What It's Like to See the Swiss Alps for the First Time

On Seeing the Swiss Alps for the First Time

Switzerland is the distant dream of many travellers. But do the Swiss Alps live up to their hype?

Switzerland has an austere and remote beauty that can be hard to describe, let alone write about at length. The high ridges of its mountains are just as elusive, defying the attempts of experienced hikers and mountaineers. 

But there are many ways to enjoy the Swiss Alps, even if you prefer to keep your feet planted on the ground. The Alpine region offers tremendous scenery to any wayfarer — and my, are they worth it. 

Also read: How Switzerland Inspired the Magical Landscapes of The Lord of the Rings 

Ride a scenic train to Zermatt

Most trains in Switzerland operate so smoothly that the wheels on the tracks move without making a sound. The only signs that the train has left the station are the minutes on the clock and the changing landscapes at your window. 

Glimpsed from a panoramic train winding towards the village of Zermatt, the shape of the Matterhorn appears so suddenly that you can feel every tourist reaching for their camera. Kids and their parents scramble to get to the other side of the train. Changing seats from left to right, they press their phones to the windows. Zooming in. 

There it is, the lofty mountain confronting you in all its glory. Even when you didn’t bring enough money or courage to ski in Switzerland, it seems like a piece of paradise finds its way to you anyway. 

swiss alps

From November to February in Zermatt, you might notice sheets of snow covering the rooftops. So flat and evenly laid out, they seem to be part of the buildings themselves. But you won’t see the Matterhorn from here. At least, not fully. 

Instead, you must hurry past the chalets and souvenir shops, past the cafes and fondue-themed restaurants lining the streets. In the winter, you only have a small window of time before the sunlight disappears and the clouds obscure the Swiss Alps. 

Farther away from the main street, you encounter fields of thick snow. Then the peak of the Matterhorn finally comes into view. 

And if the sailboat shape of this mountain looks familiar, that’s how you know you’re a die-hard fan of chocolate. Matterhorn is famously known for being the mountain on Toblerone wrappers!

Also read: Zermatt: The Town Near Switzerland’s Toblerone Mountain

Explore the lakes and villages near Interlaken

Situated between two lakes, the town of Interlaken is the perfect jumping point for any mountain excursions. Not only do you feel closer to the serenity of Switzerland’s terrain, but you can also enjoy a variety of activities that don’t have to do with skiing or shopping for expensive cuckoo clocks.

Alternatively, you can drop by Lake Thun or Lake Brienz — clear, turquoise lakes reflecting the majestic ranges above them. 

swiss alps and grindelwald

If you plan on seeing the Swiss Alps, Interlaken is the place to be. Better yet, try to stay for at least two nights here. This way, you will have a day to explore the 360° views at Harder Kulm, the mountain of Interlaken. You can also visit nearby jaunts such as the Alpine villages of Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen

And on the second day, you can head up to Jungfraujoch, known as the highest railway station in Europe. 

Also read: 14 Best Things to Do & Places to Visit in Interlaken

Witness the Alpine wonders of Jungfraujoch

While embarking on the cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch station, you can sense that you are going uphill. There’s the squeaking of the wheels, the sudden roughness of the tracks. The halting way the train moves when it approaches a steep incline. 

The train stops in the middle of a tunnel, as if pausing for a breather. Then, it heaves and lurches its way up again. Somehow, it almost feels like you are climbing the mountain yourself. 

swiss alps

Saddled between the Eiger and Mönch mountains, Jungfraujoch offers a spectacular outlook of the Swiss Alps. Currently, the site functions as both a research station for astronomical studies and a high-altitude tourist attraction. 

In the Sphinx Observatory, a terrace overlooking the surrounding glacier, you step right into the middle of a winter wonderland. And you are not just looking at nearby summits; you are on the summit. 

Perhaps this is one of the best ways to enjoy a lingering sweep of Switzerland’s terrain — standing on a platform that rises 3,466 metres above sea level. While around you, the snow continues to swirl. 

swiss alps

If there is still any doubt — yes, the Swiss Alps really do live up to their hype! Fog and ice only add to their mystique, as if the mountains are floating and you can only ever see a portion of them. 

Something extraordinary happens to your mind and body on those slopes. You breathe in the fresh and crisp air. You feel light as a feather, as though all your stresses have lifted.

Also read: 12 Views in Switzerland Simply Too Stunning to Be Real 

swiss alps: matterhorn

As it turns out, you don’t need to be a professional skier or hiker to appreciate the ethereal wonders of Switzerland and the Swiss Alps. You need only look out the window of a passing train to see valleys and lakes, all the impossible heights below. 

That high up, you feel more than just clear-headed. You feel unstoppable.

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer based in Manila. When she was younger, she knew she wanted to write stories or go on adventures—now, she's learning to do both. She enjoys being swept up in books that spark her curiosity for new places, both real and imaginary.

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