When winter descends on Switzerland, glassy smooth and harsh, frozen surfaces as well as freshly powdered pistes are calling. Frozen water lends itself magnificently to ice skating, high-altitude hiking or climbing with ice axe and crampons. It can be sculpted into natural works of art and can even be lived in – The Swiss ice experience offers incredible diversity.
Discover lakes, town squares and landscapes on ice skates
The most attractive destinations for ice skating excursions on natural ice include Upper Engadine with Lake Silvaplana, Lake St. Moritz and Lake Sils. Alongside ice skating, snowkiting is also a hugely popular attraction on Lake Silvaplana. Also very popular for ice-skating fun are the Seealpsee in Alpstein, the Obersee in Arosa, the Oeschinen Lake as well as the Lauenensee in the Bernese Oberland, the Lac de Joux in the Canton of Jura and the Lac de Champex near Orsières in Lower Valais. Lac Lioson in Les Mosses in the Canton of Vaud offers an exclusive attraction: Ice diving. Three access holes are kept open throughout winter. Those of daring spirit will, however, require a diving certification.
In addition to frozen lakes, many other Swiss town squares, surfaces and spots in winter offer great opportunities to go ice skating or chase after an ice hockey puck. A top insider tip is the Alp Raguta natural ice rink situated at 1,950 metres above sea level in Tomils, Graubünden. Here you can take in a magnificent mountain panorama and enjoy local delicacies while ice-skating, curling or playing ice stock sport. Guests of the Swiss Deluxe Hotel Suvretta House St. Moritz can also combine fun on the ice with first-rate cuisine.
Searching for eternal ice
The large Aletsch Glacier is the undisputed longest ice flow in the Alps with a length of 23 kilometres and is also among the protected UNESCO world heritage sites. 27 billion tons of ice make the Great Aletsch Glacier a fascinating natural spectacle.
Excursion tip: The Eggishorn, accessible by cable car from Fiesch, offers an impressive panoramic view of the meandering upper part of the Aletsch Glacier.
The Morteratsch Glacier Trail in Engadine is passable year-round, both on foot, with the pushchair and also by bike. In winter it is passable via an impressive cross-country ski trail or after an awe-inspiring glacier ride from Diavolezza on alpine skis even with the pushchair. The journey with the Rhaetian Railway is almost as impressive for the countless international visitors as the walkway over the solid ice.
“Art of Ice” at almost 4,000 metres above sea level
Fascinating ice sculptures, which can be marvelled at in many places in Switzerland during the winter, offer cool artistic experiences.For example in Zermatt, where three exponents of Swiss Deluxe Hotels take care of demanding guests with the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, the Mont Cervin Palace and the Riffelalp Resort. Transportation by cable car is provided up to 3,882 metres above sea level, where the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is located. A passenger lift takes visitors 15 metres down to reach the highest glacier palace in the world.
Ice climbing: Big sport on smooth rock
Pontresina is one of the safest ice-climbing areas in the entire Alpine region. Various ice falls in the region can be climbed from December through to the end of March. From beginner to pro, here there is something to suit every ability. The Swiss Deluxe Hotel Kronenhof Pontresina has an intimate relationship with ice. Every winter the hotel prepares a beautiful ice skating rink to be enjoyed by both guests and locals. In addition, the Kronenhof cooperates closely with the Pontresina mountaineering school to offer ice climbing to its guests at first hand.
Spend a night in the ice
Resourceful entrepreneurs founded the organisation Iglu-Dorf (igloo village) over 20 years ago and built the first small bungalow made solely of ice and offering overnight accommodation above the “Motta Naluns” viewing platform in Scuol, Engadine. Over the years the business expanded on its idea in other locations. igloo villages offering double as well as family rooms and even suites have since sprung up in Davos-Klosters, Engelberg, Zermatt, Gstaad, on the Stockhorn above Thun and very recently on the Schilthorn.