The Alps are Europe’s greatest mountains – stretching all the way from Austria and Slovenia in the east, through Italy, Switzerland and Germany, and to France in the west. Each of these countries has a unique relationship with its surrounding peaks, and offers a different experience for even the most seasoned alpine tourist.
It’s easy to assume that these mountains are only really worth visiting in the winter months. They are after all, known for their year round sunshine and excellent skiing. But summer in The Alps is just as wonderful and brings with it so many more things to see and do that wouldn’t be as accessible or enjoyable in colder weather. Better yet, it’s often a lot cheaper as hotels and chalets drop their prices.
Here are just a few things you can do on a summer holiday in The Alps.
One of the best things you can do during the warmer weather is enjoy the wonderful experience of lake swimming. There is nothing like jumping into pristine water beneath a bright blue sky, surrounded by mountains and meadows. Many of the lakes have BBQ and decking areas, and the year-round sun makes it worthwhile even without the swimming. Lakes such as France’s Lac d’Annecy even have the added benefit of being warmed by thermal springs. What more could you ask for on a summer’s day?
Of course one of the best ways to really explore these beautiful mountains is on foot, and every region boasts mile after mile of trails to follow across diverse terrain. Because there’s no snow (unless you crave more altitude) it’s a lot easier to get about and the wildlife will be in full bloom. Winding rivers and valleys, shady pine forests and idyllic waterfalls are just some of the things to be seen en route. There is also the option of hiring a local guide who can tell you all about the flora and fauna whilst ensuring you don’t get lost.
Mountain-Biking & Cycling
Why not up the ante and get out and about on two wheels. Mountain biking is an incredibly popular alpine sport and can be a great way to cover more ground in less time whilst really testing your skills. That said, there’s no prerequisite for being an adrenaline junky and there are plenty of gentler routes available if you’d rather take it slow and enjoy the scenery. Many excursion companies offer guided cycle tours or you can opt for hiring your own bikes and go it alone.
For a true adventure without the physical exertion, take a trip on one of the regions many railways. The Matterhorn Gotthard is a narrow gauge railway in Switzerland with a network that covers 144km. Its route includes the Oberalp Pass (2,033m) and the 15.34km-long Furka Base Tunnel, with the option to take a veteran steam train on the old line which runs right up to the Furka Pass at an elevation of 2,162m above sea level. There is also the Glacier Express that connects Switzerland’s famous resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt, and runs along the Rhaetian Railway, a World Heritage Site.