Gstaad Tourist Attractions
The summer and winter resort of Gstaad in the high valley of the Saane, in the western part of the Bernese Oberland, has for many years enjoyed an international reputation, while still preserving its character as a village of holiday chalets. It is known for the Swiss International Tennis Championships, its Alpine golf-courses, the annual Menuhin Festival along with plays and concerts during the Alpine gala in September. The resort is a paradise for walkers and climbers, with cableways providing easy access to the mountains. River-rafting (white-water trips) on the river Saane and the Simme, to the south, is becoming increasingly popular.The Montreux-Oberland railroad (built 1905) and the adjacent pass roads make Gstaad easily accessible from both German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland.
To Wasserngrat (2,000 m/6,562ft; length 2,585 m/8,481ft, height difference 826 m/2,710ft, time 20 minutes), Eggli (1,580 m/5,184ft; length 1,451 m/4,761ft, height difference 514 m/1,686ft, time 10 minutes) and Höhi Wispile (1,940 m/6,365ft; length 3,039 m/9,971ft, height difference 865 m/2,838ft, time 20 minutes).
Together with Schönried, Saanenmöser and Château-d'Oex, Gstaad has one of the most scenic skiing areas in the Bernese Oberland, the "Weisse Hochland" with 250 prepared runs and 69 cableways and ski-lifts. There are skiing areas in three directions: the Eggli with its southern slopes, the Wispile with its eastern slopes and the Wasserngrat to the northeast. A 25km/15mi long-distance course runs from Gsteig via Gstaad, Saanen, Rougemont to Château-d'Oex.On the Eggli and in Turbach there is tobogganing, curling and ice-skating (ice stadium).When you think of Gstaad, you think of the jet set ski crowd drawn by the famous Palace Hotel, the shingle-roofed wooden chalets and by the skiing on 180 miles of trails served by 69 lifts. Gstaad borders the major ski area of the Gstaad Super Ski region which includes Les Diablerets with its challenging glacier runs.
This annual month-long festival takes place in August and includes at least 15 evening performances, including orchestral, choral and chamber concerts and organ recitals. Since its inception in 1956, the festival has focused on new music and new musicians, although it has also featured international stars performing traditional works. The repertoires usually vary, and include both classical styles such as Bach and Mozart to contemporary pieces by Gershwin and others. All performances take place in Saanen Church.
This annual two-week festival takes place in early September and includes at least five different symphonic and opera performances. The repertoire focuses on 19th century French and Italian works. Other events include piano recitals and dance, performed along with the operas and concerts in the Festival Tent.
There are a number of resorts in the surrounding area of Gstaad, including Lauenen, Gsteig and Saanen.
7km/4mi southeast of Gstaad is Lauenen (1,250 m/4,101ft; pop. 760), a beautifully situated health resort with a Late Gothic church (1520). An hour's walk south is the Lauenensee (1,379 m/4,524ft).
The road to the Col du Pillon leads to the resort of Gsteig of the Saane valley, which has preserved the character of an Alpine farming village. The road continues over the Col du Pillon (1,546 m/5,072ft) to Aigle in the Rhône valley.
Saanen (winter resort)
8km/5mi northwest of Gstaad is Saanen (1,020 m/3,348ft; pop. 1,600), chief town in the Upper Saane valley, a climatic and winter sports resort (ski-lifts) surrounded by many isolated farms. Church (rebuilt in 15th C.) with a fine tower and 15th C. wall-paintings in the choir. A prosperous stock-farming and dairy-farming area, notable for its cheese (Saanen, a grating cheese).To the north of the town rises the Hugelirat (1,902 m/6,240ft; three hours), from which there are superb views. From Saanen it is possible to continue to Lausanne, by either the Col des Mosses or the Col du Pillon.