Switzerland

Christmas in the Swiss Alps : The Magical Winter Wonderland of Bettmeralp

Christmas in the Swiss Alps was a dream come true. Bettmeralp was enchanting, captivating and an extraordinary place to visit. The fact that it was Christmas just made it that little bit more special and of course that little bit more magical.

 

Traveling to Bettmeralp For Christmas

Our day started out meeting one of my three sons, Brynn, at Zürich Train Station. He had flown in from Canada, where he is studying at university. Big hugs all around and then straight to working out which train to catch to Brig.

My youngest son, at eighteen, was meant to be meeting us here too – flying in from Amsterdam. However, his flight was cancelled and with it being Christmas, couldn’t get a flight for another two days so was now going to be arriving the next day via an overnight bus.These are the ‘resilience building’ parts of travel! My eldest son was also arriving the next day, from Australia. 

Booking online at SBB ( the National railway line of Switzerland) a month before we travelled and buying a ‘Saver Day Pass’, resulted in about a fifty percent fare saving. These tickets are only available a month prior and the earlier you buy them the cheaper they are. With the ‘Saver Day Pass’ you can travel the whole of Switzerland for that scheduled day on all routes, whether on SBB trains or trains of other rail companies including boats, buses and trams. 

red and blue train with green mountains in distance
Swiss Alps Matterhorn Train

The transport system in Switzerland is pretty efficient and easy to work out. The train from Zürich to Brig took about two and a half hours and was a comfortable ride. We all had seats which was a vast improvement from the time we caught a train in Germany, where we had to sit on the floor for five hours!

From Brig we had a short ten minute train ride to Betten Talstation. We then caught the gondola up to Bettmeralp which is a car-free village. 

 

Stepping Into a Different World 

The view of the Swiss Alps on the gondola ride up to Bettmeralp was pretty amazing. However, stepping out of the talstation at the top felt like walking into a whole new world. A magical winter wonderland like nothing we had experienced before. There was a peacefulness and serenity across the breathtaking scenery that captured your heart and pulled you into its magic.

snow topped chalets with snow capped mountains of the swiss alps in the background
Magnificent view of the Swiss Alps across the valley from Bettmeralp

We were lucky enough to have a friend pick us up in a snow mobile to carry our luggage to the rented apartment. You can get a taxi (snow mobile) or walk with your luggage (although it seems that a smart choice is use a toboggan loaded with luggage to tow behind you).

woman sat on snow mobile with tracks as tyres and a man with a beard and wooly hat stood beside
Our snowmobile transport in car-free Bettmeralp

Bettmeralp is in the heart of the Aletsch Mountain Arena in the Swiss Alps, at altitude 2000m, with rustic and authentic Swiss chalets. The winter season had just begun and the village was already becoming a vibrant hub. The main street was filled with skiers, snowboarders and parents pulling their toddlers and children along on toboggans. Christmas decorations in the street and adorning the chalets and restaurants blended naturally into this special Christmas scene.  

on the left a pine tree covered in snow , a christmas street scene with houses either side and lots of people skiing on the snow covered road in between
Main street through the village

We booked the chalet in July but surprisingly found that many were already booked so our advice would be to organise this earlier rather than later. The restaurants, bars and shops were open everyday, including Christmas Day. There were two small supermarkets that stocked most of the foods you would need. Bear in mind however, that the Swiss Christmas customs may be different to your own. In our case we could not find Christmas puddings or cranberry sauce! That’s part of the fun though – adjusting to new customs. 

View of many chalets covered with snow on their roofs, on a swiss alps mountain slope
Bettmeralp village with its classic Swiss chalets

Sunrise in the Swiss Alps

The first morning we awoke to the most beautiful sunrise we have ever witnessed. The sun cast rays from behind the Alps and clouds filled the valley. It was heavenly!

In the foreground snow covered three level apartments, in the middle are white fluffy clouds, in the background, snowy swiss alps with pink and orange colours in the sky behind
Our first sunrise in Bettmeralp

What can I say, Bettmeralp was just the perfect place for our Christmas family holiday. My other two sons arrived and we were now complete. Ski and snowboard equipment was quickly and easily hired and we were ready to go! The boys were soon off on the slopes snowboarding and already competing on who could handle the steepest slope! Ourselves … well, we were learning to ski which definitely challenged both the grey matter and our coordination! Luckily we have kept fit on our trip so the muscles weren’t too sore and were up for the job. Our technique however, needed much adjustment. 

Woman in black ski pant and red jacket on skis stood beside man in khaki and black speckled ski pants and blue jacket with green hat on skis. In the background are ski slopes of swiss alps
We look like we know what we are doing!

Fortunately, we had an excellent ski instructor, Marcus Rahm, from Snow Passion. He collected us daily from the chalet and made us feel extremely comfortable on the slopes. We were skiing back to our apartment by the end of the week! This was no mean feat, given our starting point of not even knowing how to put on our boots!  I would thoroughly recommend him and his wife Innes, who speaks most European languages that you could list off! They live in Bettmeralp and teach the very beginner to the most experienced of skiers.

three young adults hanging from the branches of a snow covered tree
The three boys having off piste fun!

Enjoying the Scenery Among the Swiss Alps

When we weren’t skiing, we were taking beautiful walks and becoming increasingly enchanted by this mystical place. Snowploughs regularly cleared most of the main routes but if you walk off these areas though, you could find yourself knee-deep in the powdery snow. There were a few occasions we were waist deep!

A wooden chalet with a wooden brige in front of it but all topped with snow. Snow covered mountains in the background
We tried to take a short cut heading up through the village – ended up waist deep in snow!

In each direction we walked there was more beauty to behold. On the days that the sun shone, it was like walking on a thick blanket of tiny glistening diamonds.

White chapel on a small hill - all covered in snow with snow covered mountains in the background
Bettmeralp Chapel standing proud atop the glistening snow

 

snow scene with snow, trees and mountains and the pink hue of sunlight coming from the right
The magnificent scenery as we walked towards Riederalp

 

Snow scene with trees, mountains of the swiss alps and a road just visible as has been flattened out between the drifts of snow
Spectacular scenery at every turn

On the days it snowed, it was just as magical as we felt the weightless snow flakes fall on our eyelashes like tiny butterfly kisses. The silence and stillness permeated the landscape as the feathery snow muffled sounds and enveloped its surroundings. Branches hung low with the weight of the pristine, white flakes softly layering themselves. The simple trees became masterpieces of nature.

Close up of branches of a pine tree with snow frozen around the pine needles
The trees dressed in winter’s splendour

 

woman on left smiling with red jacket and man on right smiling with blue jacket and green beanie. trees and snow of the swiss alps in the background
Enjoying the snowfall

 

Magical Christmas 

This was a wonderful, enchanting, captivating place to visit. The fact that it was Christmas just made it that little bit more special and certainly magical.

woman wearing red jacket laying across the legs of four men - her three sons and husband. in swiss alps
Family love

This Christmas, we weren’t leaving carrots out for the reindeer or leaving a glass of milk for Santa, for we had our own special kind of Christmas magic – the magic of togetherness. 

Michelle

Author: Michelle

After finishing my Law Degree I decided to become a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, learning and most of all, about inspiring others. Now, as a writer and blogger, I love sharing our travels and our musings on life’s journey. I hope, through these, we can play a part in inspiring you to do whatever ‘satisfies your soul’.

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