Things To Do In Brig Switzerland: Simplon, Stockalper & More
Switzerland is indeed one of the best destinations in Europe. Many adore its preserved medieval cities, natural beauty, and spectacular countryside. Travelers and tourists visiting Switzerland never miss seeing the Swiss Alps – the glimpse of heaven on earth.
If you are looking for a city near almost all famous tourist destinations in the Swiss Alps, then it must be Brig that you’re looking for. In this blog post, I will introduce Brig to you, as well as other information that you can use:
- To decide if Brig is worth visiting.
- To know the things to do in Brig.
- To determine how far Brig is from other Swiss tourist destinations.
And many others.
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Use the table of contents to skip to topics.
I hope this blog post can help you plan your trip to Brig. By the way, Brig is one of the cities near the Swiss Alps’ most famous tourist destinations.
Unlike most cities in Switzerland, Brig is something we seldom hear about. If you are not yet familiar with Brig, here I show you a video of Brig. Let this be your travel inspiration for today:
Introduction to Brig, Switzerland
Though Brig is a small city, it was recognized as the Alpine Town of the year in 2008. It is also the birthplace of a few talented sports personalities like the professional ice hockey forward Nico Hischier.
An Olympic champ was also born here. Benjamin Weger, a biathlete, won Olympic medals three times.
Where is Brig in Switzerland? See in maps.
Brig, also known as Brig-Glis, is a town situated at the foot of the northern slope of Simplon Pass in the Upper Canton of Valais. Rhone River flows through the city, and mountain peaks like Tochuhorn, Glishorn, and Spitzhorli surround it.
If you look at the map below, you can see that Brig lies at the center of all the attractions in the Swiss Alps. Later in the following sections, you will learn how far they are from Brig.
Brig also houses the train border station that welcomes travelers pouring to Switzerland from Italy. Because of that, many trains roaming around Switzerland have a stop in Brig to pick up these new arrivals.
Glacier express, the scenic train traveling 300 kilometers in the Swiss Alps, also stops in Brig.
What are the best things to do in Brig?
Brig is relatively “small” compared to other cities in Switzerland, like Lucerne, Geneva, Bern, or Zurich. Thus we must expect fewer activities that await us in Brig. But never underestimate the numbers!
Below are all the things to do in Brig that I discovered:
1. Stockalper Palace
Let’s start the list of things to do in Brig with the Stockalper Palace, the most famous attraction in Brig. It is a 17th-century structure, the largest privately-owned building in Switzerland during its early days.
The palace was made and owned by a rich and powerful tradesman Kaspar Stockalper. He is a trading genius who employed 5000 people and monopolized the salt trade using the Simplon Pass.
The Stockalper Palace has three towers with unique water-drop-designed roofs. Fun fact, Stockalper’s towers were named after the Bible’s Three Wise Men: Caspar, Melchior, and Baltazar.
Architecture enthusiast travelers will love the palace’s interior, especially the large courtyard. Visitors see spectacular arcades in the Italian Renaissance Style paired with eye-catching balusters. Below is the 360 view of the courtyard; rotate the view to see more:
Usually, you have to join a tour to get inside the Stockalper Palace. Inside the palace, you will see a gallery about the Stockalper family, the history of the Simplon Pass, and other artifacts collected from the Upper Valais region.
Come inside the palace to know what an ultra-rich early capitalist looks like during the 17th century. In a hall inside the building, you will see the painting of Stockalper placed between two windows. See the 360-view of the palace hall below:
The palace is big, but it is not enormous. The suggested visiting duration for Stockalper Palace is around 1 to 2 hours. The palace is at the heart of Brig. If you plan to stay within Brig, you can reach Stockalper Palace within minutes on foot.
Do not forget to take a selfie souvenir with Stockalper Palace at the palace’s southwest gardens. Here is the Google Maps coordinate for easy reference.
By the way, do you like visiting quaint and rustic places with castles and palaces? You must try going to Gruyeres. Here are the 10 reasons why you should visit Gruyeres. You can also taste the town’s unique cheese and have unlimited chocolates in Gruyeres.
2. World Nature Forum
World Nature Forum is an interactive museum managed by UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Alps. It is one of the best museums in Europe, bestowed with the Sustainability Award during the European Museum Forum 2019 (source: wnf.ch). It is a “must” thing to do in Brig.
You can virtually start exploring the World Nature Forum through the 360-view of it below. I suggest using a PC for a better viewing experience, or you can tilt your phone in the landscape to see a larger view.
At World Nature Forum, you can learn about the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Alps. The museum will let you experience in all senses what it is like in the Alps.
There are many experiences that you can try in the museum. The range of activities inside the World Nature Forum starts from viewing pictures of the mountains to watching epic scenery inside a panoramic screen to smelling the sample fragrance of the flowers in the Swiss Alps.
One of the World Nature Forum highlights is the Jungfrau railway car. It is a replica of the wagon that journeyed into Jungfraujoch in 1912. You can try the virtual ride to the mountains inside the wagon. Here is the 360 view of what’s inside the wagon:
If you like an experience in an exhibit, you can “collect” it using a badge. It’s like creating a digital list of things you want to actually encounter in the Swiss Alps while you explore the museum. As you exit, you can get a hard copy of the experiences you liked, serving as your checklist for your entire Swiss Alps expedition.
You can check out the video below to learn more about World Nature Forum.
The World Nature Forum is located in the northern portion of the city. You have to cross the Rhone River to Naters to reach the museum. It is only 5 minutes away from Brig’s train station to the north. Once you see the roundabout, you’ll be almost there. There’s the Google Map location of the World Nature Forum for your reference.
The World Nature Forum is open from 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed every Monday. You can enter without any payment if you have a Swiss Travel Pass. If you don’t have one, you need to pay 18 CHF for adults and half of it for kids 6 to 15 years old. For further information regarding your visit, you may refer to the World Nature Forum’s website.
In my Lauterbrunnen Itinerary, I can show you how you can visit the Jungfrau (Jungfrau-Aletsch) region’s most beautiful part. For me, it’s Lauterbrunnen, of course. 😉
But, if you want to try the best adventures in the Jungfrau region, it’s Grindelwald you should visit. Grindelwald is a part of Jungfrau-Aletsch. And in my post, 10 reasons to visit Grindelwald, you’ll discover the unmissable experiences in Grindelwald and more things you must know.
3. Simplon Pass
If you’re outdoorsy or have visited World Nature Forum and Stockalper Palace, going to Simplon Pass is the next thing to do in Brig. Simplon Pass may sound just like an ordinary road, but it is not. Actually, it is one of the most famous scenic drives in Switzerland.
The Simplon Pass stretches from Brig to the Swiss-Italian border. You will encounter several historical landmarks that will spice up your visit to the scenic drive within that length.
Aside from that, Simplon Pass also offers different activities that you can do regardless of season and weather. There are hiking trails for the summer, ski resorts for winter, and museums during “bad” weather.
If you are going to Simplon Pass, you must not miss seeing the landmarks in the Simplon Pass. Take a photo or a selfie, so you give yourself a souvenir that you visited the scenic drive.
There are three landmarks to see, all in scenic locations. So, it is really compelling to come and visit them:
This bridge lies at a stunning location nestled between two mountains, connecting the two. It is a superstructure built in a seamless continuous frame system. You will be able to spot the bridge right away. It pops out of the scene because of its light color.
Actually, there is two Ganter Bridge. There is a new and old Ganter bridge, with the new Ganter Bridge being more massive than the old one. You will see the new Ganter Bridge first if you’re coming from Brig. It bypasses the old Ganter Bridge located farther in the valley.
If you’re at the new Ganter Bridge, move 800 meters east, and you will arrive at the old Ganter Bridge. The old Ganter Bridge is made of bricks and looks nostalgic. There is a pathway below the old Ganter bridge. The view to or from the bridge is Instagrammable, especially on a bright sunny day.
Above is a 360-view of the old Ganter Bridge. Tilt the image a little bit upward, and you’ll see the beautiful ice-capped mountain east of the old Ganter Bridge.
When you are sightseeing, do not forget to enjoy the moment! The scene is beautiful, and undoubtedly, the air will be absolutely fresh. Close your eyes and breathe deeper! If you live in a city, those will be the things that you will surely miss.
As you move up higher the Simplon Pass, you will see the famous landmark of the Simplon Pass, the Simplon Adler. It is a granite statue of an eagle built during World War II. It symbolizes “vigilance,” created by the 11 Mountain Brigate commemorating the “Watch of the Simplon.”
Simplon Adler stands at an absolutely breathtaking spot in the Simplon Pass. It is near the Simplonpass tourist information center, a cafe, and a hotel. If you plan to hike your way up to the pass, it’s an excellent spot to have refreshments.
Save the Google Maps Location of Simplon Adler through this coordinates link to the landmark.
Not too far away from the Simplon Adler, you will find Altes Spittel (Old Hospice in English) as you move southwards in the Simplon Pass. It is a five-story granite structure, also built by Kaspar Stockalper, that served as a refuge for some travelers and tradesmen back in the day.
According to the official website of Simplon, the structure, though old, is still functional. It can be accommodated by a group of 20 to 66 people.
We can just simply admire the structure outside. I’m not sure if we can enter the facility (sorry!). Either way, many reviews say that it has an excellent stunning location similar to Simplon Adler.
What’s good about visiting such a historic place is that it can help you escape the present and show you an image that sends you back in time. It’s like you’re creating a fantasy of your own, a movie where you are the main character. For a while, don’t life escape you! Feel that you are alive.
Back in the days when Altes Spittel was still a shelter for traveling tradesmen and travelers, people followed a mule track in Simplon Pass known today as Stockalperweg. Hiking Stockalperweg is a thing to do if you want to see almost every corner of Simplon Pass.
Today, it is still accessible. However, it is not used anymore for commercial purposes but for leisure activities like hiking. Stockalperweg is called Stockalper Trail in English.
This trail has three stages, according to the official website of Brig-Simplon Tourismus. And if you have plans to hike the Simplon Pass, you will traverse these parts of the scenic drive:
First Stage: Brig to Simplon Pass
- Hike Duration: 6 hours
- Distance: 11.9 kilometers
- Overall Elevation Gain: 1606 meters
- Sceneries to see: Saltinaschlucht Gorge, Taverntal valley, Simplonpass
- Landmarks to see: Stockalper Palace, Hospice
Second Stage: Simplon Pass to Simplon Dorf
- Hike Duration: 3.25 hours
- Distance: 9 kilometers
- Overall Elevation Gain: -540 meters
- Sceneries to see: Small Alp settlements and hamlets, Simplon Dorf Village, Alpine cultural landscape
Third Stage: Simplon Dorf to Gondo (Swiss-Italian Border)
- Hike Duration: 3 hours
- Distance: 8.6 kilometers
- Overall Elevation Gain: -850 meters
- Sceneries to see: Gondoschlucht gorge, Old Army Barracks perched in breathtaking mountain scenery, Gondo Stockalperturm Hotel Restaurant
As per reviews and based on the site of Brig-Simplon Tourismus, hiking would only be tiring during the first stage. However, the pass has several bus stops. You can skip all the steep parts of the Simplon Pass if you want.
Before you reach the end of Simplon Pass in the Switzerland Territory, you will pass by several settlements showing lovely views of the Switzerland countryside.
One of them is Simplon Dorf Town. There you will find a museum called Museo Sempione. In this museum, you can find items used in the Simplon Pass and photos of the lives of Simplon inhabitants. Here are the map coordinates of Museo Sempione for our reference.
Fort Gondo is another museum that awaits you in Simplon Pass. It was used as a defense station to protect the country from an invasion in the past. Today, it is a museum showing the life of the military back in the day.
Inside the museum, you will see several machine guns that you can hold and take a selfie with. You will have a chance to enter the metal doors of heavily fortified barracks.
Visiting Fort Gondo would feel like you’re preparing for a zombie apocalypse in which the mountains serve as your last refuge. The things you’ll see here will range from military kitchens to underground tunnels used for escaping capture.
Regardless of the season, visiting Rosswald from Brig or Simplon Pass is a must-do thing. Rosswald is a car-free resort town that lets you see scenic views of the alps by hiking during summer. During winter, Rosswald turns into a winter wonderland with beautiful chalets and wooden houses that look so picture-worthy in snow.
Since it is located at a high elevation, a spectacular phenomenon called a sea of clouds can occur here. It is an overcast cloud seen from above, and it is a sight to behold. See the 360-view above.
5. Thermalquellen Brigerbad AG
After all the physical activities you do in the city or Simplon Pass, a refreshing thermal bath will surely complete your experience in Brig. Relax your tired muscle and calm your mind in Brigerbad – a thing to do in Brig.
Brigerbad is Switzerland’s largest open-air hot spring, with mineral-rich warm waters containing lithium, sodium, calcium, and sulfate. The water temperature in Brigerbad ranges from 21 degrees to 50 degrees Celsius, perfect for soothing our muscles and helping reduce several ill conditions.
According to the Brig-Simplon website, the waters in Brigerbad are suitable for the following conditions: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, neurological disorders, chronic bronchitis, cardiovascular diseases, etc.
Brigerbad has a thermal spa, outdoor and indoor pool, wellness and beauty center, and a restaurant. It is open every day, all year round. The opening hours are from 9 am until 9 pm. Watch their official video below:
How far is Brig to the attractions in the Swiss Alps?
Brig is located at the center of many natural attractions in the Swiss Alps. Here is the table which will tell you how far an attraction is from Brig. You will also see how many train/bus/cable car rides you will need to get to a specific place in the Swiss Alps.
|Towns to visit from Brig||Transport||Travel Time|
|Bettmeralp||1 train + 1 cable car||34 m|
|Kandersteg||1 train||38 m|
|Obergoms||1 train||1h 15m|
|Saas-Fee||1 bus||1h 1m|
|Zermatt||2 trains||1h 17m|
|Interlaken||1 train + 1 bus||1h 11m|
|Lauterbrunnen||3 trains||1h 45m|
|Grindelwald||3 trains||2h 1m|
The data above is gathered from Google Maps. The number of trips and the travel time must be the same and vice versa for inbound/outbound trips to/from Brig. You can double-check the data below using the links provided.
They could vary depending on weather, time of the day, or demand. Ultimately, these are just estimates and should always be double-checked on the day of travel.
Route from Brig (data resource):
What is the language spoken in Brig?
Brig is located in the multilingual Canton of Valais, where 62.6% of the population speak German or Swiss German. According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, 40% of the Swiss population aged 15 and above can speak more than one language, including French, English, Portuguese and Italian. See the infographic below:
Generally, in a workplace or transactions, more than 30% of the total Swiss population can speak German, nearly 30% can speak French, around 20% can speak English, and 10% can speak Italian. The numbers continue to change as the Swiss Government promotes multilingualism.
Is Brig Worth Visiting?
Brig is one of the places you must include on your itinerary if you plan to stay in Switzerland for 10 days or more. It goes into lower priority compared to other attractions in Switzerland like Zermatt or Lauterbrunnen.
However, based on the table shown earlier in this post, Brig is an ideal base location to book your hotel when visiting more than three attractions in the Swiss Alps.
Brig is also a good starting point in visiting towns in the Swiss Alps, especially if you are unsure what places are excellent to travel to. The World Nature Forum will orient you to the different experiences you can have in the Swiss Alps.
Why Make Brig As Your Home Base?
Brig’s proximity to Italy and train access are only two of the reasons why some people choose Brig as their home base in Switzerland. Another reason is Brig’s location, near the best tourist attractions in Switzerland.
From Brig, you can easily get to some of the best attractions in Switzerland, like Kandersteg, Interlaken, and Zermatt. Some small beautiful villages in the Swiss Alps in the canton of Valais and the canton of Bern can also be reached from Brig quickly. They are Ernen, Bettmeralp, Leukerbad, and Goms.
You can find the best hotel deals in Brig here. You may use the map function of the hotel browser to find the hotels at the most convenient locations.
Learn more about the best destinations in Switzerland mentioned previously below:
- Kandersteg — a small alpine town, the gateway to the beautiful Lake Oeschinen. (40-minute direct train ride from Brig)
- Interlaken — a town sandwiched between two lakes and mountains. It’s the gateway to Lauterbrunnen, the heaven on earth valley. (1 hour & 10 minutes travel time in train commute from Brig; transfer in Spiez)
- Zermatt — an alpine town where you can see the majestic, most famous peak, Matterhorn. (1 hour & 20-minute single train ride from Brig)
Discover these places from the links below.
- Kandersteg: 10 things to do in Kandersteg
- Interlaken: 10 reasons to visit Interlaken or How Many Days To Spend In Interlaken
- Lauterbrunnen: 10 reasons why Lauterbrunnen is worth visiting or 1 to 3-day Lauterbrunnen itinerary
- Zermatt: 10 reasons to visit Zermatt or Zermatt’s 10 scenic spots
You can compare Brig with other cities near the Swiss Alps from this link. I compare Brig with Thun, Montreux, Lucerne, and Sion in that post. You’ll get a summary of their tourist attractions and proximity to some of the best destinations in Switzerland.
Let’s say you plan to visit the tourist attractions in Bernese Oberland (Jungfraujoch, Männlichen, Schilthorn, and more). I suggest making Interlaken your home base and not Brig if that’s the case. Here’s my Interlaken Itinerary to explain it to you.
Remember that Brig is one of the towns of Switzerland that borders Italy to the south. It can be a strategic place for starting your journey in Switzerland from Italy (let’s say you’re coming from northern Italy).
But suppose you’re from other places (especially overseas, distant European countries). In that case, I suggest you start your trip to Switzerland from Basel, Zurich, or Geneva. You can also start from Bern, but its airport has few flight connections to/from other cities.
- Basel: 7 most beautiful places in Basel
- Zurich: 15 reasons to visit Zurich
- Geneva: 10 reasons to visit Geneva
- Bern: 22 things to do in Bern
Here’s how you can visit Switzerland in 3, 7, 10, and 14 days (sample itinerary). You can use the Swiss Travel Pass to save money by using public transportation if you plan to travel to Switzerland for a week or longer.
Because of Brig’s proximity to northern Italy, you can also visit some of northern Italy’s best attractions, like Milan, Lake Como, and Bergamo. Here are the reasons why you should visit Northern Italy.
You can read my articles about these attractions in Italy that you can quickly visit from Brig from the links below:
- Milan — a city that’s more than just a fashion capital. Learn my reasons why you should visit Milan here. (2-hour train ride from Brig)
- Lake Como — a lake with picturesque villas. Here are the 10 places you must visit in Lake Como. (2 hours & 40 minutes train ride from Brig; transfer in Milan)
- Bergamo — a town stuck in the past, perched on a hilltop. Scenic and quaint. See all the reasons why you should visit Bergamo. (3-hour train ride from Brig; transfer in Milan)
Photos of Brig: Travel Inspiration
If you are still undecided about traveling to Brig or not, here are a few of the photos taken from the city and nearby attractions in Brig. Let this be your travel inspiration for Brig.
I have a post about the beautiful countryside of Switzerland. It has a lot of photos that can inspire you too!
Do you need more ideas about where to go in Switzerland? Discover the 14 Special Things About The Swiss Alps That Make It Famous.
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