2018 bucket list: what to do in Switzerland this year
Looking for a new challenge this year? Want to explore all Switzerland has to offer? Try these ideas for size...
Eat fondue in the sky
Photo: Fondue in the Sky
A truly Swiss experience, this pop-up event allows you to sit down to a tasty fondue dinner... in a cable car. Held in three Swiss ski resorts this winter – Verbier, Villars and Crans-Montana – Fondue in the Sky transforms individual bubble lifts into tiny restaurants capable of welcoming up to six people for a three-course dinner with wine. The lifts are slowed down and run on two full rounds so your dinner experience lasts 1h45.
Photo: Snow Bike Festival
Introduced to Switzerland a couple of seasons ago, fat-biking is the new craze of riding mountain bikes with special ‘fat’ tyres which allow you to ride on snow. It’s popular in Gstaad, which has many fat-biking trails and holds an annual Snow Bike Festival in mid January for amateurs and professional bikers alike.
Ride in a piste basher
Photo: Sorenberg tourism
Ever wanted to know how the ski slopes are prepared? In the central Swiss resort of Sörenberg you can find out exactly how by joining a piste basher on his early morning or late evening outing. As a passenger in a snowcat you’ll spend 3-4 hours grooming the slopes, plus have dinner or breakfast in a mountain restaurant.
Attend the Velogemel World Championships
Photo: Andreas Hess/Jungfrau tourism
The folk of Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland like to get down mountains in their own way. Unique to the area is the velogemel, a bike-sledge invented over 100 years ago by a local and now a familiar sight in the village. It’s huge fun – try it for yourself on the sledge run from Bussalp down to the village. If you get the hang of it and fancy a challenge, enter the Velogemel World Championships on February 4th, which is great fun to watch, too.
Go to a Swiss carnival
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Carnival in Switzerland is an experience not to be missed. Everyone should go to the country’s biggest – Basel’s Fasnacht – at least once, while there are other popular carnivals in Lucerne, St Gallen, Bern and Bellinzona.
Visit Europe’s largest freshwater aquarium
Photo: Aquatis/Sedrik Nemeth
Opened last October in Lausanne, Aquatis is a giant aquarium showcasing freshwater environments around the world. Home to 10,000 fish and 100 reptiles and amphibians over 3,500m2, it’s a vast complex and perfect as a rainy day activity.
Ride the world’s steepest funicular
Photo: Stoos Tourism
When it opened in December the new Stoosbahn became the steepest classic funicular railway in the world, taking passengers from the Schlattli valley station to the village of Stoos in the canton of Schwyz at a maximum gradient of 110 percent. But thanks to the funicular’s innovative cylindrical carriages, you’ll be kept upright on the journey.
Get to the places other mountain bikers don’t go by booking a heli-bike experience with Bed’n’Ride. In a first for Switzerland, the company has teamed up with Sion-based helicopter service Héli-Alpes to offer mountain bikers a new experience. Customers and their bikes are flown up to one of five different locations in the Valais in the morning, before spending 4-6 hours mountain biking in the wilderness.
Cross the world’s longest suspension bridge
Photo: Zermatt Tourism
Something to tick off your bucket list in 2018 is a walk on this magnificent bridge near Zermatt, which hit the headlines when it opened last July because it’s the longest suspension bridge in the world. At 494m long and 85m above the valley floor, it’s a vertigo-inducing connection between Grächen and Zermatt along the Europaweg hiking trail. Try it if you dare...
Tackle an alpine running race
Photo: Zermatt marathon
If you’re into keeping fit, perhaps this is the year to try one of Switzerland’s amazing mountain races. From the stunning Aletsch half marathon to the 101k maximum length of the Eiger Ultratrail, there are some incredible – and incredibly scenic – challenges out there.
Go to a yodelling festival
Photo: Swiss Tourism
There’s always a traditional Swiss festival to attend somewhere in the country, and this year is no different. Head to Yverdon-les-Bains in late June to see Switzerland’s finest yodellers in action during the 29th West Switzerland Yodelling Festival (June 29th-July 1st). As well as competitive events for yodellers, flag-wavers and alphorn players, there’s a costumed procession, a folk market, music and plenty of traditional Swiss food and drink.
Visit the country’s new chocolate museum
Photo: Reto Durier/Chez Camille Bloch
Chocolatier Camille Bloch is behind famous Swiss brands Ragusa and Torino. Now you can see how they make it all at this new chocolate factory experience in Courtelary near Biel/Bienne. Chez Camille Bloch, which opened last October, offers a interactive exhibit charting the history of the company, chocolate-making workshops and, of course, plenty of tastings.
Try Swiss whisky on a high-alpine hike
Photo: Thomas Senf/Swiss Tourism
Appenzell is already known for its beer, but now you can taste its fine Säntis malt whisky as well. Launched last year, the new whisky trek – billed as the highest in the world – allows hikers to visit 27 mountain inns and restaurants in the area and sample a whisky in each. Since each inn stores its Säntis differently – in different barrels, at varying altitude – each has a unique taste and strength.
Experience Switzerland’s Unesco World Heritage sites
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Switzerland has 11 Unesco World Heritage sites across the country, from man-made places like Bern’s beautifully preserved medieval Old Town and Bellinzona’s castles (pictured) to incredible natural phenomena including the Aletsch glacier and the 240m years old fossils of Monte San Giorgio. Why not make 2018 the year you visit them all?