Summer in the Swiss Alps: Why the alpine destination is a treat in the low-season

Rob Young
·Yahoo UK Social Media Editor
[photo: Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]
[photo: Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]

When you think of the Swiss Alps, you likely picture snowy ski slopes, fire-lit lodges, and cheese fondues.

But with hundreds of hiking trails, mountain biking tracks and countless clear-water lakes to swim, kayak and paddle-board in, it’s time to change those perceptions of the famously wintery destination.

Leave your big coat at home, break out the shorts and embrace the alps as a genuine contender for your next summer holiday.

So, what’s worth squeezing into a long weekend?

Day 1: An early flight means lunch in the Alps and lake swimming in the afternoon

Less than two hours from Zurich, you’ll find the idyllic resort town of Flims, just north of the River Rhine valley.

Famous for its bustling winter sport programme in the chillier months, the town goes through a bit of a personality change when it gets warmer. Gone are the skiers and snowboarders, and in come the hikers and mountain bikers.

Base yourself at the Rocksresort hotel. With shops, bars and restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines, and the Laax Bergbahnen cable car station outside your door, not to mention the stunning panoramic mountain views, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

E-Biking is the best way to get around Flims during the summer. [photo: <span>Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]</span>
E-Biking is the best way to get around Flims during the summer. [photo: Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]

Once settled into your hotel room, get out and explore your surroundings on an E-bike. With a small, silent electric motor to give you that little extra boost up the hills, you can enjoy a leisurely ride and take in all the spectacular scenery without turning into a hot sweaty mess.

In fact, E-bikes are so popular many locals ditch their cars in favour of two wheels come summer.

Set off towards the gorgeous Lake Cauma, nicknamed the ‘Jewel of Flims’. This short, not-too-challenging ride will take you through the dense forest, giving you amazing views of the Rhine gorge.

Paddleboarding on the crystal-clear Lake Cauma. [photo: <span>Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]</span>
Paddleboarding on the crystal-clear Lake Cauma. [photo: Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]

Head down the valley and you’ll come to the mountain lake, nestled deep in the woods. Here, relax, have lunch and try your hand at paddle boarding.

If you’re feeling really brave, take a dip into the crystal clear waters. But be warned, it’s mighty chilly even in the summer.

Day 2: Get those hiking boots on, we’re going on an adventure

After a hearty continental breakfast at the Signinahotel, jump on the bus and head towards Bargis for your first taste of alpine hiking.

After a long hike you’ll want to dip your toes in the Flims glacier mills. [photo: <span>Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]</span>
After a long hike you’ll want to dip your toes in the Flims glacier mills. [photo: Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]

From here, you can hike five hours up Alp Mora towards the extraordinary glacier mills.

As the snow melts, crystal-clear water begins to flow down the mountain, filling more than 20 ‘mills’ formed over thousands of years.

They’re one of the most beautiful, natural formations in Flims, and just far enough off the tourist trail that it won’t be crowded.

Flims Mountain completely dominates the landscape. [photo: Rob Young]
Flims Mountain completely dominates the landscape. [photo: Rob Young]

On your way along the mountain pass you’ll encounter plenty of inquisitive, friendly cows, and get some incredible views of Flims Mountain.

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Day 3: Snow fields and World War II mountain lodges

One of Flims more challenging hiking trails takes you directly through the Sardona tectonic UNESCO world Heritage site, where the tectonic plates of Europe and Africa actually meet.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Tectonic Arena Sardona – where two tectonic plates meet. [photo: <span>Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]</span>
The UNESCO World Heritage Site Tectonic Arena Sardona – where two tectonic plates meet. [photo: Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]

This four-hour hike will take you along the panorama path towards the Segneshutte – one of the oldest mountain huts and restaurants in the region, at just over 2,000 metres above sea level.

After a well-deserved lunch break, cross the Segnes Plain – a vast open space known for its waterfalls and ever-changing streams – to drink from the mountain springs.

Carefully crossing the Segnespass snow fields. [photo: Rob Young]
Carefully crossing the Segnespass snow fields. [photo: Rob Young]

Now this is where things begin to get a little tough.

The hiking poles come out and more layers are pulled on as you carefully climb the snowy Segnespass towards your bed for the night at the historic Mountain Lodge, perched at an altitude of almost 3,000 metres.

The Sengespass Mountain Lodge, perched at almost 3,000 metres above sea level. [photo: Rob Young]
The Sengespass Mountain Lodge, perched at almost 3,000 metres above sea level. [photo: Rob Young]

Originally an old military bunker built towards the end of the Second World War, the simple hut has now been completely renovated, and proves a popular destination for weary hikers.

Dog lovers will be thrilled to find a St. Bernard dog in residence too.

Day 4: Hiking down the mountain and crossing gorges

As you gradually make your back down the mountain towards flatter land and civilisation, you’ll follow the Flims Waterway.

Sticking as close to the water as possible, you’ll pass unique gorge landscapes and cross seven bridges.

From there, the bizarre rock formations of the Flem gorge can be seen in all its natural glory. The perfect way to bring your summery Swiss getaway to a close.

The Flims Water Trail takes you across seven bridges over rocky gorges. [photo: <span>Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]</span>
The Flims Water Trail takes you across seven bridges over rocky gorges. [photo: Flims / Gaudenz Danuser]

Flights from Gatwick to Zurich start from £26. Starting prices at the Rocksresort are £195 per night based on two sharing, including breakfast. Overnight stays at the Mountain Lodge range from £34 per adult to £57 per adult if you include breakfast and dinner.

Yahoo UK was a guest of Flims for this trip.

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