The Alps are often awash with winter-sport enthusiasts, but this spectacular region has much more to offer than ski and snow.
While some are enticed to the Alps by the prospect of captivating viewpoints and challenging hiking trails, others are drawn to the luxurious resorts that bespeckle the region.
Whatever type of escape you’re after, you can expect an unforgettable stay. We look at what makes the Alps one of the most wonderful regions in the world.
One of the things that makes the Alps region so spectacular is the fact that it spans eight distinct countries. The 750-mile-long mountain range traverses Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland. This means that a trip to the Alps can take many different forms…
France is the most popular region, followed closely by Switzerland and Italy. Here, you can find some of the most ideal skiing conditions and best-rated resorts in the Alps.
From breathtaking panoramas and legendary mountain ranges to sloping valleys and low-lying meadows covered in cotton grass, the defining features of Alpine landscapes are a major allure for travellers.
As one of the world’s highest and largest mountain ranges, the Alps is home to a number of awe-inspiring mountains. People travel far and wide to catch a glimpse of Mont Blanc. Straddling France, Italy, and Switzerland, Mont Blanc is one of the world’s most prominent mountains and the highest summit in the Alps.
Matterhorn is another one of the Alps’ most famous summits, situated on the border between Italy and Switzerland. Look out for its recognisable, almost-perfect pyramid peak (which was the inspiration for the Toblerone chocolate bar).
The Alps region has a unique climate owing to its high altitude. In fact, the Alpine biome is one of the coldest biomes in the world.
Higher areas are naturally subject to lower temperatures and experience more snowfall.
The southern region of the Alps is warmed by Mediterranean air, also known as the Foehn wind, which produces mild winters and hot summers. This combination of warm weather and high levels of snowfall is also ideal for skiing and other winter sports activities.
When planning your trip to the Alps, you won’t be short of places to stay. In fact, narrowing down your search can be difficult, given the number of top-rated resorts across the region.
France, Italy, and Switzerland tend to be the most popular, with Les 3 Vallées leading the way. Whichever region you land upon, you can expect cosy chalets and five-star hotels, gourmet cuisine, exceptional entertainment, and humming apres-ski spots.
Those looking for a quieter vacation may choose to stay in a traditional alpine village. Alpine villages are rich in history and culture and are ideal for nature lovers. If taking to the slopes doesn’t appeal to you, or lively bars aren’t your scene, you might prefer to unwind in one of the region’s more remote locations.
Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland is regarded as one of the most beautiful alpine villages in the world. Here, you can walk through sweeping valleys surrounded by rocky cliffs to the rumbling sound of nearby glacial waterfalls. (Pontresina is also one of the Swiss Alps’ best-kept secrets. We’ll say no more.)
It comes as no surprise that the Alps are known for hearty dishes which warm you from the inside out. The isolated, rural nature of the region is very much reflected in its cuisine, which relies on simple, “of-the-land” ingredients like dairy, dried meat, potato, bread and pasta.
Think mountain cheeses, fondue or “raclette”, rosti, vegetable stews and smoked Diots (sausages). Farçon, a much-loved, bacon-wrapped potato cake, is also a very popular order.
And after you’ve sampled the best of Alpine cuisine, you can wash it down with a rich and fruity regional beverage—schnapps, glühwein, or punch are a few to try.
Now you know what the Alps has to offer, I’m sure you’ll be keen to get a trip booked in. You may even fall in love with the region (like we did) and scope out a cosy chalet of your own.