Andermatt, Switzerland

Historic Alpine village of snowy peaks and fertile valleys

Overview

How do you get Satan to build you a bridge? The folk of the Ursern Valley in the Swiss Alps will happily enlighten you on this and the many myths of their magical region. Come see the 16th century Devil’s Bridge spanning the sheer Schöllenen Gorge. It’s just one example of the remarkable feats that facilitated hugely important Alpine trading routes. Historic Andermatt lies 1444 metres above sea level, directly over the Gotthard tunnel. For centuries it was a vital intersection connecting east to west, north to south, a hub for travellers, culture, and commerce.

These days Andermatt is growing in popularity once more as tourists rediscover the fairy tale village of stunning mountain scenery, running rivers and forested slopes. Just 90 minutes from the international airports of Zürich or Milan, it feels like you’re a million miles away. Locals and visitors love to reconnect with nature here while enjoying the burgeoning growth of its modern infrastructure. Essentially known for great winter sports, peak time to appreciate Andermatt is mid-December to March, with a second peak in the warm July and August summer months. Low season travellers though are increasingly benefitting from the reduced rates and crowd-free slopes of the spring and autumn periods. As the snow begins to clear, hiking trails become more accessible and green mountain sides emerge dotted with wildflowers, while wildlife comes out of hibernation. Autumn is beautiful with stunning colours and as the snow returns the early ski season sees few visitors and a chance to have the slopes to yourself against clear blue skies.

Andermatt Awakens

Until recently Andermatt was known as an important military base, a strategic centre for both World Wars and later the Cold War with up to 4000 military personnel in residence. In the 1990s the base disbanded, families and young people flooded out, and the area was left pretty much abandoned and purposeless. Enter investor Samih Sawiris who has revolutionised the tourist infrastructure of Andermatt’s Gemsttock Mountain ski resort, building 2 hotels, 16 apartment houses, and a golf course. At the centre of his project is the Piazza Gottardo with boutiques, bakeries, chocolate shops and restaurants serving authentic Swiss cuisine. Despite initial concerns, the new developments are done with the utmost sympathy to the original traditional style architecture, rendering a destination steeped in history, nature and excellent facilities.

 

850km of Hiking Trails

With routes leading out in all directions, you’d better get ready to don your walking boots. There’s lots of info for hikers like maps, apps and well established tracks taking in secluded valleys, crystal-clear streams, mirror like lakes and sky high peaks. Spring and autumn are perfect as many trails become impassable in the winter. For a stroll try the Schöllenen Circular Trail passing the Devil’s Bridge. It takes a mere 30 minutes and there’s a restaurant en route. In contrast, many trails are several days in duration and incorporate overnight stops at some of the numerous cosy Alpine huts or guesthouses en route. There are also many themed trails such as the herbal hike for the collection and identification of edible plants, and the hike & taste route which builds up an excellent appetite for local delicacies.

Cycling Alpine Passes

Cycling is a tremendous spring and autumn sport. Many routes open to cyclists even before they are accessible by car, usually in around May, making cycling at this time a wonderfully peaceful experience. There are many excellent circuits for beginners as well as more experienced cyclists, and lots of information available for planning your adventure. Bike centres offer expert guidance, do maintenance and repairs and if you don’t want the hassle of bringing your own, they also rent out mountain bikes, road bikes, and the increasingly popular e-bikes.


Major Airport

Zurich Airport: ZRH

Low Season Months

Jan Feb Mar Apr
6°C
130mm
5hrs
May
11°C
120mm
6hrs
Jun
14°C
120mm
6hrs
Jul Aug Sep
24°C
110mm
5hrs
Oct
9°C
90mm
3hrs
Nov
3°C
110mm
2hrs
Dec

Featured Hotels

Top Experiences

Hike the Unteralpreuss

Spend time in this lovely and relatively easy hiking valley. It remains a unique area of pristine nature, beauty and wildflowers. Follow the idyllic river, as it tumbles over its rocky course towards the Reuss, taking a paddle or even a swim. At the valley’s end is a SAC camping hut for overnighting.

Take a Cable Car

Not just for skiers, Andermatt’s cable cars run year round. The Schneehüenerstock Express travels from the Oberalp Pass to a height of 2600m for fabulous views across Ursern and 100 mountain peaks. Dine on the restaurant terrace, hike the Senda Sursilvana or spend the day at Lake Lutersee.

Glacier Express

Take an unforgettable trip on board this historic train travelling daily from glamorous St Moritz to charming Zermatt and the Matterhorn. The 7½ hour journey takes in sheer ravines, dark tunnels, mountain passes and riverways. Enjoy it from panoramic windows while dining on a 3-course meal.

Insider Tips

  • Andermatt has been the subject of a 2019 documentary series chronicling the development of the mountain area from a military base to a popular tourist destination. The 12 short episodes dubbed ‘The Awakening of the Mystic Mountains’ follow locals, residents and businesses in their daily lives.
  • For the serious golfer, the 18-hole, 130 hectare Andermatt Swiss Alps Gold Course offers excellent facilities, top coaching and a unique backdrop of mountains, lakes and meadows. Designed by Kurt Rossknecht to work within the rocky environment, it’s won awards like ‘Best in Switzerland 2017’.
  • In the legendary Gotthard Massif, the 85km long Four Headwaters Trail takes in contrasting landscapes and includes the four sources of the Rhine, Reuss, Ticino and Rhone rivers. It is usually completed in five days and some operators provide a luggage transfer service to your accommodation.

Good To Know

  • Stay tuned for updates on the planned Green Fashion Week to take place in Andermatt in 2021. This not-for-profit International initiative works to promote designers who champion sustainable materials and practices, ethics and social responsibility within the beauty and fashion industries.
  • James Bond fans won’t want to miss the ‘Goldfinger Curve’ immortalised in the 1964 movie. The sweeping vistas of steep mountainsides strewn with hairpin bends on the Uri side of the Furka Pass were the setting of an intense car chase for 007 Sean Connery and his iconic Aston Martin DB5.
  • Buy an Andermatt Dine Around Pass for 95CHF online or from Tourist Information. You’ll get three meals of three-courses each at participating restaurants. It can mean great value for foodies. In the low season, be aware that some restaurants do close, but there are always some venues open.

Food & Drink

Restaurant Tell, Gotthardstrasse 97

££££

Run by a Swiss – South African couple, this venue, in the middle of the main street, serves up delicious food with a twist. They do a mean rosti with a host of variations. The slow cooked oxtail is a good choice or try the curried beef mince bobotie with a fantastic aubergine versions for veggies.

Ochsen, Gotthardstrasse 72

££££

If you love cheese, you’ll love Ochsen. This is a really traditional place specialising in fondue and raclette washed down by local schnapps, although there are plenty of other items on the menu. The atmosphere inside the stone walls is always buzzing and the service friendly. Book in advance.

The Japanese at the Chedi Andermatt

£££££

Undoubtedly the highest Japanese restaurant in Switzerland, this venue has recently been awarded a Michelin star. If the sushi, sashimi, crab and wagyu aren’t enough, there’s also the mountain views and elegant rustic design to hold your attention, not to mention the country’s finest sake collection.

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