From spa hotels to summer festivals
Switzerland. The name conjures up glittering, snow-clad slopes and wooden chalets with warm, glowing windows. But when the temperature rises, the ice retreats back up to the mountaintops and a new side to the country is revealed. From open-air concerts to outdoor adventures, here’s our pick of events and activities to fill summer getaways in Switzerland.
Truly global, yet with its own character. Stylish, sophisticated, and surrounded by natural beauty on an epic scale. Geneva makes for a cosmopolitan city break – with a surprisingly fun-loving spirit that shines through in the warmer months.
• Life on the lake – summer days in Geneva revolve around the water. Swap the hotel spa for a day at Bains des Pâquis – charming public baths and swimming pools dating back to 1872. Or step aboard a Belle Époque steamer for a gourmet cruise.
• Light up the night – if you’re here during Geneva Festival, it’s impossible to miss fireworks that seem to bloom and burst over the whole lake. Don’t let the rest of the evening fizzle out though. Head to Eaux-Vives for nightspots favoured by locals, including L’Atelier Cocktail Club with its endlessly inventive menu.
• Where to stay – Eastwest Hotel is an elegant and understated property on a quiet street by Lake Geneva.
Originally famous for its thermal springs, summer means skis and snowballs won’t get in the way of unwinding at this luxury resort town.
• Feast your eyes – the St Moritz restaurants read like a galaxy of Michelin stars, but La Tavolata Food Festival gives you a chance to try more rustic regional specialities. Come at the end of July for pop-ups and market stalls serving nutty Engadine cheeses, mountain liquors and more.
• Need for speed – from 21-23 August the mountains echo with the rumble of classic Italian sports cars for Passione Engadina. 2017 celebrated 70 years of Ferrari, setting pulses racing.
• Where to stay – The Crystal Hotel puts you at the heart of St Moritz, with a luxurious spa to come back to each day.
Lovely Lucerne, with its lakeside setting and fascinating Altstadt, has all the ingredients for a boutique city break.
• Don’t stop the music – from August to September, thousands of people take seats in concert halls for the Lucerne Music Festival. Special events have included performances of Monteverdi’s operas to celebrate the maestro’s 450th anniversary in 2017.
• Spread your wings – thrill seekers shouldn’t pass up the Grindelwald-First Flyer – a zip-line that will see you soaring between Jungfrau peaks at over 80kmph. Pluck up the courage on the cable-car ride from Grindelwald, which is about an hour away from Lucerne.
• Where to stay – Art Deco Hotel Montana, a palatial retreat straight from the jazz age, overlooking Lake Lucerne.
A gem of a resort that attracts everyone from serious hikers to Hollywood stars, there’s plenty going on in Verbier in all seasons.
• A good sport – summer arrives in Verbier with a full calendar of sporting events, whether that means watching leaping horses or gravity-defying motorbikes. If you’re more of a participant than a spectator, why not try something different? Canyoning is a refreshing way to slide down the mountainside – by following streams and waterfalls, rather than ski runs.
• Shining stars – with past performers including David Bowie and Ella Fitzgerald, Montreux Jazz Festival is a big hitter. Just one hour away from Montreux, Verbier is perfect for doing the festival in style.
• Where to stay – Cordée des Alpes, a luxury ski lodge that celebrates the golden age of Alpine exploration.
Verbier’s even more exclusive cousin is the gateway to gorgeous green countryside and glamorous experiences.
• Enjoy the atmosphere – with no cars, a handful of designer boutiques and exclusive hotels, Gstaad beckons you to pause and take in the mountain air. Listen out for the faint ringing of cow bells in the surrounding meadows. Or, if you’re here during the Menuhin Festival, take note of violin concertos played by superstar soloists.
• A head for heights – zip up to Glacier 3000 to conquer the only-for-the-brave suspension bridge between two mountain peaks. Or visit Gstaad’s own mountain, the Wispile. Family-friendly activities here include hair-raising scooter rides back down into the valley along countryside trails.
• Where to stay – Le Grande Bellevue mixes heritage appeal with contemporary comfort – and Michelin-starred dining.