Where to go for an action-packed summer in the mountains
Have you ever been skiing and wondered what the resort looks like after the snow has melted? The answer? Even more incredible views than during winter; beautiful chocolate-box villages adorned with bright hanging baskets, tumbling streams and ice-cold glacial rivers working their way through lush meadows grazed by cattle with bells around their necks, craggy mountainsides teaming with blueberries and the most exquisite wild flowers — everything Natasha depicts in our hand-painted Summer Collection.
It sounds a cliché, but every bit you might have read or seen about summer in the mountains is true. But if you, like us, like a bit more action on holiday than the summer fly-and-flop — where are the best places to find it? Mountain resorts do all offer a bit of everything, but here we’ve rounded up a selection of some of the better options for summer mountain fun.
Best for biking: Méribel, France
Biking in the mountains is glorious — because unless you’re trying out the Tour de France climbs on your road bike, you can use the ski lifts for the ascents. And what’s not to like about that? The French resort of Méribel, in the heart of the Three Valleys, is as much a paradise for cyclists in summer as it is for skiers in winter. There are 11 downhill itineraries, nine enduro itineraries, six itineraries designed specifically for electric mountain bikes and three cross-country itineraries. Méribel has also this year launched three new gentle trails aimed specifically at families — Le Clos Bernard, Les Cotilles and Col de la Loze Sprint. There are myriad bike hire shops, as well as events, training and guided tours all focussed on the bike. More information about what’s available for cycling fans in Méribel is available here.
Best for climbing: San Cassiano, Italy
While most climbers might think all roads — or routes — lead to Chamonix in the summer, why not think outside the box and explore this pretty, car-free mountain village with a secret reputation among hardcore climbers? You’d be hard-pushed to find better scenery — the Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage site — and the there is something for all level of climber. There are beginner walls and a Via Ferrata, but the star of the show is the Sass Dlacia, the biggest sport-climbing area in the Dolomites. There are more than 200 routes on this imposing, vertical crag, with a BBQ area and campsite at its base, as well as mountains filled with incredible restaurants, for which Alta Badia is famed, for that all-essential refuel.
Best for walking: Zermatt, Switzerland
This Swiss ski resort is hands down one of our favourites all year round. Rising to 4478m, the Matterhorn is spectacular whatever the weather, and you don’t have to be a hardcore mountaineer to make the most of hiking in the area. There are scores of marked trails around Zermatt and its famous peak, as well as the other 37 peaks of 4,000m surrounding it — so you can plan a walking holiday in the area based in a hotel, B&B or guest house in car-free town or why not stay in mountain huts? These linked-up wooden huts really come into their own on summer nights. A bit like its ski offering, Zermatt has walking routes for families right through to experts who might want to tackle the Matterhorn. More details of Zermatt’s walking options can be found here.
Best for watersports: Whistler, Canada
Avid skiers might consider visiting Whistler a waste of time during the summer months, but think again. Canada is a treat any time of year and the glacial valleys and Coast Mountains of British Columbia are extraordinary in summertime. The area teams with water of all kinds — rivers, lakes and the nearby coast — ideal for white-water rafting, kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, waterskiing and wake-boarding and even fishing and sailing. The beaches on Whistler-Blackcomb’s lakes are equipped with BBQs, perfect for family feasts after an action-packed day exploring. It doesn’t all have to be water-based, either, there is rock-climbing, mountain biking, bungee jumping, horse-riding trips, bear-viewing safaris and even summer bobsleigh at Whistler’s Sliding Centre, the only active sliding track in Canada.
Best for yoga: Verbier, Switzerland
This Swiss ski resort is year-round home to a huge, yoga-mad community which means yoga classes are available in every hotel and on every street corner. It’s become so popular among skiers and snowboarders — who recognise the benefits to mind and body through daily yoga practices — that the town now hosts its own yoga festival in late August. The Inspire Festival runs for three days (26-28 August 2022), bringing in holistic healing and yoga instructors and gurus from all around the world for yoga, meditation and relaxation sessions, lectures, and much, much more.
Best for trail running: Chamonix, France
We can’t talk about summer in the mountains without mentioning Chamonix, and while the legendary French ski resort is home to incredible mountain biking, hiking, climbing and mountaineering — it’s also become world renowned for its trail-running. The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is the pinnacle of the event calendar for most serious mountain runners, 10,000 of whom converge from all over the world to take part. The event had turned into a week-long trail running festival (22-28 August 2022), featuring seven different races but also host of talks, films and special events for the thousands of volunteers and spectators who turn up for what is an incredible spectacle. Read more about the UTMB here.