What: If I said Laax to you, you might well think of the popular skiing destination in Switzerland but what happens come summer when there isn’t a snowflake in sight? Well, during the warmer months Laax becomes Flims, a much more approachable terrain by foot, perfect for hiking, biking, swimming, camping and so much more – it’s basically the dream location for outdoorsy types.
You are surrounded by mountains and nature in Flims and therefore a multitude of options on where to hike, the local buses stop at the start of hiking routes as well as chair lifts which will give you a head start to the top (depending on how much effort you feel like exerting). Some of the routes are obviously more taxing than others so it’s up to you whether you take a short jaunt after getting a chairlift (there’s also a nice spot for lunch if you’re just about the views) or spend 8 hours hiking to the very top of the biggest alps – it goes without saying to not attempt these if you are not experienced or without a guide.
Where to Hike: A nice mid-range hike is up to Alp Mora where you can cool off in the glacial mills; a series of naturally formed glacial pools at the top. They’re really worth seeing, created over thousands of years, the mills (or whirlpools) are filled with crystal clear water from the mountains that you can sit in like your own personal bath tub – it’s obviously freezing though so splashing my feet around was enough for me.
Europe and Flims especially seem to be well ahead of the UK on the trend of E-bikes which makes sense given the hilly environment. E-bikes are pedal assisted which makes cycling uphill a breeze and means you don’t end up sweating your butt off if you’re using it for day to day activities like getting to work which has been a winner with locals. It’s also a dream for those who want to cycle around but would be put off by some of inclines that would normally seem impossible; I felt like Chris Froome himself gliding uphill with minimal effort.
Where to Bike: There are seven unique mountain lakes in Flims that were created by a rockslide over 10,000 years ago, of the three most popular destinations Lake Cauma is a nice biking destination due to its striking turquoise-blue water. After parking up your bike (or plugging it in to a local charge point) you can relax in the sun, take a stroll round the lake or head to the water by either swimming, renting a pedalo or trying out paddle boarding and circling the island in the middle. There is also a restaurant there to recharge or to just grab some gelato.
Go With: Although Flims is marketed as a family destination I would personally recommend it to children no less than 10 as the activities at Flims are adventurous and at times slightly dangerous or at least require caution. That being said if you have young children who love to explore then you could easily tailor the experience for them. I think Flims is best for smaller groups and pairs; a love of outdoors is a must and anyone with an appreciation of nature will be greatly rewarded here as there are beautiful views everywhere you look.
Where to Stay: I can recommend two places to stay in Flims; the first is Rocksresort, an apartment-style hotel suitable for self-catering with the option for full board and the second is the mountain lodge, a mountain hut situated at an altitude of 2,672 metres although this one is more of a one-off than a week-long stay. The latter is a once in a lifetime experience and also quite intimidating given the 4-hour hike it takes to get there that (at the time of my visit) included hiking across snow on the steepest incline I’ve ever been on in my life. Once at the top the view is totally stunning, it feels like being in the clouds. The lodge itself is a former military bunker so not exactly luxurious (the sleeping room is just 2 rows of sleeping bags to create shared bunk beds) but the current owner, who originally visited as a guest before falling in love and buying it, has done his best to make it cosy and is also an exceptional cook.
I was admittedly a little nervous on the trek up the lodge, I don’t climb many mountains on my London commute (although the Central line can be equally as stressful) so I was proud of myself once I made it to the top and getting down was a lot easier than I imagined it would have been. The Mountain Lodge is located at the bottom (on the right side) of the biggest peak on the right, in the middle of the picture below; it’s about a 2 hour hike from the chairlift to get to where the people standing below are and then almost 2 hours more depending on how quickly you scale the tricky end part.
Final Word: Flims is an ideal holiday destination for those with a penchant for the outdoors; you can get your adrenaline fix with downhill biking off mountains, hiking on cliff faces and you can even paraglide if you get the whim, but you can also take time out to enjoy Mother Nature for all her breath-taking beauty. Surprisingly the signal on the Swiss Alps is very strong and we got very high up before losing all bars but regardless, we recommend going off grid by leaving your phone at the hotel and really being present to appreciate your surroundings of stunning views of mountains, forests and turquoise lakes.
For more information about Flims, head to their website at: www.flims.com