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By the way, we would recommend you to combine your visit to Swiss Alps with other popular and interesting places of Switzerland, for example: Ascona, Gstaad, Engelberg, Matterhorn, Sion, Haute-Nendaz, Jungfrau, Lugano, Arosa, Crans-Montana, Montreux, Portes du Soleil, Lake Maggiore, Veysonnaz, Grindelwald, Neuchâtel, Vevey, Anzère, Bellinzona, Geneva, Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Andermatt, Locarno, Lucerne, Verbier, Valais, St. Moritz, Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Fribourg, Basel, Wengen, Zug, Bern, Pontresina, Swiss Alps, Adelboden, Lausanne, Silvaplana, Nendaz, Ticino, Zürich, St. Gallen, etc.
How to Book a Hotel in Swiss Alps
In order to book an accommodation in Swiss Alps enter the proper dates and do the hotel search. If needed, sort the found Swiss Alps hotels by price, star rating, property type, guest rating, hotel features, hotel theme or hotel chain. Then take a look at the found hotels on Swiss Alps map to estimate the distance from the main Swiss Alps attractions and sights. You can also read the guest reviews of Swiss Alps hotels and see their ratings.
When a hotel search in Swiss Alps is done, please select the room type, the included meals and the suitable booking conditions (for example, "Deluxe double room, Breakfast included, Non-Refundable"). Press the "View Deal" ("Book Now") button. Make your booking on a hotel booking website and get the hotel reservation voucher by email. That's it, a perfect hotel in Swiss Alps is waiting for you!
Hotels of Swiss Alps
A hotel in Swiss Alps is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Swiss Alps hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Swiss Alps are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Swiss Alps hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Swiss Alps hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Swiss Alps have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Swiss Alps
An upscale full service hotel facility in Swiss Alps that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Swiss Alps hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Swiss Alps
Full service Swiss Alps hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Swiss Alps
Boutique hotels of Swiss Alps are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Swiss Alps boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Swiss Alps may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Swiss Alps
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Swiss Alps travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Swiss Alps focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Swiss Alps
Small to medium-sized Swiss Alps hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Swiss Alps traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Swiss Alps hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Swiss Alps
A bed and breakfast in Swiss Alps is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Swiss Alps bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Swiss Alps B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Swiss Alps hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Swiss Alps
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Swiss Alps hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Swiss Alps lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Swiss Alps often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Swiss Alps on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Swiss Alps
A Swiss Alps motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Swiss Alps for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Swiss Alps motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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Satellite image of Switzerland in October 2002. On the north side of the Alps, the regions located above 2000m are covered by snow. The canton of Ticino (on the south side) is almost snow-free in early autumn.
The Alpine region of Switzerland, conventionally referred to as the Swiss Alps (German: Schweizer Alpen, French: Alpes suisses, Italian: Alpi svizzere, Romansh: Alps svizras), represents a major natural feature of the country and is, along with the Swiss Plateau and the Swiss portion of the Jura Mountains, one of its three main physiographic regions. The Swiss Alps extend over both the Western Alps and the Eastern Alps, encompassing an area sometimes called Central Alps. While the northern ranges from the Bernese Alps to the Appenzell Alps are entirely in Switzerland, the southern ranges from the Mont Blanc massif to the Bernina massif are shared with other countries such as France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein.
The Swiss Alps comprise almost all the highest mountains of the Alps, such as Dufourspitze (4,634 m), the Dom (4,545 m), the Liskamm (4,527 m), the Weisshorn (4,506 m) and the Matterhorn (4,478 m). The other following major summits can be found in this list of mountains of Switzerland.
Since the Middle Ages, transit across the Alps played an important role in history. The region north of St Gotthard Pass became the nucleus of the Swiss Confederacy in the early 14th century.
Swiss Alps: Geography
See also: Geography of Switzerland
Swiss Alps seen from the Swiss Jura in December 2010
The Alps cover 65% of Switzerland's total 41,285 square kilometres (15,940 sq mi) surface area, making it one of the most alpine countries. Despite the fact that Switzerland covers only 14% of the Alps total 192,753 square kilometres (74,422 sq mi) area, 48 out of 82 alpine four-thousanders are located in the Swiss Alps and practically all of the remaining 34 are within 20 kilometres (12 mi) of the country's border.
The glaciers of the Swiss Alps cover an area of 1,220 square kilometres (470 sq mi) - 3% of the Swiss territory, representing 44% of the total glaciated area in the Alps i.e. 2,800 square kilometres (1,100 sq mi).
The Swiss Alps are situated south of the Swiss Plateau and north of the national border. The limit between the Alps and the plateau runs from Vevey on the shores of Lake Geneva to Rorschach on the shores of Lake Constance, passing close to the cities of Thun and Lucerne. The not well defined regions in Switzerland that lie on the margin of the Alps, especially those on the north side, are called the Swiss Prealps (Préalpes in French, Voralpen in German, Prealpi in Italian). The Swiss Prealps are mainly made of limestone and they generally do not exceed 2,500 metres (8,200 ft).
The Alpine cantons (from highest to lowest) are Valais, Bern, Graubünden, Uri, Glarus, Ticino, St. Gallen, Vaud, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Schwyz, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Fribourg, Lucerne and Zug. The countries with which Switzerland shares mountain ranges of the Alps are (from west to east): France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein.
Swiss Alps: Ranges
The Alps are usually divided into two main parts, the Western Alps and Eastern Alps, whose division is along the Rhine from Lake Constance to the Splügen Pass. The western ranges occupy the greatest part of Switzerland while the more numerous eastern ranges are much smaller and are all situated in the canton of Graubünden. The latter are part of the Central Eastern Alps, except the Ortler Alps which belong to the Southern Limestone Alps. The Pennine, Bernese and Bernina Range are the highest ranges of the country, they contain respectively 38, 9 and 1 summit over 4000 metres. The lowest range is the Appenzell Alps culminating at 2,500 metres.
Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, St. Gallen (and Zurich)
From west to east, south of Rhône and Rhine
Dents du Midi
Mont Blanc massif
Valais, France, Italy
Monte Rosa, Weisshorn, Matterhorn
Valais, Ticino, Uri, Graubünden,
Monte Leone, Rheinwaldhorn
Map of the eastern Swiss Alps
From west to east, north of Mera and Inn
Piz Kesch, Piz Lunghin
Piz Linard, Piz Buin
From west to east, south of Mera and Inn
Cima di Castello, Piz Badile
Piz Bernina, Piz Roseg
Swiss Alps: Hydrography
See also: Valleys of the Alps
Swiss Alps: Rivers
See also: List of rivers in Switzerland
Rhine Gorge in Graubünden
The north side of the Swiss Alps is drained by the Rhône, Rhine and Inn (which is part of the Danube basin) while the south side is mainly drained by the Ticino (Po basin). The rivers on the north empty into the Mediterranean, North and Black Sea, on the south the Po empty in the Adriatic Sea. The major triple watersheds in the Alps are located within the country, they are: Piz Lunghin, Witenwasserenstock and Monte Forcola. Between the Witenwasserenstock and Piz Lunghin runs the European Watershed separating the basin of the Atlantic (North Sea) and the Mediterranean Sea (Adriatic and Black Sea). The European watershed lies in fact only partially on the main chain. Switzerland possesses 6% of Europe's fresh water, and is sometimes referred to as the "water tower of Europe".
Swiss Alps: Lakes
See also: List of lakes of Switzerland and List of mountain lakes of Switzerland
The Lac des Dix in Valais
Since the highest dams are located in Alpine regions, many large mountain lakes are artificial and are used as hydroelectric reservoirs. Some large artificial lakes can be found above 2,300 m, but natural lakes larger than 1 km² are generally below 1,000 m (with the exceptions of lakes in the Engadin such as Lake Sils, and Oeschinen in the Bernese Oberland). The melting of low-altitude glaciers can generate new lakes, such as the 0.25 km² large Triftsee which formed between 2002–2003.
Swiss Alps: Land elevation
See also: Swiss cantons by elevation
The following table gives the surface area above 2000 m and 3000 m and the respective percentage on the total area of each canton whose high point is above 2000 metres.
Land above 2000m in km²
Land above 2000m in %
Land above 3000m in km²
Land above 3000m in %
Swiss Alps: Geology
Main article: Geology of the Alps
See also: List of glaciers in Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Bernese Alps, a deep U-shaped valley that resulted from erosion by glaciers
The composition of the great tectonic units reflects the history of the formation of the Alps. The rocks from the Helvetic zone on the north and the Austroalpine nappes – Southern Alps on the south come originally from the European and African continent respectively. The rocks of the Penninic nappes belong to the former area of the Briançonnais microcontinent and the Tethys Ocean. The closure of the latter by subduction under the African plate (Piemont Ocean first and Valais Ocean later) preceded the collision between the two plates and the so-called alpine orogeny. The major thrust fault of the Tectonic Arena Sardona in the eastern Glarus Alps gives a visible illustration of mountain-building processes and was therefore declared a UNESCO World Heritage. Another fine example gives the Alpstein area with several visible upfolds of Helvetic zone material.
With some exceptions, the Alps north of Rhône and Rhine are part of the Helvetic Zone and those on the south side are part of the Penninic nappes. The Austroalpine zone concerns almost only the Eastern Alps, with the notable exception of the Matterhorn.
The last glaciations greatly transformed Switzerland’s landscape. Many valleys of the Swiss Alps are U-shaped due to glacial erosion. During the maximum extension of the Würm glaciation (18,000 years ago) the glaciers completely covered the Swiss Plateau, before retreating and leaving remnants only in high mountain areas. In modern times the Aletsch Glacier in the western Bernese Alps is the largest and longest in the Alps, reaching a maximum depth of 900 metres at Konkordiaplatz. Along with the Fiescher and Aar Glaciers the region became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. An effect of the retreat of the Rhine Glacier some 10,000 years ago was the Flims Rockslide, the biggest still visible landslide apparently worldwide.
Swiss Alps: Environment and climate
To protect endangered species some sites have been brought under protection. The Swiss National Park in Graubünden was established in 1914 as the first alpine national park. The Entlebuch area was designated a biosphere reserve in 2001. The largest protected area in the country is the Parc Ela, opened in 2006, which covers an area of 600 square kilometres. The Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area is the first World Heritage Site in the Alps.
Swiss Alps: Climate zones
See also: Climate of the Alps
As the temperature decreases with altitude (0.56 °C per 100 metres on yearly average), three different altitudinal zones, each having distinct climate, are found in the Swiss Alps:
Tree line in the national park
Liskamm (4,527 m), above the Border Glacier
The Subalpine zone is the region which lies below the tree line. It is the most important region as it is the largest of the three and contains almost all human settlements as well as the productive areas. The forests are mainly composed by conifers above 1,200–1,400 metres, the deciduous tree forest being confined to lower elevations. The upper limit of the Subalpine zone is located at about 1,800 metres on the north side of the Alps and at about 2,000 metres on the south side. It can however differ in some regions such as the Appenzell Alps (1,600 metres) or the Engadin valley (2,300 metres).
The Alpine zone is situated above the tree line and is clear of trees because of low average temperatures. It contains mostly grass and small plants along with mountain flowers. Below the permafrost limit (at about 2,600 metres), the alpine meadows are often used as pastures. Some villages can still be found on the lowest altitudes such as Riederalp (1,940 m) or Juf (2,130 m). The extent of the Alpine zone is limited by the first permanent snow, its altitude greatly varies depending on the location (and orientation), it comprises between 2,800 and 3,200 metres.
The glacial zone is the area of permanent snow and ice. When the steepness of the slope is not too high it results in an accumulation and compaction of snow, which transforms into ice. The glacier formed then flows down the valley and can reach as far down as 1,500 metres (the Upper Grindelwald Glacier). Where the slopes are too steep, the snow accumulates to form overhanging seracs, which periodically fall off due to the downwards movement of the glacier and cause ice avalanches. The Bernese Alps, Pennine Alps and Mont Blanc Massif contain most of the glaciated areas in the Alps. Except research stations such as the Sphinx Observatory, no settlements are to be found in those regions.
Swiss Alps: Travel and tourism
Tourism in the Swiss Alps began with the first ascents of the main peaks of the Alps (Jungfrau in 1811, Piz Bernina in 1850, Monte Rosa in 1855, Matterhorn in 1856, Dom in 1858, Weisshorn in 1861) mostly by British mountain climbers accompanied by the local guides. The construction of facilities for tourists started in the mid nineteenth century with the building of hotels and mountain huts (creation of the Swiss Alpine Club in 1863) and the opening of mountain train lines on (Rigi in 1873, Pilatus in 1889, Gornergrat in 1898). The Jungfraubahn opened in 1912; it leads to the highest railway station in Europe, the Jungfraujoch.
Swiss Alps: Summer tourism
Switzerland enjoys a 62,000-km network of well-maintained trails, of which 23,000 are located in mountainous areas. Many mountains attract a large number of alpinists from around the world, especially the 4000-metre summits and the great north faces (Eiger, Matterhorn and Piz Badile). The large winter resorts are also popular destinations in summer, as most of aerial tramways operate through the year, enabling hikers and mountaineers to reach high altitudes without much effort. The Klein Matterhorn is the highest summit of the European continent to be served by cable car.
Swiss Alps: Winter tourism
Main article: List of ski areas and resorts in Switzerland
Highest ski area in Europe above Zermatt
The major destinations for skiing and other winter sports are located in Valais, Bernese Oberland and Graubünden. Some villages are car-free and can be accessed only with public transports such as Riederalp and Bettmeralp. Zermatt and Saas-Fee have both summer ski areas. The ski season starts from as early as November and runs to as late as May; however, the majority of ski resorts in Switzerland tend to open in December and run through to April. The most visited places are:
Due to strong political will by the citizen, Zermatt remains car-free and retains much of its original character
Davos – Klosters GR
Zermatt VS (car-free village)
Engadin – St. Moritz GR
Lenzerheide – Arosa GR
Jungfrauregion: Grindelwald – Mürren – Wengen BE (car-free villages)
Les quatre vallées: Verbier – Nendaz VS
LAAX: Flims – Laax GR
Aletsch Arena: Riederalp – Bettmeralp – Fiesch VS (car-free villages)
Les Portes du Soleil: Champéry – Morgins – Les Crosets VS and Avoriaz in France
Adelboden – Lenk BE
Val d'Anniviers: Grimentz – Zinal – Vercorin – St-Luc – Chandolin VS
Other important destinations on the regional level are Engelberg-Titlis (Central Switzerland / OW) and Gotthard Oberalp Arena with Andermatt (Central Switzerland / UR) and Sedrun (GR), Leysin-Les Mosses, Villars-sur-Ollon, Les Diablerets-Glacier 3000 (all VD), Leukerbad (VS), Savognin, Scuol, Obersaxen, Breil/Brigels (all GR), Meiringen – Hasliberg (BE), Sörenberg (LU), Klewenalp with Beckenried and Emmetten, Melchsee-Frutt (all NW), Flumserberg and Pizol (both Sarganserland in SG), Toggenburg with Wildhaus – Unterwasser – Alt St. Johann (SG), Hoch-Ybrig and Stoos (all SZ), Braunwald and Elm (GL), Airolo and Bosco/Gurin (TI) and many more.
The first person to ski in Grindelwald, Switzerland was Englishmen Gerald Fox (who lived at Tone Dale House) who put his skis on in his hotel bedroom in 1881 and walked out through the hotel Bar to the slopes wearing them.
Swiss Alps: Transport
See also: List of mountain passes in Switzerland and List of mountain railways in Switzerland
The Glacier Express on the Landwasser Viaduct, Albula Range
Lötschberg railway line
The Swiss Alps and Switzerland enjoy an extensive transport network. Every mountain village can be reached by public transport, the main companies are:
Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn
Most of mountain regions are within 3 hours travel of Switzerland’s main cities and their respective airport. The Engadin Valley in Graubünden is between 4 and 6 hours away from the large cities; the train journey itself, with the panoramic Glacier Express or Bernina Express, is popular with tourists.
The Engadin Airport near St. Moritz at an altitude of 1,707 metres is the highest in Europe.
The crossing of the Alps is a key issue at national and international levels, as the European continent is at places divided by the range. Since the beginning of industrialisation Switzerland has improved its transalpine network; it began in 1882, by building the Gotthard Rail Tunnel, followed in 1906 by the Simplon Tunnel and more recently, in 2007, by the Lötschberg Base Tunnel. The 57-km long Gotthard Base Tunnel is scheduled to open in 2016, and it will finally provide a direct flat rail link through the Alps.
Swiss Alps: Toponymy
The different names of the mountains and other landforms are named in the four national languages. The table below gives the most recurrent names.
Gamsberg, Dammastock, Mont Vélan, Monte Generoso, Munt Pers
Grenzgipfel, Cima di Gana Bianca, Tschima da Flix
Lenzspitze, Pointe de Zinal, Pizzo Campo Tencia, Piz Roseg
Nadelhorn, Aiguille d'Argentière, Ago di Sciora
Wetterhorn, Corne de Sorebois, Corn da Tinizong
Tour Sallière, Torrone Alto
Bürkelkopf, Tête Blanche
Gornergrat, Crêt du Midi, Fil de Cassons
Unteraargletscher, Hüfifirn, Glacier de Corbassière, Ghiacciaio del Basodino, Vadret da Morteratsch, Glatscher dil Vorab
Mattertal, Val d'Hérens, Valle Maggia
Jungfraujoch, Panix Pass, Pas de Cheville, Passo del San Gottardo
Also a large number of peaks outside the Alps were named or nicknamed after Swiss mountains, such as the Wetterhorn Peak in Colorado or the Matterhorn Peak in California (see the Matterhorn article for a list of Matterhorns in the world).
The confluence of the Baltoro Glacier and the Godwin-Austen Glacier south of K2 in the Karakoram range was named after the Konkordiaplatz by European explorers.
Swiss Alps: See also
Swiss Alpine Club
Swiss Alpine Museum
Tour du Mont Blanc
Monte Rosa tour
Alpine Pass Route
La Grande Odyssée
Patrouille des Glaciers
Lauberhorn Ski Race
Trophée des Gastlosen
The Alps (film)
History of the Alps
Transhumance in the Alps
Exploration of the High Alps
Swiss Alps: Notes and references
Glaciers of the Alps, USGS
Encyclopædia Britannica, Alps
Ball, John (1873). The Central Alps. Longmans, Green & Co.
Area defined by the Alpine Convention (website: alpconv.org)
According to the limit defined by the Alpine Convention
The Swiss Prealps should not be confused with the homonymous region defined by the SOIUSA classification of the Alps, with the Schilthorn as main summit.
Swiss Alps in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
"Dam Begun in Swiss Alps to be Europe's Highest." Popular Science, November 1929, p. 61
Die Kantone nach ihren höchsten Punkten (German) Various highest and lowest elevation values by canton (village center, road or rail network, etc.)
Nature parks swissworld.org
There are in total 9 car-free villages members of the GAST (Gemeinschaft Autofreier Tourismusorte): Bettmeralp, Braunwald, Riederalp, Rigi, Saas-Fee, Stoos, Wengen, Mürren and Zermatt.
Davos, la station la plus fréquentée de Suisse bilan.ch
"Winter Sport Areas". search.ch. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
Skiing the Alps
Swiss Alps: Bibliography
(German)(French) Heinz Staffelbach, Handbuch Schweizer Alpen. Pflanzen, Tiere, Gesteine und Wetter. Der Naturführer, Haupt Verlag, 2008, 656 pages (Buy book ISBN 978-3-258-07638-6). French translation: Heinz Staffelbach, Manuel des Alpes suisses. Plantes, animaux, roches et météo. Le guide nature, éditions Rossolis, 2009, 656 pages (Buy book ISBN 978-2-940365-30-2).
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