The Swiss winter promises an unforgettable break in the snow and sunshine. You can look forward to beautifully prepared slopes, cross-country ski trails, winter walking paths and toboggan runs with dramatic 4000 m peaks for a backdrop. In the evening, enjoy a tasty fondue or relax by the open fire in your romantic chalet or cosy hotel.
One good reason to leave an Australian summer for December in Europe is to get a taste of a traditional Christmas and its trappings. And the snowflakes mean a photo opportunity straight from a Christmas card might wait later that day in Einsiedeln. A 45-minute train ride up the mountains at the foot of Lake Zurich, the monastery village is a year-round attraction for its Benedictine Abbey, but the drawcard in December is the Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas market.
The aroma of mulled wine and grilled sausages permeates Swiss cities and villages each December too, as public squares are turned over to Christmas trees, carnival rides, ice rinks and stalls selling all manner of festive food and ephemera.
Conveniently, the ultra-efficient, ultra-comfortable Swiss rail system makes it easy to get your fill of snowflakes, deers and gluhwein, and get home in time to throw some prawns on the barbecue on December 25.
Alpine resorts don’t only cater for skiers and snow boarders, though. There are plenty of Christmassy activities for non- skiers and for visitors of all ages. Horse-drawn sleighs are a common sight in some resorts and many villages hold Christmas markets.
The Eiger village of Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland is surrounded by a commanding mountainscape with the Eiger north face and the Wetterhorn. The two ski regions of First and Kleine Scheidegg – Männlichen – Wengen offer 160 kilometres of pistes with around 30 lifts reaching up to an altitude of 2500 m. The Schilthorn near Mürren, also part of the Jungfrau region ski arena, even reaches 2971 m. Choose from 80 km of winter walking trails with views across seven four-thousand-metre peaks and majestic glaciers, as well as 60 km of toboggan runs, including, at 15 km, one of the longest toboggan runs in the Alps from the Faulhorn into the valley. Naturally Grindelwald also has many further winter sports on offer.
Or the high valley of Engelberg in Central Switzerland boasts an action-packed winter programme while also offering every opportunity for relaxation. The “mountain of angels”, as it was named in 1120 by the founders of the imposing Benedictine monastery. The longest descent of the Alps, measuring 12 km, is found here and the way up has never been faster before: The Titlis-Xpress climbs the 1,400 m of altitude within only 16 minutes. The Titlis is the highest glacier excursion destination and biggest ski and snowboard paradise in Central Switzerland. At an altitude of 3,020 m visitors are treated to a fabulous view of the central Alps. Fun-filled sledding parties, 30 kilometres of cross-country tracks, and 14 winter-hiking trails round out the comprehensive range of offerings.
Find your perfect winter destination in Switzerland with the interactive winter resort finder: Winterfinder.MySwitzerland.com