Culture and adventure in the mountains
Andermatt is best known for its skiing. And the expansive, modern ski area certainly is a popular destination for winter sports in Switzerland. But the mountain village at the foot of the Saint-Gotthard Massif has undergone a striking transformation in recent years and has truly become a year-round destination. Join us on the second leg of our trip through southern Switzerland. We’ll show you some of the fun and fascinating things happening in and around Andermatt.
Full-steam ahead on the Furka
When summer finally reaches the high mountains in June and the flowers start to bloom on the lush Alpine meadows, the volunteers who operate the Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway begin heating up the boiler. As the steam locomotive, which is over 100 years old, hisses and puffs its way up the Furka Pass, passengers in the lovingly restored historic train cars can enjoy breathtaking views of the Alpine landscape. Starting from the Realp station, the route is an adventurous one, traversing precipitously steep terrain, crossing and picturesque stone bridges and viaducts, and winding its way through glistening tunnels at lofty heights. But don’t get scared if you hear a loud noise: At the steepest points, the driver will let the locomotive’s cog wheel lock into the rack rail, resulting in a metallic clang. The train makes a stop at the Furka station, located 2,163 meters above sea level. Here you can relax and take in the magnificent mountain views over a glass of wine at the charming restaurant next to the station. If you’d like to extend this nostalgic trip, you can continue on to Gletsch all the way the final station at Oberwald. The southern section of the route also offers plenty to see.
A trip to the source of the Rhine
In the hot summer months, the comfortable temperatures in the high mountains make them the perfect hiking destination. When your route takes you past a mountain stream or a lake, the cool, swirling waters are a great spot to cool off. If you’re looking for this kind of hike, look no further than the trail from Oberalp Pass to the Lake Toma, the source of the Vorderrhein. The hike starts off on a well-marked trail that takes you through Alpine meadows dotted with colorful flora. With a bit of luck, you might even spot the occasional marmot enjoying the warm sunshine. The towering rock formations change continuously as you gain elevation. You will have to cross some scree at a few points in the trail, but nothing too challenging. The reward at the end of the climb is truly magnificent: Lake Toma, the source of the Rhine. Now it’s time to slip off your hiking boots and dip your feet into the cool, clear water – or jump in, if you’re brave enough. The water is a bit too cold for us. After a refreshing break, the trail takes you back down into the valley along the Rhine to our next destination: the Maighel Hut.
An SAC hut for mountaineers of all ages
Is there anything better than sitting in the sun on a terrace, putting your feet up and breathing in the crisp mountain air after a long day in the Alps? The Maighel Hut is a popular place for hikers, mountain bikers and rock climbers to do just that. The Maighel Hut, or Camona da Maighles as the locals call it, is a simple but cozy mountain hut run by the young caretakers Nora and Mauro. The venerable stone chalet is proudly perched on a steep slope and offers hobby mountaineers spectacular views of the sweeping high-mountain valley. It is also a popular destination for families with children. While the parents relax, little ones can entertain themselves with a round of giant Jenga or a wobbly walk along a slackline. With all these activities, visitors can really work up an appetite! But not to worry – the hut’s kitchen serves up hearty dishes that are perfect for a day in the mountains and provide visitors with the fuel they need to lace up their hiking boots and set off on the trail.
A unique musical experience
Andermatt Concert Hall opened in 2019 and is a treat for the senses. The building is spectacular both inside and out. Its sculptural design allows it to fit seamlessly into its Alpine surroundings. And inside the hall, which seats around 650, music lovers can enjoy a truly unique concert experience. The hall is designed so that visitors sit very close to the musicians, creating an intimate atmosphere for both the audience and the artists. The opening concert featured the renowned Berlin Philharmonic, who appreciated the warmth and the acoustics of the hall. High praise, indeed! The fantastic atmosphere also inspired star conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim to reach new artistic heights at a recent piano performance, thrilling his audience in Andermatt. Moreover, once a month the concert hall provides a platform for young, up-and-coming artists to perform. Big-name acts of all musical genres are slated to perform here. At least three music festivals are scheduled for this year alone, all of which promise to engage all the senses.
Paradise for goats and nature lovers
The young Näf family operates their farm, "Geissenparadies" in Gwüest, in the heart of the Göscheneralp Valley. In the summer months, around 200 goats graze on the lush grasses of the Alpine meadows – and keep Christian and Lydia Näf on their toes. The two are always happy to take visitors on a tour of the farm and are excited to talk about what it’s like to live in the mountains, far away from the hectic pace of the big city. Gwüest is a particularly great destination for families. Children not only learn a lot about nature from hearing the Näfs’ stories and anecdotes, but they can also watch how the feisty goats gracefully balance on the craggy slopes or but against one another while grazing. Younger visitors are also welcome to pet and feed the animals. The baby goats just love to nibble on clover straight out of your hands. But the farm also offers plenty for visitors to eat as well: guests can enjoy a selection of flavourful cheeses from the farm and a delicious charcuterie plate on a bench in front of the farmhouse under sunny skies.
Traditional culinary delights
Andermatt is a paradise for foodies. From fresh oysters to regional Ziger cheese: it promises something for everyone. When staying in the mountains, we prefer something a bit heartier. That is why we want to introduce you to two restaurants that are as popular with the locals as they are with visitors.
Restaurant Ochsen is a must for cheese lovers. The traditional restaurant offers delicious fondue creations that are sure to warm your heart and your belly. José, the owner of the restaurant, is a friendly and welcoming host who makes sure that every guest feels right at home. Born in Portugal, José has lived in Andermatt for more than 40 years and serves up traditional fondue like a true Swiss native. His name may not be typical of Andermatt, but his fondue is the most delicious in the entire village! Some would even say it’s the best fondue in all of Switzerland. So stick a piece of bread on your fork, dip it in the fondue pot and lose yourself in the relaxed atmosphere of Restaurant Ochsen.
Restaurant Adler is an Andermatt institution. The rustic restaurant is currently owned by Thomas Regli, who is affectionately nicknamed “Jumbo” by locals, but it was previously run by his mother and grandmother, who turned it into a village icon. He has handed the reins over to the Wengers. The couple is also well-known in the village and is currently breathing new life into the storied locale. Its charm becomes immediately apparent as soon as you set foot in the restaurant. The interior transports you back in time to an era when skis were much taller than the wearer and snowshoes resembled tennis rackets. Despite this fact – or perhaps because of it – the atmosphere is particularly cozy and inviting. The perfect place to enjoy a coffee with schnapps or to play a round of Jass.