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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.