Switzerland is largely viewed as a winter destination, with the crisp cold climate perfect for skiing and an après-ski hot chocolate made with silky melt-in-the-mouth chocolate. Or even a cheeky Glühwein. Now this isn’t a bad thing for skiing fanatics or those with a sweet tooth but it’s worth holidaying in (what I like to call) Swissieland in the summer as well.
I recently visited a traditional little town in Switzerland not too far from Zurich, on a family trip. I went with rather low expectations, as the weather was terrible last year. I mean I’m talking thunderstorms every day. But this year the scorching sun paid us a daily visit leading to a bit of sunburn (oops) and plenty of thirst for ice cold drinks.
I began the holiday with a fairly narrow outlook that there was nothing to do in Switzerland during those long summer holidays. Those who know me know that I hate being wrong but I have to admit that there are countless activities available to adventurers and culture-seekers alike. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Tobogganing, essentially the summer equivalent of sledging, takes you back to your childhood and is brilliant for families
- Cycling and scootering alongside the scenic rivers and forests is a must-do
- For the water-babies amongst you, renting canoes or pedaloes is perfect for taking in the spectacular views
- I also noticed loads of paragliders while I was on holiday though that’s more suited to the adrenaline-junkies
Granted I’m not that sporty but even I enjoy a summer hike. What’s not to love about the smell of fresh grass (sorry hay fever sufferers) and the views, which are as picture-perfect as a studio backdrop. It gets even better when it’s your dog that takes you for a walk, fascinated by the other four-legged creatures and their farm noises; the goats in particular caught my dog’s attention.
You get to experience the picturesque surroundings even more while dining at the family-run traditional chalet, otherwise known as a Gasthaus, at the end of the tough hike. Boy do you appreciate the hearty menu after what feels like the climb of the century. Swiss cuisine might be simple and carby but what’s better to satisfy cravings after a spurt of exercise.
While the food is on the salty side, it’s pretty crucial given that you sweat quite a bit while out and about in the 30 degree Celsius heat. (Sorry to mention the word sweat in a food blog. Won’t happen again)
I always opt for the national dish Rösti, a potato cake made from grated spuds, which are then fried or roasted in the oven. You could compare them to latkes or even the conventionally British hash browns. They even feature in Marks and Spencer, though you need to visit Switzerland for the real deal. The dish is great plain and simple but it can be topped with anything the customer desires; I’ve seen cheese, bacon and even a fried egg as potential garnishes. Others have told me that they have had the odd combination of Rösti with apple sauce.
Unfortunately, Switzerland isn’t the cheapest of countries when it comes to eating out but the produce in the supermarkets is so fresh that cooking at home is just as good.
So next time you’re planning a summer holiday, don’t rule out Swissieland. And if I haven’t convinced you enough, remember that they created Lindt chocolate. I mean what more could you want.