the train back to our village. Btw, the trains in Switzerland are as you'd imagine... immaculate and basically always on time. Many will let you take your bike on board and there are often designated bike carriages, so grab a train timetable and make sure there's not a tiny-bike-with-a-cross-through-it symbol before you travel.

4. Or trottinettes

What's a trottinette? Only a super fun way to boom down mountains! (Okay okay, it's a scooter, but the Swiss / French version sounds way more exciting). A little bus picked us up in Zweisimmen, whizzed us up to the top of a mountain and set us free to happily roam the trottinettes for hire. I hopped on my chosen chariot and convinced myself that I was hurtling back down the mountain at 100mph, until my husband took a photograph which proved otherwise.

5. See a green lake

I'm no science / geography buff so I cannot tell you why these lakes are green. It *may* be something to do with the water content or it *may* be something to do with the fact that they're reflecting all the green from the surrounding mountains. If you know the science / geography behind it, please put me out of my misery!

What I can tell you with certainty is that walking around water the colour of an olive is quite mesmerising.

6. Eat everything

After all that fresh air and exercise, you are allowed to go nuts over dinner. NUTS. Swiss restaurants are expensive, even for simple food, but think of all that money you've saved from not hiring ski boots. My particular favourite Swiss meal is the 'Fitness Plate'. It's a misleading nom de guerre, given that your meal will arrive covered in chips and probably some kind of breadcrumbed meat. I can only assume that alpine life keeps the Swiss so super fit that chips are considered a health food. What a way to live!

7. See baby cows

We spotted these cuties ^ on one bike ride and the farmer very kindly let us go and hang out with them.

I couldn't escape cows after that.

7. Swim in the open air

A bit like a swim around Tooting Lido only less Tooting, more stunning Alps. There are lots of "schwimmbad" open in the summer and there's something very lovely indeed about swimming in fresh, alpine water with the sun beating down and those ridiculous Christmas-tree topped mountains twinkling at you from above.

8. Have a snowball fight

The snow is still there in the summer, you just need to look up! Some of the highest mountains are capped with snow even in the hottest months, and as we crossed the Alps between Switzerland and Italy we pulled up for the best snow fight ever. Shorts, t-shirts, hot hot heat and snow in your mitts!

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