Posted on 09 November 2023
Ah, Gstaad in Switzerland! Nestled in the Swiss Alps, this enchanting village promotes blended luxury, tranquillity, spectacular views, and natural beauty. Gstaad is more than just a destination; it’s a timeless escape where the pristine alpine landscapes harmonise with sophisticated charm of upscale amenities.
Julie Andrews, who owned a chalet in Gstaad, said, “Gstaad is the last paradise in a crazy world” and many people agree with this statement. Gstaad, often called the “playground of the elite,” sits in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, and surrounded by towering peaks and lush meadows, this alpine paradise has captured the hearts of home hunters for decades.
Exploring Gstaad in Switzerland
One cannot talk about Gstaad without marvelling at the breathtaking natural beauty. Gstaad village, at an elevation of 1,050 meters (3,445 feet) above sea level, offers excellent views of surrounding mountains, including the iconic Matterhorn and Eiger peaks. The crisp mountain air, pristine snow-covered landscapes in winter, and vibrant alpine meadows in summer make Gstaad a year-round destination for nature enthusiasts.
Gstaad transforms with the seasons, each offering a unique charm. In the winter months, the town centre becomes a winter wonderland. The nearby ski resorts offer slopes for all skill levels. The après-ski scene is equally impressive, with cosy chalets and stylish bars providing the perfect setting to unwind.
In summer, Gstaad blooms into a lush green paradise. Hiking and mountain biking trails crisscross the region, inviting adventurers to explore the alpine wilderness. Cowbells echo through the valleys as traditional Swiss chalets dot the landscape, and the annual Swiss Open tournament on mountain courts adds glamour to summer, attracting tennis enthusiasts and celebrities alike.
Connection to Fame
Gstaad has long attracted the international elite, including celebrities, royalty, and prominent figures from various fields. While the list of famous visitors is extensive and constantly evolving, as well as Elton John and Anne Hathaway, other celebrities include Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, Brigitte Bardot, Roger Moore, Sophia Loren, David Niven, Madonna, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Roman Polanski, and Michael Jackson.
A significant portion of “The Return of the Pink Panther” was also filmed in Gstaad. The film, released in 1975, features the picturesque Swiss Alps as a backdrop for many scenes. Gstaad’s charming landscapes, with snow-capped mountains and traditional chalets, provided an ideal setting for the comedic escapades of Inspector Jacques Clouseau, portrayed by Peter Sellers. The movie showcases Gstaad’s timeless beauty, and Alpine scenery is integral to the film’s atmosphere. The combined idyllic Swiss village and humorous antics of Inspector Clouseau created memorable cinematic experiences.
Luxurious Retreats of Switzerland
Gstaad Village boasts an impressive collection of five-star hotels, boutique chalets, and exclusive resorts, each offering blended Swiss hospitality and abundant amenities. Gstaad caters to all discerning travellers, from spa retreats that pamper guests with rejuvenating treatments to charming chalets that provide a cosy haven.
One such iconic establishment is the 5-star hotel called Gstaad Palace. This luxury hotel symbolises elegance since its opening in 1913. Perched on an overlooking hill, Gstaad Palace offers fantastic mountain views. The palace epitomises luxurious lifestyles with regal architecture, gourmet dining options, tennis courts, indoor pool, outdoor pool, and a world-class spa.
Luxury Shopping in Gstaad
Shopping is about blended luxury and Alpine charm as the Gstaad Promenade unfolds into marvellous shopping experiences. Traditional Swiss chalets with flower-adorned balconies house upscale boutiques, selling designer labels like Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren and artisanal shops, offering everything from high-end fashion and Swiss watches to locally crafted souvenirs.
The atmosphere is sophisticated and inviting, with a backdrop of snow-capped peaks providing a picturesque setting for leisurely strolls. For those with a penchant for the arts, the Gstaad Promenade is a hub of galleries and boutiques showcasing local and international talent. The traditional wooden chalets that line the promenade add rustic charm to sophisticated atmospheres.
Culinary Excellence and Delicious Swiss Food
Gstaad’s culinary scene provides exceptional experiences for visitors. From Michelin-starred restaurants to cosy mountain huts, Gstaad offers several dining options to suit every palate. The Chesery, a renowned gourmet restaurant, stands out as a culinary gem. With a warm ambience and a menu curated with locally sourced ingredients, the Chesery provides a gastronomic journey that complements surrounding landscapes. Traditional Swiss dishes, like fondue and raclette, are elevated to an art form in fine dining establishments, creating a delightful fusion of authenticity and refinement. Overall, there are a staggering 42 Michelin Starr restaurants in Gstaad ensuring excellent dinning.
Getting To Gstaad in Switzerland
By Air: The nearest international airport, Bern-Belp Airport, is 80 minutes away by car or 2 hours and 30 minutes by train. Geneva International Airport (Genève Aéroport) is 2 hours by car or 3 hours by train. Zurich International Airport has more travel time, 3 hours driving or 3 hours and 30 minutes by train. For those travelling by private jet, the nearest airport is only 10 km away in Saanen, offering convenient access for discerning travellers.
By Car: Remember Gstaad village centre is a pedestrian zone, and all vehicles are prohibited. However, there are several ways to access Gstadd by road, including Boltigen, Zweisimmen, Saanen, Col du Pillon, Gsteig, and Château d’Oex.
By Train: Traveling by train offers unique Alpine experiences because Gstaad village sits on the scenic GoldenPass Montreux-Oberland Bernois (MOB) railway line. The train journey provides breathtaking views of Alpine valleys and mountains. Gstaad Train Station is connected to Interlaken and Montreux, with good links to Bern, Zurich, Geneva, and the rest of Switzerland. The train ride from Interlaken takes 2 hours, and from Montreux, it’s 90 minutes. For those journeying from London, the train ride takes at least nine hours, involving the Eurostar to Paris, the TGV to Geneva, and an interregional train to Montreux. From there, the GoldenPass MOB connects to Gstaad.
Surrounding Cable Cars
Gstaad’s enchanting landscape is not only accessible by road and rail but also by scenic cable cars that elevate the visitor experience to new heights—literally. These cable cars not only provide efficient transportation but also offer breathtaking panoramic Alpine views.
Eggli-Bahn: Eggli-Bahn cable car on the village’s northern side whisks skiers and nature enthusiasts to Eggli mountain, where pristine snowy landscapes unfold. During summer, Eggli-Bahn remains operational, providing access to hiking trails and offering stunning vistas of lush greenery below.
Wispile-Bahn: For adventure and relaxation, the Wispile-Bahn cable car, departing from Gstaad, takes passengers to Wispile Peak, known for idyllic hiking trails and the charming mountain restaurant. The journey is a visual feast, with panoramic views of Gstaad and surrounding peaks.
Glacier 3000 Cable Car: For truly exhilarating experiences, the Glacier 3000 cable car transports visitors to dizzying heights, ascending to the Glacier 3000 summit, where snow and ice persist year-round. The views from the top are awe-inspiring, encompassing the iconic Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, and even glimpses of the distant Jungfrau region.
Rellerli-Bahn: Nestled on the southern side, Rellerli-Bahn cable car links Gstaad to the Rellerli mountain. The ascent unveils a tapestry of alpine meadows and forests, making it a popular choice for hikers and nature lovers. Rellerli transforms into a snowy playground in winter, offering skiing and snowshoeing opportunities.
Saanersloch-Bahn: Connecting to the Saanenmöser region, Saanersloch-Bahn cable car provides scenic rides through the mountains. Whether heading to the slopes for winter sports or exploring the alpine trails in summer, expect seamless and picturesque journeys.
Lauenen-Talstation Cable Car: To explore charming Lauenen village, the Lauenen-Talstation cable car serves as a convenient link, revealing stunning valley views. Lauenen is a hidden gem with traditional Swiss architecture and tranquil surroundings.
Peak Walk by Tissot
The Peak Walk by Tissot is a remarkable and exhilarating attraction at Glacier 3000. This unique suspension bridge, the first to connect two mountain peaks, Scex Rouge and View Point, offers visitors an unparalleled experience and breathtaking panoramic Swiss Alp views. The Peak Walk was inaugurated in October 2015 and has become a highlight for thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts. The bridge spans 107 meters (351 feet) and is suspended at 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level.
As you traverse the bridge, enjoy awe-inspiring vistas of iconic peaks, including Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, and Jungfrau. What adds sophistication to this alpine adventure is the involvement of Tissot, a renowned Swiss watchmaker. The Peak Walk is officially named the “Peak Walk by Tissot” as part of a partnership between Glacier 3000 and the luxury watch brand. Tissot’s association with the bridge reflects precision, innovation, and the spirit of exploration.
Best Ski Resorts in the Gstaad Area
Gstaad Mountain Rides: This vast ski area comprises multiple interconnected resorts, including Gstaad, Saanen, Zweisimmen, and others. With over 200 kilometres of ski slopes, Gstaad Mountain Rides includes gentle slopes for beginners and challenging runs for experts. Beautiful views of the Bernese Oberland add to the allure.
Glacier 3000: Glacier 3000 is renowned for high-altitude skiing and snowboarding opportunities, with the added attraction of year-round snow on the glacier. The resort offers various winter activities, including the Peak Walk suspension bridge, snow parks, and thrilling descents. The views from the glacier extend to the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, and other iconic peaks.
Schönried-Horneggli: This family-friendly ski area near Gstaad offers well-groomed slopes and relaxed atmospheres. Schönried-Horneggli is ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers, with broad and gentle slopes. The resort also provides stunning mountain views and attracts many families looking for more laid-back skiing experiences.
Wispile: Wispile is a charming ski resort offering a range of winter activities and stunning views of the Saanenland region. The resort earns credit for well-maintained slopes. The area is also popular for winter hiking, snowshoeing, and cosy mountain restaurants.
Lauenen: Lauenen, a picturesque village with access to delightful ski slopes, offers more intimate and traditional alpine experiences. Lauenen provides tranquil settings for skiing and snowboarding away from bustling crowds. The village exudes Swiss charm, and the slopes offer mixed terrain for various skill levels.
Les Diablerets: Although not directly in Gstaad, Les Diablerets is easily accessible and offers an extensive ski area with diverse terrain. Les Diablerets, part of the Glacier 3000 region, provides excellent skiing opportunities. The resort has challenging runs, and the glacier proximity ensures good snow conditions throughout the season.
Property in Gstaad – Switzerland
Buying property in Gstaad is a luxurious and prestigious venture, given the resort town’s reputation with the wealthy and famous. Gstaad’s real estate market is characterised by high-end properties, including chalets, apartments, and penthouses. This Alpine retreat’s demand for luxury homes is consistently strong, attracting local and international buyers seeking the high life. The market tends to be stable, with property values maintaining their premium status. However, given the high prices and elite status, most buyers head to other places in Switzerland. (See property for sale in Switzerland here.)
Other Notable Destinations in Switzerland
Zermatt: Nestled at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn, Zermatt stands as the epitome of Swiss ski elegance. Renowned for picturesque setting and extensive ski terrain, Zermatt boasts a seamless connection with Italy’s Cervinia-Valtournenche ski areas, forming the impressive Matterhorn Glacier Paradise – one of Europe’s highest and most awe-inspiring ski areas. Zermatt isn’t just about skiing; it’s a charming car-free village with cobblestone streets, luxury hotels, and gourmet restaurants. After the slopes, relax in wellness spas or indulge in delectable Swiss cuisine.
St. Moritz: Regarding glamour and sophistication, St. Moritz takes centre stage. This resort has attracted the elite since the 19th century, attracting celebrities, royalty, and winter enthusiasts alike. The chic resort town is in the Engadin Valley, surrounded by stunning alpine scenery. St. Moritz is home to challenging slopes in the Alps, making it a favourite among expert skiers. The resort regularly hosts prestigious events like the Winter Polo World Cup and the White Turf horse racing on the frozen lake.
Verbier: For adrenaline-pumping adventures, Verbier in the Four Valleys offers extensive off-piste opportunities that attract thrill-seekers and expert skiers. The challenging terrain includes the infamous Tortin and Mont Fort descents, offering heart-pounding experiences for advanced skiers. The resort’s bars and clubs come alive after the sun sets, creating a lively atmosphere for those looking to continue the excitement off the slopes.
Davos Klosters: Davos Klosters is Switzerland’s largest ski resort, offering expansive networks of slopes. The resort has five main areas: Parsenn/Gotschna, Jakobshorn, Pischa, Madrisa, and Rinerhorn. Each area has a unique character, ensuring diverse and fulfilling skiing experiences. Besides the impressive ski terrain, Davos is famous for hosting the annual World Economic Forum.
Jungfrau Region: The Jungfrau Region, encompassing resorts like Wengen, Mürren, and Grindelwald, captivates visitors with postcard-perfect landscapes. Nestled beneath the iconic Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks, these resorts offer traditional alpine culture and modern amenities. Wengen, with its car-free village, offers tranquillity and relaxation. The Jungfrau Region is also a gateway to the Jungfraujoch, the “Top of Europe,” accessible by a scenic train journey.
Engelberg: For ski resorts off the beaten path, tucked away in central Switzerland, Engelberg resort offers deep snow, challenging slopes, and laid-back atmospheres. The Titlis Glacier offers year-round skiing, ensuring a reliable snow cover for enthusiasts seeking an extended ski season. Engelberg is not just about skiing; it’s a gateway to adventure. The resort offers opportunities for ice climbing, snowshoeing, and even a thrilling ride on the Titlis Rotair, the world’s first rotating cable car. The charming village adds a touch of authenticity to the overall experience, making Engelberg a perfect retreat for those looking to escape the crowds.
Saas Fee: Saas Fee, often called “Pearl of the Alps,” is a car-free resort surrounded by thirteen 4,000-meter peaks. This idyllic setting creates magical atmospheres, making Saas Fee a favourite for peaceful and picturesque retreat. The resort’s high-altitude location also ensures excellent snow conditions throughout the season, and Saas Fee attracts freestyle enthusiasts with world-class terrain parks. At the same time, Allalin Glacier offers year-round skiing, adding to the resort’s appeal. The village, with narrow streets and traditional Swiss chalets, completes delightful alpine experiences in Saas-Fee.
Crans-Montana: For sun-soaked skiing experiences, Crans-Montana is perfect. This resort, on a plateau enjoys exceptional sunshine, creating pleasant environments. The panoramic Rhône Valley and Matterhorn views add to this sun-kissed destination. The resort also features upscale amenities, including luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, and exclusive boutiques. Après-ski scenes here are sophisticated, providing blended recreation and relaxation.
Choosing Your Swiss Ski Adventure
Switzerland, with diverse and enchanting ski resorts, offers several options for winter sports. Swiss ski resorts have everything if you seek the thrill of challenging slopes, the charm of traditional alpine villages, or the luxury of upscale amenities. From the iconic Matterhorn in Zermatt to the chic ambience of Gstaad in Switzerland, read more about Switzerland in our blog here.