I tend to stay away from visiting the same location multiple times, I much prefer traveling to new places. However, Switzerland holds a special place in my heart. It is hands down one of my favourites destinations in the world. I have now visited four times and I still feel like I could go back again and again.
Gstaad is a region which I have visited twice now as it is so authentically Swiss, with beautiful traditional architecture nestled in-between the Alps; and don’t even get me started on the incredible hiking trails. It feels like you’re living inside a postcard, you’ll never want to leave!
Gstaad is often known as a winter destination due to its abundance of ski slopes, but I prefer to visit in summer as it means all the hiking routes are open, and trust me you will want to explore every single one. If you’re visiting in the summer time, then here is the exact itinerary we followed which you can use to help plan your trip!
- Travel from London to Gstaad. It’s a quick Swiss Air flight to Geneva (just over an hour) followed by two short train journeys (around an hour each) to get there. I recommend booking the Golden Pass scenic train as this takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Switzerland.
- Check into your hotel. We stayed at Le Grande Bellevue, a luxurious escape with the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. Read my full review of the hotel here.
- Grab lunch in Gstaad village. I recommend Charlys for veggie and vegan options, I basically ate a bucket of hummus – it was fantastic.
- Hike around Lake Lauenen. This stunning lake is extremely picturesque, surrounded on all sides by mountains, waterfalls and forests on all sides. If you’re up for it, park up in the town of Lauenen itself and hike to and from the lake to increase the distance. Don’t forget your swimming kit for a dip in the crystal clear water.
- Have dinner at 16 Art Bar Restaurant in the nearby town on Saanen. This is the most well known restaurant in the areas for a reason, it is famed for delicious local food which is exception quality. It didn’t disappoint, providing the best meal of our trip!
Travel Tip: Saanen’s local animal is the Saanen goat, which are the little white goats you will see scattered across the mountainsides. They’re super friendly so stop and say hey if you see them!
- Get in your winter coat and hiking boots, you’re going up Glacier 3000. Take the high speed cable car up 3000m above sea level and enjoy the stunning views from the top. I highly recommend visiting the Peak Walk as soon as you get there, to avoid the crowds. It is a suspended bridge between to mountain peaks and its an experience you simply cannot miss. Make sure you release your inner child and take the toboggan too, its a thrill seekers dream! Finally, hike across the glacier itself to the cafe Refuge L’Espace.
- Grab lunch at Refuge L’Espace, a small mountain top restaurant at the edge of the glacier. Take in the views and enjoy the fresh local food before hopping on a snow bus back to the cable car and returning to the base of the mountain.
- Grab your swimsuit and head to Lake Arnensee. This crystal blue lake is surrounded by mountains on all side and the perfect place for a swim. Just ensure you take 5 Francs (in change) to pay for the entrance to the road.
- Return to Le Grand Bellevue and indulge in a spa treatment. I went for a deep tissue massage which was exactly what my aching body needed. Take time afterwards to enjoy the hotels multitude of different saunas and their endless supply of dried apple rings (its the little things!).
- Dine at Hotel Bernerhof. They have delicious poke bowls which provide a much needed nutrient hit after a day of bread and cheese.
Travel Tip: We organised our hikes and excursions through a local guide company called Gstaad Saanenland Guides. It is a small team of around 10 women who are born and raised in Gstaad, they know the region like the back of their hand and are fountains of knowledge.
- Prepare yourself for the most stunning views in the area, its time to hike the Rinderberg trail. Get the train to the nearby town of Zweisimmen and catch the gondola up to the top of the mountain (of you can hike up if you’re particularly energetic). Follow the trail across the mountain tops and take in some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever experience. Finish the trail by catching the chairlift down to Schoenried and walking back to Gstaad in the valley floor.
- I recommend taking a packed lunch and eating this on the trail. Look out for wild bilberry, raspberry and cranberry plants too; we snacked on tonnes of these as we walked.
- Spend the afternoon exploring the village of Gstaad itself, browsing the shops and buying local chocolate.
- Dine at Leonards restaurant at Le Grand Bellevue. The whole menu is incredible but don’t miss the chocolate fondant for dessert. It is out of this world!
Travel Tip: Gstaad is in the German speaking area of Switzerland, so it is useful to know a few key words of the language.
- Kick start your morning with some cycling. We used the company Alpin Zentrum to hire ebikes, which have an electronic element which helps you climb those steep Swiss mountains – a saviour for your legs! We cycled from Gstaad to Gsteig, a beautiful traditional village which has some of the most quaint Swiss houses I have ever encountered. The perfect place to grab a coffee before you cycle back to Gstaad for lunch.
- Pack your bags, check out, catch the train to Geneva and a flight to London, it’s time to head home after the most incredible few days in the mountains.
Travel Tip: Be sure to pop to the local supermarket in Gstaad before you leave and stock up on Swiss chocolate. It is much more affordable than the expensive chocolate shops!
Gstaad has taken a piece of a heart. I had the most incredible few days exploring this beautiful region and I am certain I will return again. My heart belongs in the mountains and Gstaad makes my soul full.
Want to see more of my adventures? Check out my youtube video from the trip.