Glacier 3000 has been on my list for years, but it’s so far from Zurich, that we couldn’t do it as a day trip. So finally this summer, we camped overnight in the area so I didn’t have to do the 3 hr drive twice in one day. I’m so glad we did because it was even more beautiful than I expected.
After riding two gondolas up to the glacier, you’ll find a variety of tourist attractions. There is a suspension bridge walk taking you to the 3000m viewpoint. For some thrills, you can ride the alpine coaster and sled on summer snow at the Fun Park. Families can enjoy an easy hike on the glacier, with big panorama views all around. Of course, there are also more difficult hikes for those who want a challenge. It’s a great day out for the family and a special experience on a natural treasure.
|Location:||Gstaad, Canton Bern, Switzerland|
|Address:||Col du Pillon, Route du Pillon 1865 Les Diablerets|
|Car:||3hr from Zürich, 1hr45 from Bern, 1hr30 from Interlaken
Parking: GPS: 46°21’13.7″N 7°12’22.5″E
|Train:||3hr40 from Zürich HB to Col-du-Pillon, Glacier 3000
Adult half fare round trip CHF 75
2hr40 from Bern or Interlaken
|Trail:||2.2 km each way, about 2 hr walking time total|
|Condition:||snow and rock, no strollers|
|Skill:||moderate due to tricky footing|
|Price:||Adult full fare return CHF 80
SBB Half-fare and Junior cards accepted
|Services:||restaurants & WC at both ends of trail|
You reach Glacier 3000 by taking two gondolas, one from Col du Pillon to Cabane (2525m), then another from Cabane to Scex Rouge (2971m). All attractions are at the top of the second gondola, as shown on the map below.
A full family day would include the suspension bridge, the alpine coaster, the free sledding hill “Fun Park” and glacier walk to Quille du Diable. Details for all these below. The dog sled ride requires advanced booking and is not always open. There is a restaurant at Scex Rouge and at the end of the glacier walk. Click image below to visit the Glacier 3000 website and download this map.
The below hiking map shows the hikes available from the Glacier 3000 area. We did the Glacier Walk (hike #8), which is a 2.2km walk each way on the glacier to a lookout at Quille du Diable (2908m). This is the only “easy” walk in the area. Hike #2 from Cabane to Oldenegg looked like it would be ok for families. I thought about doing #7, but once I got there, it was obvious that hike wasn’t suitable for our crew. Click image below to visit the Glacier 3000 website and download this map.
Here’s a sneak peak. Lots more pics below.
This region is far from Zürich, so it’s probably better to stay overnight in the area. Gstaad is a high-end resort area, so accommodations can be more expensive than other areas. We camped at Camping du Berceau in Château-d’Oex, about a 40 mins drive away. We really liked that campground, with a big pool and waterslide, a pretty good restaurant on site, and a large grassy field for tents by the river.
By car: Drive to Gstaad, then follow signs to Col-du-Pillon, about 20 mins, where there is a large free parking lot next to the cable car station.
By public transport: Take a train to Spiez, then a train to Gstaad, then bus 180 to Col-du-Pillon, Glacier 3000. The bus drops directly at the cable car station.
Tickets and Opening Times
In 2017, an adult full fare round trip ticket to the top cost CHF 80. SBB Half-fare and Junior cards are accepted. Through October 2017, you can also use the Migros Cumulus Extra offer to save CHF 20 off full fare, CHF 10 off half-fare.
Glacier 3000 and most of the attractions are open year round, except a few weeks in October for maintenance. In 2017, the gondolas run from 9:00 to 16:50 (last descent from Scex Rouge). Check the website for current schedule. Even in winter you can do the suspension bridge and glacier walk. Some attractions may close due to inclement weather.
Peak Walk – Suspension Bridge
Once you reach the top of the second gondola, pass through the gift shop and up the stairs to reach the Tissot Peak Walk suspension bridge, the main attraction for many tourists. There is no extra charge for the bridge.
The bridge is safe enough for small children but still keep them close. The bridge is narrow, but two people can pass each other if you turn sideways.
At the end of the bridge, there is a small circular observation deck, which gives a 360 degree view. Here are some of the views from there.
Looking back toward the cable car.
Walking back down.
You’ll find the alpine coaster right when you exit the second gondola. My kids loved it, of course, a little slow the first time down, then racing fast and squealing with joy the second time. In 2017, it cost CHF 9/ride or CHF 36 for 5 rides (priced per person, not coaster car). The ride down lasts a couple minutes depending on how fast you go (you control your speed with a hand break). A cable pulls you and the coaster back to the top, you don’t have to walk back up. I think you have to be 8 to ride on your own. Smaller children can ride with an adult (but must have their own ticket).
Fun Park Sledding
To reach the Fun Park and the start of the Glacier Walk trail, ride down the Ice Express chair lift from the cable car station to the bottom of the alpine slide. Before you start on the glacier walk, take a short detour to the “Fun Park” on your right, a free sledding hill with sleds provided.
It wasn’t busy the day we were there, so my kids easily got sleds and rode down a few times. But it was also so wet, that their clothes got quite wet and we didn’t spend much time there. It’s more of a novelty, to sled in summer.
Glacier Walk to Quille du Diable
The most accessible hike for families is the glacier walk to Quille du Diable (2908m), a big rock tower at the far side of the glacier. The trail starts at the bottom of the Ice Express chair lift (free to use), as shown below. Stay on the marked path, which is controlled for safety.
The trail is 2.1 km each way, mostly on snow, some of rock. It’s a beautiful walk and the views on the far side are worth the effort. I highly recommend it. Here is the trail map (click to expand).
The trail basically flat, but it can be difficult walking on snow, slippery and wet. I would definitely take walking sticks and waterproof hiking shoes.
I assume that usually the snow is quite firm and walkable. However, the day we were there in mid-August, the snow was very wet and melting, with big puddles everywhere and rivers running through the trail (as shown below). It was impossible to keep our feet dry. We were basically walking through icy puddles the entire way, which was not very comfortable. I’m very glad we did this hike, but I won’t lie – there was lots of complaining about cold wet feet and even I felt quite stressed and considered turning back. So consider yourself warned and come prepared. Many people on this trail had inappropriate shoes, thin trainers and flats, I felt sad for them.
Example of a crevice near the walking path. Stay on the marked path.
Big views on the glacier.
Looking back at the trail.
Here’s where the trail leaves the snow and continues on rock.
The path ends at this tower, where you’ll find a restaurant and WCs.
If you walk up to the tower, you can turn around and get this view of the glacier. You can see the restaurant deck with lounge chairs. Keep kids close, lots of cliffs around here.
There’s not much to do here except take some pics, then turn around and walk back. There are more ambitious hikes that continue from here. I’d love to try those next time.
Walking back. Note how much the weather changed since we started the walk. Weather can change quickly up here, so bring layers. We started in short sleeves and ended in fleece and windbreakers.
More info about the glacier walk on their website.
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