Alpine Adventure: Why Andermatt Should Be Your Next Summer Adventure Destination

There are some places in the world that remind you to slow down, breathe in the fresh air, and take in your surroundings—Andermatt in Switzerland is one of them.
Image credit: Andermatt Swiss Alps/ Valentin Luthiger

I have one travel rule: no visiting places that are in the height of summer. Coming from a tropical country, I’ve had enough of the hot, balmy weather. I crave the cool and the crisp, and there’s nothing worse than sweating through your carefully-curated outfit. Even the most magical of places lose their charm when the temperature hits 30 degrees. Thankfully, the weather remains fine in the Andermatt summer. The highs of the day are 16 degrees Celcius, while the lows can go to nine degrees. The air is cold and crisp, while the river gushes with the bluest water you’ve ever seen. The grass is greener than ever, the skies blue, the wildflowers are blooming, and the mountains beg to be marvelled at everywhere you walk. 

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Popularly known as an alpine ski town with some of the best snow drifts around, Andermatt was formerly a military base that later left after the Cold War ended. The town later became extremely quiet, with the occasional hardcore snow sports enthusiasts who knew to go there in the winter. That all changed when Egyptian businessman Samih Sawiris swooped in to develop Andermatt. Since then, the ski town has had a sort of renaissance with chic hotels, apartments, and shops popping up. It opened up more job opportunities for locals, and international tourists began flocking over all year round. While winter activities are rather self-explanatory, most would wonder what’s there to do in a ski town when there’s no snow. There is, in fact, plenty to do, as I discovered after spending several days there.  

Andermatt Swiss Alps is developing a new village area. (Image credit: Andermatt Swiss Alps/ Kim Leuenberger)

Located in the Swiss-German area of the country, Andermatt is surprisingly accessible. It’s a little over a two-hour drive from Zurich or Basel, and close to a three-hour drive from Milan. As we drive upwards from Zurich, we pass the Schöllenen Gorge–a winding road that loops in near figure eights–that then heads towards the famous stone bridge Teufelsbrücke, which translates to the Devil’s Bridge. I was told later that these roads–and many other winding mountain roads in the area–are popular amongst cyclists and bikers wishing to stock up on adrenaline. 

Upon our arrival, we checked in to the Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen—our trip begins now.

The Swiss House at the Andermatt Golf Club. (Image credit: Andermatt Swiss Alps/ Valentin Luthiger)

With weather this good, it only makes sense that most of our activities took place outdoors. On my second day, we took a brisk walk in the cold morning air to the Andermatt Golf Course, where we try our hand at the driving range under the watchful eyes of our instructor. In the Andermatt summer, golfing is an all-day activity unencumbered by harsh suns. Just imagine: you’re taking swings while looking out towards the mountains. Now that, is the perfect golfing view.

I walk out to the main village later that afternoon, keen to explore the place on foot on my own. Many others are doing the same—a fair amount of locals and tourists, the latter having arrived via the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway. I pass the Chedi Andermatt, one of the swankiest hotels in the area and home to The Japanese Restaurant, a one-Michelin starred restaurant and probably one of the only places at the moment where you can find Asian cuisine in the area. The village itself is small and easily traversed in less than four hours on foot, even if you’re just taking a stroll like I did. 

In the summer, the village is much easier to take in. The traditional Swiss chalet architecture is still very much present, identifiable by its fish-scale shingles, gabled roofs, and overhanging eaves. Many locals and tourists take the opportunity to hike up the mountain for leisure, which takes approximately four hours in total. There are lakes up in the mountains that make for a picturesque prize, I’m told. Those aiming to cover the town and mountains in less time can rent an e-bike—a motorised bicycle that can bring you over the inclines effortlessly. 

The Furka Pass, also known as James Bond Street. (Image credit: Andermatt Swiss Alps/ Martin Wabel)

If you’re into bikes with even bigger power—high-powered motorbikes, that is—or supercars, then take them up the mountain roads towards Galenstock. That’s precisely what we did on our third day there, albeit in neither of those vehicles (we took a van—there were seven of us). I’m suggesting these roads specifically so you can relive your James Bond moment at the Furka Pass, where Sean Connery’s James Bond drives his Aston DB5 through this Swiss mountain pass. There’s even a special lookout point erected, lovingly named “James Bond St.” with a special tribute plaque to the late actor. 

However, we weren’t in Galenstock just to drive through the Furka Pass. We’re visiting Alp Galenstock, a local dairy farm known for its fresh cheeses and dairy products. If you’ve seen videos on social media of unmanned Swiss cheese shops based on a trust system where buyers drop money into a tin box, this is it. We were given a tour of the cheese-making process by the owners—a generational business run by women—sampled some of their products and even got an introduction to their cows. It was my first time trying fresh cheese, and the difference between that and aged cheese is worlds apart. The former has none of the pungency of aged cheese, and if you concentrate, you can even taste the sweetness of the high-altitude grass that makes up the diet of these alpine cows. 

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Ultimately, adventure can be found where you least expect it. For me, it’s in the summer, snow-less valleys of Andermatt. It’s in the cobblestone paths of the main village, and it’s in the winding roads of the many passes in and out of the town. It’s on the path I decided to take while on a walk exploring, thinking that it looked “right”—and then stumbling across a gorgeous, gentle stream. That’s the Andermatt adventure I experienced. 

Image credit: Andermatt Swiss Alps/ Valentin Luthiger