We believe that the beauty of the Alps can be not only in glorious mountains but also alpine villages. Since the largest and highest mountain range in Europe span eight countries, including France, Italy, Switzerland, Monaco, Germany, Slovenia, Lichtenstein, and Austria, there are enough nominees for the “Alpine Oscar”. Travelling through the countries tightly sewn together with the threads of the Alps, we’ve chosen the winners.
How many villages with a waterfall 300 m high cascading from a cliff right near their edge do you know?
When you get to Lauterbrunnen, your first thought will be: “It seems I am in a fairy tale”. Surrounded by the mountains, this Swiss village really deserves a beauty award. The gods of the mountains (if they exist) were so generous that blessed it with meadows, mountains, rocks and picturesque valleys, and crowned all these with the mount of Jungfrau, known as the Top of Europe. Having appreciated all this, people carefully fitted elegant wooden chalets into the masterpiece of nature. How many villages with a waterfall 300 m high cascading from a cliff right near their edge do you know? When the poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe saw the Staubbach waterfall, he was so much amazed that he wrote his famous Spirit Song Over The Waters. By the way, the name of the village itself means “plenty of fountains”. And the 300-meter giant is only one of the 70. You can take a lovely train from Lauterbrunnen to the neighbouring village of Interlaken admiring the surrounding beauty. Don’t forget to check in at the panoramic restaurant Piz Gloria. 40 peaks and 20 glaciers will spread out before you from a height of 3,000 meters. Moreover, the restaurant is slowly revolving. As for the menu, you will have the chance to try your favourite James Bond’s specialties such as a breakfast with champagne and spaghetti, which the most famous secret agent ate according to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service movie.
Staubbach waterfall (Lauterbrunnen)
Road to Lauterbrunnen
Train to Interlaken
The most romantic way to explore the place is to take a fiacre to go around the lake or, even better, to take a pletna (a gondola-shaped traditional wooden boat).
Perhaps this is one of the most underrated alpine sites. However, it’s the right time to put the historical record straight and immediately go to the village of Bled. So, your schedule should look something like this: After a nutritious breakfast in one of the local taverns, hurry to the medieval 11-th century clifftop castle, the beloved residence of kings and the dictator Josip Broz Tito. When you explore the fortress and walk around the inner courtyard, you will understand why the monarchs and states secretary generals liked to have rest here so much. We believe you will be interested in getting acquainted with medieval tools, clothes, weapons, the herb gallery, and an old printing house. Following the excursion, enjoy visiting the castle restaurant and having a glass of wine (by the way, Slovenian wines are worth tasting!) while feasting your eyes with the Bled Lake and the Julian Alps. The lake was created by a glacier but it is fed by thermal springs: so the water is clean and warm and you can swim there until the fall comes. But what makes this place recognizable is an islet, the only decoration of which is the church. In ancient times it was a pagan temple honouring the ancient Slavic goddess of love. Girls, keep this in mind and let the right desires arise in your thoughts. To be sure that your request reached proper ears, do not forget to strike the bell. The most romantic way to explore the place is to take a fiacre to go around the lake or, even better, to take a pletna (a gondola-shaped traditional wooden boat). If you plan to stay in the town for a couple of days, take a walk to the Vintgar gorge ending with a very photogenic waterfall bearing a symbolic name of Shum (Noise). Climb to the bridge to have a better look at the running water. Contemplation of the waterfall is comparable of the meditation but is much better. If you find yourself here in the winter, do not forget: you are in the Alps. Although the local skiing area is not yet popularized, the region is full of pleasant surprises for skiers. The season lasts from late December to early April, and the nearest trail is just 150 meters from the town centre.
People still make a pilgrimage here, and the sanctuary is called the Church of the Three Peoples since it is located exactly on the very border of Austria, Italy, and Slovenia.
Monte-Lussari with its snow-white houses crowns one of the Dolomites mounts that look like a picture. As one of the mountain climbing adepts said: “… you should be bound to the mountains to the full extent, enjoying contemplation, pause and rest. So that summit ascent was not your only goal”. We hope that not only the cinematographers from Austria and Italy but you too like this idea. Just do not forget your camera. When admiring the reflection of the mountains in the transparent Fusine lakes through the lenses of the camera, you will be completely confused what is in fact the reflection and what is the reality … After riding an 11-minute lift up to the summit, you will see an ancient 16th-century chapel. The legend tells us that a vision of the Madonna appeared on the mountaintop before the villagers who took it as a sky-sign, and shortly thereafter a chapel was built. People still make a pilgrimage here, and the sanctuary is called the Church of the Three Peoples since it is located exactly on the very border of Austria, Italy, and Slovenia. In terms of cuisine, such a location worked for the village’s benefit. We recommend those who love game dishes to dine at Rifugio Alpino Meschnik ordering their fettuccine with venison. Meanwhile, the village itself has plenty of its own pursuits in addition to enjoying the beauty and alpine tastes, including skiing. Speed lovers will appreciate the local trail of almost four kilometres long. The village hosted international championships in alpine skiing so the trail meets all the quality standards. Regardless of the season it is worth to take a funicular to make a photo-tour and enjoy the views of the Alps framed by the downy emerald forests.
Neuschwanstein, a 19th-century palace that was the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.
Old Bavarian buildings, covered with iconographic scenes and flowers, line the cobblestoned streets of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. As they say, Willkommen (Welcome). The village has an adequate frame: it is surrounded by ancient monasteries, picturesque gorges for hiking and opulent palaces. It will just suffice to mention the Hunting Castle of the romantic King Ludwig II! If you want to live like royals, you can stay at the Elmau Castle. Its walls remember magnificent balls, hilarious banquets and receptions threw by the beau monde. Nowadays, anyone can stay in the hotel castle. Just some minutes away, you’ll find the Linderhof estates, the Ettal and Benediktbeuern abbeys, and the Walchensee and Kochelsee lakes, not to forget mentioning incredible space and a variety of landscapes for hiking. What about restaurants? Husar, Atlas Posthotel and Reindl Grill which are notable not only for the multiple-choice menus but also for their interior. If you’re up for the trip, an hour’s drive will land you at Neuschwanstein, a 19th-century palace that was the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. If you wish to ski, you do not need to go anywhere. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is located just near the highest German mount, Zugspitze (2,962 m), where you get on a cable car.
Nevertheless, things are still humming here. Today, the museum offers falconry lessons, sword-fighting seminars, forest walking tours and museum excursions.
The tiny village of Balzers stands out among others in a stamp-sized thanks to its picturesque location. Hidden from the other’s eyes in the green Neckar Valley, it is connected to its neighbours by a network of 370 km bike path. Just look up at the top of the hill and you will become breathless with the view of Gutenberg Castle which seems to grow from the very depths of the summit. The castle was built in the early XII century and apparently was under exceptional protection of the supreme forces throughout centuries. Neither natural disasters, nor wars, nor revolutions affected its picturesque image. Perhaps the village took its name from the castle as Balzers means just a “building” or a “mansion”. This ancient building has long taken its well-deserved rest. Now it’s a museum. Nevertheless, things are still humming here. Today, the museum offers falconry lessons, sword-fighting seminars, forest walking tours and museum excursions. Find time to drop into the rose garden, especially if you decide to visit Liechtenstein in the summer. You are guaranteed concerts, theatrical performances, that is, “bread and circuses” in short, as well as active rest, for example, windsurfing. The fans of wind and waves may enjoy on Lake Ober until late fall.
Hit the trails around the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschonau resort with a total of 145 km of trails.
Let us not criticize the Austrians for recognising their village as the most beautiful in the whole country. It’s pretty hard to disagree with the opinion of the locals with a hint of artistic taste. Every year, thousands of people looking for beauty visit this secluded Tyrolean town. Their eyes and cameras take in its cute wooden lodges, white churches, and miles of untouched alpine landscape, which is the same as it was thousands of years ago. Pay attention to the architecture created taking into account the surrounding landscape. How skilful were the builders when inserting the houses in the crags and lowlands. The phrase that the “village has found its place in the sun” should be taken literally. How else can you describe a plateau that is flooded with sunlight? We should not forget about a spiral glass-walled gallery and a panoramic Wiedersbergerhorn mount! A comfortable gondola will take you to the top and you can absorb the energy of this place of power overlooking the Alps, the Zillertal Valley, and the Rofan mountain range. Of course, the slopes look very tempting for skiing. Hope you took your skis with you to hit the trails around the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschonau resort with a total of 145 km of trails. The air is so pure and fresh that you can never get enough of it. No wonder the resort has a proud title of “the cleanest air in Austria”. The trails confirm the impeccable Austrian quality. Do not forget about such winter fun as sledging and paragliding.
Склоны Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschonau
Want to know where France’s rich and glamorous go to après-ski? Look no further than Chamonix, a ski resort town at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps. The 1924 Winter Olympics were held here, and it has gained incredible popularity ever since. Today, it has six ski areas, world-class hotels, high-end boutiques and brasseries. Actually, the town is rather larges for a resort so the first thing to do is to see the whole of it. You have three options to have a bird’s-eye view over the town. The first one is to hire a helicopter. The second is to take the gondola to Le Panoramic, a sprawling “Step into Nothing” glass-walled terrace (although not everyone will find courage to look into the air standing on a completely transparent floor). The most pleasant option is to visit Aiguille du Midi’s Le 3842 mountaintop restaurant, where the figure means the height at which this Michelin-cuisine temple is located. The serve fantastic foie gras with truffle sauce, escargot with morel mushrooms, and wild boar with a Burgundy wine glaze. After watching at the resort from the top down, you can explore its trails: to go down by the 20-kilometer trail at rapid-fire pace in the famous Vallée Blanche (White Valley), try your hand at snowboarding, and admire the sculptures in the Ice grotto with its ide exhibits updated every year. You are free in your choice in the warm season as well: go rafting, travel to Mer de Glace glacier or tour Chamonix by bicycle enjoying an unforgettable adventure.
Want to know where France’s rich and glamorous go to après-ski? Look no further than Chamonix, a ski resort town at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps.
Озеро Шезери, Шамони