The mention of Switzerland evokes hyperbolic images of expansive grasslands, wooden chalets, tiny villages, and picturesque skiing slopes – for once, these images are an apt representation of truth. If there is one country that is blessed with natural beauty, it is Switzerland. A Road Trip in Switzerland can take you through Alpine villages, glacial lakes, stunning hikes, cheese factories, chocolate factories and so much more. Here are our 6 favourite villages with tips and tricks to help you plan the perfect Road Trip in Switzerland
Renting a Car in Switzerland
Switzerland is well connected by train, so it’s easy to visit any of these villages using Public Transport but you know our fondness for road trips don’t you? 🙂 The flexibility that a car offers is tough to beat. We flew to Geneva Airport and rented a car with Hertz, Switzerland. Vid is a Gold Club Member, so Hertz is usually the first car rental option that pops up in our mind. It was still Spring when we visited Switzerland so we were expecting the occasional snow storm and opted for a 4X4 – Hertz Switzerland had a brand new fleet so we got a gorgeous Opel 4X4 with heated seats. Ooh yeah! Let’s face it – everybody wants a snug arse when it’s snowing outside 😉 All jokes apart, we would highly recommend renting a 4X4 in Switzerland – it makes it so much easier to face sudden blizzards or snow storms. Besides, if you’re a curious explorer and like to off road every once in a while (err we plead guilty!), a dependable 4X4 is your best bet! Make sure you have proper travel insurance – ones with additional cover for car rentals are always a plus. Ask us, we’re road trip bunnies 🙂
Now that you’re all warm in your car (sorry couldn’t resist alluding to the seats again, I was rather taken in by them!), it’s time to plug in your favourite music and start the idyllic drive. We drove from Geneva to a little village on the outskirts of Zermatt. Zermatt is a great base if you are NOT renting a car as the entire village is car free. If you rent a car, opt for a village close to Zermatt. You can base yourself in a chalet anywhere in the area and drive in a different direction everyday 🙂 All these villages are an easy day trip from Valais/Visp in southern Switzerland.
This tiny mountain village is located at 1600 mts. It’s the perfect village for walkers and hikers – explore the village centre, its cathedral (which was dotted with glistening snow when we visited), or walk up to the hidden Alpine lake in the area. It is also perfect for skiiers and snowboarders as there are a number of ski lifts and pistes in the vicinity. The fairytale village is located on a broad sunny terrace on the Alps, so it’s the ideal place to spend a leisurely afternoon nursing a bottle of wine.
The romantic village of Zermatt is right out of a fairy tale. We swooned over it in our Photo Essay of Zermatt but we couldn’t just leave it at that. Zermatt is right up there in the list of our favourite villages in Switzerland. Sun-kissed wooden chalets, cobblestoned alleys, and luxurious boutique hotels dominate the landscape, so it’s hard not to fall in love. Make sure you visit Hinterdof, the Old Quarter of Zermatt, where you will see wooden houses from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Zermatt is a car-free village. You can park your car at the parking lot in Tasch village and take a train to Zermatt. Return Ticket cost 16 CHF/person and parking costs 24 CHF/day. Overnight parking is also possible.
Ok, we’re cheating. Gornergrat is not exactly a village but a rocky ridge of the Alps overlooking the Gorner Glacier. Take the Gornergrat Bahn (Gornergrat Railway) to the last station. The journey, one of the prettiest in Switzerland, takes visitors through idyllic snow-covered forests and surreal mountain panoramas. You can even stop by at an Igloo Village on your way up. Gornergrat is the getaway for all sorts of winter sports – explore adventurous sports or dine at the Kulm Hotel and check out the crazy view from their observatory at 3120 mts. Gornergrat needs to be seen to be believed!
#4 St. Niklaus
St. Niklaus is a sleepy village in the Visp area. It’s off-the-beaten-path, so don’t expect to see tourists here. In fact, you will struggle to find a restaurant that serves food after 10 p.m.. But that is why it is special! St. Niklaus is where you go to feel your stress melting away. Pack a picnic, drive around till you find a vantage point to munch on Swiss cheese and sandwiches as you gaze at the Alps *le sigh*
Brig is one of the larger town in the Valais area. But its Old Quarter, set against the backdrop of the mountains, resembles a small village. Brig’s striking castle seems to be nestled in the lap of the Alps – entry is free and you won’t ever find more than a handful of people at any given time.
Brig also has dozens of large supermarkets, so it is the perfect place to stock up on groceries for your Road Trip in Switzerland. Its central square is dotted with cafes and restaurants
#6 Simplon Dorf
Simplon Dorf needs to be included in all posts about Road Trips in Switzerland not because its outrageously idyllic (which it is!) but because the drive leading to the village is stunning. The highlight of the drive is the Simplon Pass, a mountain pass that connects the Alps in Switzerland and Italy. We drove to Simplon Dorf on a foggy day, so hours were spent swooning at snow-clad mountains playing peek-a-boo with the thick veil of fog. The Simplon Pass cast a spell on us, it really did!
Want to see these villages on video? Check out a short video of our Road Trip in Switzerland shot with our new GoPro camera 🙂
Which of those 6 locations tickle your fancy? Will you be planning a trip to Switzerland soon? 🙂
Planning a visit to Switzerland? Read all about chocolates, snow-clad mountains, overnight stays in an Igloo, and perfect clothes for a trip to Switzerland 🙂