Guardian Lists 10 Top Summer Vacations In European Alps
Once the snow is gone, the Alps remain magnificent. The Guardian newspaper in the UK has 10 picks for you to try this summer. Here are travel writer Sean Thomas’s choices and comments.
Start at Grindelwald in the Swiss Jungrau that has been attracting tourists for two centuries with its enormous glaciers, deciduous forests, green valleys, and Eiger peaks looming over it all. “This come-hither corner of Switzerland is a real bargain in summer, when accommodation is available on demand.”
Davos, also in Switzerland, is a “sweetly wooded chink of the Swiss Alps,” with excellent fishing, walking, horseriding, paragliding, rock climbing, wind surfing, and more. Plenty of lodging selection from modern chalets to apartments. “Funky nightlife, too.”
Another Swiss choice that is not as famous is the Onsernone Valley in Ticino, on the Italian border. It’s more rustic than deluxe, but the out-of-doors is the attraction. There are vast chestnut forests for walkers, golf in Ascona, swimming in cold alpine lakes, and a long day hike into Italy “if you fancy a slightly cheaper cup of coffee.” There’s a train station at Locarno.
Head to France and Luz Saint Sauveur, Midi-Pyrenees. “The circque de Gavarnie is an enormous scoop of glacial valley, surrounded by towering Tolkieneque peaks.” It’s as popular with walkers in the summer as it is with skiers in the winter. Best base is at Luz, about 20 minutes away from Gavarnie by car. The Napoleanic part of town is up the hill, with “an affable new town” below with shops, cinema, Internet cafes, and bars.
Gressoney Valley in the far north of Italy is a “hidden pleasure; a land of pine forests, mist-scarved peaks, and blue alpine lakes, with plenty of Italian charm and some decent pizza.” It is remote, however, so best hire a car.
Collalbro, in the Italian Tyrol, “feels very Swiss-German,” with neat, pretty farms, emerald woods where men still favor lederhosen, great coffee, lively bars, and slightly unreliable bus services.” The views of the Dolomites are grandiose and serious walkers will want to try the 3,000 metre Rittnerhorn Park. “It’s like the Matterhorn – only more malevolent.
Italy’s Val Gardena may be a famous ski resort in winter, but “twinkles on the sunny side of the ancient and glacial Gardena Vale. Green meadows and wildflower-strewn oak forests are available pretty much to yourself, unlike winter. The local white wines are “eagerly refreshing.”
Then, there’s Austria, where The Burgenland – away from the “Mozartly bit,” welcomes visitors to a “winsome region of rolling hills by the Hungarian border, with ancient Esterhazy palaces, medieval castles atop cliffs and “a somnolent countryside.” “The people are jolly in a brass band kind of way, the food is very German, and the local red wine is surprisingly good.” Shop across the border in Hungary for cheap bargains.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany is right smack in the middle of the Bavarian Alps, the centerpiece of German winter sports. But, in summer, there are plenty of good value accommodations. Climb Germany’s highest mountain and enjoy the “Alpenoramas,” folk festivals “and eat some great apfelstrudel.” There’s plenty to do at night, too.
Finally, consider Spain. Burguete, Navarre is where Ernest Hemingway liked to go trout fishing. It is “an adorable Basque village, high in the Navarrese Pyrenees. It feels untouched and you almost expect to see Papa Hemingway bringing home his evening catch. The cuisine is “universally delicious.”
Photo: Eiger Village, Grindelwald, Switzerland (MySwitzerland.com)