Emma O’Reilly discovers the Swiss Alps in the summer, when they’re at their most beautiful – with fewer people and lower prices
My husband John likes a good mountain hike. And I can see the appeal of good, clean air and wholesome fun. But the Von Trapp family we are not.
So when John suggested a summer holiday in the little village of Adelboden in the Swiss Alps with our 12-year old son Oliver and nine-year old Daisy, there was a little hesitation.
I love alpine surroundings as much as the next person – a few days of skiing, broken up by long lunches and a glass or two of glühwein – but two whole weeks of trudging up, down and around the slopes?
I was promised sessions in the spa and fine dining, so we packed the car and set off for the Eurotunnel.
After an overnight stop in France (the city of Reims in the champagne region), we arrived in Adelboden. It was like stepping into the pages of Heidi–all snowy peaks, gushing rivers and cowbells. We arrived as it was starting to get dark, and waking up the next day to utter silence and the sun peeping up over the peaks was awe inspiring.
The village is charmingly traditional with a beautiful 15th-century church and a long high street lined with shops, restaurants and cafés – and most of the locals speak some English.
Where to stop over
Treat your kids to a day or two in Geneva en route to the mountains and visit such delights as giant chessboards and cool flea markets. The Geneva Pass, from £17, gives admission to museums, a cruise, a guided tour and the mini-train. When you stay in a hotel, a youth hostel or at a campsite, you’ll receive a Geneva Transport Card free of charge, which allows you to cross the lake on the yellow taxi-boats for free. When you arrive at Geneva airport, pick up a free 80-minute ticket for the six-minute ride to the city.
We took a gentle climb up a gentle peak – Tschentenalp – and revived ourselves with drinks on the sunny Bergrestaurant terrace. You can get a cable car back down the mountain here, but we decided to walk – we did get lost, but the surroundings and views more than make up for the extra few miles.
There are countless things to do in the mountains. Pack a picnic for your family with yummy mountain cheeses, salamis, bread and juicy tomatoes, and then head out for a walk. The tourist office on the main high street will provide maps with lots of routes – from easy strolls to full-day excurisions. If you prefer to follow a leader, there are several guided walks each week.
Consider picking up a Wanderpass for the week, which gives you unlimited use of all the cable cars and local buses. (£109 for a two-week pass for an adult; £61 for a child)
If you don’t fancy uphill ambles every day though, then wander and explore through the woods, stopping to gawp at waterfalls and delicate wild flowers along the way.
Relax in the water
If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, you can lounge and sun yourself around Adelboden’s panorama swimming pool. The Olympic-sized beauty is flanked by grass and sunbeds with a view to rival any beach holiday. Bonus: it’s free of charge to visit in the peak summer weeks!
Ride on a Trottinet
Want to try something different in the mountains? Go for a ride on a trottinet. This can best be described as scooters you ride down a mountain. They have brakes and are ridden along designated paths. You can get up quite a speedand they’re brilliant, thrilling and relatively safe fun. Trottinets can be hired at the top of Tschentenalp for £11 per person per day and can be picked up and dropped off at any of the lift stations in the villages up on the mountains.
Bond with the kids
In the evenings you can snuggle up in your cosy wood chalet or go ten-pin bowling or ice-skating at the state-of-the-art sports centre!
The kids recently asked when we were going back to Adelboden. I asked them why they liked it so muchand Daisy said, ‘I don’t know. It just gives me a good feeling in my tummy.’
Where to stay
Accomodation can be 30% cheaper in the summer months, so it’s definitely the time to bag yourself a deal.
The Cambrian Hotel is the stylish place to hang up your walking boots, with a great restaurant and indulgent spa (think outdoor hot tub with mountain views).
Price: Seven nights cost from £4,057 for two adults and two children, including flights and transfers, with Kuoni.
Chalet Weidli has stunning views towards the Enstligen Falls and sleeps up to 12 in modern, open-plan luxury. Prices start from £450 per person per week, self-catering.
Price: Book via The Chic Chalet Guide.
The Adelboden Tourism website has a comprehensive list of chalets an apartments available to rent.
How to get there
Driving: It’s about a 12-hour drive from Calai to Adelboden, if you go via ferry or Eurotunnel.
Price: Eurotunnel summer prices start at £57 each way for a car and passengers; P&O ferry crossings start from £36 each way. easyJet flies from seven UK airports to Geneva, from £24.74 each way. Adelboden is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from there.
Flying: Alternatively, Swiss flies to Zurich (drive time: two hours) from London, Manchester and Birmingham from £136 return. It is also possible to fly to Basel-Mulhouse (two hours) or Berne (45 minutes) from London City Airport with SkyWork Airlines.
Want more holiday ideas?
Read our destination guide on summer in the mountains in Europe
Read our North America mountains guide for summer