Discover the soaring Swiss Alps in summer

the alps are a must see in switzerland

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Recently some good friends invited us to their mountaintop wedding in Switzerland and we discovered how incredible the Swiss Alps in summer can be.

So I thought I would share what we found so you can plan your own summer vacations in Switzerland. You can browse through the article or click on the table below for the sections you need.

The Swiss Alps – Chablais Alps region

What do you think of when you imagine the countryside of Switzerland?

Growing up, one of my favourite stories was Heidi. It is the tale of a little girl from the alps and her friendship with a sick child from the city.

Through Heidi I learnt about Switzerland’s lush green pastures, soaring mountains and picturesque villages and often dreamt of visiting.

best places to stay in switzerland in summer - mountain huts and chalets in the swiss alps

Our destination was the Chablais Alps in the Valais region of Switzerland most famous for the ski resort of Zermatt and the Matterhorn peak.

We headed a little off the beaten track to Portes du Soleil perched high above the pretty village of Champéry.

This region lies between Mont Blanc to the west and Lake Leman (Geneva) to the east.

From our vantage point just below the peak of Croix de Culet we had panoramic views across the Val-d’Illiez to the Dents du Midi mountain range whose seven peaks rise to over 3,000m elevation.

Summertime in the Swiss Alps

We stayed at the cosy En Plein Ciel chalet style hotel where the wedding was held. Access to the hotel is by cable car or a steep, winding and narrow road 1,000 metres up the mountain.

It was not the easiest drive so I recommend that if you are not confident about driving on this type of road, you leave your car in Champéry and take the cable car.

As we made our ascent we passed chalets and mountain huts overlooking the valley. Herds of cows with typical bells around their necks munched on the greenest grass you ever saw.

Groups of hikers and mountain bikers waved to us and I could not help but think we had stumbled upon a perfect picture of the Swiss countryside.

Things to do in the Swiss Alps in Summer

swiss cows wearing traditional bell - swiss alps summer vacation

Enjoy the great outdoors

The weather in Swiss Alps in summer is around 25-28°C during the day, perfect for enjoying outdoor pursuits.
If you enjoy hiking and walking trails then there are many to choose from, each taking in different scenery along their routes. For a list of walks in the area click here.
For those of us who prefer a more leisurely stroll amongst spectacular scenery you can choose smaller day walks or even easier overnight hikes.
Other popular alpine summer activities include trout fishing, horseback riding and canyoning.

Visit pretty alpine towns

champery church clock tower - alpine villages in switzerland

We headed down the mountain by cable car for lunch one day and strolled around picture perfect Champéry. Pretty wooden chalet style buildings were adorned with bright red geraniums.

The little church bell tower was flanked by Swiss flags and we felt like we had arrived in the ideal Swiss village.

We had to have fondue for lunch despite our waiter’s disapproval. Apparently it was really too hot for fondue! In any case, the fondue and local charcuterie was delicious.

cheese fondue in the swiss alps

After lunch we strolled through the village some more and browsed the boutiques before heading back to the cable car for the brisk 10 minute ride up the mountain.

Further afield

chillon castle switzerland
Champéry is the perfect base for exploring some of my favourite places to see in Switzerland.
Pretty Chillon castle on the banks of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) is only a 30 minute drive away.
Take a drive through the picturesque Lavaux wine region and after an hour you will reach the fortified hill town of Gruyere where you can enjoy spectacular views and its famous cheese.

Where to stay in the Swiss Alps in summer

Stay in a chalet style hotel of course!

Up at our hotel En Plein Ciel we enjoyed an aperitif watching the sun stream in through the panoramic windows and on the rooftop terrace. The view of the valley and Dents du Midi ranges is one I will never forget.

At the hotel’s restaurant we were treated to some wonderful meals featuring local produce by the in-house chef.

You can expect hearty Swiss French style cuisine such as coq au vin in the restaurant which also boasts a large central open fire, comfortable couches and a billiard table.

dining room with alpine views at en plein ciel

Rooms at En Plein Ciel are large, clean and cosy and are decorated in a simple chalet style.

The staff at the family run hotel are extremely friendly and accommodating. Nothing was too much trouble and they made sure all the guests at the wedding had a comfortable stay.

We woke up each morning to the sound of cowbells and only had to step out onto the terrace for some of the most beautiful scenes of the mountains imaginable.

Check availability and prices at En Plein Ciel

How to get there

swiss alps summer

The closest airport is Geneva and from there it is a 78 mile (125 km) drive to Champéry. Without stops the drive takes about an hour and a half but you should definitely factor in time for stopping. You will pass some some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

We use and recommend Auto Europe for car hire across Europe – click here to search car hire prices

Driving in Switzerland is easy. The roads are well made and maintained. Do factor into your budget money for tolls and remember to buy and display a vignette (sticker) or you could be hit with a large on the spot fine.

You can buy a vignette at most border crossings, petrol stations. The cost is around €40.

If you want to relax you could also book a private transfer from the aiport to the alps – click here for more info and prices

The journey by train is 3 hours but just as easy. From the airport take the train to Geneva and change to the Intercity service IR90 stopping at Aigle. Trains to Champéry depart every hour, just past the hour.

Is it expensive to visit the Swiss Alps in the summer?

But what about the cost? Switzerland is considered to be extremely expensive and many travellers avoid visiting for this reason.

We drove from the UK in our own car stopping a couple of nights on the way and saved heavily on transport costs this way.

lush green pastures for hiking in the swiss alps

Accommodation costs in Switzerland are also considered to be out of reach of many however I found the prices at En Plein Ciel reasonable at around £140/€160 per night for our family of four. Doubles start at £72/€86.

Food costs can easily blow your travel budget. You can access two small supermarkets in Champéry where you can buy snacks and lunches to help reduce costs.

The Swiss Alps are a dream destination for many in winter but there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the alpine regions in summer. From hiking, sightseeing and enjoying the local cuisine and wine it is possible to completely unwind and relax in the fresh mountain air.

Having visited Switzerland in both winter and summer time I think there is definitely more value to be had during the summer.

READ:   Postcard from Switzerland - things to do in Lucerne

A mountain top wedding to remember

wedding in the swiss alps

You might like to know about the wedding. It was a wonderful celebration of two cultures – Australian and French – in the most beautiful alpine setting.

The bride and groom fittingly set off on the first part of their honeymoon hiking the Dents du Midi circuit before a more relaxing break in Italy.

Resources for planning a visit to Champéry in summer

PS – The Alps in winter

If you enjoyed your summertime trip, it’s always exciting to visit in winter when the snow activities are in full swing.

To learn about the attractions of Champery and this region in winter check out this guide.

Have you visited Switzerland in summertime?

What were your favourite places and activities in the Swiss mountains in summer?

Explore Switzerland

We have spent the most time in the Swiss Alps near the French border but you can also visit Jungfrau known as the “Top of Europe” near Bern. The scenery here is even more dramatic.

Beyond the mountain ranges, visit the lakeside cities of Geneva, Lausanne and Lucerne for relaxing, food and wine experiences and water sports.

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23 thoughts on “Discover the soaring Swiss Alps in summer

  1. Ahila says:

    Ah… that cottage on the hill-top looks like how I have always imagined Heidi’s grandfather’s cottage to be. I have only visited Lausanne but I loved what I saw – the picture post card perfect natural beauty of the place.

    • Katy says:

      I thought the same thing about the cottage too Ahila. Just how I imagined it. I went and reread the stories last week because I remember them fondly.

  2. Mandy says:

    I love this post! I’m not a fan of the cold and love sunshine, hot weather and blue skies. With that in mind, I’ve never been to the Alps in ski season but we did go to the Vosges Mountains near Strasbourg last summer and I loved it!

  3. Clare Thomson says:

    Of course you had to have cheese fondue! We’d have been the exact same. Either that or a mountaintop picnic with some goat’s cheese and bread wrapped up in a checked cloth. It’s amazing how it all looks exactly like the Switzerland you picture in the Heidi books. I’ve been skiing in Switzerland but only visited once outside winter – when my husband decided it would be ‘fun’ to run the Jungfrau mountain marathon.

    • Katy says:

      Oh wow – you did the marathon? Amazing Clare! We have visited in the region in winter too but it is a completely different experience but equally as beautiful

  4. Anisa says:

    I agree with you, I would much rather go to the Alps in the summer. Its nice that your friends gave you a reason to go (what a spectacular setting for a wedding!). I would love to do some hiking there.

    • Katy says:

      The wedding was so beautiful Sally. Like you I would not have thought of visiting in summer but the area is really very pretty. I also liked the nearby Vaud region and its beautiful vineyards overlooking Lac Leman.

  5. thewordhermit says:

    I would much prefer visiting the Alps in the summer when I could spend more time outside. I was enamored by Heidi when I was a kid as well, but I always assumed the Alps would be too expensive for our family. Well, we’re almost empty-nesters and I can’t wait to visit! Thanks for sharing your tips.

    • Katy says:

      Ah yes, there are so many different opportunities to explore once the kids are no longer part of the travel equation. We are just starting our family travel journey and managed to keep things within a reasonable budget traveling to the Swiss Alps

  6. Star Lengas says:

    Heidi was one of my favorite childhood books and I actually still own it! I’ve seen the Alps in the spring while in southern Germany, and they were gorg! I definitely want to visit Switzerland to see them in the summer!

  7. PaigeBrown says:

    This just looks so unbelievably dreamy! I went to Switzerland in the early spring, but didn’t really get up to the alps, just in Lucerne. It looks like I really missed out though and I cannot wait to get up there. That hotel you stayed in looks really beautiful!

  8. Monica Sharma says:

    Hey Katy, Nice post.I have visited the Alps last summer and it was my best traveling experience ever.This article made me again plan my trip to the Alps this summer.Thanks for such lovely photos and information.Great Job!

  9. Grace says:

    Hi Katy, we are also going to a wedding in the Alps this summer and we have no idea what to wear as we are not very familiar with the climate, can you give us some suggestions?

    • Katy Clarke says:

      Hi Grace that is so exciting! For the wedding I wore a summer dress and had a light cardigan for when it got cooler in the evening. That worked really well. My husband wore a shirt and trousers and that was fine for him too. If you want to do any walking in the mountains you should take some good walking shoes. Have a wonderful time!

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