If you love a country that is green and lush, has some serious Mountain peaks to climb with hotels that back onto glassy lakes or terrain then Switzerland is the holiday destination for you. I'm also very much an outdoors person who loves a good daily walk, so a location that requires ascending a mountain on a lovely day with a back pack is heaven for me.
On this trip I chose Stansstad in the Lake Lucerne region of Switzerland. This is the perfect area to stay a couple of nights and is 5 minutes drive to the base of Mount Stanserhorn in the town of Stans. The other option is to stay in Luzerne, which is the most popular city in Switzerland. This city is serviced by a very efficient train system with 2 trains leaving daily to Stans every 2 hours. I booked my hotel on Bookings.com; there was a large selection to choose from, but I decided on Hotel Hermann. This hotel is only 5 minutes from the nearby lake and 5 minutes from the base of the mountains. Even you are not driving it still a great hotel as it is only a 10 minutes walk from the station or a 4 minute bus ride. Do expect that Switzerland will be more expensive for accommodation and eating out than other areas in Europe - but it is usually always at a high standard. My double room was around CHF 160.00 per night which is around $180 AUS dollars. If you don't mind an older style hotel, then you should be able to find hotels at a lower rate depending on time of year.
Our hotel location
The hotel we chose was within walking distance of several lovely restaurants overlooking the lake and mountains. Our first night was at a superb Italian restaurant situated right on the lake in front of Hotel Winkelried.
It was a coolish clear night in mid September. Any area in Switzerland at this time of year near a lake and mountain will require wearing a light jumper or jacket if you wish to sit outside and enjoy an evening meal but is well worth it to enjoy such a stunning location and with tantalising cuisine.
The next morning we headed off early to the base of Mount Stanserhorn in Stans and jumped aboard the old timber carriage on the funicular railway. It was an open carriage so I easily took some great photos of the traditional bell wearing Swiss cows and sheep; I almost expected to see and hear the Von Trapp family singing! This photo I took hardly looks real but believe me it is!
We stopped at the mid station to transfer to a Cabrio cable car, which has an upper open deck allowing 30 people to stand comfortably. The cables are located along the side enabling easy access for more photo opportunities.
Stanserhorn is approx. 1,898 metres above sea level with an amazing 360 degree view of the mountain ranges and lake. At the top of the mountain there is a revolving restaurant offering a good selection of food and beverages.
There is also an open deck area where patrons can just laze around with a cocktail taking in the magnificent panoramic view and inhaling fresh mountain air.
The mountain climbing enthusiasts can make their own trek up the mountain via several paths and travel back down in the Cabrio cable car is feeling weary. It is important to note that if you leave it too late in the day to travel back down, the temperature drops fairly quick and you can be waiting in a long line of people, so it's a good idea to carry a lightweight water and wind chill proof jacket.
After a day on the mountain you work up quite an appetite so off to dinner you will go. Within a 15 minute stroll from our hotel was another superb restaurant named [LINK=http://al-porto.ch/alporto/]Aiola al porto/LINK]; this restaurant is situated right on the Lake with a lovely table out on the balcony where we enjoyed some delicious antipasti.
My favourite was carpaccio de manzo (raw beef tenderloin with arugula capers & parmesan) followed by some risotto ai fruitti di mare paired with a lovely wine and of course you can't refuse dolci. Forget about dieting when you visit Europe, just enjoy!
The next day I was sad to leave this stunning location and would have loved a couple more days to explore several other walking and mountain tracks that surrounded the lake and mountain ranges.
Do keep this location in mind if you are hiking enthusiasts and lovers of gourmet cuisine. But equally so even if you just want to experience Switzerland and inhale the fresh air while gazing in awe at mountains as far as the eye can see. It is well worth a visit.