Swiss Alps – the symbol of winter. Many things have been named by the Alps throughout history, like the alpine sports, milk, climate, etc. However, the Alps are one and only and they stretch across 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) length of Europe. In the process, they cross no less than eight countries including (from east to west) Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, France, and Monaco.
Of all the mentioned countries, Alps take the most from Austria and Switzerland (around 65% of the country’s territory in both cases), excluding the microstates of Lichtenstein and Monaco, of course. Furthermore, people generally think Switzerland when they hear the term Alps, and we’ll try to explain why.
The whole world is set up so that for places like Switzerland to exist, that are crime-free and with the best care for everybody, you have to have places like Sudan, or Jamaica. But really, there’s enough to share, when you check it. It’s not that complicated, really. It’s probably less thinking and more feeling that’s required.
– via Damian Marley
About Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps are the highest overall and 48 of 82 peaks taller than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) lie within the country’s borders. Most notable four-thousand in Switzerland are the Matterhorn, the Weisshorn, the Dom, the Monte Rosa, etc. Apart from these 48 peaks, the rest of the four-thousands can be found scattered within 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Swiss border. The Alps are intersected by a number of Rivers, most notable in Switzerland being Rhone, Rhine, Inn, and Ticino.
All of them are formed from one of the numerous glaciers that serve as their headwaters. Needless to say, Alps have helped in forming a myriad of glacial lakes as well, including Lake Geneva, Lake Constance, Lake Neuchatel, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Lucerne, which are the largest.
Climate & Weather
Climate, as already mentioned above, is mostly temperate in mountain’s lower reaches, and alpine (mountain climate) in upper reaches. In fact, Swiss Alps exhibit three climate types: subalpine zone (lower reaches below the max of 2,000 meters or 6,500 feet), alpine zone (between subalpine and the snow limit) and glacial zone (usually above 3,000 meters or 10,000 feet where snow is permanent throughout the year). Tourists coming to the Swiss Alps have to be prepared for all three zones in terms of temperature variations, but in terms of the touristic offer as well.
While the subalpine zone holds most of the settlements (including hotels) and forests, the alpine zone is the one with ever-stretching meadows used mostly as pastures. Needless to say, the Glacial zone is mostly uninhabited and probably the best option for the alpinists (another Alps-derived term) and other extreme sports enthusiasts.
Tourist activities & Resorts
So, what do the Swiss Alps offer in terms of tourist activities? Quite a lot, actually. As you can probably figure out from all of the aforementioned. Swiss Alps aren’t only about skiing. They are a year-round destination that gets its share of visitors during summer as well. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better quality of air anywhere in the world, and this is recognized by many people coming to the Alps during warmer seasons. Mountain hiking, sightseeing, and camping are only a few available activities during the snowless periods.
However, most people still come for winter breaks. After all, a couple of Winter Olympics have been held in Switzerland’s most famous winter resort of St. Moritz.
St. Moritz – best-known place to visit
St. Moritz, however, isn’t for everyone. Like Aspen in the United States, for instance – it is a jet-set destination mostly intended for those with deeper pockets. In fact, St. Moritz is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world. However, it definitely pays off visiting at least once in a lifetime. Not only that it enjoys prolonged winter seasons, but it also enjoys around 300 days of sunshine a year. Add to this hundreds of miles of ski tracks, frozen Lake St. Moritz, and Roman mineral springs (including St. Moritz Bader), and you’ll see why this is such a prolific destination and epitome of the Swiss Alps.
Davos is another epitome for the Swiss Alps, but unlike St. Moritz, it’s slightly more affordable. This is Switzerland’s largest ski resort which, at the same time, proudly wears the moniker of the highest city in Europe. This family ski resort is comprised of five different ski areas: Parsenn, Jakobshorn, Pischa, Madrisa, and Rinerhorn. This family destination has it all, from affordable to luxury restaurants to the same type of hotels. Skiing, snowboarding, sightseeing, paragliding, etc. are only a few available activities here. Needless to say, Davos has its lake.
Similar resorts can be found in Verbier, Nendaz, Crans-Montana, Saas-Fee, Ovronnaz, Champery, Pontresina, and many more locations including Zermatt – not so quiet little town under the Matterhorn. Pretty much anywhere you decide to go during winter – the Swiss Alps will oblige with plenty of winter sports activities and traditional Alpine accommodations. It’s hard enough to describe with words. One has to experience the Swiss Alps during winter in order to grasp what they are all about.
As said already, winter delights aren’t the only delights that the Swiss Alps offer. Swiss architecture and culture alone are fascinating to both look at and experience. Whether you’re in German, French, Italian, or Romansh-speaking parts of the country, you’ll get plenty to see. Furthermore, you’ll also easily notice the differences between them if you decide to experience them all. No matter where you go, you’ll find yourselves beneath the Swiss Alps, and the same goes for the cities in Switzerland.
There’s another feat that rarely omits to show itself. Almost all Swiss cities have their own lake. Lakes of the Swiss Alps, however, aren’t intended for swimming given their glacial nature. They are simply too cold for that, but they are also more lovely-looking at the same time.
If you’re visiting the Swiss Alps, don’t allow yourself the luxury not to visit one of their numerous glaciers. Aletsch being the largest is a must-see. It stretches 23 kilometers (14 miles) and covers an area of more than 120 square kilometers (46 square miles). This is also the longest Alpine glacier overall and is one of the natural UNESCO World Heritage sites. Fiesch, Gorner, Unteraar, and Corbassière too are longer than 10 kilometers (6 miles), but they are far from being the only ones. Chance is, if you decide to visit the Swiss Alps – you’ll probably find yourself in one’s close vicinity.
Swiss Alps – must visit this place!
Swiss Alps are some of the most renowned tourist destinations in the world, being one of the first. Highly developed infrastructure that helps in spanning the rough terrain goes in their favor as well. All in all, wherever in the Swiss Alps you decide to go – you likely won’t lose too much time on the transfer and will get the top-class accommodations and services worthy of royalty.
I was born in South Africa during apartheid, a system of laws that made it illegal for people to mix in South Africa. And this was obviously awkward because I grew up in a mixed family. My mother’s a black woman, South African Xhosa woman… and my father’s Swiss, from Switzerland.
– via Trevor Noah