Summer in Switzerland: Mürren and Lugano

by Virginia Coyne

The Alps aren’t only for winter fun. 

Here, our advice on taking in the wonders of Switzerland while the weather is still warm.


The Schilthorn can be reached via cablecar from Mürren. (Courtesy photo)

Visiting Mürren in the Jungfrau region is like stepping into a snow-topped alpine dream. In winter, this tiny village in the Bernese Alps is a popular skiing destination, with rustic chalets dotting the slopes. In summer, the peaks remain white, but visitors trade their skis for hiking boots and pass the time walking up wildflower-covered hills (sharing the trails with massive cows), parasailing over the valleys or sitting in the Biergarten in nearby Gimmelwald, cold lager in hand.

Views of the peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau as seen from the spa at the Hotel Eiger. (Courtesy photo)

Where to Stay: Book a room at the Hotel Eiger, a historic inn across from the train station that has been run by the same family since 1892. The town can’t be reached by automobile, so guests must first take a cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp, and from there travel via narrow gauge railroad to Mürren. (Don’t worry about hauling your luggage up the mountain. Leave it with the porters when you board the cable car and it will travel in a pallet underneath you.)

The hotel has been extensively renovated and includes a spa, two restaurants and suites with balconies where one can step outside as the sun rises to gaze upon the majestic triple peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

What to Do: Mürren is at the foot of the Schilthorn, which offers multiple hiking trails for every fitness level, including a grueling five-hour trek to Piz Gloria, a rotating restaurant on the summit that rewards mountaineers (as well as those who take the cable car up) with stunning 360-degree views. The peak is also home to the Bond World 007 museum, showcasing artifacts from the 1963 movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” famously filmed on the mountain.


Ever corner of the modern luxury suites at The View Lugano offers breatthaking lake and mountain views. (Courtesy photo)

The Italian-speaking town of Lugano, which borders Northern Italy and is just a short drive from Lake Como, is a treat for the senses. Lakeside restaurants, motorino-filled streets, high-end retailers, historic churches and a striking contemporary art museum give this municipality an undeniably cosmopolitan vibe.

Where to Stay: Check into The View Lugano, a luxurious hilltop hotel where every room (and every spot in the room, including the shower) offer panoramic views of Lake Lugano below. The interiors are modeled after yachts and heavily feature teak and chrome. The trade-off is that the city center is more than two miles downhill. As a consolation prize, guests are offered complimentary use of Smart cars and electric bicycles to ride into town.

What to do: Aside from hiking and lake activities, a number of free street fairs in summer, including the quirky Buskers Festival, which is equal parts concert, freak show and art exhibition, will make you fall in love with the city even more.


Swiss Rail’s glass-topped Glacier Express offers unparalleled views of the countryside. (Courtesy photo)

Traveling by Swiss Rail is the easiest and most scenic way to get around. Three-, four-, eight- and 15-day passes (we recommend paying extra for first class) can be purchased online and printed at home so there’s never a need to wait at a ticket booth. Swiss Rail Passes include unlimited rides on most trains (which run with Swiss precision), buses and boats as well as free admission to nearly 500 museums across the country. Be sure to take a least one trip on a glass-enclosed panoramic train like the Glacier Express (pictured). Dubbed “the slowest express train in the world,” it takes you from Zermatt to St. Moritz in eight beautiful hours.

This story appears in the Summer 2018 issue of Washington Life Magazine.

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