You could say that Leukerbad is the spa of Switzerland. Its bathing culture dates back thousands of years, starting from the early Romans. Nowadays, Leukerbad is home to some of the most stunning spa resorts in the Alps. Combined, they pump up almost four million liters (over 1 million gallons) of water collectively from over 60 springs in the region to create the healing and relaxing water flow that most visitors come for.
The ancient literature mentions the bathhouses of Leukerbad, but it wasn’t until 1501 when the thermal tourism developed. Since then, Leukerbad has been visited by a lot of prominent historical figures such as Mark Twain, Guy de Maupassant, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
In 1980, they built their first thermal center. Much of Leukerbad is still au Naturelle. There are still plenty of rivers, streams, and forest areas. Only about 2% of it is housing and transportation. With this said, Leukerbad is perfect for those who want to mix history and nature together. Here is a couple of places of interest to check out in this area:
1. Take a thermal bath in the largest thermal spa resort in the Alps
Leukerbad as a whole is considered the largest thermal spa resort in the Alps. Whether you’re coming here for therapeutic purposes or just to relax, the natural thermal waters are perfect for this dual purposes and are open 365 days a year. The water in Leukerbad can go up to 51-degree celsius (124°F). This is especially great for active trekkers and vacationers who want to relax their sore muscles after a day out in the mountains. The waters are open to everyone.
Leukerbad Thermal Pools
Address: Pfyn-Finges Nature Park, Rathausstrasse 32, 3954 Leukerbad, Switzerland
Website: Leukerbad Thermal Pools
2. Try the cable car or adventure sports at Torrent
If you aren’t prone to vertigo, then by all means, take the cable car to the Torrent Alp which goes up to 2,313 meters (7,589 feet) above sea level. From there, you can catch a beautiful view of the French Alps on one side and the Italian Alps on the other. It’s also especially nice for trekkers, skiers, and mountain bikers who want a little bit of a lift going up before they take the slide down.
Torrent Bahnen Leukerbad
Address: Bergstation Rinderhütte, 3954 Leukerbad, Switzerland
Website: Torrent Bahnen Leukerbad
3. Hike the icy natural landscape of Wildstrubel, Altels, Balmhorn or Steghorn
While Leukerbad also has great tails during the spring and autumn seasons, hiking it during the winter months is also quite an experience. At this time, you will get to experience the snowy fairytale landscape of Switzerland. Other than the historical Gemmi Pass, there are other hiking trails to choose from, from long to short, and steep or ground level hikes. Those with impressive peaks though are Wildstrubel, Altels, Balmhorn, and Steghorn. Mountain guides are available all throughout Leukerbad to guide you through the icy terrain.
Hiking Tour Around Mt. Wildstrubel
Address: Kandersteg Tourismus Hauptstrasse, 3718 Kandersteg, Switzerland
Website: Hiking Tour Around Mt. Wildstrubel
4. Climb the thrilling adventure pass at Gemmi via Ferrata
The Gemmi Pass plays an important historical role in the development of Switzerland as it became the preferred route between Bern and Valais. If you want to climb rather than taking the cable car, whichever way, your goal is to reach 2,322 meters above sea level or 7,618 feet, the highest point in the pass. Other than Ferrata, you can also take other hiking trails such as that of Kandersteg, Adelboden, or Wildstrubel.
Gemmi Pass via Ferrata
Address: Leukerbad Tourismus Rathaus Postfach, 100 3954 Leukerbad, Switzerland
Website: Gemmi Pass via Ferrata
5. Bath and dine like Caesar with Leukerbad's Roman-Irish Night
The official website says “Leave the humdrum of daily life behind and enjoy the music from a bygone era.” The Roman-Irish Night is cosplay with a historical twist. During the Roman-Irish Nights, (dates of which change, but it’s always announced months beforehand) visitors can have a genuine steam and water bath with a brush and soap massage. And just like how the Romans did in ancient times, together with the bath, you can also enjoy a buffet of meat, grapes, olives, and such in candlelight.
Leukerbad's Roman-Irish Night
Address: Walliser Alpentherme & Spa Leukerbad
Website: Leukerbad’s Roman-Irish Night
6. Get your thrill on with the Klettersteig Gemmi-Daubenhorn hiking trail
There are about 65 beautiful hiking trails in Leukerbad but the Klettersteig Gemmi-Daubenhorn trail is especially challenging and worth the mention because it has the longest fixed-rope climbing route in Switzerland. It’s also called a via Ferrata, a route made out of cables and ladders. The trail has 216 meters (709 feet) of ladder and 2,000 meters (6,562 ft) of steel cables. From that angle, you can see the beautiful view of the Valais Alps along with the thrill of having the wind and sometimes rain at your back. It’s ideal for those who love the thrill of heights.
Address: Leukerbad tourism Rathaus CH-3954 Leukerbad, Switzerland
Website: Klettersteig Gemmi-Daubenhorn
7. Enjoying one of Europe’s largest Pine Forests, Pfyn Forest
Pfyn Forest is a nature park center found in the center of Valais. It houses Europe’s largest pine forests, and several animal and plant species. The River Rhone also flows through Pfyn. Apart from its natural significance, Pfyn is also of national importance because it is the border of the German and French language in Switzerland. You can find several exhibitions, a specialized library, and an information booth in the area.
Address: Natur- und Landschaftszentrum Kirchstrasse 4 Postfach 65, Switzerland
Website: Pfyn Forest
8. Make a day out of the Shepherds' Festival in Gemmi Pass in July
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Combined with the Sheep procession at Gemmi Pass, the Shepherds’ Festival is a fun event that highlights the hard work and camaraderie of shepherds and farmers all over Leukerbad. The festival is held in Kandersteg to Sunnbuel. In order to ease the climb of outside spectators, the Sunnbuel cableway runs backs and forth on that day. You can also take the old Roman Road, which is a traditional hiking trail going to Gemmi Pass. The whole hike will take you around 90 minutes. Expect a lot of singing, dancing, and, of course, sheep!
Address: Kandersteg Tourismus 3718 Kandersteg, Switzerland
Website: Shepherds’ Festival
Leukerbad may hold important historical significance but it doesn’t mean that it’s chockfull of tourists just yet. So much of it is still dense forest, rivers, mountain streams, and small town living. You will be surprised at how carefully it has preserved its old town feel. All in all, it’s a great getaway for those looking for a slower, more intimate way of life.
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