SWITZERLAND Tourism shares seven experiences travellers should consider during a visit during the colder months.
From Zurich — home to Europe’s largest indoor Christmas market — to Basel where fairy-tale dollars are used as legal tender in the markets, and Montreux which is considered to be the gateway to Santa Claus’ Swiss abode atop Rochers-de-Naye, these seasonal markets never fail to impress.
The intoxicating atmosphere and magical setting along with live entertainment, traditional food, art and craft, beverages and cheer create an incredibly nostalgic experience.
Stay in an igloo
For a stay with a difference visitors can experience life in an igloo – either by building it themselves or checking in to one that’s already built – with the Swiss Igloo encounter usually coming with a range of activities including cheese fondue and gluhwein nights to snowshoe hiking and even spa time under the stars.
Dog sledding is a relaxing way to enjoy sliding across the snow, with no balancing act involved, while taking in the spectacular alpine scenery and in Appenzell – east of Zurich – snow lovers can even learn to handle a team of sled dogs and tour at their preferred pace.
For a bit more speed adrenaline seekers can learn to handcraft their very own “Rolls Royce” toboggan before rocketing down the slopes like they would in a go-cart race.
One place where toboggans take over in winter is Col de la Croix – which connects Les Diablerets and Villars in the Vaud region – with the snow-covered paths, cyclists and motorists are forced to take a winter break and this is when the real fun begins.
Elite sports events
There are sports events and there are elite sports events that are popular among the well-heeled polite society including snow polo, White Turf horseracing and Cricket on Ice which take place every January and February respectively on the frozen lake in the winter resort of St Moritz.
Established in 1985, the Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz is the only high goal polo tournament played on snow, White Turf has a history dating back to 1907, and Cricket on Ice will be in its 32nd year in 2019.
All three events not only see the gathering of sports lovers but also a string of rich, royal and famous personalities.
Panoramic rail journeys
Journeying through the unmistakable Swiss scenery by train is an absolute must and, while the lush verdant meadows and fairytale-like villages are definite warm-season highlights, no visitor should miss the captivating snow-capped landscape.
The Glacier Express from Zermatt to St Moritz, Bernina Express from Chur to Tirano, and the GoldenPass Line from Interlaken to Montreux are three panoramic rail journeys that take their passengers through some of the country’s most spectacular snowscapes.
Traditional alpine chalets
No Swiss winter experience is complete without experiencing the comforts and surrounds of a traditional Swiss alpine chalet and it all depends on location and type of snowcation planned.