Eight brilliant things to do in Switzerland this winter
Winter is here! As always, Switzerland has plenty of fantastic things to do in the colder months. Try some of these on for size this season...
Watch the 75th Inferno race
The Inferno Race in Mürren, in the Bernese Oberland, is the longest amateur ski race in the world, covering 14.9 kilometres and descending nearly 2,000m of elevation. It’s also the oldest – and 2018 will be extra special since it celebrates its 75th anniversary edition. Expect thrills, a few spills, and plenty of après-ski during the races on January 17th-20th. Unfortunately the closing date for entering has already passed, but it’s tons of fun to go and watch.
Ski Andermatt’s new facilities
Photo: Robert Boesch/Swiss Tourism
Andermatt’s ski area is about to get a whole lot better. From December this year a new gondola will whisk up to 2,400 people an hour from Andermatt train station to Gütsch, while two new chairlifts will access runs at the top. From next season, another planned gondola will link Gütsch to neighbouring Sedrun, creating the largest ski area in central Switzerland.
Glide through the air in Grindelwald
The Bernese Oberland resort of Grindelwald enjoys thinking up new ways to give visitors a thrill. After the ‘First flyer’ seated zip line, now comes the new ‘First glider’, another variation on a zip line in which up to four people can zoom 800m down a cable under the wings of a giant bird, at up to 80km/hr.
READ ALSO: Five quirky Swiss winter getaways
Enjoy the 40th birthday celebrations of the Chateau d’Oex balloon festival
Photo: Sam Nabi/Flickr
Every year for the past four decades this little village in the Vaud Alps has witnessed the beautiful sight of multicoloured hot-air balloons taking to the sky against a backdrop (usually) of blue skies and snowy white mountains. A highlight of the festival is the annual ‘Night Glow’ event, an after-dark sound and light show involving some 20 balloons and paragliders. This year's takes place from January 27th to February 4th.
Ride the steepest funicular in the world
Stoos. Photo: Robert Boesch/Swiss Tourism
Stoos in the canton of Schwyz will be making headlines in mid December when its long-awaited new funicular opens. Claiming to be the steepest in the world, it will have a gradient of 47.73 degrees (110 percent), whisking 136 passengers up the 744m elevation change in four minutes.
Visit St Moritz for the 25th Gourmet Festival
Photo: Christoph Sonderegger/Swiss Tourism
Glitzy St Moritz has upped the ante for the 25th anniversary edition of its Gourmet Festival in January: more events, more top chefs and more chances to scoff delicious food and wine. A highlight is the gourmet safari – participants are driven in limousines between five different hotels where the chefs will prepare a course in each served on the chef’s table in the kitchen. It’s posh, it’s pricey, but it would certainly be a special experience. While you're in town, take a ride on St Moritz's famous bobsleigh track – but make sure you haven't eaten first.
Compete in the 50th Engadin ski marathon
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Fancy a challenge in 2018? The largest cross-country ski race in Switzerland (and the second largest in the world) is this epic trek across the stunning wintry landscape of the Engadin in the canton of Graubünden. Some 13,000 people from all over the world come to compete in the ‘Engadiner’ as it is known, a huge rise from the 945 people who took part in the very first race in 1969. If you sign up for the 50th edition on March 11th 2018 then watch out for a very special participant, Françoise Stahel, who has competed in every single one.
Lounge in luxury above Lake Lucerne
Photo: Bürgenstock Hotels AG
If most of the above sounds like far too much physical activity out in the cold, then retreat to the redeveloped Bürgenstock Resort above Lucerne, which opened in August. It’s actually four hotels, including the five-star superior Bürgenstock – a new building with an ultra-fancy 10,000m2 spa – and the revamped four-star Palace Hotel, which dates from 1906. The complex has 12 restaurants, a shopping complex and even (in summer) a nine-hole golf course.