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An alpine idyll.

Summary: With stunning mountain scenery, hiking hotspots and rich local culture, Switzerland offers an array of experiences. GN Focus picks four magical destinations for winter escapes

Grindelwald serves as a base for tourists looking to access the activities in the Jungfrau region Image Credit: Shutterstock Chiranti Sengupta I Deputy Editor, Commercial Publishing Grindelwald

The stunning mountain village is around two hours by train from ZE-rich. Surrounded by the north face of the mighty Eiger, Wetterhorn and Mettenberg mountains, Grindelwald is a great spot to admire the epic Swiss rural landscapes. Get your bearings by wandering around the town centre, a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, where small cafes, painted wooden houses, a hillside chapel and souvenir shops line the narrow streets. Aside from the incredible scenery, the village also serves as a base for most tourists looking to explore the Jungfrau region. Some of Switzerland's best hiking trails can also be found around the Grindelwald First, a hotspot for winter adventures in the village. And as the largest ski resort in the Jungfrau region, many of Grindelwald's slopes feature excellent pistes -- drawing large numbers of both first-time adventurers and seasoned skiers in winter.

Unique experience A short train ride takes you to the scenic village of Lauterbrunnen, which served as a background for J.R.R. Tolkein's Elven city of Rivendell in Lord of the Rings. With 72 fountains and towering cliffs, this is home to one of Switzerland's most impressive Alpine landscapes.

Where to stay Just a few minutes away from the Grindelwald train station, Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof Grindelwald is your best bet in the village, offering stunning views of the mountains as well as the local community from all the rooms. Its restaurants, Schmitte, GaststE-bli and Alpterrassen, serve up hearty Swiss fare, highlighting the best of local ingredients.


The starting point for many mountain excursions, Interlaken is nestled between the lakes of Thun and Brienz. The boulevard running between the Interlaken West and East stations has many restaurants, boutiques and hotels. Wander along the road at a leisurely pace to soak up the ambience and enjoy stunning vistas of snow-capped mountains. However, if you get restless, there are plenty of things to do in the surrounding area, such as hiking, paragliding over the mountains or sky diving. A cruise on Lake Thun is also a great way to enjoy the magical winter atmosphere of the town. The Interlaken region features more than 220km of winter trails, suitable for hiking with the family. The Stockhorn area is especially popular with winter hikers, offering outstanding views of more than 200 alpine summits as well as the Emmental Valley. Since Interlaken is a rail junction on the way to the Jungfrau region and other tourist hotspots, you can easily access the popular winter sports destinations of Grindelwald, Beatenberg, Habkern, Brienz-Axalp, Kleine Scheidegg and Schilthorn from the resort town. Unique experience Ride the Jungfrau Railway from Interlaken for a day trip to Jungfraujoch or the Top of Europe at 3,454 metres above sea level. All through the year, the cog railway chugs through a tunnel to Jungfraujoch from Kleine Scheidegg.

Where to stay With an easy access to the railway stations, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa offers well-appointed 216 rooms with views of the mountains. It also boasts a 5,500-square-metre spa and restaurants for unique culinary experiences.


Luxury hotels and chalets, marked hiking and biking trails, world-class skiing facilities and an impeccably stylish ambience draw thousands of tourists and ski enthusiasts to the fashionable resort of Gstaad throughout the year. With more than 30 well-prepared routes varying from steep climbs to easy runs, hikers can explore the magic of Gstaad in winter on foot. Skiing enthusiasts can head to Glacier 3000, the only glacier ski area in the Bernese Oberland, offering a range of winter activities from this month. Sledging, hot air balloon flights, horse-drawn carriage rides and dog sledding are some of the other popular activities available in the area during winter. After a busy day, indulge in a relaxing spa treatment to soothe those aching muscles. With most hotels in Gstaad offering spa and wellness facilities, the resort town offers the perfect spot to unwind and improve your well-being. Unique experience Village hopping is a great way to explore the fairy-tale landscapes of the Alpine town as well as nine other chalet villages that comprise the destination Gstaad. While the traffic-free area of the village of Gstaad is good for shopping and dining, you can explore the rich history of the land at Saneen and the chalet village of SchE[micro]nried is known for skiing and other outdoor sports. Where to stay A favourite with celebrities, staying at the Gstaad Palace, which opened doors in 1913, is truly an experience in itself. This boasts stylishly decorated rooms and suites, a sprawling spa and elegant restaurants. A meal at Gildo's Ristorante, serving up decadent Italian fare in an intimate setting, is a must.


With a buzzing old town, medieval monuments, museums, hip boutiques and cafes, central Switzerland's largest town has something for everyone. Located on Lake Lucerne and hemmed by the Alps, the compact city is easy to get around on foot. Explore the city's top attractions including the chapel bridge, lion monument, Musegg Wall, Zyt Tower, the history museum, town hall and KKL Centre on a walking tour. Visitors who make it to Lucerne often hang out in the city's old town area lined with historic houses with ornate facades, restaurants and cafes and retail outlets. With twinkling lights and food and crafts markets running all over the city, Lucerne is especially pretty during the festive season. The city's main Christmas market takes place on Franziskanerplatz, a great spot to sample gingerbread, toffee and other winter treats. You can also hop aboard a sunset cruise on Lake Lucerne and experience the city at twilight.

Unique experience Take a 45-minute ride from here on the Lucern-Engelberg Express to the alpine town of Engelberg, while enjoying sweeping views of the mountains from the train's panorama windows. Perched at the foot of Mount Titlis, this is a beautiful place to spend a day, with plenty of opportunities for adventures and hiking nearby. As one of the top skiing regions in Switzerland, the Engelberg-Titlis ski area boasts more than 80km of slopes.

Where to stay If money isn't an issue, the five-star Schweizerhof Luzern makes for the perfect base to explore the magic of the Swiss city. Spacious rooms with spectacular views of Lake Lucerne and its speciality restaurants will make your stay memorable.

Get around

A Swiss Travel Pass lets you freely travel by train, bus and ferry throughout Switzerland, as well as visit many attractions free of charge or at discounted rates. It starts at CHF225 (about Dh811). For more information on the Swiss Travel Pass, visit

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 21, 2018
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