Lugano is a beautiful city but it's hard to do it justice if you're not on a banker's salary.
One surprisingly cheap option is to hire one of the boats on the waterfront and explore the lake. The views are wonderful and you can make it over to restaurants on the other side.
Just walk along the main waterfront, the hire places are easy to spot.
Zermatt is the most special place in the Alps. The colours in the autumn are fabulous, the sun and blue sky in summer make a perfect holiday. With the Matterhorn dominating the skyline it is the most perfect place for walking.
Alpine Walks Zermatt do custom holidays for groups as small as four people. Either stay in a luxury hotel with a spa (as we did) or they will lead walks from mountain hut to mountain hut. Perfect for a family or a couple of couples.
Fighting cows, stunning views, and huge wedges of homemade cake make this homely alp herdsman's dairy farm turned walkers refuge unmissable. Nestling 2000m up on summer alpine pastures above the Rhone on the Tour de Mont Blanc, Bovine route, the refuge offers great meals, giant bowls of hot chocolate or coffee, and those cakes. You can even stay in the simple dortoir accomodation if the walk up was all too much. Swiss Valais fighting cows are the serious celebities here with pride of place for the Reine des Reines champion adorned with a huge traditional cow bell and giant floral headress. The heats of this sumo style pushing contest are on the alps, with the final down in Martigny in the valley. Photos of past champions adorn the farmhouse kitchen, and the young pretenders are in the fields.
Alpage de Bovine, on the Tour de Mont Blanc Bovine route between Champex and Col de Forclaz. Good public transport to either end, then a couple of hours walk.
ALPAGE DE BOVINE
Buvette et petite restauration + dortoir, ouvert de mai à octobre. Renseignements Gérard Rouiller
La Fontaine CH 1921 MARTIGNY-COMBE
Tél mobile de mi-mai à mi-septembre : 079/894.31.21
E-mail : email@example.com
Google map: tinyurl.com/ycuhcaw
There are so many good reasons to visit this alpine restaurant it's hard to choose one for the top of the list. For me it was the summer journey from Interlaken, through the 'valley of seven waterfalls' and up the 10,000 foot mountain on a series of trains, funiculars and cable cars, each with a view wider and brighter than the last. There are plenty of places to get off and use your legs, but I enoyed the ride so much that my walking boots never hit the path.
The Piz Gloria restaurant sits at the top, revolving gently through 360 degrees, so your mouthfuls of rosti, buttery pastries and coffee are interrupted by gasps and gulps as the gleaming peaks of two hundred mountains are rolled out before you.
If you're there early enough, you can even have a 007 buffet breakfast - this was the baddie's lair in the film 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'.
Hard to reach but this will be the most earned drink you will find. The Refuge L'Espace is atop the glacier of Les Diablerets, around 3000m. Clad in sheet aluminium to stormproof it, it is equipped with wood burner, well stocked bar, food such as Baked Thom cheese with basil leaves and truffle oil, and barbecues built into tables over which to braise your plates of raw goat and vegetables. Leftovers are fed to a resident Lammergeir - its enormous - a 3m wingspan cruising low over the terrace is truly spectacular. Also known to fly around here, though a little smaller, are humans in wingsuits. Then ski down powder fields to the Combe d'Audon for over a kilometre of vertical drop red run to make any thighs burn. Oh, and it's open already for the winter season!
Between Aigle and Gstaad. Then up the cablecars from Pillon.
The last stop on the way back from the Klein Matterhorn, and a great place to be after a hard day on the slopes. There's always a fantastic atmosphere, with live music, and a lively crowd, and a great mix of ages and nationalities. Skiing in is relatively easy, but skiing out again may prove more tricky, especially if you've sampled one of their skis laden with toffee vodka shots!
On Run 50 from Klein Matterhorn
tel. 027 966 35 10
Take the Gornegrat ski train up fom Zermatt (sit on the right for the best views on the way up) and head over to the right towards the village of Findeln. The village is made up of traditionally built huts and has several small restaurants, only accessible on foot or skis which are great for a lunchtime ski bar stop. My favourite is El Paradies which serves excellent, reasonably priced (cheaper than in town) food and drink and has I think the best view of the Matterhorn in the whole of the Zermatt area.
Findeln village, accessible by ski lifts form Zermatt (can get there on foot) The village and restaurant are signposted on the piste.
Google map: tinyurl.com/yjcbk6v
Great little hotel in the middle of the Old City. Not at all fancy, but clean, comfortable, and friendly. Rate was US$125.00 per night - outstanding for Switzerland. Has a small bar, but no restaurant. It does offer a breakfast buffet, but at US$18 per person a little expensive. We went to a little bakery just three doors down, where we had great coffee and pastries.
My diary says it was “a really big one”, which is understandable as the Schilthorn mountain in Switzerland is a whopping 2970 meters. I was actually referring to the last of a series of cable car rides to the peak, so high I eventually just closed my eyes. Apparently on arrival there is a spectacular 360˚ view over glaciers, lakes, and 200 minor mountains including the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. All I saw was fog, as I froze on the viewing platform - and this was August. Warmth returned while revolving slowly in the Piz Gloria restaurant, better known as villain Blofeld’s hideout in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with George Lazenby as 007.
Location scouts found the place half built, and filming was permitted on the condition the restaurant was completed afterwards - financed by the film company. Downstairs, a room shows film clips of dashing ski chases on a loop. If you must, you can have a James Bond buffet and a martini – shaken, not stirred. Naturally.
Piz Gloria Restaurant
A traditional wooden chalet style hostel only 10 minutes walk from the train station, with a south facing terrace, and views over the mountains.
Many rooms have en suite toilet and showers and even double beds, but much cheaper that a hotel, and no age barriers. The common room has an open fireplace and wood provided so that guests can make up a fire for themselves in the evening. Large meals are provided by friendly staff, who are also happy to advise on local outings; or you can self-cater. It is a minutes' walk from the bus stop for Bussalp. Bussalp is a sunny south facing mountain where you can hire a sledge and spend the day sliding all the way back down the mountain on special paths to the bus stop and hostel. (The hostel also hires out sledges.) Sledging is an easier and cheaper way of having fun and admiring the scenery than skiing.
The best way to spend a hot day in Zurich is lake or river swimming. The state website lists the daily water temperatures and facilities available at each Seebad or Flussbad, and by night many turn into relaxed bars.
A glorious spa hotel in the heart of the Swiss Alps. It was almost empty when we were there (early June), meaning we had the entire spa, featuring infinity pool falling away into a valley panorama with snow-capped mountains in the distance, all to ourselves.
We had booked a room without a view, but were upgraded on arrival, and thank goodness we were- the view was breathtaking. Considering it's unlikely to be fully booked in the summer, I would recommend doing the same, and paying for an upgrade if it's not provided.
Not exorbitantly priced- our bill came to just over £200 including decent supper and bar tab.
One other tip- while the map makes it look like the journey from Lake Geneva to the hotel is a quick jaunt, it is actually straight up and down some fairly perilous mountains- the motorway via Bern is far quicker!
When you land at Geneva airport, just before you leave the baggage reclaim area, there is a machine by the door that gives you free travel in Geneva for 90 minutes anywhere in the city.
You have to get it BEFORE you leave baggage reclaim though. Once out the door, turn left in arrivals lounge and go all the way to the end into the Station. Walk in a little way and turn 180 degrees and go up the stairs behind you and come out right at the bus stop and get the number 10 which takes you to Gare Cornavin (the main station in Geneva).
Geneva Airport, in the Baggage Reclaim area just before the doors to leave.
Manor is a huge department store near Cornavin. It has a wonderful food department - akin to M&S or higher quality. The entire floor is taken up with deli counters and wonderful fresh food.
The bakery section is particularly good and you can also watch them make enormous ciabatta sandwiches (1m x 2m) that they then cut up, or roll out croissants to bake on the premises.
If you also go upstairs there is a wonderful cafe/restaurant in a self-service canteen style which is a great place to have breakfast (try the Birchermeusli), lunch (the fried fish is yummy) or tea (coffee and cakes...mmmm). The food is all prepared in front of you, and often cooked for you, but the price is very reasonable, and if you are lucky you can get a seat with a great view across the rooftops to the Saleve.
And then you can do shopping on three more floors filled with everything from beauty products and clothes to electrical items.
Rue de Chantepoulet
Sip your aperitifs while dangling your feet in the water... and then enjoy your curry supper (or a pizza or anything else that grabs your fancy) while watching the boats slip by...
Open every day from lunchtime onwards. And yes, the ice creams here too are very special. It was banana and lemon for me last night.
Right next to the ''Small Globe'', the wooden theatre in Yverdon, on the lakeside where the canal joins the lake.
This is an open air cafe near the cathedral with amazing salads and the best ice creams. It's difficult to know which is my favourite flavour; curry, vanilla or ginger...
This cafe is owned by a woman and run by women but welcomes all and sundry.
You can read the newspapers for free too.
Metro stop Pont Bessieres and then cross the bridge, Le Petit Bar is on your right.
Rue du Pont Bessieres, number 1.
Open every day
The terraced vineyards of Lavaux, overlooking Lake Geneva, were made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. You'll see why as you ride from Lutry up the Route de la Petite Corniche, the Cote aux Vignes and then the Route de la Corniche before a fabulous descent down to Vevey. Then home, along the lakeshore.
As a hardcore roadie, it was my lunchtime training ride while working in Lausanne. But every variation is possible. You can even take the train up to Chexbres from Montreux and ride the route in reverse, downhill all the way. Stunning vineards, lakes, villages and mountains. You'll taste the effort everytime you drink the local white (with perch from the lake or fondue from nearby Gruyere) and it will have been worth it.
A beautiful vinyard in beautiful surroundings, we just drove up and sampled the local wine. Not bad at all. Stay in Vaduz at the friendly Landhaus Prasch (it has a pool) and enjoy the beautiful capital of Vaduz too.
Reservation is possible either in writing to Schächle's Weinstube, Churer Strasse 263, FL-9485 Nendeln, or by phone 075/373 17 77, fax 075/377 17 78
Zollstrasse 16, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Phone: +423 (0) 752 324 663
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