Friday, 24 October 2014

Getting Sporty in the Swiss Alps

Most people are guilty of including ‘exercise more’ in their list of New Year’s resolutions only to find their trainers remain in their box. Work takes over, excuses come out and the resolution is resurrected the following year – but not for expats in Switzerland. This year’s Expat Explorer survey found that the country is home to the sportiest expats, with almost half claiming to be more active since moving to Switzerland (43% compared with a 29% global average). With the better work/life balance expats say they have since moving there (51% report an improvement, compared to the global average of 40%), expats are well placed to take advantage of the amazing outdoor activities the country has to offer.

For anyone wanting a glimpse into the sports expats in Switzerland have available to them, we have created this Swiss seasonal sports guide:

Snow sports


Image source: Pixabay/hslegergr1


Switzerland’s striking mountains and incredible lakes no doubt contributed to why over three-quarters (77%) of expats associate the country with a pleasant climate and charming scenery. Not only are these mountains picturesque but they are also the perfect setting for winter sports. One such sport is skiing. While it can be an expensive interest, expats in Switzerland are well-placed to afford it, with over two-thirds finding they have more disposable income than they did before moving to the country (68%) and 85% associating Switzerland with higher salaries than their home country.

Most mountains are easily accessible by train or car - if you’re not used to driving in snowy conditions, taking in the stunning scenery on the train may be your best option. It is well worth getting acquainted with the different resorts, as they all have slightly different offerings. Zermatt is a very pretty car-free village by the Matterhorn, while Verbier attracts the young and athletic. Wengen is perfect for relaxing and St. Moritz boats a host of activities with its frozen lake for curling and skating and the famous Cresta Run toboggan track.


Image Source: Pixabay/Wikilmages


For anyone who prefers to observe, you can participate in Switzerland’s sporting culture by going to watch an ice hockey match. For the past 13 years, SC Bern has held the highest attendance numbers in Europe for ice hockey matches, creating an impressive atmosphere

Sun sports

When the snow melts and the ice thaws, Switzerland’s mountains become a great spot for hiking and other outdoor activities. With three-quarters of expats (75%) saying that the local air quality and pollution level is better than in their home country, there’s little excuse not to go out and explore the 60,000 footpaths that Switzerland offers. Another sport to try when the weather improves is the Swiss Schwingen. As the national sport, the traditional folk wrestling is still popular, with competitions taking place every three years. If folk wrestling isn’t the ‘embracing the culture’ you had in mind though, then there’s still plenty of opportunities to play football, rugby and tennis.


Image source: Wikimedia/Wiki4you

Fun for all the family

It’s not only the adults reaping the benefits of Switzerland’s active lifestyle and fresh air. Three-quarters of expats observed that their children’s health has improved following the move (74% compared with a global average of 56%). With ski resorts offering ski schools for little ones and ‘Sport-gymnasiums’ available, all the family can benefit from the active lifestyle in the alps.


Check out the latest findings of the Expat Explorer 2014 survey on our interactive tool here. Share your experiences of sports abroad with us in the comments section or on Twitter (@expatexplorer).

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