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Swiss Mountain Resorts :  Leukerbad

By guest writer Bob Bestor

Leukerbad combines awesome mountains with natural hot water springs.  It has lovely hiking trails in the summer, and good skiing in the winter.



Leukerbad is a lovely town, conveniently located not far from Geneva, and offers a very different experience to that found in Switzerland's cities.

Tiny in size, it is big in terms of tourist appeal, and if you're considering a Swiss ski or resort/spa vacation, Leukerbad is a great choice.

Where Leukerbad Switzerland is located

Up around the Furka Pass, at the foot of the Rhne Glacier, is where the river named Rhne begins its southwesterly trip to the eastern end of Lac Lman (Lake Geneva). Think of the river and its valley between Brig and Martigny as a spine with wiggly ribs extending from it on both sides. The "ribs" are intersecting valleys accessed by dead-end roads that snake up into the Alps. In these higher valleys are found some of Switzerland's best-known resorts: Zermatt, Saas Fee, Crans Montana, Verbier. Others, like Evolne, Zinal and the Ltschental, are not so well-known - at least by Americans.

In the lesser-known category is Leukerbad, population 1,700, a modest resort enclosed on three sides by a spectacular sheer rock wall, the Gemmiwand, that rises some 3,000 feet. From the town center, a cable car rises almost vertically to the Gemmi Pass at nearly 8,000 feet, where walkers pick their way over a flat, rocky moonscape and picnic by an Alpine lake.

Leukerbad's main attraction for Europeans is the heated thermal waters which flow from the ground at 51 C (124 F) into dozens of public and private baths and pools. The town's public bathing facilities are impressive and extensive and many hotels have spa facilites.

But for most Americans, Leukerbad in summer is a place for taking it slow; poking around the village, lounging by a hotel pool, or perhaps riding up one of the cable cars for an easy mountain hike. Given its end-of-road location, about 30 minutes by car from the Rhne, Leukerbad is not a headquarters from which to make daytrips.

The town is accessible by car and most SBB fast trains stop at Leuk-Susten where a bus winds the last 30 minutes up to Leukerbad.

How to Enjoy a Good Day in Leukerbad

One of our most memorable hotel stays was three nights in Leukerbad's Les Sources des Alpes, a swank 26-room hideaway with spa facilities and a top-of-the-line restaurant.

Your first day at Les Sources might begin with a sunny alfresco breakfast that includes fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee brewed to order at your table in a Melior pot.

What to do in Leukerbad

This is followed by a walk to the village to purchase supplies for a picnic luncheon in the mountains. Assuming you left the hotel properly attired for your Alpine outing, the day's next event is a short stroll to the Gemmi Cableway station for a ride to the high country (about $18 RT). As the gondola slides past that fearsome vertical rock face you'll notice the ant-like figures of fitter, braver souls making their way to the top (or descending) via a path carved from the rock. They are not climbers but walkers, and what they are doing appears dangerous only in the sense there are many places where the narrow trail skirts the very edge of the precipice.

At the top is a network of walking paths. One leads gently downhill to Sunnbuel, above Kandersteg, from which the Kander Valley can be reached via cable car. From Kandersteg, a return to Leukerbad is possible by rail and bus. You, however, will probably want to find a spot by the Daubensee (lake) for your picnic and return via the Gemmi Cableway.

Back at the hotel you're just in time for your spa treatment and massage reservation.  Afterwards, a bit weary from the high altitude and from being manipulated by strong hands and powerful jets of water of widely varying temperatures, you shuffle on shaky legs to Les Sources' inviting outdoor pool.  Tossing aside your thick terrycloth robe, you slip into the warm water and paddle about while watching the late afternoon thunderstorm gather above the massive Gemmiwand.

With a nap and a magnificent dinner still to be crossed off the day's the checklist, you gratefully contemplate the twists and turns of life that delivered you to this place at this time.  Just when the sky looks its blackest you climb out of the pool and into a big, thick towel the pool attendant takes from a stainless steel warmer.  It is now officially nap time and through the open French doors to your balcony, you hear the first drops of rain just as your head hits the pillow.

Wonderful Dining in Leukerbad

Dinner is in the hotel's elegant La Malvoisie.  After starting with a refreshing melon soup, you turn your attention to the main event; a Bresse chicken.  It comes in stages.  First, the breast is carved and served with a buttery truffle sauce.  The dark meat, legs and wings, is returned for additional cooking and brought back a few minutes later with little skillets of sauteed wild mushrooms and a side dish of perfectly steamed spinach that began its day in the hotel's garden in Sion.  Your waiter has suggested a bottle of Capannelle rosse, a Merlot from the Italian house of R. Rossetti.  The wine is expensive but tonight is a special occasion, it's Wednesday.

After a light dessert of house-made sorbets selected from containers off a cart brought to the table, you try unsuccessfully to ignore the restaurant's parting gift, a small plate of intensely-flavored chocolates.

The day nearly done, you follow the sound of live piano music across the lobby to the wood paneled bar. There you sink onto a comfortable, winged-back chair and enjoy the final beverage of the evening, perhaps a finger of single malt whiskey or a glass of vintage port.  Now it's really nap time.

Where to Stay in Leukerbad

As you have by now discerned, Les Sources des Alpes is expensive; the weak dollar has room prices ranging from about $250 to $425 for a double. But there are dozens — hundreds if you add in a long list of vacation rentals — of less expensive lodging options in Leukerbad.

The modern Hotel Astoria, for example, is not far from the center and top double rooms go for about $150. The more rustic, chalet style Walliserhof has doubles starting around $130.

On a hillside near the edge of town the Appartmenthaus Alfa offers one-and-a-half and two-room flats starting at about $450 per week. The spic ‘n span Apparmenthaus Europe has larger apartments with spacious south-facing balconies and sleeping accommodations for up to five persons. Depending on the season, weekly rates range from $500 to $600 per week.

Hotels, Guesthouses - contact details

Les Sources des Alpes
Tuftstr. 17
CH - 3954 Leukerbad
Telefon ++41 274 721 000
Fax ++41 274 722001
Email: [email protected]

Appartementhaus Europe
Robert Lambrigger - Klibenstrasse 2
CH - 3954 Leukerbad
Telefon ++41 27 470 14 60 - Fax ++41 27 470 14 65
Email: [email protected]

Hotel Astoria
Fam. Lortan-Gfeller
3954 Leukerbad
Tel. 027/470 14 15
Fax 027/470 22 18
Email [email protected]

Hotel Wallishof
Tel. +41 (0)27 472 79 60
Fax +41 (0)27 472 79 65
Email: [email protected]

Appartmenthaus Alfa
Family A. red Roten-Loretan - 3954 Leukerbad
Tel. +41 27 472 74 70
Fax +41 27 472 74 75
Email: [email protected]

Now in it's 18th year of publication, Gemtlichkeit is a monthly travel newsletter sent via regular mail to European travelers with a special interest in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Each issue features a different destination with recommendations on what to see and do plus hotel and restaurant reviews. Other stories include country hideaways, suggested backroads drives, scenic rail routes, regional cuisine, off-the-beaten track travel finds, plus consumer advice regarding where to find the best deals on hotel rates, car rentals, flights, etc.

Subscribers have free access to an online archive of hundreds of stories on the subject countries as well as a database of some 900 hotels reviewed and rated by the editors.

We have negotiated a generous discount on Gemtlichkeit subscriptions for Travel Insider readers.

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Originally published 26 Feb 2004, last update 30 May 2021

You may freely reproduce or distribute this copyrighted article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to Bob Bestor as original writer and link to

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