Six Things to Do in Switzerland

by Natasha Wolff | December 28, 2015 1:50 pm

1. Sleep in an Igloo 
Nearly six thousand feet up Engelberg’s Mt. Titlis stands Iglu-Dorf, a snow hotel erected every winter that sleeps 38 guests and boasts a top-shelf bar and outdoor Jacuzzi. We recommend the “Romantic Plus” suite, which includes a private toilet, fondue dinner and guided snowshoe hike. Worried about the cold? The fur-lined couples sleeping bag is guaranteed to keep you warm down to negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you still need to get your blood pumping, check out snowXpark next door, where you can race electric snowmobiles at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. What’s the Swiss-German word for vroom vroom?[1]

2. Learn How to Make Cheese Alongside Monks  
Within the hallowed halls of the Monastery Engelberg, a master of the dairy arts teaches visitors about curds and whey. (Fun fact: The holes in Swiss cheese are the result of gas.) The factory imports milk from something like 15 area farms. “The average Swiss citizen eats 25 pounds of chocolate every year,” the instructor informs us, “and 50 pounds of cheese.” If you need a nap after lunch, the Monks also offer surprisingly comfortable (and quiet) guest house accommodations. [2]

3. Party like It’s Swiss Mardi Gras 
According to locals there are exactly five seasons in Lucerne: winter, spring, summer, fall and Carnival. Residents and tourists alike descend on Lake Lucerne at 5 a.m. for the start of February’s annual harvest festival, and the party begins with a bang. Fireworks light up the morning sky, streets become flooded with marching bands (called Guggenmusigen) and there are revelers outfitted in the kind of elaborate zombie costumes you might find on The Walking Dead. Make like a Swiss boss and buy a sausage from a street vendor. And when the sun rises head to the Hotel Schweizerhof to warm up with some mulled wine. If you squint you’ll feel like you’re in New Orleans—except with an eco-friendly Alpine twist. Look closely at the confetti raining down from the sky. It’s made from shredded copies of last year’s telephone books.[3]

4. Tour the Alps by Train 
The best way to see the Swiss Alps may be riding on a first-class train car[4] with a glass of wine in hand. The Glacier Express travels from Zermatt to St. Moritz in seven hours. Book the Panorama Car (basically a high-end fish bowl on wheels) for the best views. Then make your way to the vintage dining car for a three-course meal. Bonus tip: Swiss Rail recently introduced its “Fly Rail Baggage” service. For $23 each way, you can check your skis at the airport in the States and pick them up at the train station in St. Moritz. Merci![5]

5. Watch a Skeleton Race at a Private Club
The St. Moritz Tobogganing Club was founded in 1887, and everyone from President John F. Kennedy to Gianni Agnelli of Fiat has zipped headfirst down this frozen skeleton course. Rupert Wieloch, secretary of the SMTC, compares St. Moritz’s harrowing toboggan course to a woman. “I don’t want to sound sexist,” he says, “but if you treat her with a lack of respect, the Cresta Run will hurt you.” Luckily, you can sip a drink[6] and watch the race alongside genial Cresta Club members, who are easy to spot thanks to their red-and-yellow scarves. The fun continues directly after at the Kulm Hotel’s Altitude Bar, where the club members are known to hang from the ceiling and tear curtains from the windows.[7]

6. Ride a Bobsled 
If you’ve ever watched a bobsled race during the Olympics—or caught Cool Runnings on Netflix—and thought that it looked like fun, you’re in luck: The Olympia Bob Run in St. Moritz-Celerina offers what they call a “taxi ride.” Cram yourself between the handsome (and trained) pilot and the brakeman and hold on tight as you race down the 5,650-foot ice track at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour. That feeling in your stomach? That’s four Gs of centrifugal force, baby. And worth every Swiss franc.[8]

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  4. first-class train car:
  6. sip a drink:

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