There are moments in life when you know you need to make the best out of it.
When my best friend recently announced her visit to Switzerland, I had to ensure that her stay be memorable. Leukerbad was calling our names – the perfect place to see the Alps, relax, and drink wine… (Lots of it, that is!). After all, she was escaping her role as a mother for a period of five days in order to reconnect with me, the friend who expatriated herself in chocolate land.
Leukerbad is just adorable. To give you an idea, it would be the perfect village to have under a Christmas tree. With its wooden houses and old streets, it got my friend saying “Wow! This is exactly how I’ve pictured Switzerland!” – over and over, for two entire days.
Based on first-hand experience, here are five things to do when in Leukerbad:
Take a stroll in Leukerbad.
It is really easy to just walk around without getting lost. Trust me! I have the orientation skills of a deaf bat and I still managed to go around without checking Google Maps! Walking around is also a good prelude to a meal of cheese fondue (see below). It is a perfect anti-guilt partner: Because by strolling around for one hour, you will burn enough calories to compensate for the ones you will be ingesting with that cheese fondue, as well as liters of wine…
Embark on Switzerland’s longest Via Ferrata.
From Leukerbad, it takes all but a 10 minute walk to get access to Gemmi. This is the starting point of a pretty nice Via Ferrata adventure. It is Switzerland’s longest, so not surprisingly, it is really high with great views.
Unfortunately, I was not able to check it off my bucket list this time around. But trust me, I am planning to go back to Leukerbad soon in order to complete this highly rated trail.
(Photograph copyright walliserhof.eu)
Eat your fair share of cheese fondue.
My girlfriend is a huge cheese fan, so treating her with a real Swiss cheese fondue is a must. We picked Restaurant Sternen for their big selection of fondues. As the fondue pot arrives, I realize that this is my first fondue without a man around to finish it. (For some obscure reasons, if you are eating a fondue with at least one man, he will keep on eating until it is done – and sometimes even pretend he is still hungry.)
There seems to be some kind of alpha status associated with finishing a fondue. As it turns out, the two girlfriends are able to finish the entire pot by ourselves… Fondue fork drop.
I can recommend Restaurant Sternen, and I dare you to try the typical fondue from this region: It contains tomato juice.
Drink wine (You’re in Valais, after all.)
This is not my first time in the region of Leukerbad. I had the chance of going to several wine tastings in the past, after which I called people to tell them how much I love them. The region is making very good wine, hands down.
For instance, you can take a bus from Leukerbad to Varen where you can find a lot of vineyards. For a reason you will read about below, we were not able to go. Fortunately, there is a small wine shop in Leukerbad called Alvino. Our advice: Arriving early comes with the privilege of a seat.
Soak in the heavenly Alpentherme thermal bath.
Leukerbad is thermal bath heaven! We went straight to Alpentherme, and it seriously does not get better than this. (If any other spas in Switzerland are up for the challenge, I am ready!). The view of the mountains from the warm thermal water is simply perfection. The sauna area is really nice as well. It looks like a small village with different temperatures in each little house.
A warning for non-Europeans: The sauna is a big, mixed, naked zone. You can keep your towel on, but be aware that some people will not. They have this sauna animation called Aufguss (infusion) where they fan with a towel in order to bring the heat down to the face.
It is a little bit tricky to explain, so I made this slow-motion video for you to fully appreciate the intricate art of the towel flipping *cough cough*:
Oh yes, one last thing for the ladies…
Meet Adrian who works at the Alpentherme. Because if you needed one more excuse to go to Leukerbad, he is it! I hear that Adrian also gives massages – one reason for me to return! If you still need more reasons on why to visit Leukerbad, then I do not know…