Skiing Carì in Switzerland (Ticino/Tessin)

It’s no secret, Switzerland is full of ski resorts (over 300), from small local hills, to massive resorts. Ticino hosts a few of these ski areas with many of them being smaller family-friendly ski areas. Carì is a small resort and about an hour drive from Lugano, Switzerland.

The ski hill offers 2 ski lifts and a small Kid’s Village (with a magic carpet) at both the bottom of the mountain and middle station. Other winter sports like sledding and snow shoeing are also possible.

Adults:43 CHF
Teens (13-20):35 CHF
Kids (6-12):27 CHF
Family (2 Adults + children to 11)95 CHF

Skiing can be an expensive sport, especially if you are skiing as a family. In the past Carì was a family favorite as it was very affordable for a family of 5, with their family discount ticket. Unfortunately, they have lowered the age limit for the family ticket to only include children under 11, making it more expensive for families with teenagers, but it’s still affordable.

The trails are quite picturesque. The above trail winds through small cabins and is possible to snowshoe, sled, or ski on. You can access the trail from the mid-mountain or snowshoe up from the bottom.

Two drawbacks we have found when skiing Carì:

  1. The long lines at the bottom of the hill. The 2-person lift can get quite long. Once you reach mid mountain, it is not so bad, as there is a quad lift to the top (Black and Red runs only).
  2. The parking situation. If you do not arrive early, it is possible you will have to park on the side of the road and be bused up. Or worse, we have arrived at 10 am and have been turned away as no more parking. My advice: arrive early or don’t go on peak days.

The Lodge sits mid-mountain with fantastic views over the valley. They offer a large outdoor seating patio which makes the dining experience comfortable. Inside there are also many tables and a cafeteria serving hearty Swiss lunches.

On top of the mountain sits a small cabin with a few benches inside and out. You are able to purchase a few snacks here along with drinks. It’s the perfect setting for an afternoon aperitivo with incredible views.

Carì has blue, red and black runs for all levels of skiers. The resort is quite small (20km) but we have enjoyed skiing Carì as it is an easy, affordable option when skiing as a family.

Have you been? What did you think?

Hiking in Zermatt – 5 Lakes Trail

It is easy to see why one of the most famous hikes in Zermatt, Switzerland is the 5 Lakes trail. The views of the Matterhorn from the lakes are simply amazing. A few of the lakes you can get a clear reflection of the Matterhorn.

The 5 lakes trail follows a path by five lakes : Grindjisee , Stellisee, Moosjisee, Grünsee, and Leisee. The hiking level is not difficult and suitable for children. There is a playground at Leisee , along with an area to enjoy a picnic all while taking in the views of the Matterhorn.

The Matterhorn Bergbahnen is about a five minute ride from Zermatt up to Sunnegga. From Sunnegga you can take the gondola up Blauherd that will drop you off near the start of the trail.

Before hoping on the gondola up to Blauherd you may want to consider a stop at the Sunnegga self-service buffet bar . It is the perfect place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee whilst soaking in the views (and maybe a chocolate Toblerone too).

In the summertime this trail can be quite crowded so you may want to consider getting an early start. We were one of the first ones up the mountain and had the trail mostly to ourselves.

Almost every turnout there is a magnificent view of the Matterhorn, no wonder this is one of the most famous hikes in Zermatt.

Even the not so seasoned hiker will be able to enjoy the trail. The trail winds through out the mountains but never seemed overly difficult. There are many places along the way to stop, enjoy a little break and soak in the views.

For the Adventurous ones (or tired hiking legs), a ride down the mountain is a great way to finish the hike. During the summer months, you can rent a mountain cart to take you down the mountain. I would recommended this for children 12+, as the incline is steep and the carts go quite fast! We had an absolute blast riding down the mountain and would definitely advise to give it a go!

The reflections of the Matterhorn from many of these lakes is simply jaw-dropping. The 5 Lakes Trail is a photographers dream, a hike not to be missed while visiting Zermatt.

CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort in Zermatt

This past week I had the opportunity to have a girls’ get-away to Zermatt and really enjoyed our stay at CERVO Moutain Boutique Hotel. Posh, yet charming, this hotel combines luxury and comfort. The Matterhorn is Switzerland’s most iconic mountain and the backdrop to the hotel.

Cervo offers chalets with a variety of rooms: from cozy, yet luxurious, to Rooftop Suites. They even have an Owners lodge available. In total there are 36 suites making this resort feel quaint, but yet it also includes all the comforts that are expected at a 5-star Resort.

When we arrived at the train station in Zermatt (almost immediately next to the train platform) was a phone for hotel pick-up, making it convenient to contact the hotel.
The driver transported us only a few minutes up the road to the luxury CERVO Boutique Resort.

Upon arrival at the hotel a welcoming and attentive staff greeted us. Our bags were delivered to our room while we were accompanied to the hotel’s terrace for a champagne welcome drink. Cheers to that! The terrace overlooks the Matterhorn with jaw dropping views.

There was no formal check-in, which was quite refreshing. While sipping on our champagne, the staff provided us with a resort overview and a CERVO events calendar, a much appreciated touch. The calendar mapped out a variety of activities at the Resort, from outdoor movie night, yoga, raclette evenings and more.

After a refreshing glass of cold champagne we sat back and admired the views of the stunning Matterhorn in the distance. Simply breathtaking.

Calm, tasteful and beautifully designed the CERVO (meaning Deer in Italian) carries a rustic yet modern feel that felt very delightful.

The beauty of the hotel location is the proximity to the slopes. CERVO is the only ski-in / ski-out resort in Zermatt meaning you can ski right up to your room or terrace. Imagine that! The sprawling terrace with views of the Matterhorn creates an impression of excitement, especially with a drink in hand after a long day on the mountain.

The boutique resort boasts 2 Restaurants; CERVO Puro and Ferdinand, serving a delicious range of food.

Both the lunch and dinner menu provided us with a choice of dishes beautifully presented and appetizing. We enjoyed their CERVO board with fresh bread, butter infused with flavors, and a variety of cheeses and meats that complimented each other.

The rustic alpine touches throughout were enchanting and gave off a luxury cabin feeling. A place that must feel magical in the winter months with views of the snow covered mountains.

Our Chalet had a breathtaking view of the Matterhorn and all the touches you would expect from a 5 star hotel.

The room had the feel of a beautifully designed hunting lodge. We enjoyed the extra touches in the room from a “Welcome box” filled with goodies (including Swiss Chocolates), to a stocked fridge offered by the hotel.

Vaulted beamed ceilings and hardwood floors, designed with a chalet feel, made it both charming and delightful. A very comfortable king size bed provided us with a relaxing and a luxurious stay.

Views from our balcony were incredible. I mean, how can you ever tire of that view? Most of the suites feature a balcony with a view of the Matterhorn. The balcony was the perfect place for us to lounge and relax.

On the terrace the recliners, warm blankets, Hendricks Gin bottles with flowers all helped enhance the ambiance. All of this beauty at the foot of the Matterhorn was truly a majestic experience.

The scenery from the groud floor spa attached to our Chalet was fantastic. I imagine the snow falling while sitting in the hot tub must feel superb after a long day on the slopes. Each of the chalets (6 units) have their own spa and sauna.

Summertime heat proved to be too much for the spa time, but we look forward to returning in the winter months to experience a magical winter wonderland at CERVO.

You can’t get much closer to the mountain slopes than the base of Sunnegga. The elevator sits directly across the street from the hotel. We took the elevator and rode up in the early morning to hike around, the close proximity made it so we were able to beat the crowds.

A Champagne toast while admiring the Matterhorn was a memorable experience. Our little get away was truly a pleasurable experience, away from the hustle and bustle it felt like a haven of peace and relaxation. The hotel itself has the coziness and uniqueness of what truly makes an alpine hotel special. CERVO Boutique provided us with an air of grace and class.

Hotel Details:

CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort 
Riedweg 156
CH-3920 Zermatt

Phone: +41 27 968 12 12

______

Hopefully you enjoyed my review for CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort . A big thank you to the CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort for hosting us. Opinions in the post are my own and based on my own personal experience at the hotel.

Quick 3-day Itinerary for Switzerland (Swiss Alps)

Many people reach out to me looking for advice on visiting Switzerland, in-particular the Swiss Alps. I have created an easy itinerary of what I would recommend on your first visit to Switzerland. If you have more time, of course, I would recommend visiting so much more of Switzerland. But if it is just the Swiss Alps you are looking to visit, I think this may be the perfect start for you.

Day 1:

Morning arrival to the Zürich airport

Take an easy train-ride to the center of Zürich from the airport. Enjoy a stroll through the beautiful city of Zürich with a visit to Zeughauskeller for lunch.

After a short visit in Zürich, catch a late-afternoon train from the Zürich Bahnhof (HB) to Interlaken, only a 2 hour train ride (1.55 mins) It is a delightful train ride through Switzerland with breathtaking views along the way. You can also dine in one of the train cars on your journey.

Spend the night in Interlaken

Interlaken is a quaint village in-between two Lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. If you have time, both lakes have Ferryboats you can take to different villages along the lake. You may want to consider adding another day to explore Interlaken or cut-out Zürich.

Day 2:

Take the train from Interlaken to Grindelwald. Spend some time exploring the town of Grindelwald, then go up the mountain to Kleine Scheidegg. I recommend going to the Kleine Scheidegg from Grindelwald, not only is it cheaper ( return ticket for 62 CHF), but also for the sake of time constraints.

Going to the top of the Jungfrau will put you back about 200 CHF per adult, (Yes, Switzerland is expensive, but the views are PRICELESS) Grindlewald to the top of Jungfrau is 190 CHF for an Adult Return ticket.

For budget travelers, you may want to consider hiking up part of the mountain from the valley. There are many trails and the Tourism office will help you find a good route. During the summertime you can enjoy gorgeous hikes around the area and in the wintertime skiing in the Alps is a dream .

Check out the Jungfrau page for details on the routes for hiking.

Spend the night in Grindelwald

After a day on the Jungfrau take the train back to Grindelwald, enjoy a traditional Swiss meal in one of the many restaurants and spend the night in Grindelwald. There are restaurants scattered throughout the area offering dining with a view.

Day 3:

Explore the Berner Oberland villages of Mürren, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, and Gimmelwald. Lauterbrunnen is the only town you can drive in, the rest of the villages are car-free so you have to take the train into the towns. All of these villages are a short train ride from Lauterbrunnen. The train ride is an experience itself with magnificent views out the train windows.

Make sure to visit the famous Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen. There are over 70 waterfalls in the valley, but this is the most famous waterfall. It is easy to see why, with the water falling about 300 meters into the valley.

You can take little joy ride on a Toboggan (Rodelbahn) down the Swiss mountains. It is an easy cable-car ride up the mountain from Grindelwald to Pfingstegg. The cable cars open once the snow has melted. (usually mid-June)

After a day exploring a few of these quaint Swiss villages either catch the train back to Zürich in the evening (2.5 hour train ride) or spend your last night in the mountains before returning to Zürich.

Obviously, this is a whirlwind visit to the Swiss Alps. If you want to spend more time hiking and seeing more of Switzerland you would have to add more days to your trip, but I think this is a good start to seeing some of the Swiss Alps and experiencing the beauty of Switzerland.

Things to Consider:

SBB (Switzerland Railway) offers international passes for visitors, for both Adult and Youth Prices (under 26). Train travel throughout Switzerland can be expensive, so taking advantage of the offers through SBB can help save money.

Children from 6-16 can travel free if a parent buys the Swiss Family Card at the Railway station.

If you are flying in and out of Zürich you can easily rent a car but I would also consider taking the train. Swiss Trains are reliable, relaxing and the views along the way are incredible.

Consider adding more days to your vacation and travel down to the Matterhorn in Zermatt. It is a 2 hour train ride from Interlaken to Zermatt. Explore the area of Zermatt for a day or two before taking the train back to Zurich, a 3.5 hour ride.

Do you have any questions on visiting the area? We would love to hear from you.

Beautiful Switzerland

5 must-do hikes in Ticino, Switzerland

1. Monte Generoso

Mount Generoso offers breathtaking views of both Switzerland and Italy.

There are many different hikes leading  to the top, most of which you can find here.  We have taken the shorter (4 hour) hike from the Bella Vista parking lot. 

You can take the train from Riva San Vitale, hike from Mendriso, or drive to the Bella Vista station. From the Bella Vista station you can park in the parking lot and begin the hike. It is about 2 hours to the top.

Once you arrive to the top you can see Lake Lugano below. You can enjoy a self serve restaurant or a sit down restaurant with 360 degree views below.  You can also access the roof for even more incredible views.

We thoroughly enjoyed this hike and the views it had to offer. The hike down takes about half the time, which makes it a little under a 4 hour hike round-trip from the Bella Vista parking lot.

2. Tibetan Bridge Carasc

The Tibetan bridge is a pretty impressive 270 meter long bridge that connects from Curzùtt to Via delle Vigne.

We found the easiest way to hike to the bridge was to take up the cable car. It is a small car so on busy days the wait may be long. This is not a problem if you decide to hike up. The hike from the top of the cable car to the Tibetan bridge is about an hour.

When the cable-car reaches Curzùtt you can hike through this darling little village. There is a small restaurant and restrooms. There are also picnic benches and a park where we enjoyed a picnic before starting our hike to the bridge.

The trails are easily marked and pass  beautiful scenery along the way. There is an 11th century church along the trail that is pretty impressive.

When we reached the bridge there was hardly anyone on it because we were late in the season. The kids enjoyed running back and forth, but I must say this is not a bridge for those afraid of heights.

To return from this hike you do have to turn around if you want to get to your car.  There isn’t a decent loop that is kid friendly, or at least what we found. It took us about 2 more hours to hike back down to our car but the hike and views from the bridge were well worth it.

3. Valle Verzasca

I would like to say this is a hidden-gem but unfortunately it is not. In the summer the crowds come flocking to this famous bridge over Valley Verzasca. Thankfully, the Valley has many hikes away from the crowds.

I do recommend taking a dip in the glacier cold water either before or after your hike. It is very refreshing in the summer-time.

We have managed to do a few hikes within this valley. There are trail markers throughout but many of the trails require climbing up some rocks to get to the trails. We have never found this to be a problem, even with our youngest at the time (7).

There are buses which service the valley which make it possible to just hike one way and take a bus back down to your car. This is a useful website for  more hiking and information in the area.

The river winds throughout the valley so you can follow it along many of your hikes.  This is such a beautiful area to hike through.

 

4. Mounte Tamaro

The easiest way to experience this Mountain is to first take the funicular up the mountain, from there you can branch off into easy, intermediate or difficult hikes. There is over 90 km of hiking options.

Monte Tamaro is a popular mountain for paragliding and it is entertaining to watch them glide over the valley while hiking along the trails.  There is a restaurant and restrooms available at the top of Tamaro. Many of the hiking trails branch out from here.

One of the most popular hiking trails goes from Monte Tamaro to Monte Lema. This trail is an almost 13 km trail, along the ridge-line, which can take the average hiker 5 hours one way.  You can purchase a ticket to have the bus take you back at the end of the hike but make sure you check the schedules.

If you are feeling energized after hiking there are plenty of other activities. There is a zip-line, rodelbahn and also a rope park. This is a great Mountain for the seasoned hiker and even those who just like to take in the views.

 

5. Monte San Salvatore

20170319_144340-01

If you want a workout with breathtaking views this is the hike for you.  To begin the hike, you can park in the Funicolare parking lot. From there, walk out of the parking lot in the direction towards the lake & Lugano Paradiso train station.  Once you start up the road Via Corona there will be signs directing you to the top. The signs estimate it to take about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

 

The trail is marked with trail markers the whole way up.  In the beginning, you take a short trail through the forest passing some houses along the way.

20170319_123832-01

The halfway point seems to be a bit after you reach the end of the trail following the tracks.

Along the trail, there are a number of panoramic viewpoints. The trail winds around the Lugano side of the mountain so you are able to see many beautiful views of the city and the lake below. On a clear day, you can see Monte Rosa and other snow-capped Alps in the distance.

wp-1490020373267.jpg

When you finally reach the top you will come out by the Funicular.  There is a restaurant where you can sit and admire your accomplishment. Just past the restaurant, you can take the trail about 5 minutes more to the very top. On the top, there is a little church and the most amazing panoramic views over Lugano. You can see parts of Italy, the Swiss Alps, and the winding Lugano Lake below. (Pictured above is the first look out, you have to climb a little higher for the best view of all. )

20170319_143822

There is also a church by the viewpoint. It is open to the public and you can go inside to see the little chapel. If you go around the backside of the church you will see a small door with stairs leading to the roof.

Once you’re done enjoying the views, decide if you are going to hike or ride down on the Funicolare. The hike down is about an hour.

Screenshot_20170320-130813-01

If you’re going to take the Funicolare down, it departs every half hour. During spring and fall, the last train down is at 5 pm. In summer the last train down is at 11 pm! If you miss the tram you have no choice but to hike down. The Funicolare ride is only a 10-minute ride to the top versus the 2 1/2 hour hike, although you miss out on some fantastic views.

 

Alpabzug

We finally got to see a Swiss tradition that we have been wanting to experience for years.   In the springtime the cows are taken up the mountains to graze for the summer. Then, at the end of summer, the Swiss farmers bring their cows back down from mountains. It is called the Alpabzug.  Not every Swiss town participates,  you can check out the Swiss tourism site  for participation towns. Usually the Alpabzug takes place in the month of September.


Just near the north entrance of the San Gottardo tunnel, which separates the German from the Italian speaking regions of the country, is a little village called Wassen. We have driven past this village many times but have never stopped.  Wassen is such a quaint Swiss Village.

wp-image-383380390.jpg

The Alphorns are very traditional and actually used by the farmers to call the cows into the barns at milking time.

Alpabzug celebrations are a big deal in these villages. Typically there is a town market where you can get all the local goodies, including raclette and bratwurst for lunch.

Each cow is adorned with a head piece and giant bell. It really is quite the sight to see.

Switzerland has different cantons, which are like states, each canton has their own flag. Wassen is in Canton Uri, which is represented on the yellow flag.

The blue shirt, worn by this farmer, is a traditional Swiss costume. Each Canton has their own type of costume.  Between the 26 Cantons in Switzerland there are over 700 types of tradition Swiss costumes.

The local farmers and their family walk their own herd of cows down the mountain.

We really enjoyed our first experience at the Alpabzug and would highly recommend seeking out one if you are in Switzerland during the month of September.

Climbing Monte Generoso in Switzerland

 

We have a view of Monte Generoso from our bedroom window and have wanted to hike it for years.  Finally, this last weekend we made the climb. Mount Generoso offers breathtaking views of both Switzerland and Italy.

We did a bit of research before climbing the mountain. There are a few options to get you to the top.  You can take a train from Riva San Vitale to the top.  For a Family of Four it will cost you 108 Chf.  to ride the train up and back.

Monte Generoso has a Swiss and Italian side. There are many different hikes leading you to the top, which you can find here.  We decided to hike with our kids and opted for a shorter (4 hour) hike from the Bella Vista parking lot. 

You have a few options to arrive at the Bella Vista Station. You can take the train from Riva San Vitale, hike from Mendriso, or drive to the Bella Vista station. We decided to drive to the station as we knew a 4 hour hike would be long enough for our family. Fair warning, the drive up is a bit narrow and windy and parts.

From the station you can park in the parking lot and begin the hike. It is about 2 hours to the top. Part of the path follows along the train tracks,  so if you were to get tired you could always hop on the train.

The last few kilometers to the top of the mountain are fairly steep but offer beautiful views of the Swiss and Italian valleys below.

Once you arrive to the top you can see Lake Lugano below. On top there is a famous building designed by Mario Botta “Fiore di pietra” (Stone Flower). You can enjoy a self serve restaurant or a sit down restaurant with 360 degree views below. The building is quite fascinating in itself.  You can also access the roof for even more incredible views.

A climb to the top of Monte Generoso will not disappoint. We throughly enjoyed this hike and the views it had to offer. The hike down takes about half the time, which makes it a little under a 4 hour hike roundtrip from the Bella Vista parking lot.