Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland has a glowing reputation and it’s a stop that can’t be missed on every Swiss tourist’s itinerary. For good reason! In addition to amazing hiking, skiing and shopping, Gstaad has a few (at least 10) activities and experiences that set it apart from every other gorgeous Swiss alpine village:
1. Wakeboarding in the Alps
This could be you, wakeboarding on Hornberg lake © Destination Gstaad/ Melanie Uhkoetter
When you’re in Gstaad, you have some gorgeous hiking trails to choose from. One of the loveliest routes takes you from Rinderberg to Horneggli. It’s a gentle walk with an easy start thanks to the cable-car. Near the end of the hike, you can choose: enjoy a drink on the terrace of the mountain hut, take an extra loop along the flower trail, or.... wakeboard on the Hornberg lake. Yes, you read that right. You can wakeboard at 1,800 metres above sea level! This hotspot is Europe’s highest wakeboarding and water-skiing facility. And if you’ve never strapped on a wakeboard or water skis before, don’t you worry. Coaches are on hand, and you can rent all the equipment you need (or bring your own if you have it).
2. Enjoy 260 Gault Millau points (counted & accounted for)
Enjoying some fine dining in Gstaad © Destination Gstaad / Hanna Büker
Maybe you’re looking for something a bit fancier than DIY lunch or dinner. In Gstaad, you can find an array of restaurants that have been awarded with prestigious Gault Millau points. One spot in particular is the Bernerhof, which has four restaurants that boast a total of 41 points. The Sommet at The Alpina Hotel serves sustainable dishes such as those on 18-Gault-Millau-point chef Martin Göschel’s Original Signature Vegan Menu. MEGU has 15 points and is regarded as the best Japanese restaurant in Switzerland and has the country’s biggest collection of sake.
Other top-rated restaurant choices include the Esprit Ravet brasserie (to be found in Bernerhof), the Rössli in Feutersoey and the golf club restaurant in Saanenmöser.
3. Art & culture high up
Beautiful street art in Gstaad © Destination Gstaad / Yannick Romagnoli
It’s impossible to find another mountain resort that has as many art galleries as Gstaad. As you wander through the narrow streets, you’ll see galleries and shops exhibiting different styles, local and international artists, paintings and sculptures. The internationally renowned Maddox Gallery is not only in London and Los Angeles - here, too, it displays works by famous names from the worlds of contemporary and modern art. Gstaad's most unusual venue is at Saanen airfield, home of the Tarmak 22 gallery. Outstanding works can also be found at The Alpina Hotel in Gstaad.
And while we're on the topic of arts & culture, from mid-July to mid-September, Gstaad is home to the world-renowned Menuhin Festival. The musical destination in 2021 is London. There will be over 50 concerts on the theme, featuring world-ranking musicians such as Daniel Hope, Hélène Grimaud and Sol Gabetta. Safety measures will be in place throughout the festival, with social distancing and limited numbers.
4. Run to the top
Feeling up for this high altitude run? © Glacier 3000 Run / Raphael Dupertuis
The Glacier 3000 run starts in Gstaad, and the finish line is 26.2 kilometres away at Glacier 3000. Over an altitude gain of 2,015 metres, runners cover asphalt, natural trails and even half a kilometre across a glacier. There is a shorter version of the course for Nordic walkers, and young athletes can follow in the footsteps of more experienced runners in the Gstaad Kids Run.
5. Take a dip in a fondue pot
Fondue in the crisp mountain air, what a treat! © Destination Gstaad/ Melanie Uhkoetter
If you’re craving something a little different, we recommend the Fondue Backpack. You can’t miss the giant wooden caquelon (fondue pot) where up to eight people can sit around a table and enjoy the panoramic views. The Fondue Backpack includes everything you need – ingredients and equipment – to make a fondue.
Pro tip: fondue isn’t just for winter. You can fire up the burner and enjoy the characteristic Swiss cuisine in the summer too!
6. Grab a pre-packed picnic hamper
Enjoying your picnic anywhere you want it © Destination Gstaad / Yannick Romagnoli
In theory, a picnic always sounds nice. In practice, lugging a picnic basket up a mountain can be cumbersome. The Gstaad Tourist Office has come up with the perfect solution: the Gstaad Picnic Hamper. You can order this (to purchase or rent) at the Tourist Office or at several participating shops. It includes plenty of local delicacies to go around. Once you have your picnic hamper, you can go anywhere you like to dine outside – beside a brook, in a cool forest or up in the mountains. You’ll find picnic spots fully equipped with a grill, firewood, tables and chairs.
7. Pro players in the sand
Beach Volleyball World Tour is a hit in Gstaad © Destination Gstaad
When you think of sports in Gstaad, skiing and hiking (and if you read the first part of this article, wakeboarding) might come to mind. But the alpine town is the host of two elite sporting events that take place in the sand: the Swatch Major Gstaad tournament on the Beach Volleyball World Tour and tennis’ Swiss Open. The events both take place in the summer and draw sports fans from all over Switzerland.
8. White water rafting on the Saane
To try at least once in your lifetime! © Destination Gstaad
From May to August, you can enjoy 15 kilometres of rafting (difficulty level: intermediate). At the upper part of the Saane, you’ll paddle through rapids, waves and boils. The two gorges of Vanel and Gérignoz can be intense, but you’ll be rewarded with gentle drifting afterwards. As you conquer the rapids, you will be crossing one of Switzerland’s language borders to the French-speaking destination of Pays d'Enhaut.
9. The whey to relaxation
Before relaxing, you will have to do a little work. On Alp Turnels above Gstaad, you can try your hand at making cheese. Eating and working alongside the Alpine farmers lets you get up close and personal with nature and with this ancient craft. After a hard day’s work, nothing beats relaxing in a whey bath, which is what is left after making cheese. Then you can hit the hay in the hayloft and your hosts, Ramona and Jos Zumstein, will prepare a hearty breakfast for you before your hike back down to the real world.
Come up, slow down
When you arrive in Gstaad, you almost have no choice but to stop and take a deep breath while you gaze at the charming chalets in the village and the Alps just beyond. Of course, you always have choices if you want to speed things up. No matter what activities you choose in Gstaad, you can bet that you’ll experience something truly unique.Take me to Gstaad