The Alps are an icon of Switzerland, and though this range of famous peaks stretches across several nations, it's often on a Swiss adventure travellers will consider exploring the mountains. Mountain holidays have become popular in recent years, with both summer and winter travellers choosing to soak up the scenery that Switzerland is justly famous for. Whether you're enamoured by the Matterhorn, or just have to see the Grossglockner, we've chosen our favourite ways to discover the beauty of these stunning snow-capped beauties, to inspire your next Alpine holiday.
Is there any more pleasant way to explore stunning rural scenery than with a gentle stroll (or, depending on your preference, a brisk hike)? Possibly, as there are five entries on this list. However, we think it ranks as one of the best ways to enjoy the Alps. During summer, the weather is mild, allowing for a long stint outdoors, making the most of rolling, fragrant Alpine meadows overlooked by towering peaks, and whilst winter exploration may require more planning, more layers and a pair of snow shoes, the frosty landscape is a welcome reward for your efforts. For the most relaxing experience, be sure to enlist the help of a guide, who can not only ensure a safe route of an appropriate endurance level, but also acknowledge points of interest, such as local wildlife and flora, along the way.
This may be a stereotype, but skiing is one of the most popular ways to discover the beauty of Swiss mountainsides - by rushing down them at speed. If you're feeling energetic, this is a surefire way to stay warm during the icy cold of Swiss winter, and for many the thrill heightens the experience of exploring the landscape. However, if that description leaves you feeling exhausted already, simply retire to the comfy confines of a ski chalet, and watch the snow fall as you sup hot chocolate. It still counts as a skiing holiday, right?
3. By rail
Did you really think we could do a top 5 list that didn't include rail? Of course we're biased, so don't take it from us - take it from the Swiss tourism board, who say the Glacier Express "delights travellers with scenic attractions and technical state-of-the-art achievements." This isn't the only train that passes through large sections of spectacular mountain scenery, as Switzerland has a wide range to choose from - take the Jungfrau Express to the highest railway station in Europe for iconic views, or board the Mont Blanc Express, for fantastic scenes of the Alps on a journey that takes in Switzerland and France in one charming swoop. Of course the world is always best explored by rail in our eyes, and we're experts in the field - which is why we can tell you that Switzerland's mountain railways are amongst the best in the world. Don't miss out.
4. On a zip wire
This one's a little more adventurous. (Don't worry - our final suggestion should bring things back down to earth). For the traveller who's seen it all, this is a brand new angle to consider. Offering a unique birds' eye view, ziplines are proving a popular way to explore the majesty (and height) of the Alps, with Grindelwald's ZipRider attraction boasting an estimated 300 brave visitors a day. This seated zip line offers a thrill ride through mountainous scenery, with top speeds of up to 55mph, for what can surely be honestly described as an unforgettable adventure. (Though we perhaps prefer the trains … certainly, the Glacier Express operates at much slower speeds).
5. On a lake cruise
We did promise this would be more relaxing than suggestion number 4, and a scenic cruise across the crystalline waters of one of the Bernese Orberland's most famous lakes is possibly the most laid-back way to soak up the splendour of Alpine landscapes. Choose from Lake Thun, the larger and more imposing of the two bodies of water, or Lake Brienz, the diminutive, and some would argue prettier, sister lake, for a spellbinding cruise along centuries-old glacial waters, surrounded by shimmering mountaintops. Just the thought ought to make you feel more relaxed, and this popular water-bound past time is a favourite with visitors from around the world.
Did we pick your favourite way to see the Alps? Let us know how you'd most like to explore the Alps in the comments below, or explore our full range of Swiss tours for more holiday ideas.