Located in the Canton of Bern, in southwestern Switzerland, Gstaad is a stylish resort town, resplendent with majestic mountains and abundant ski slopes.
Known as the Swiss resort with the glamourous history, and described by actress Julie Andrews as the ” last paradise in a crazy world”, Gstaad has long been linked to a gallery of famous faces.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton regularly holidayed in Gstaad back in the 1970s. Since then, a parade of celebrities – including singer Madonna, designer Valentino, Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor Khan, and of course Ms Andrews – have enjoyed the Swiss hospitality.
There’s no disputing the elegance and style of this winter wonderland, but thankfully, you don’t have to be an A-lister to pay a visit.
Gstaad has star appeal (and plenty of first-class hotels), but it also has a down-to-earth vibe. Despite the chilly air, a warm Alpine welcome awaits you, and a sense of tradition runs through the resort.
Featured image: © Destination Gstaad / Melanie Uhkoetter
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Top things to do in Gstaad
Come up and slow down, as they say in Gstaad. The laid-back atmosphere will allow you to do that, but with so many fun things to do in Gstaad you might find it hard to sit still!
Aside from the ample opportunities to ski, Gstaad has plenty of cultural and sporting events to enjoy. If you’re feeling energetic you can hike, bike and play a round or two of golf. Gstaad also offers plenty of opportunities to shop until you drop, too.
Add to this the beautiful scenery that clamours for your attention, the Bollywood connection, and a whole host of other attractions, and you start to see why Gstaad is such a hit.
With so much going on, you won’t ever be left wondering what to do in Gstaad, but you might find yourself deliberating how to pronounce Gstaad! For the record, it’s pronounced Shtad. Now we’ve got that sorted out, let’s explore…
Stroll along Gstaad Promenade
Get your bearings and soak up the alpine atmosphere of this gorgeous village with a stroll along Gstaad Promenade.
Whether you are in the mood for a spending spree or just want to enjoy an afternoon of window shopping in Gstaad, you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of high-end boutiques featuring prestigious brands such as Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton.
Gstaad has a wonderful pedestrianised promenade, so take a leisurely stroll and you’ll find more designer stores including Prada and Hermes. Gstaad promenade is also home to eateries and hotels and the cobbled pedestrian-only street is very photogenic.
If you arrive in Gstaad by train, the promenade is just a few steps from the main station (Gstaad Hauptbahnhof).
Skiing in Gstaad
With so much snow in Gstaad you can’t not visit the slopes. The resort is best described as an outdoor utopia, the mountain air is fresh and crisp, and the skiing in Gstaad is nothing short of breath taking.
With a mixture of blue, red, and black runs there’s something for everyone. The biggest area, Rinderberg, is served by a valley to summit gondola at Saanerslochgrat.
Intermediate skiers will enjoy the 90 kilometres of slopes at Schönreid, but there are blue runs, too, for those who prefer a more leisurely pace.
There are a few smaller ski areas to the south, Wasserngrat and Wispile. However, the Eggli ski area is much bigger, and can be accessed via a gondola from Gstaad.
Alternatively, there’s Glacier 3000 (which we mention later in this article), with its near perfect snowy conditions, exhilarating descents and valley runs.
If you can tear yourself away from skiing, Gstaad has a wide range of other snowy activities for you (> click here to learn more). Gstaad Ice Rink is adjacent to the promenade and here you can check out winter sports such as curling and ice hockey, or pull on a pair of skates and pirouette your way around the rink!
Alternatively, climb aboard a toboggan and whizz down the powdery slopes, enjoy a spot of exhilarating dog sledding with huskies at the helm or take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride and soak up the scenery.
If that sounds a little too chilled, how about ice-climbing, hot air ballooning, heliskiing, geocaching, or paragliding? There are a number of launch sites and you can experience the buzz of a tandem paraglide with an expert pilot.
Go village hopping
Gstaad is the main tourist hot spot. Stylish and sprinkled with hotels, shops, bars and restaurants, the resort is a real gem.
But, take a look at a map of Gstaad, and you will see that the district is made up of nine other chalet villages –Schönried, Saanenmöser, Zweisimmen, Lauenen, Turbach, Feutersoey, Gsteig, Abländschen and Saanen.
The Gstaad district villages all lie between 1000 and 1400 metres above sea level, boasting scenic landscapes and an abundance of attractions.
Spa and wellness facilities
In Gstaad, things to do don’t only have to involve exerting yourself. You are on vacation so why not take some time out for yourself and head to a spa.
Gstaad has a wide range of luxurious hotels offering opportunities for relaxation and wellness.
Gstaad Palace Hotel has a swimming pool, sauna/steam bath and gym (plus massage and treatments available, too). You have to be a guest to make the most of the leisure facilities, but if you’re not, there are options for you, too.
There are public spas such as Park Gstaad with its indoor pools, jacuzzi, and outdoor pool (open during the summer). There’s also a bar area, which comes in handy as relaxing can be thirsty work.
Enjoy a Fondue picnic
You can’t visit Gstaad without indulging in the fondue experience. You can pack your own picnic, but why not opt for a fondue backpack instead? Simply order a backpack in advance from one of the local dairies.
Check with the Gstaad Tourist Office for further details.
Inside your backpack you will find all the equipment needed, such as a fondue warmer, plates, traditional fondue or truffle fondue, and crusty bread.
There are various designated fondue destinations in Gstaad including two eight-seater fondue caquelons – one on Schlittmoos, 15 minutes from Schönried and one at Vorderi Wispile on the hiking trail.
There are also a couple of fondue huts in Schönried.
Gstaad Cinema & Bollywood locations
If you’re a movie buff, you can catch Hollywood hits, family, or art house films in the small, but perfectly formed kino Gstaad. Expect the latest picture and sound technology along with comfy seats at the cinema.
Gstaad is also a popular hotspot for Bollywood blockbusters, and many renowned Indian movies such as “Bachana Ae Haseenno” were filmed against the scenic backdrop of the majestic mountains. Join a Bollywood tour (details below) and check out some of the famous film sets for yourself.
- Indian Film Location Express Tour > click here for prices and details
The weather in Gstaad, Switzerland is generally cold and temperate, with plenty of snow! Luckily, the outdoor sports here aren’t reserved just for the summer months.
You can go biking all year round. There are numerous trails, including routes suitable for beginners, and more challenging trails aimed at cross-country and mountain riders.
And there’s no need to stop pedaling for the snow – winter ‘fat bikes’ (wide tyres with low pressure) are available, too.
If you’re a fan of hiking, Gstaad has that covered, too. With over 300 kilometres of paths and trails, you can explore the moorlands, valleys, peaks, and gorges. The routes are made easily accessible to all via an efficient network of lifts, cable cars and public transport.
Don’t forget your camera – the scenery is picture perfect!
If that sounds too energetic, you could always attend one of the many world class sporting events including tennis. Gstaad hosts a renowned clay court tournament every year, known as the Swiss Open.
Gstaad’s entry on the ATP tour, first started in 1898, and is held every July.
Gstaad also hosts another big annual event, the International Polo Tournament. Every August you can see top players compete in a tough competition. If you’re a fan of polo, Gstaad is the place to be!
Gstaad’s natural wonders
The mountain lakes, rivers, and waterfalls of Gstaad look right at home in the spectacular landscape and a great way to visit some of Gstaad’s natural wonders is on a guided hike.
Experienced guides can tailor a hike to suit your interests – they know the area intimately and can plan the perfect hike for you. > Click here to find out more.
For those who wish to explore independently, the splendour and romance of Lake Lauenen (4 kilometres south of Lauenen) beckons hikers and nature lovers alike.
You can hire a boat from the Restaurant Lauenensee or just enjoy a gentle stroll on the shore.
You can also venture to Lake Arnen, located in the Tschärzistal Valley, where there’s an abundance of peace and tranquillity. Swim in the cool waters, fish, or go for a bracing hike.
There are BBQ spots along the shore if you get hungry, and there’s a restaurant if you prefer to let someone else do the cooking for you.
Other lakes include Lake Seeberg, Hornberg Reservoir Lake, Lake Sanetsch, and Lake Retaud. There are mountain rivers too, and one of the most striking is Chalberhönibach, situated in a beautiful valley.
You can’t visit Gstaad without marvelling at one or two of the imposing waterfalls, such as Geltenschuss and Tungelschuss, located behind Lake Lauenen.
More things to do in Gstaad
Iglu Dorf Gstaad (the igloo village) is situated 2,000 metres above sea level and offers striking views, mesmerising sunsets, a sauna and a whirlpool, and, most exciting of all, real igloos for you to sleep in!
The village is open from December through to April and hosts plenty of events, including a fondue evening with a torchlight descent.
Wispile Gstaad is a mountain of fun for families. The child-friendly area has plenty of ski-slopes and the legendary Lake Lauenen.
There’s also a particularly exhilarating hike, offering panoramic views with a twist. Hike along the broad ridge on foot, and then enjoy a stimulating toboggan ride down into Gsteig.
Glacier 3000 offers adventure, alpine scenery, architecture and a cableway – all in all, it’s a glacier world ripe for exploration. Mario Botta designed the iconic summit station, and the view is awe-inspiring.
Must-do activities at Glacier 3000 include the Peak Walk, a suspension bridge linking two mountain peaks, dog sledding, and the Alpine Coaster toboggan run.
More than twenty snowy mountain tops stand to attention before you, and you can pick out the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and Eiger (amongst others) in the distance.
The Glacier 3000 cable car station is located at Col du Pillon, a 20 minute drive from Gstaad. A Postbus service also operates from Gstaad. The Line 180 bus departs every hour and takes 32 minutes to reach Col du Pillon.
When you take the cable car up to Mount Eggli, Gstaad will feel a million miles away. Here you can take in the vistas and enjoy a bite to eat.
There’s also a four-kilometre-long toboggan ride, known as the Eggli Run, that’s suitable for all ages and abilities.
Major events in Gstaad
- Swatch Beach Volleyball Major – July
- Swiss Open ATP tennis – July
- Hublot Polo Gold Cup – August
- Gstaad Zuglete – September (the descent of the cattle from the alpine pastures)
Where to stay in Gstaad
Gstaad boasts a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. From 5* star hotels – there are five of them! – to apartments and chalets to youth hostels, you’ll find a comfy place to lay your head.
We’ve included more than a dozen of Gstaad’s best hotels in > this article.
For more options on where to stay in Gstaad, > click here. (mark as sponsored)
Where to eat in Gstaad
Just as there are accommodation options to suit every budget, in Gstaad you can dine on everything from a quick snack to a gourmet meal cooked by a Michelin-starred chef.
Here are a few of our top picks:
- For Michelin-star meals – Menu at The Alpina Gstaad
- For delicious Swiss specialties enjoyed in a cosy log cabin – Le Petit Chalet at La Grand Bellevue Hotel
- For tasty Indian dishes (dine in and takeaway) – Mango Restaurant
- For traditional Swiss cuisine – Hotel Gstaaderhof
- For quick but tasty meals during the day – the upstairs restaurant at Coop Supermarket
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Where is Gstaad
Gstaad is situated in the Canton of Bern in south western Switzerland. It is 87 kilometres from Bern, 152 kilometres from Geneva and 207 kilometres from Zurich.
How to get to Gstaad
Gstaad is well serviced by public transport and an excellent road network. Journey times from major Swiss cities are as follows:
- Bern to Gstaad – 1h:15 by car / 2h:20 by train via Spiez
- Geneva to Gstaad – 1h:50 by car / 3h by train
- Zurich to Gstaad – 2h:30 by car / 4h:05 by train
Gstaad is a stop on the GoldenPass Line, one of Switzerland’s most popular panoramic train routes. Montreux can be reached via the GoldenPass Line in just 1h:35 and Interlaken in 2h:04.
Don’t let the fact that it’s a glamorous resort stop you from visiting Gstaad. The charming village offers something for everyone, regardless of your interests and budget.
Whilst there are an endless list of things to do in Gstaad, be sure to take some time to just sit back and appreciate the gorgeous scenery. And of course, the views are free!
To read our full guide to the Bernese Oberland Region, > click here.
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