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Andermatt Swiss Alps

The most original ways to explore Andermatt

When spring comes to Andermatt, the winter snows melt, and we pack up our skis and snowboards for another season. However, that’s no reason to stop exploring the area around Andermatt, as spring brings a raft of new ways to get around. Here are our top five picks of the most original ways to take in the scenery, and visit some of the nearby towns and villages this spring.

Spring in Andermatt

1) The Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway – All aboard this little steam train (known as the DFB in German), which has been carrying travellers over the Alps since 1926. A portion of it now operates as a heritage railway between Realp and Oberwald, allowing you to relive the glamour of the steam age and take in the scenery at your leisure.

Furka Steam Railway image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Furka Steam Railway image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Reserving your tickets in advance via the official website is highly recommended, as this is a popular option. (The DFB opens for summer 2013 on 22nd June.)

2) The Via Ferrata Diavolo – A via ferrata (or Klettersteig) is a quintessentially Alpine style of climbing trail. A steel cable fixed into the rock at intervals both guides climbers and aids their progress. Ideal for beginners, this particular route is challenging but not too technical: don’t be put off by its devilish name, which is taken from the bridge near its start.

Via Ferrata image via Flickr by chriscom

The route takes you through the Schöllenen gorge, with its granite rocks and impressive views down to the valley floor. Begin your climb at the Furka-Oberalp-Bahn station, and follow the main road through the Urner Loch into the Schöllenen gorge. Before you reach the Teufelsbrücke Bridge, turn right and head towards the Suvorov Memorial. You’ll see the start of the route proper across a low wall. The way is well signed throughout, and will take 3 hours in total, leading you back down to Andermatt to finish.

Equipment hire, including hard hards and climbing ropes, is available from Alpina Sport AG, Gottardstrasse 101, in Andermatt, where staff will be happy to advise you.

Best avoided when the ground is wet, the Via Ferrata Diavolo is open from mid-June to October, from sunrise to sunset.

3) The Reisepost – A trip in this horse-drawn mail coach will carry you back in time over the Alps. Before modern transport links, this was how all traffic traversed the mountains, and how Andermatt stayed in touch with the outside world. Today, the faithfully-replicated coupé landau (driven by coachman and conductor in traditional uniforms) and its five horses will carry you in comfort and style from Andermatt south to Airolo via the Gotthard pass, with stops for refreshments, lunch and sightseeing along the way. An unforgettable experience.

4) World of Water Discovery Path – this 60km-long trail through the Göscheneralp valley is a route with a difference. Walk a little every day, or just pick one section to explore. A total of ninty stopping-points along the way will provide you with information about water as an element, and its crucial importance in shaping the Alpine landscape all around you.

Alpine lake image via Flickr by Artur Staszewski

5) The Schöllenenbahn – this rack-and-pinion railway, with its mechanism specially adapted to conquer the precarious Alpine inclines, opened in 1917. Its red trains will take you via impressive feats of engineering, including long tunnels, and spectacular bridges. From Andermatt, head either north-east to Disentis, where you can explore the huge and ancient monastery, or south-west towards the picturesque town of Brig. (Open year-round, weather permitting.)

The Schöllenenbahn - image via Wikimedia Commons

Find out what Andermatt has to offer winter visitors in our posts about skiing and snowboarding.

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