I grew up in an archipelago in which there are beaches everywhere. I thought the beaches were “paradise” until I hiked a mountain and discovered the wonders it shows.
Since that day, I have never stopped wanting to have more hikes and adventures in the mountains. I’ll tell you later why. But the thing is, the mountains bring so much awe, which is scientifically proven beneficial to us. The Swiss Alps, even in pictures, does it to me.
I always get awe-inspired whenever I look into the Swiss Alps, even on screen. I believe there is something special in it that makes it special and famous – something that compels everyone to visit it no matter what.
In this blog post, I will answer the three frequently asked questions by the people on the internet about the Swiss Alps:
- Why is the Swiss Alps Famous?
- Why are the Swiss Alps so Special?
- Why visit the Swiss Alps?
Also, you will discover places that you can visit in the Swiss Alps you can add to your bucket list and destinations when you visit the Swiss Alps. I hope you find this article helpful in planning your journey in the Swiss Alps.
So without further ado:
The Reason Why The Swiss Alps is Famous
The Swiss Alps is known for breathtaking heaven on earth scenery, considered the most dramatic part. Its lush Alpine pastures with flower embellished chalets against the snow-capped mountains are always viral on the internet, attracting millions of people to go to Switzerland every year.
Aside from the idyllic appearance, do you know why the Swiss Alps are so famous? It is because of the immaculate public transportation that runs all over the mountains, bringing anyone of any age or condition to the most spectacular place on earth without a single effort. Even its public transportation ride is scenic! Ultimately, nowhere else can we find such an experience – keeping Switzerland on applause.
It is so easy to travel to the Swiss Alps that people are lured to it despite the high prices. Yet, the scenery and transportation are just two of the many things that make the Swiss Alps special. These extraordinary things, mostly showing tremendous spectacle, justify the cost of the visit. It’s pure quality and beauty, after all.
Need help in planning your trip to Switzerland? I prepared a 3-day, 7-day, 10-day, 14-day Switzerland Itinerary to guide you. I discussed each destination to visit (things to do, how long to stay, map, and other tips). Check it out!
Things That Makes The Swiss Alps So Special
So, what are these things that are so special about the Swiss Alps? Three things generally make the Swiss Alps special. They are the Swiss Alps’ geography, alpine culture, and infrastructure technology. It’s like a great travel package destination giving beautiful experiences based on nature, people, and science.
Below, I discuss the details of these three things in divided sections to give you more idea of what awaits you in the Swiss Alps. These shall also be the reason why you should visit the Swiss Alps.
Geography of the Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps are the wrinkles and creases on the earth’s surface you can quickly see when looking at Europe on a globe. Seems a little spectacular from space, but zoom in to ground level, and some real natural beauty appears.
Made of thousand-meter-high snowy peaks with deep green valleys in between, the Swiss Alps huddles endless natural scenery like no other. Its geographical form allowed it to preserve impressive glaciers and contain tranquil lakes. The Swiss Alps just enthralls anyone who sees its wonders.
The Stunning Mountains in The Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps have hundreds of peaks, but the ones that you will find most special are Mount Pilatus, Eiger, and Matterhorn. Here are the reasons why:
Mount Pilatus is a 2132-meter-high mountain in the center of Switzerland accessible from Lucerne. This mountain is the source of many mystical discoveries and lore in Switzerland, giving visitors a mysterious feel when observing the 73 peaks from afar beyond Lucerne lake below.
The scenery from mount Pilatus get more mystical, especially when a sea of clouds forms lower than its peak. This turns the mountains into an archipelago over the clouds. Here’s the view that awaits you on Mount Pilatus:
Moving southwards, we shall see Mount Eiger, scraping the skyline of Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald at 3967 meters. It’s the mountain known all over the world of alpinism because of its north face, one of the most challenging ascents ever climbed! Absolutely, it’s one thing that makes the Swiss Alps special.
Mount Eiger has this 1800 meter tall rock wall, also one of the highest mountain faces in the world. You can see the best view of Mount Eiger and its north face on the Eiger Trail in Kleine Scheidegg, a mountain pass located southeast of Wengen. Here’s a sample view:
At a point where the Swiss and Italian borders meet, we find Matterhorn, the most famous peak in the world and the most notable thing about the Swiss Alps. Its pyramidal peak that turns golden every sunset and sunrise has attracted thousands of hikers and the most skilled photographers ever since it was discovered.
From the town of Zermatt in the Canton of Valais, we can clearly observe the Matterhorn standing above the horizon, poking the skies at a staggering height of 4,478 meters. It is an icon of Switzerland and the mountain that we can see from the triangular box of Toblerone, the chocolate we all love to eat! Behold, the Matterhorn:
Idyllic, scenic, and full of adventure. That’s how I can describe the towns in the Swiss Alps like Zermatt. A trip to Switzerland isn’t complete without visiting one of them. Here are the best towns you must include in your itinerary: Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Kandersteg, Gruyeres. (Click to open in a new tab and read later)
Gigantic Glaciers in The Swiss Alps
Having peaks that range from 3000-meter to 4000-meter high, the Swiss Alps serve as a place where the water can stay frozen. This ice, which we call glaciers, has been there on the top of the mountains for more than 11,000 years old ready.
Actually, it’s not only about how long they’ve been there; their actual size and role matter more. These glaciers just make the Swiss Alps really special: Aletsch Glacier and Rhone Glacier.
The Great Aletsch Glacier
What do you think of visiting the longest glacier in the alps? Yes, you can find it here in the Swiss Alps, and it is called Aletsch Glacier.
With a length of 23 km, covering an area of 81.7 km2, and containing a 15.4 km3 amount of water, Aletsch Glacier is a place to impress you big time. It’s a thing that makes the Swiss Alps special, indeed!
Aletsch Glacier can be viewed at many points in the Swiss Alps, but perhaps the best location to behold it is from a ridge of Bettmerhorn.
You visiting the Bettmerhorn ridge, situated 2647 meters up in the sky, shall make you put a check on your bucket list with an eye-glittering with awe. You’ll just be mesmerized by the lines running on its surface.
Hiking is not required to go to Bettmerhorn and see the Aletsch Glacier. Bettmergrat cable car (located in Bettmeralp) serves the viewpoint. All you need to do is get excited and prepare your eyes and cameras, which I know craving some epic views like this:
Between the Pennine Alps (where the Matterhorn is) and the Bernese Alps (where Eiger belongs), a mighty river called Rhone runs in the middle towards Lake Geneva. It’s a river that, for centuries, kept the towns like Brig and Sion thriving!
This river is called Rhone River, and it all starts in Rhone Glacier, located in the easternmost part of the canton of Valais near the Furka pass.
Rhone Glacier is nearly the thirds of the size of Aletsch Glacier. But unlike Aletsch, Rhone is experienced in a whole new way: not seeing it from above but by entering inside it! You will be going inside a blue grotto with mesmerizing walls glowing blue light.
How to get to Rhone Glacier? First, get a train ride to Gletsch Post in Obergoms. When you arrive at Gletsch Post, take bus #681, and within a few minutes, you shall reach the glacier entrance. See what’s it like inside:
Fantasy-grade Valleys in The Swiss Alps
The wonders in the Swiss Alps are interconnected to each other. The awe-inspiring freezing peaks gather water to form the impressive glaciers. Glaciers melt to supply water to the valleys, which is another special thing about the Swiss Alps.
The valleys in the Swiss Alps are phenomenal, especially Lauterbrunnen valley. Rumors say that Lauterbrunnen was the direct inspiration of J. R. R. Tolkien for the Rivendell Valley in his fantasy novel, Lord of the Rings.
If you like to visit Lauterbrunnen, you can check my Lauterbrunnen Itineraries (click to open in a new tab) to give you an idea of how you can spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Lauterbrunnen. That post has 9 sample itineraries to help you visit the three best attractions in Lauterbrunnen: Mannlichen, Schilthorn, and Jungfraujoch.
Well, it will not be hard to understand why even when you look at it from the photos:
Most travelers used to say photos barely give justice to the actual scenery. Imagine that if this photo could blow your mind and drop your jaw to the floor, what would it make you feel when you see it in person?
The best view of Lauterbrunnen valley is seen at the observation decks in the meadows northwest of Wengen village: Moenchblick. Click the names of the observation decks to see them on Google Maps. You can learn more about more scenic places to visit in Lauterbrunnen valley from my post about “10 reasons why visit Lauterbrunnen.”
Picturesque Swiss Alps Lakes
Alpine lakes will always be beautiful, mainly when the surface is calm and reflects the ice-capped mountains nearby. Don’t you agree? Have Lake Oeschinen as an example.
However, in the Swiss Alps, some lakes are more than just beautiful. With the castles gracefully sitting along their lakeshores, these lakes are a fantastic destination to take your breath away. Lake Geneva and Lake Thun are examples.
The Swiss Alps is one of the most beautiful places on earth! Discover more places to visit in the Swiss Alps from my article: Inspiring Photos of Swiss Countryside (Click to open a new tab and read later). I have listed all the things that will make you visit the Swiss Alps – they shall give you ideas of what to visit when visiting Switzerland.
Lake Oeschinen is a lake part of the ever stunning Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site you can find near the town of Kandersteg. It is situated at 1,578-meter high, surrounded by the towering Oeschinenhorn, Doldenhorn, Blüemlisalp, and Fründenhorn peaks.
Lake Oeschinen is considered one of the most photogenic locations in the alps because of the surrounding wall of rocks reflected on its calm surface. It has a scene that seems to bring anyone to another realm.
To go to Lake Oeschinen, you need to get to Kandersteg. From there, you can either ride a cable car or have a 20-minute hike to reach the lake. Here’s the view that awaits you there:
From Kandersteg or Lake Oeschinen, all it takes is one train ride to reach Lake Thun, another lake that makes the Swiss Alps special. Lake Thun has 4 castles on its shore and plus one if you consider the Thun castle in the heart of Thun’s old town. However, only Oberhofen Castle physically touches the lake’s waters.
What is not to be missed in Lake Thun? Of course, it’s Oberhofen Castle. It’s the most magical part of Lake Thun, where you see the castle’s tower stand above the water. In the background are the snow-capped mountains of the Bernese Alps, which complete the stunning view.
On the westernmost part of the Swiss Alps, we find Lake Geneva, the vast basin of the Rhone River. Like Lake Thun, it has a castle that sits by the shore called “Chillon Castle.”
Chillon Castle has attracted countless tourists every year. This 10th-century honey-colored castle just fits perfectly in the scene where it is built – one reason why it’s so popular. People visiting Montreux never skip seeing Chillon Castle.
Its color just contrastingly bursts against the snowy mountains in the backdrop. Also reflected over the glittering lake water, it never failed to make the tourists and photographers thrilled to get a shot.
Lake Geneva is yet again a lake that makes the Swiss Alps special. Check out this photo to understand why:
Montreux and Thun are two of the five cities near the Swiss Alps, where you can see beautiful scenery and at the same time learn about Swiss culture and history. If you are looking for another city to visit in the Swiss Alps, check out these three other cities (click them to open to a new tab and read later): Sion, Brig, Lucerne.
Culture in the Swiss Alps
The scenery aren’t the only things that make the Swiss Alps special. As we learned that there are castles built by the Swiss Alps’ lakeshores, it just means that there are many things we can still discover and see beyond the mountains, valleys, and lakes.
One of the things we can experience in the Swiss Alps, aside from nature, is the culture and tradition that thrived in this heavenly place for centuries. We can look at the architecture of their homes, their livelihood, and their cuisine.
Charming Towns in The Swiss Alps
Isn’t it a paradise when you’re surrounded by these snowy mountains and lush meadows with flower-embellished wooden Swiss chalets? Like, there’s no stress you can get here even a tiny bit! It’s just heaven. Agree with me:
These Swiss chalets are typically made of wood with eaves set right-angles to compensate for the weight of the snow during blizzards. Chalets are unique to this region; thus, it’s one of the things that make the Swiss Alps special.
There are many places in the Swiss Alps to find these chalets. But the most famous you can visit are the traditional chalet houses in Zermatt (see the image above)
Peaceful Alpine Pastures
The Swiss Alps is one of the most idyllic places on earth that stayed idyllic despite the advancement of humanity to modern times. It’s incredible how the Swiss people managed nature tourism.
When you are hiking in the Swiss Alps, the possibility of passing through an alpine pasture is very likely. In places like Murren, a car-free village in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, a short hike from the village center can bring you to an alpine pasture – a place with scenery that exist only in movies in other parts of the world.
There, you can watch in fascination the cows grazing over the meadows with snow-capped mountains in the backdrop. It’s just that the alpine pastures are such a special place in the Swiss alps to soothe your whole being.
Thanks to the locals and shepherds who still watch over these carefree places. Their livelihood brings not only cheese and milk to the lowlands but wonders to anyone who sees. Have a look:
Mouth-watering Food in the Swiss Alps
Thank the shepherds and locals again for staying up in the mountains to produce fresh and quality dairy products. Without them, Fondue and Raclette would not be that delicious, or perhaps would not even exist! These mouth-watering foods, for food travelers, make the Swiss Alps special.
Make your stomach growl:
Swiss Alps Infrastructure Technology
The Swiss Alps would not be so famous to the tourists and alike without the infrastructure that brings people to the most scenic spots in the mountains. Perhaps, if these trains, cable cars, cogwheels, etc., aren’t built yet, I bet only a part of the current number of visitors would be coming to the Swiss Alps today.
Though the infrastructures built in the Swiss Alps weren’t really meant to be admired, their function in letting people travel easily is at least notable to say. That makes the Swiss Alps special. Nevertheless, will you still go to the summit of a mountain just to see a glacier if it will require you to hike for three days or more?
The Trains in the Swiss Alps
What’s even more important is that the trains in the Swiss Alps do not only bring you convenience but awe-inspiring scenery along the way, too!
The Swiss Alps’ trains are bucket list items, actually. Here you can find the world’s steepest railway and the world’s highest railway! Imagine that, by visiting the Swiss Alps, you experience humanity’s marvels of engineering!
You can try the steepest railway, Pilatus Railway, when going to the summit of Mount Pilatus. Its ground station can be found in Alpnach, located south of Lucerne. Pilatus Railway has tracks with a maximum gradient of 48 percent.
The world’s highest railway and train station, however, is located in Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe. You need to reach Kleine Scheidegg first from Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald by train to go there. In Jungfraujoch, we visit the Sphinx observatory, the highest building in Europe, situated at an elevation of 3,500 meters above sea level.
Swiss Alps Cable Cars
Ultimately, in Zermatt, near the most iconic mountain in Switzerland, the Matterhorn, we can find the Klein Matterhorn Cable Car – the world’s highest cable car. It goes up to an incredible height of 3,883 meters above sea level, bringing visitors to the highest point in Europe that can be reached by cable car ropeways.
The cable car trip starts from the town of Zermatt, passing through the beautiful forest and meadows up to the snowy peak of Klein Matterhorn. Views are stunning, especially in the part of the ropeway when you head closer and closer to Matterhorn.
Why Should I Visit The Swiss Alps?
Is the Swiss Alps worth a visit? Absolutely. You must visit the Swiss Alps. For some, it’s even a trip of a lifetime. These wonders in the Swiss Alps mentioned above are just a piece of blissful beauty that actually awaits you. Most importantly, if it’s an unforgettable trip you want, the Swiss Alps is definitely the place to be.
Actually, mountains aren’t just about awe and fun; they bring you more valuable intangible things than you can ever imagine. In my case, hiking the mountains let me conquer the mountains inside me and realize my purpose in life. That’s deep! But, yeah, it just works like magic.
Mountains are the ultimate reason why I wrote this article.
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