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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.
What's in this article
- 1 The Swiss Alps – Chablais Alps region
- 2 Summertime in the Swiss Alps
- 3 Things to do in the Swiss Alps in Summer
- 4 Where to stay in the Swiss Alps in summer
- 5 How to get there
- 6 Is it expensive to visit the Swiss Alps in the summer?
- 7 A mountain top wedding to remember
- 8 Resources for planning a visit to Champéry in summer
- 9 PS – The Alps in winter
- 10 Explore Switzerland
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.
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
Enjoy the great outdoors
Visit pretty alpine towns
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to get there
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.
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.
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.
A mountain top wedding to remember
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
- The local tourist board is so friendly and helpful – do check out the Champéry tourism website
- We stayed at En Plein Ciel hotel – comfortable chalet style accommodation on the mountain
- Dents du Midi walking and hiking trail guide and information
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?
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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