A family eating fondue at a table in the Swiss countryside.
© Destination Gstaad

Top 10 things to do in Gstaad in autumn

From forest bathing to outdoor fondue, Gstaad has something to offer for everyone this autumn

Written by Time Out. Paid for in partnership with Destination Gstaad.
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Attracting everyone from A-list celebrities to families looking for a relaxing break, Gstaad is many things to many people. Some come to enjoy the wealth of outdoor activities (including over 300km of hiking trails and an extensive cycle route network), while some prefer to explore the region’s many excellent restaurants and acclaimed local cuisine, while others visit just to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with nature.

Whatever your reason for visiting Gstaad, it’s impossible not to be won over by the area’s incredible natural beauty and mountainous scenery – the jewels in its crown. Autumn is the perfect time to visit, simply because you can do all of the above, and much, much more. Here’s our pick of the top ten activities and experiences to make the most of your autumn in Gstaad.

A mirrored house in the countryside, reflecting the scenery.
A mirrored house in the countryside, reflecting the scenery.
© Destination Gstaad

Walk to the mirage mirror house

If you’re on the scenic hike from Gstaad to Schönried and you stumble across a house that looks like it’s fallen from the distant future into the Swiss countryside, don’t be alarmed. You’re simply looking at Mirage Gstaad, an exhibit by Los Angeles artist Doug Aitken, who covered a house in mirrors to reflect the beautiful landscape around it as the seasons change. It’s an incredible spectacle, but make sure you seek it out quickly, as it’s only there until the end of the winter season – trust us, you’ll be glad you tracked it down when you set eyes on all that reflective splendour.

The inside of a traditional Swiss hotel, Hotel Kernen.
The inside of a traditional Swiss hotel, Hotel Kernen.
© Hotel Kernen

Eat gemspfeffer in a gorgeous hotel

Ex-professional Swiss ski-racer Bruno Kernen doesn’t just have a talent for hurtling down the slopes faster than anyone else (he won the Hahnenkamm downhill race at Kitzbühel in 1983). It turns out he’s also a natural when it comes to hospitality and food, as his popular Hotel Kernen proves. The hotel is known around the area for its game dishes, particularly the famous gemspfeffer, made with pickled pepper. Find out more about Gstaad’s local specialities here.

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two people on e-bikes in the Swiss countryside
two people on e-bikes in the Swiss countryside
© Destination Gstaad

E-bike your way around town

Cycling is great, but sometimes you just want the good bits of a scenic cycle ride (the Instagram-worthy scenery), but without all the thigh-burning effort required to get there. That’s where Gstaad’s many e-bikes come in handy, allowing you to zip around the region’s 150km cycle route network and enjoy the breath-taking scenery, but with the added bonus of an environmentally friendly motor to give you a boost whenever you need it, making your ride as effortless as you like.

Lake Retaud surrounded by flowers and mountains.
Lake Retaud surrounded by flowers and mountains.
© Destination Gstaad

Undertake a three-lake hike

Epic lakes and dramatic mountains are a big part of why you ventured into the Swiss countryside, so make sure you see some stunning examples of both by embarking on Gstaad’s popular three-lake hike. The route starts at the glorious Lake Retaud, before passing Alp Seeberg and its pretty mountainside lake, finishing at the spectacular blue waters of Lake Arnen Feutersoey. It’ll take you around four hours to complete the trail and you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

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Cows parading through a village street as part of a village fete.
Cows parading through a village street as part of a village fete.
© Destination Gstaad

Experience local life

See Gstaad at its most vibrant as local farmers lead their cattle down from the mountains into the village. It’s a fascinating and fun tradition that the whole family can enjoy, and gives a great insight into local village culture. Different farmers head down to the village at different times – check the online events calendar for specific dates as they’re published.

Inside a spa, with towels on treatment chairs.
Inside a spa, with towels on treatment chairs.
Mark Nolan

Relax in a soothing spa

When it’s time to relax, Gstaad has got you covered. The region has been awarded the prestigious ‘Wellness Destination’ title by the Swiss Tourist Association thanks to its extensive amenities, which include seven dedicated spa and wellness hotels. It’s the perfect excuse to switch off and simply enjoy being where you are.

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People in a forest, practicing forest bathing or 'shinrin-yoku'.
People in a forest, practicing forest bathing or 'shinrin-yoku'.
© Friends Of Saanenwald

Learn how to really get back to nature

The ancient Japanese art of shinrin-yoku translates as ‘forest bathing’, but there’s no water involved in the practice. Instead, it’s simply about surrounding yourself in nature and embracing it – literally, if you feel like it. A great place to experience shinrin-yoku for the first time is at the Friends of Saanenwald association near Gstaad, where you can go forest bathing in the beautiful Bernese Highlands as part of a week-long retreat that also includes yoga and meditation at a mountain lodge.

A fondue and picnic set in a field.
A fondue and picnic set in a field.
© Destination Gstaad

Alfresco fondue

In some parts of Switzerland it’s a faux pas to eat fondue outside of winter. Not in Gstaad, however, where outdoor fondue is an understandably popular pastime. The best way to experience it is with a special ‘Fondue Backpack’, a pre-packed set with everything you need for the ultimate outdoor feast. Choose from traditional fondue or a rich variety made with truffles, order your backpack and get out into the wild. Somehow, fondue tastes even better accompanied by panoramic views across Gstaad’s marvellous landscape.

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A field with flowers and herbs in the Swiss countryside.
A field with flowers and herbs in the Swiss countryside.
© Hikes & Herbs

Hikes and herbs

How can you make a hike around Gstaad even more enjoyable? By adding some creative culinary adventuring into the mix. Author and garden expert Sabine Reber and hiking guide Ruedi Hählen have joined forces to create a tour that offers the best of both those worlds, beginning with a gentle hike in a picturesque location and ending at Sabine’s mountain herb garden above Gsteig, where you’ll enjoy drinks and canapés, including edible flowers and other treats handpicked from the host’s garden. If that gets you in the foraging mood, Sabine will also give tips on collecting your own Alpine herbs.

A wooden hut (Schürli) in the Swiss countryside.
A wooden hut (Schürli) in the Swiss countryside.
© Schür.li / Michi Gehret

Visit a countryside cabin

Take time to slow down and revel in the pure, unfiltered peace of the countryside by taking a trip out to one of Gstaad’s schürlis, traditional wooden huts scattered around rural locations in the region. These huts are a window into a different way of life and offer the chance to truly get away from it all. You can even plan a schürli tour, walking between different huts and admiring the views along the way for the full experience.

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