River view while on holiday in Andermatt
When you visit Switzerland solo, you’ll find yourself exclaiming a dozen times a day about how gorgeous the view is, how delicious the food is, how sweet the hotel is, and no one will hear. I discovered this obvious truth while spending ten days crossing Switzerland on my own. Having no one close to share my excitement with was the hardest part of my trip. My fantasy is to return to explore more of the country and perhaps, with family and friends, to rent a Swiss vacation home.
My holiday in Andermatt was far too short. I was there at the end of winter and the village was unexpectedly accessible and so welcoming. I’m fighting using the word ‘charming,’ but that works too and I remain charmed long after I’ve returned home. Perhaps I was channeling the German poet and statesman, Goethe, who visited the Gothard area three times in the 18th Century.
“Of all the places I know, this is the dearest and most interesting to me”
Andermatt was full of surprises. Secluded at a crossroads of four mountain passes, the village has swung from being a remote, spa town to WWII military stronghold to an international destination.
Detail from an etching of the Gothard crevice bridge not far from Andermatt
It wasn’t love-at-first-sight and I’ve spoken with others who found the village lacking. I stepped from my train from the Lucerne region, with twenty-eight hours ahead of me before I caught the Glacier Express. It was early spring. The street and sidewalk to my hotel were surprisingly slushy between the station and my lodging. So un-Swiss, I thought! It was as though a messy lawn hid an impressive house. The impression gave way to wonder as I later explored the city, crossing the River and winding through the village.
My holiday in Andermatt began at the Hotel 3 Koenigs.
It was modest, ‘Swiss cute’ and a little plaque near the door memorialized the fact that Goethe once stayed there. I doubt he stayed in my small but comfortable room. The dining room was crafted in Swiss style with plenty of varnished wood and wonderful service. A broad front patio flooded with sunlight and filled with skiers warming in afternoon.
What I can’t show you are the laughing, young couple peddling balloon-tired bikes down the snowy street; lofty ski cars slowly slipping up the mountain; or the glow on the expansive valley at the end of town. Icicles dripped everywhere from rooftops in the neighborhood.
Built in 1602, the interior of the Church of St. Peter and Paul
An angel in the snowy graveyard at the Church
I crossed bridges over brooks freed from the winter chill. In the village between homes, I opened the church doors and the vision took my breath away. Inside all was white, fine-detailed murals and gilded decorations plus an exquisite acoustic phenomenon. Many concerts and festivals are performed in the space.
Inside the Talmuseum in Andermatt
A historical house, the Talmuseum Usern, was open for visitors and I spent a wonderful hour walking through with only one other guest. The pity was not having English on the signs but it was also less to distract from imagining what it would’ve been like to live there in the 1800’s.
The award-winning Andermatt Crystal
In one corner of the Talmuseum sat a wooden stool holding a giant crystal. The region is legendary for the smokey stones and from June to October, you can join the Smuggler’s Trail treasure hunt. The premise of the game is that the giant crystal of Usern has been hidden in Andermatt.
The snowy courtyard of the Chedi in Andermatt – photo The Chedi Hotel
Dine in a quintessential Swiss Chalet on the grounds of the Chedi! Photo – The Chedi Hotel
I wrangled a quick tour of the Russian hotel, The Chedi. The hotel and vacation condos that comprise the complex are designed in luxurious detail. No expense has been spared to fill the spaces with artwork, glowing fire pits, paneled ceilings, fur throws and low light – all fashioned for the fashionable set. Perhaps I’ll visit next lifetime!
My dinner perch at the Riverside Inn in Andermatt
A modest dinner at the Riverside Inn in Andermatt (and much saved for lunch.)
Winter is a lovely time for a holiday in Andermatt. Only when I paused to study the mountainside could I make out skittering skiers moving across the white expanse like water bugs on a pond’s surface. If I’d arrived earlier I’d definitely ridden a gondola to the mountaintop. In summertime, the area is riddled with trails for hikers too.
With my notebook for company, I slipped into the Riverhouse Inn and spent an hour listening to a group of guides enjoying a night off, riffed in broken English with the bartender, and slipped upstairs for a few moments to get a glimpse of the rooms.
If you holiday in Andermatt:
- Visit by train using a Swiss Pass
- Visit by car during the warmer months and don’t miss the Gothard bridges
- Step back in time at the Talmuseum Usern House
- Join the paper treasure hunt to find the ‘missing’ Usern Crystal.
- Stay at the 3 Koenigs, a traditional Swiss Inn
- Visit the Riverside Inn, a boutique hotel in the town
- Stay at the Chedi Andermatt for the ultimate in luxury
- Consider renting a luxury villa for your family or group to enjoy
- Create your own holiday in Andermatt and contact the local tourism office.
More suggestions for your Swiss Itinerary:
I thank Swiss Travel Pass for making my dream of seeing Switzerland a reality. Now, I need to find a way to spend a long holiday in Andermatt and bring friends!