Attracting Hollywood stars and royalty from around the world, the quaint farming village of Gstaad has grown to become one of the world’s most elite resorts. Almost all the buildings are Swiss-German style chalets with clusters of farmhouses dotted around the wide valet. The Centrepiece of the village is the iconic Gstaad Palace, the preferred hotel of all the glitterati that have set foot in this beautiful village. Built in 1913, it helped establish Gstaad as one of the places to be among Europe’s high-fliers, and they still come today. Walking down the street, people in ski gear are noticeably absent, though designer boutiques and grocery stores advertising Perigord Truffles and Krug Champagne are the norm. Divided into 6 sectors with over 250km of terrain to explore, the skiing here is varied and refreshingly uncrowded.
Gstaad is just a 1 hr 20 min drive from Bern airport, and just under 3 hours from Geneva. The train network in Switzerland is one of the best and will have you in Gstaad in just a few hours from every corner of the country. The world famous Montreux Oberland Bernois train will take you from Montreux to Gstaad in just 1 hr 20 mins.
Though it is one of the largest ski resorts in Switzerland, for most who come here, skiing in a past-time rather than the main attraction. In fact, one-third of Gstaad’s visitors don’t even come here to ski, and with all the luxury amenities on offer it’s not hard to see why. Because of this, the slopes are often uncrowded, and it is not unusual to have some runs to yourself. Best suited to beginners and intermediates, experienced skiers will need to head further away from the main village to find steep terrain. One particular highlight is the black ‘Tiger’ run on Wasserngrat. The glacier has some of the best views of the resort – including the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, and provides the best snow-sure slopes, steep runs and off-piste. Snow boarders are also well catered for with four terrain parks to choose from. There is also night skiing on Wispile and Rinderberg.
The 300km of hiking trails winding through the mountains of Gstaad are some of the most beautiful, varied terrain in Switzerland. They also have specialist ‘top hiking trails’ which take you as high into the mountains as you can go without a guide and equipment. If you want to take it a bit further, there are plenty of challenging mountaineering and rock-climbing routes to take advantage of. Mountain biking is a popular activity and if you are looking for something a little more relaxed, there is a world class golf course which is a must-do on any golf-lovers list.
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