Discover the Swiss Alps & Lucerne with Festive Traditions & Christmas Markets 2024
Switzerland for Nature and Garden Lovers
The Natural World
Short City Breaks with a Twist
Discover the Swiss Alps & Lucerne with Festive Traditions & Christmas Markets 2024
The Lepontine Alps (also known as the Adula Alps) is one of the largest mountain ranges in Switzerland and nestled high in the Ursern Valley is the hidden gem that is Andermatt. In close proximity to towering peaks and many chasmic gorges, our home for this tour boasts a wealth of breath-taking mountain scenery and a winter wonderland enticing you to explore just outside the front-door of the hotel.
Celebrate the festive season with a visit to the captivating Medieval town of Lucerne and its charming Christmas market, perhaps even taking part in traditional Noel candle-making.
And of course, no trip to this region of Switzerland would be complete without a ride on the famous Glacier Express, experiencing panoramic views across the snow-blanketed Oberalp Pass at heights of almost 7,000 ft above sea-level, before winding down valleys to spend the afternoon in the town of Chur and its historic old town.
This 5-day tour encompasses a wealth of experiences in the attractive setting of the Swiss Alps during winter, including the use of the elegant pool and spa facilities within the hotel.
Andermatt sits 1447 meters above sea level, between the Oberalp, St Gotthard and Furka passes. The Gemsstock mountain soars majestically above the town, while nearby - famous for its beautiful wilderness - is the ruggedly beautiful Schöllenenschlucht gorge with its legendry Devil’s Bridge. Feel exhilarated by the fresh, crisp air and be amazed at the outstanding natural beauty.
The village itself is a place of charming narrow streets, lined with traditional alpine buildings. In the main street you will find restaurants, cafes, and bakeries offering home-made regional specialties such as the delicious donut Zigerkrapfen, as well as traditional shops, including Socken Fenster (Sock Window), where hand-knitted socks are sold through a window display.
What we love
- The spine-tinglingly beautiful scenery
- The beautiful historic cities
- The panoramic train journey through the alps
- The magical Christmas Market of Lucerne
- The pool with a view
- The cosy alpine atmosphere
Experiences you will treasure
- Hearing fascinating details about the history of Andermatt on a 'Myths & Legends' walking tour with local guide Banz Simmen
- Learning about the history of this remarkable region at a local museum
- Tasting wines in a bar dating back to 1620
- Exploring Lucerne, one of the world's prettiest cities
- Browsing Lucerne's Christmas market and sampling delicious local delicacies
- Travelling on one of the world's most beautiful train journeys
- Discovering Chur, Switzerland's oldest city, on a guided walk
- Staying in a 4* hotel with impressive views and exceptional facilities
What people say
"To me, this is the loveliest and most fascinating of regions of Switzerland."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany's national poet, on Andermatt.
How much is it?
Tire shredding on the Furka Pass…and an ejector seat!
Andermatt is at the heart of the Furka Pass, as well as the Oberalp and the Gotthard, offering views of glaciers, craggy mountaintops, and scenic forested areas. James Bond fans will recognise the spectacular scenery from the iconic chase scene where Sean Connery is winding up the Furka Pass in his dashing DB5l, in hot pursuit of Auric Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce Phantom lll.
For centuries, people from all over the world have come to the Ursen Valley, drawn by its unique natural beauty and stunning landscape and Andermatt is the jewel of the Canton - often referred to as the 'best-kept secret of the Swiss Alps'.
More than a pretty alpine town, Andermatt also has a rich and interesting history. It was the location of the Swiss Federal Army’s high command in WWII, chosen for its strategic location in the mountains and providing an ideal place to retreat into mountain bunkers in the event of German forces advancing.
In the Belle Époque, an era of peace and plenty between the wars, Andermatt was regarded as the peak of sophisticated tourism and a resort for bon vivants. Queen Victoria was a visitor, as were many writers and artists of the day, including JW Turner who sketched, and later painted, the Devils Bridge in the Schöllenenschlucht gorge.
A Deeper Dive
The Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen in Andermatt is styled as a contemporary Swiss chalet. Wake up to stunning snow-capped peaks then take in the scenery and breathe in the crisp, fresh air on the hotel’s terrace, freshly-brewed coffee in hand.
The spacious rooms are decorated in natural tones and fabrics and fitted with modern amenities including free Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service and LED TVs.
There is also on-site Spa & Wellness Centre, complete with fitness facilities, a sauna, steam room, and a pool with a spectacular view to pamper and restore body and soul.
Dine in the cosy and sophisticated restaurant, Spun (Spun means 'spoon' in Romansh, the language spoken predominantly in south-eastern Swiss cantons), which serves modern takes on regional specialties that fuse Romansh, Italian, and French cultures. The lounge bar, Bärbar, evokes the cosy intimacy of an Alpine lodge. Sample gourmet bites and sip Alpine-inspired cocktails created by the in-house mixologist using local berries and herbs.
Andermatt’s most famous son is Bernhard Russi, a goliath of the downhill and giant slalom and former Olympic ski champion, winning the gold medal in Sapporo in 1972 at the age of 22 and a silver four years later in Innsbruck.
Ahead of his Olympic and World Championship wins, Bernard appeared as a stuntman in the Bond movie 'On Her Majesty’s Secret Service' . In the alpine chase scene, James Bond quips of his stunt ‘he has a lot of guts’.
Russi was born in Andermatt’s railway station, where his father worked, and like many locals he took to skis at a very early age, making his professional debut at the age of 19 at giant slalom in Adelboden. Following his career as a professional skier, Bernard carved an enviable reputation for designing elite downhill courses, including those at the Winter Olympics in Aberville, Lillehammer and Nagano. Russi has served as chairman of the FIS Alpine Committee and as a FIS technical advisor for downhill course design. He remains a resident of Andermatt and is a passionate advocate of his home town: “In Andermatt, you’re not looking for caviar and Champagne, Andermatt is more sausage and bread—an easy-going, red-sock crowd… We call it ‘alpine chic.’”
Ski fans may like to try the Bernhard Russi Run which runs from the summit of the Gemsstock, with its panoramic view, steeply down to the cable car station at Gurschen. Russi describes the runs as “one of the best free-ride mountains you can imagine anywhere—not only in Switzerland but worldwide”
As was fashionable in his day, the English painter Joseph Turner visited Andermatt, sketching and making notes of the dramatic landscape for future works.
This painting, 'Devil's Bridge' (pencil, watercolour and gouache on white wove paper prepared with grey wash) depicts the view looking up the Schöllenen Gorge and the Reuss Valley, with the Reuss Falls beyond. Turner also developed this drawing in landscape format as a plate for his collection of prints 'Liber Studiorum'. Wine merchant John Allnutt is said to have commissioned the paintings 'The Pass of St. Gothard' and 'The Devil's Bridge, St. Gothard' from Turner’s drawings.
The original Devil's Bridge was destroyed during fighting between the French and the Russians in 1799, and when Turner saw it in 1802, it was newly rebuilt. In the commissioned painting for Allnutt, he included pack-mules and soldiers in white uniforms on the tracks on either side of the bridge which indicates Russian infantry, while in the drawing only a few figures appear and these have a hint of red, the French military colour.
This drawing was accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest in 1856 and is part of the Tate
CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported) D04626 Turner Bequest LXXV 34, Pencil, watercolour and gouache with scratching out on white wove paper prepared with grey wash from his St Gothard and Mont Blanc Sketchbook image, Tate, London
It is said that over each hill in the Ursen valley is a different dialect. This makes Andermatt unique, a blended culture with influences coming from neighbouring countries. You will be surprised at the number of languages spoken: the local dialect of Romansh, the language of south-eastern Swiss cantons, alongside French, German, Austrian and Italian.
Founded in 1178, Lucerne is one of the world's prettiest cities and boasts a wealth of sights and attractions. Our highlights are:
The world famous, medieval Chapel Bridge with it's unique painted ceiling, zig zagging across the river (read all about it on our blog
The Water Tower which stands 43 meters tall and is not a water tower at all. The Swiss name, Wasserturm, comes from its location in the river, right beside the Chapel Bridge. Over the years Wasserturm has been a prison, a torture chamber, a municipal archive and is now a local club. It isn’t possible to climb the tower, but there is a lovely souvenir shop inside.
Musegg Wall with its nine towers, forming a striking crown around the Old Town. Part of Lucerne's historic fortifications, which were begun in the 13th century, this 800-meter-long wall, dotted with towers, was erected in around 1400 as the town continued to expand beyond the narrow confines of the fortifications following the Battle of Sempach.
The Jesuit Church, inaugurated in 1677 and Switzerland's first major sacred building built in the baroque style. Standing next to the River Reuss, this magnificent building is a treat for the eyes - don't miss the high altar, organ and treasury.
Spreuer Bridge, Lucerne's second timber bridge, located slightly downstream of its slightly more famous sibling. Built in 1408, the southern half is perpendicular to the River Reuss, while the northern portion veers off at an angle. Its name comes from the word 'Spreu', meaning chaff, because the town's flour mills were permitted to dump their waste into the River Reuss from this bridge.
Lion Monument, a memorial to the some 1,000 Swiss Guards killed on 10 August 1792 when French revolutionaries stormed the residence defending King Louis XVI . Larger than life-size and carved from sandstone, the lion stands beneath a rock face under the Wesemlin and, according to the American writer Mark Twain, is "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world."
KKL culture and convention centre, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and located right on the shore of the beautiful Lake Lucerne, this is a stunning example of the city's contemporary face.
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