The Swiss Alps are synonymous with winter skiing holidays on some of the premier slopes in Europe. In summer, the alps come alive with a whole new range of holiday opportunities.
So, what are the most beautiful places in Switzerland in summer?
The snow-capped peaks of the permanent snowline form a picturesque backdrop to the lush green pastures carpeted in alpine wildflowers. The sound of cowbells echoes through the valleys below as cattle and goats graze in the fields.
A summer holiday in the Swiss Alps offers something for everyone from adventure-seekers to those simply wishing to enjoy the surreal alpine scenery.
Top Places to see in Switzerland during summer time
We chose Grindelwald, in the Jungfrau region as the base for our week long holiday in the Swiss Alps as part of a month long driving tour.
Here you can enjoy the UNESCO World Heritage landscapes of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks, as you explore over 300 kilometres of marked walking, hiking and mountain paths. High in the alps you will experience an atmosphere of supreme serenity and untold beauty. You will feel like you have entered a magnificent outdoor cathedral, with the snow capped peaks towering around you, another jaw-dropping panoramic view around every bend in the path
Simply relax and enjoy the pristine mountain air, take a stroll along one of the many well formed, signposted walking trails past breathtaking scenery, or enjoy the local cuisine at the many restaurants and cafes. Restaurants and cafes will appear from nowhere in the most remote locations for you to enjoy a refreshing schnitzel and apfelstreusel, as well as a cold bier during a day’s walking.
Adventure seekers can enjoy paragliding, mountain and rock climbing, white water rafting rafting or tuck themselves away in an Alpine hut to enjoy a secluded hiking holiday.
Set in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, Grindelwald is an alpine fairytale village. In winter it is a skier’s paradise. Come summer, vibrant flower boxes adorn the balconies of the wooden chalets, the melodic clang of cowbells echo through the valley and the green pastures become a summer playground.
Take advantage of the extensive cable car system to explore the Jungfrau region.
The cost of cable cars can be expensive, but once you are in the alpine regions, the walking trails are free and the panoramic views are priceless.
A day at Grindelwald First is a must. A 25 minute cable car from the centre of town will bring you to the ski resort where a range of summer activities await.
Take one of the many walks and enjoy the alpine scenery, ranging from simple strolls, to more challenging hikes.
An easy two hour return walk along paved walkways will bring you to the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Bachalpsee, where the snowcapped Schreckhorn, Wetterhorn and Finsteraarhorn mountains are reflected in the glassy waters.
The First Cliff Walkway, takes you 45 metres over the abyss below, giving you unrivalled views across the valley and to the Alps beyond.
Enjoy lunch in the First restaurant while you take in the breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views
Relax in fields of wildflowers taking in the UNESCO World Heritage landscape as you watch paragliders prepare to launch themselves into the abyss below.
Once at Grindelwald First, you have a range of options for returning to the village.
Simply take a return cable car to the village
Take a 7.3 kilometre, 2 hour hike down the Eiger-Ultra trail
Hire a mountain bike to ride back down to Grindelwald
For the more adventurous, you can take a tandem paragliding ride, jumping off the cliff and sailing past the famous alpine peaks before floating down into the valley below.
Take an 800 metre zipline to the next cable station at Schreckfeld below.
A cable car from the centre of Grindelwald will bring you to the Pfingstegg cable station.
From here you can take a short hike to view the Grindelwald glacier face, enjoying views across the valley below.
Kids and kids at heart can enjoy bobsled runs which operate during the warmer months.
Taking the signed path to Milchbach you can make the easy 2.5 hour downhill walk back into Grindelwald. Along the way you will see the Upper Grindelwald Glacier and the Wetterhorn mountain carved from the rock by the glacier over centuries. There is a path leading up to better views of the glacier, however you will need to climb ladders provided on the more difficult sections. Your walk will bring you to the Wetterhorn hotel, where you can either catch the bus back into the centre of town, or continue the downhill walk.
Cost: Cable Car CHF 12.80 per person. Bobsled rides CHF 20 for 4 rides summer 2017
Glacier Gorge was once the site of a thriving ice industry, where the Grindelwald Glacier ended close to the town. During the 19th century, pink marble was quarried in the ravine.
Today the Glacier has receded some five kilometres, but you can enjoy an educational and enjoyable afternoon at the Gorge.
Either take a bus, or drive out to the Glacier Gorge Canyon.
Enjoy a traditional Swiss meal at the local hotel before exploring the Glacier Gorge canyon.
A narrow metal walkway takes visitors through the gorge across the thundering glacial waters, the walls of the ravine reaching some 100 metres on either side, to where the glacier once ended.
For the more adventurous, there is a “spider web” suspended some 7 metres above the ravine to experience the sheer magnificence of the gorge.
Explore the crystal museum, displaying local mineral samples in the tourist centre at the entry to the Gorge
Do take a warm jacket, as even on a 38 degree day, the temperature within the Gorge is only 10 degrees.
Cost: Entry to Glacier Gorge CHF 15 per person
James Bond fans and Alpine lovers alike will enjoy a day at Piz Gloria on Schilthorn, the setting of the film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
Starting from Stechelberg, take the longest Gondola ride in Switzerland along some seven kilometres of cable. A half hour, four gondola ride takes you across bottomless ravines, to Schilthorn at an altitude of 2970 metres. Enjoy breathtaking mountain views as you climb higher into the alps, watching the valley disappear into an abyss below. The short leg from Birg to Schilthorn seems almost death-defying as the gondola dangles from a tiny wire above a bottomless ravine.
Once at the top, high in the permanent snow line, you will enjoy 3600 degree panoramic views of the Monch, Jungfrau and Eiger mountains and surrounding snowfields.
The Bond-themed complex provides an interactive display and museum on the filming of the movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
Visit the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant, where you can enjoy lunch at the top of the world.
On the way back stop at the Birg cable station, where the adventurous can enjoy the glass bottomed cliff walk with views into the ravine.
You will need warm clothing-coats and scarves, as you will be in the permanent snowline where it will be cold even on “warm” days.
Getting to Stechelberg
Drive: through Interlaken 40 Minutes
Train: to Lauterbrunnen then Bus to Stechelberg 1 hour 45 minutes
Hike from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg
A 25 minute cable car ride from Grindelwald will bring you to Mannlichen station, where you can enjoy one of the most popular tourist walks in the region.
Walk from Mannlichen to the cog railway at Kleine Scheidegg, enjoying alpine views, fields full of wildflowers and the occasional snowdrift ripe for building a snowman. Enjoy beautiful views of the ever changing Jungfrau massif.
You will feel that you are so close to the iconic Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks that you can almost reach out and touch the snow capped mountains. Enjoy the pristine alpine air and views across Grindelwald, looking like something out of a storybook on the valley floor below.
Stop for lunch or light refreshments at the alpine restaurant at the end of the walk near Kleine Scheidegg Cog Railway
Continuing 2.5 kilometres from Kleine Scheidegg cog station, you can admire the Eiger north face close up from the Eiger Glacier station.
From here you can watch the trains disappear into the mountain tunnel on the famous Jungfrau railway. Once again you will have jaw dropping close up views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains.
Take the unique cog railway back into Grindelwald.
Both walks were approximately 10 kilometres combined, taken at a leisurely pace.
Once again you will need layers of clothing that can be removed and carried in your day pack as the weather changes.
Cost: Cable car from Grindelwald CHF 30 per person. Family passes available.
Top things to do in Switzerland in summer
Adventure-lovers will relish the opportunity to view the alpine scenery from a different perspective.
The Jungfrau region is a very popular paragliding location, with a number of operators offering tandem rides from various locations. During all our alpine walks, we sat watching paragliders sailing past the mountain peaks, before floating into the valley below.
A qualified tandem pilot will guide you through a short, initial training session, before providing you with a unique, close up view of the alps, waterfalls, glaciers and mountain peaks, before sailing down to the valley below.
Experienced Paragliders will find no shortage of magnificent jumps within easy access of Grindelwald.
Summer is also the perfect time for mountain and rock climbing in the Jungfrau region.
The Bernese Oberland provides a number of climbs, including the Matterhorn and the infamous Eiger north face, the ultimate challenge for experienced mountaineers.
From our verandah in Grindelwald, of a night we could see the tiny flicker of light towards the peak of the Eiger- the mountain hut where climber’s were no doubt celebrating their success in conquering the challenge of the Eiger North face.
Whether you are an experienced mountaineer, or a beginner who would like to explore the region, the area provides an activity for you.
A number of tour operators offer mountain experiences from guided hikes, to a five day training course culminating in an overnight climb of the famous Eiger north face.
You will be required to demonstrate competency and experience deemed necessary for each of the climbs, with courses available.
White water rafting
The gushing waters of the Lutschine River provide a white water rafting adventure, regardless of experience. Qualified guides will help you to navigate the powerful and challenging waters, along class III and IV rapids for a day’s action filled adventure.
A number of local tour operators will collect you from your accommodation for either a morning or afternoon’s adventure on the rapids.