• BLOG
  • The Best Hiking Destinations in Switzerland

    Tiina Kivelä The Best Hiking in Switzerland

    It’s been a bit springy in Switzerland lately. And while the skiing is more than fine activity still – thanks to the amounts of snow we’ve had this winter – the warm sunny afternoons in the patio get the mood quite summery every other second.

    And so – as the restless person I am – I’ve been wondering where I want to return to and where I want to go for the first time this summer. To hike the alps, run the trails and climb up the mountains (Especially the latter, because it’s about a time I start to really work for my alpinist goal.) Simply because going to the Swiss mountains on my two feet is my favourite outdoor activity.

    And because recently I’ve also gotten a few questions on the best hiking destinations in Switzerland for this summer, I’ve collected the following list to help you to choose your destination for the summer.

    And so – in no particular order – the best hiking destinations in Switzerland (according to yours truly) are Alpstein in Appenzell, Jungfrau Region, Zermatt, Engadin (Sankt Moritz) and Ticino.

    Read on for information and inspiration. But please, do note that I haven’t been everywhere  (it’s on my list though). Therefore, I might not even know the really best destination in Switzerland (feel free to comment below if you think I miss something). Nevertheless, I can promise I have myself liked very much hiking in all of the mentioned destinations, and I have returned many times to most of them. Therefore, I do think the list is kinda valid.

    All of these destinations are also reachable by train and all of them offer variety of hospitality services to choose from if and when needed. I’ve mentioned the closest SBB stop by name, and especially if clicking the links further to my longer stories of each destination, you’ll find further recommendations and tips for the destination.

    Allons!


    The Best Hiking Destinations in Switzerland

    Tiina Kivelä

    Hiking, Eating and Drinking Well in Alpstein in Appenzell

    Let’s start with my regular hiking spot in the summer of 2018.

    Alpstein in Appenzell in the eastern Switzerland doesn’t exactly belong to the Alps, yet you may very well see them from the higher routes of the massif. Highlights in this area (and very famous from Instagram) include the lake Seealpsee, Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, Lisengrat and the panorama from Hoher Kastein.

    To experience the highlights and have a great hiking tour, Alpstein offers you a variety of routes to choose from. The several cable cars in the area also save your knees from the steep downhills and make hiking with children and others with limited mobility more pleasant.

    The easiest way to the Alpstein hiking trails is to take the Appenzeller Bahnen train to Wasserauen and continue from there to Seealpsee (about a 1h hike), in example. Another good starting point in the area is the top station of Hoher Kastein cable car (reachable from Brülisau (kastenbahn) with a change from the Appenzell bahn to post bus in Weissbad). You may also start your hike from the top of Säntis (reachable by cable car from Schwägalp) or make any of these your hike’s destination.

    From all of the mentioned, well marked trails for all levels continue all around the Alpstein massif past magnificent views and good restaurants and guesthouses with local specialities.

    And for the add ons to your Alpstein hike,  check the Appenzeller Whiskytrek and make a little detour through Appenzell for the local Appenzell beer (Brauquöll) and Appenzeller cheese (Schaukäserei).

    And if the sceneray isn’t enough for the eyes, there’s also interesting museum in the town – Kunstmuseum Appenzell.


    Jungfrau Region Hiking Switzerland Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä Jungfrau Region Hikinh Switzerland

    The Best Panorama In The Alps in Jungfrau Region

    I’ve been lucky – like really lucky – to have been lived in Jungfrau Region for a year.

    It’s a magnificent place and in my less than objective – yet repeated by many – opinion it offers the best mountain panorama in the Alps. And more than plenty of hiking routes to choose from (one summer season wasn’t enough to try even half of them). Therefore, I have many hiking recommendation for this area especially (seen under the menu category ‘Jungfrau Region‘, though above mentioned ‘Appenzell‘ doesn’t come far behind).

    The easiest gate arrival to Jungfrau Region is Interlaken,  around which you already find many amazing trails hike on. Yet there’s also more than good reason to continue the way further, first to the villages of Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, then up to Mürren, Wengen and Kleine Scheideggen and finally all the way up to Jungfraujoch, to the highest railway station in Europe (3454m) and magnificent glacier experience. In this list though, let’s keep to the normal hiking routes which do not require crampons and ice axes and mountain guides. (Though the latter – or at least a hiking guide – can be recommended. Especially if you’re not so experienced a hiker. )

    In Jungfrau region – if you’re into the Instagram famous and the bit more demanding routes – check especially the Augstmathorn on the north side of Interlaken. Or combine your hike with a very vintage train ride up to Schynige Platte from Wilderswill, from where you can continue up to the Faulhorn and then down past the Bachalpsee (a dip allowed) to First cable car station, from where you may take the cable car down to Grindelwald. Or start in the Laterbrunnen side, where you may take the uphill route via Bryndli from Mürren to Schilthorn and from there the cable car back down (see more information behind this link).

    Moreover, if you’re more on the more good views less extreme, start from Lauterbrunnen and admire the magnificent valley with plenty of waterfalls. Then hike along the famous Lauberhorn downhill route (or the Jungfrau Marathon track) past or from Wengen up to Kleine Scheideggen, below the famous Eiger north face. From where you may also find good restaurants and trains going to three directions, one of them all the way up to Jungfraujoch, and the two others going back Lauterbrunnen and to Grindelwald.

    (See more details of hiking around Interlaken behind this link.)


    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Famous Zermatt

    This is the one with the magnificent Toblerone Matterhorn and iconic Zermatt village itself. With many famous stories to tell of the pioneers, heroes and tourists of mountaineering.

    And a good hiking destination too. Though free destination reachable only by train, foot or helicopter makes Zermatt a nice and quiet place only in theory. Therefore, be prepared for tourist crowds in the village and on the most famous and easiest trails, especially during the busiest summer holiday months.

    What’s good in Zermatt though  – as in many Swiss destinations – most of the crowds stay in the main streets of the village and/or in the mountain tops reachable by trains and cable cars. So if and when you’re looking for solitude and less crowded mountain trails, there’s also plenty to experience in Zermatt too. But be prepared to see some effort and take the less traveled trail.

    For starters, I would recommend the trails from Zermatt village in the direction of village of  Z’mutt (excellent place for a lunch btw) and the Schönbielhütte (2694 m). On the Gornergrat side of the village, there’s also nice trails all the way from the village to Gornergrat or other way round. Shorter variations available too.

    And of course, when in Zermatt, you can and maybe even should take the train up to Gornergrat. From there, you find the magnificent Gorner Glacier and Matterhorn views. And a good starting point for shorter and longer hikes.

    (You may read my more detailed suggestions for hiking in Zermatt behind this link.)


     

    Graubünden Hiking Switzerland Tiina Kivelä

    Valley of Engadin (Sankt Moritz) in Graubünden

    First of all, the region of Graubünden where the valley of Engadin (Sankt Moritz) is situated is a huge region offering excellent outdoor possibilities – hiking included – in almost every corner.

    Nevertheless, as I’ve only been really hiking there in two places – Pontresina and Piz Beverin – and since Engadin is simply the best in there, I concentrate on this valley. And there really is a a lot to choose from even just in this valley – according to the official visitor website a network of 580km hiking trails. Quite remarkable, isn’t it?

    For a day tour in Engadin, I suggest you to check Pontresina and the trails passing Paradis Hut. As there’s both excellent views to the valley and glaciers and peaks like Piz Bernina (4049m) and a nice restaurant and sunny terrace for a proper break.

    Psst. Engadin also offers famous resorts like Sankt Moritz for old school luxury hiking. And for the new luxury, there’s a good variation of remote mountain huts and mountain inns and spa hotels to choose from, and to be combined with a multi day hiking tour in the region.

    And while in Graubüunden, you will also find the town of Chur to combine your hiking with an idyllic town stroll (and visit to the nice Bündner Kunstmuseum), and the Swiss National Park. And most importantly, an enormous trail network all around the region, to combine a hiking tour for a day or two. Or even a week.


    Hiking Ticino Switzerland Tiina Kivelä

     

    Always Sunny Ticino

    Finally – like the perfect after meal espresso – there’s always sunny Ticino region. For hiking, southern european flair and after hike pizzas in Italy. You may also expect this to be a good place for hiking especially in early summer and late autumn, when other parts of Switzerland are rainy and chilly. It’s also easily combined with a trip to Italy, to lake Como or city break in Milan.

    Simple, start by taking the train to Lugano and continue by foot or bus to the trailhead of your choice. Recommended hike in there – from which the above mentioned views (minus the half naked yours truly) – is Monte San Giorgio. 

    And recommended food any pizza on the Italian side.

     

  • BLOG
  • Tricks For Doing Solo Ski Trip Well

    Davos Tiina Kivelä Creative

    For various reasons, the past years and especially last year I have traveled a lot solo. This way, I’ve had the privilege to travel regularly during the weekdays and off peak season. Making it cheaper and less crowded than in the weekends and peak seasons. I’ve also been able to tweak and adjust it like only a solo traveler and hustler can.

    And more than else, I’ve been doing stuff I really want to do. Not needing to adjust to other people’s desires, schedules and skill levels. Though not saying that it would always be my #1 choice. Many times, I would like to just go with the flow of good company, adjust and make compromises, to enjoy the amazing thing called sharing the best and the worst. Nevertheless, traveling solo is always better than not traveling at all. (Well, at least when it doesn’t cause lots of harm to environment etc.)

    In other words, there’s many benefits of solo travel and the freedom I have. Yet, I have to admit many times it’s damn demanding and tiring to be in charge of everything myself. To make all the planning, execution, hustling and figuring out all by myself. No extra pair of hands available to give a helping hand when needed. No extra pair of eyes looking after things needing looking after. And especially, no stupid jokes in every possible occasion. And the only possible solution for pictures of yourself are the selfies.

    All this said, I have luckily figured out few tricks which makes traveling solo a bit more easier and pleasant. Especially when it means traveling for skiing and other activities, when traveling with many heavy bags and hangry moments.

    And for the nice person I am, want to share them in here. With this stupid selfie from my Davos trip last week.

    Douchebags Davos-Klosters Ski 2019

    Doing Solo Ski Travel Well

    • Get good bags for your toys. Like, really good bags. The handy robust ones. The ones with wheels and/or possibility to carry them in your bag/shoulder and the ones with as little extra weight as possible. (Extra points for good looking and recognisable bags). You’ll really thank yourself when you haul them into the trains through crowds and long staircases and icy roads. My choice for my skis: Douchebag.

     

    • Figure out where to storage your stuff, well in advance. For example, if you don’t get into your accommodation or don’t stay in the destination for the night you have to have secure place for your stuff, as your mom or no one else is looking after them. Figure out where’s lockers and at which size and with which price, and how long the storages are open. As a skier/snowboarder/whatever, you can never travel light and you most likely will have some stuff you don’t wanna carry along all the day.

     

    • Get used to being ok eating alone and finding out the good in it. When googling where to eat, check for recommendations for single eaters and really go for the things you really like. When solo, you don’t need to worry of the friend only eating still living stuff nor the other highly allergic to chili. On the other hand, you need to be happy to be squeezed into communal table or get a seat only from the bar. Yet, there’s the good in that too: you easily get to chat with the staff, get very personal service or alternatively can just concentrate on your phone or book or food or beer or the other guest. My restaurant recommendation for Davos in the pics: Lokal.

     

    • Get used to not getting the best accommodation if and when you don’t have limitless budget. Unfortunately, the single tax – higher price if it’s just you in the room vs. two person sharing the room – is still exciting in many places. Also, very few places have good deals for solo travelers, even though the trend is picking up the businesses too. So, if and when you’re not into paying 200,- for a hotel room, you have to stick to the hostels most of the times. Nevertheless, if you are also interested to combine i.e. spa or sauna or other activities into your trip, have a look at how much the hostel bed + local spa visit costs separately bought and compare it to the best rate to a room in a spa hotel. Alternatively, keep an eye on the camps and similar, in where you end up being one solo traveler among many other solo travellers. Might get you surprised. And, if you’re going for the hostel and especially in Switzerland, check the Swiss Youth Hostels. There’s a hostel in almost every best mountain destination, some of which with very good views and breakfast and the whole thing focused on sustainable business.

     

    • For the transport, skip the car and take the train and/or bus. Roadtrips are super nice, but especially when traveling solo you most likely want to stress less of finding the right way and parking place, and of the traffic conditions in the foreign place etc. Also, sitting in the car all by yourself is not really good for the environment.  So, let’s skip that. And then in the train and bus, try to be there well in time to secure the window seat. It’s way nice to look out from the window or lean your head to the window when napping, than do the same to the stranger sitting next to you. In Switzerland, Swiss Travel System is my more than recommended transport method, for solo travellers especially.

     

    That said, look at how happily I enjoy my daily exercise in the pic above. Dragging my two pairs of skis and boots and other heavy luggage uphill in over 1500 meter above sea level. All the way up to my hostel behind the steep uphill, after not being wise and going directly from the train to the Langlaufzentrum Davos, to keep my stuff there while waiting for the hostel to let me check in and doing my first cross-country tour of the visit.

    My solo travels doesn’t always go as smoothly as I would like to. But most of the times they are still more than worth doing.

     

    Davos Platz 2019 Tiina Kivelä

    Davos-Klosters Train Travel 2019

    Tiina Kivelä Creative
    Davos Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative


     

    Where: Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland

  • BLOG
  • Pretty Good Morning – Cross-Country Skiing Klosters to Alp Novai

    Klosters Cross-Country Skiing Tiina Kivelä

    This time, I’ll let the pictures speak the most. Of the great (proved) cross-country skiing tour from Klosters to Alp Novai. (Fyi, Kloster’s about 25min train ride away from Davos – free with the Davos-Klosters Guest Card – or about 2h from Zürich or St. Gallen.)

    Start the tour from Klosters Arena (second pic, few hundred meters from Klosters Platz station) or first take the train all the way from Davos (the first pic). From Klosters Arena, you find a small cross-country skiing center with WC, changing rooms, showers and lockers (works with 5CHF pant), and the official starting point for the cross-country tracks, with information boards and signalisation.

    Then, just hit this amazing cross-country skiing track (both for skating and classic style) up to Alp Novai. Continue all the way up, in the wide valley along the river, between mountains and the famous peaks of Piz Buin and Silvrettahorn in the back. Stop by for snacks (your own) in Alp Novai, or for proper lunch and break in the sunny terrace of the restaurant in Alp Garfiun. Finally, slide easily back to Klosters, to continue the day whatever way you like.

    After my tour last week (Strava says 16km from Klosters Arena (1191m ) to Alp Novai (1363m ) and back, with elevation gain 289m ) I took the train from Klosters Platz back to Davos Platz, and made another magnificent tour, more of which in here.

    In the end, this was a loooong day. But definitely worth the effort.

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Note: Many of the cross-country skiing tracks in Davos-Klosters go in the valleys, many of which lined with steep and avalanche prone mountain faces. Therefore, before taking the train and heading to ski in Davos or Klosters, check the weather forecast and other current information for the open tracks.

    Information can be found in here or in the info boards on the cross-country and village centres in the area.

    Psst: For the hungry skiers, there indeed would be an excellent mountain restaurant in Alp Garfiun (1373m) for käseschnitte, beer etc. Yet, be careful as it’s very popular lunch place – right by the cross-country skiing and winter walking tracks – as you may need to wait for a table quite some time.

    When I arrived here last week, there wasn’t any single spot left for me to sit down and enjoy käseschnitte (would have been well earned after the 8km  uphill) and the excellent mountain views from the sunny terrace while resting my well worked muscles.  Though, with this fail I was “forced” to enjoy my (fast visit to Coop on my way to the station) lunch in the train back to Davos. Saving precious minutes to do another long tour the same day.


    Where: Klosters – Alp Novai, Graubünden, Switzerland