Whether it’s north, south, east or west – we’re revealing our secret tips for staggeringly beautiful and absolutely exhilarating early summer adventures. Where do you fancy going?
Head down south to Cardada.
Locarno’s very own Cardada mountain towers high above the town. The route to the top takes you past a few noteworthy sights, including the historic funicular from Locarno to the famous pilgrimage church of Madonna del Sasso, where you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view over the town and Lake Maggiore.
We’re heading further up, however, taking the cable car featuring cabins designed by star architect Mario Botta to the top of Cardada. At 1,349 metres above sea level, the mountain station up here also has a few extra treats in store: an incredible but partially hidden viewing platform (not for the faint-hearted), a large playground for families (we didn’t try it out) and a hilarious barefoot path (which we tried out with glee).
For those with higher aspirations, we recommend climbing up to Cimetta (also accessible by chairlift). The 1.5-hour hike really pays off with a 360° panorama which, if the weather obliges, offers a view over two extremes of our home country: the lowest point in Switzerland in the Maggia delta between Ascona and Locarno and the highest point, the Monte Rosa peak in the eponymous massif to the west. To the RailAway combined offer.
Head west to Glacier 3000 – Peak Walk by Tissot.
It seems as though Mario Botta has had a hand in every daring ropeway project – the cable car from Col du Pillon to the Scex Rouge mountain station at 2,971 metres above sea level was also designed by him. If you don’t have a head for heights, I recommend you sit in the middle of the gondola; the chasm below is frighteningly deep.
Designed by Mario Botta, the mountain station is very much in keeping with his trademark style: unusual, futuristic, cool materials and strong geometric shapes. But it’s well worth a visit even if you’re not a Botta fan. The mountain restaurant has plenty of small snacks and local specialities to try.
It wasn’t Botta that drew me here either; I’ve come to see the world’s first suspension bridge to connect two mountain peaks. The 107-metre-long and 80-centimetre-wide “Peak Walk” links the “View Point” to the Scex Rouge peak. I feel a little queasy but brave the swaying suspension bridge nonetheless. My courage is rewarded with a breathtaking view. Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau: all in all, you can see 24 4,000-metre peaks from up here. No other summit offers a more spectacular view. To the RailAway combined offer.
Head north-east to Mainau, the island of flowers
Of course, there are plenty of less adventurous options for outings too, including a boat trip on Lake Constance and a visit to the Mainau flower island – palace grounds and botanical gardens rolled into one.
In fact, in just under 40 minutes, the boat from Konstanz transports you into a blossoming wonderland with something to tempt absolutely anyone. Amateur botanists can immerse themselves in the various flowering periods of plants from all over the world. Sun-seekers can soak up the sun on the Mediterranean terraces. Children can enjoy some refreshing fun at the Mainau Kinderland adventure playground, where they have to try and navigate from one bank to another without getting their feet wet. The Mainau farm, home to old breeds of domestic animals, is also a big hit, where young and old alike can meet miniature ponies, dwarf donkeys, miniature cattle, hens and rabbits up close.
Head to central Switzerland for Pilatus.
It’s only a short hop to the top of Pilatus from Lucerne. Once upon a time, the magnificent mountain at 2,128 metres above sea level was the bleak seat of treacherous storms and waterfalls that gushed down into the town rather than the majestic local mountain enjoyed by the people of Lucerne today. Given this history, the mountain is shrouded in numerous tales of dragons, witches and wizards, giving rise to the “Dragon Ride” cableway, which takes you from Fräkmüntegg to the peak with breathtaking views in every direction.
Speaking of Fräkmüntegg: there may not be any dragons there today but it does boast the biggest rope park in central Switzerland for those who dare to conquer. Those looking for a little more relaxation can enjoy the view from the fully glazed panorama gallery and sample some regional delicacies in the Pilatus Kulm restaurant.
Whatever your preference, you absolutely cannot miss out on the legendary panorama! To the RailAway combined offer.