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fear of heights

is there stuff to do in Switzerland that one with fear of heights can enjoy ?

Posted by
5631 posts

Fear of heights is highly personal.
But yes, there is plenty to do without getting off the ground or on top of a mountain! Explore Luzern and its lake, visit the sunny shores of lake Geneva, enjoy the peace of small alpine villages e.g. around Gstaad or Appenzell, take scenic railway rides (e.g. Golden Pass, Albula and Bernina railways...) hike in valleys, visit art museums...

And if you don't mind being on a mountain, as long as you stay on the ground, there are plenty of cog railways that take you up mountains without leaving the safety of the ground. Mount Rigi, near Luzern, is a classic, and not too steep. Gornergrat above Zermatt and Mount Pilatus above Luzern would be best avoided, however, due to steepness (especially the latter).

Posted by
984 posts

We did everything we had the opportunity to do during our short stay in Switzerland. I get queasy and want to throw myself off if on the very edge of an unprotected height, but we didn't encounter any of those. Hubby really does not like heights, so in the gondolas to reach Schilthorn he faced toward the center of each large car rather than looking out the expansive windows and he was fine. We were both good to go up top, looking out at the views with a nice protective railing all around the area. Looking out rather than down is a tremendous help to me.

Posted by
8889 posts

Can I ask what sort of fear of heights?
I have known people who say it is seeing a connection to the ground that upsets them. They are OK in a plane. I guess you are OK in a plane, or you would have difficulty getting to Switzerland.
And is it just great heights (hundreds of metres), or do you have problems with a flight of stairs?

Switzerland has lots of lakes you can take boat trips on. These are obviously flat. Do you have problems looking over the side of boats?
You can look at mountains from the bottom.
The many scenic trains will allow you to see things from ground level. However travelling by any means (train, car bus) you will encounter bridges. Is that a problem?

Are you OK with tunnels? These are common by rail or rosd.

Some mountains you can go up by train instead of cable car. Is that possible?
Pilatus, for example, has the worlds steepest rack railway up one side, where you stay on the ground. Video here:
And a cable car on the other side. If flying is OK, this may be OK for you. Video:

Posted by
1434 posts

Yes, there is a good open-air museum near Brienz. It has a collection of traditional Swiss buildings, some of which feature crafts done in the traditional way. It also has a bread museum which I thought was rather stale. It did not rise to the standard of the rest of the park.

Posted by
11887 posts

Height chicken checking in here.

I've been to Switzerland twice both on Rick Steves tours and had a wonderful time. I am OK on the ground (or in an airplane) but have severe difficulties on a gondola. Forget a chair lift.

Both times we were staying in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, once at Stechelberg which is on the valley floor and once in Muerren which is up on the mountain side and takes 2 gondola segments to get to. I was determined to go to the top of the Schilthorn which I've done twice now. I was able to sit down on most of the gondolas (4 segments from Stechelberg) the first time and just shut my eyes or looked at the floor while trying to do deep breathing. The 2nd time I had to stand for part of the segments (from Muerren) going up with the group. I went down on the gondolas on my own which was a major step for me. As I was sitting with my head down on one of the segments there was no one else in the car and the operator came over and asked me if I was sick. I said no, just afraid of heights. He smiled and said many get altitude sickness at the top and he just wanted to make sure I was OK. (probably wanted to know if I was going to throw up in his car, lol!!). Anyway, he was kind and engaged me in conversation a bit which was nice. (Of course he spoke English as I have no foreign language skills!)

BTW, I have complete faith in the gondola operators and maintenance crews in Switzerland.

IF you are in the Lauterbrunnen Valley you can get up to some elevation without doing much in a gondola. There is a cog train (stays on the ground) that goes up from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen, then continues on to Kleine Scheidegg. Twice also I've done the cog train to Wengen, then 1 gondola segment up to Mannlichen, then walked on the trail across to Kleine Scheidegg, taking the cog train back down. The trail from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg is flat and quite wide - I'd say maybe 6 feet wide in places with no sheer drops (that is what also bothers me). I can look at a slope and if I figure I can walk down it, I'm not fearful. If it's too steep to walk down then that is what gets me. I'm pretty sure there is a cog train from Kleine Scheidegg that continues up to the Jungfrau.

Also from Lauterbrunnen there is an awesome valley walk to Stechelberg. Wow, it is beautiful. My first tour group went to Trummelbach Falls and the guide said anyone who wanted could walk back to the hotel along the river trail(just a couple of miles). I decided to do that on my own and it was absolutely gorgeous. Small farms, gorgeous rocky river, soaring cliffs and crazy people jumping off the cliffs and floating down in those batwing suits. It was well worth while. On that first visit there was another couple who stayed on the ground and walked from Stechelberg to Lauterbrunnen and back for the day and said they really enjoyed that.

So...depending on where you go in Switzerland, there will be things to do that don't require heights.

Posted by
142 posts

I can feel your pain. I used to hate chair lifts and on gondolas I had to sit on the floor... etc.. in 2014 we took our first RS tour and my first trip to Europe.. When we arrived in Switzerland and I saw the first gondola I thought I might be ill but then I thought to myself you came all this way and spent all the money.. enjoy this moment NOW because I don’t know when or if I will ever in back.. I stepped into that gondola determined to enjoy the stunning views and just kept telling myself to breathe... I could hear my husband telling our tour guide how absolutely scared I was of heights.. all it took was the one ride and being determined to enjoy it.. the next gondola I had my nose on the glass looking out... Switzerland is to beautiful to miss any part... we did the The Best of Switzerland in 2017 and doing the My Way Alpine tour this summer.. Can’t wait... I hope you enjoy Switzerland and do try at least one gondola ride.. it takes you to most amazing places..

Posted by
3761 posts

How are you traveling to Switzerland from your hometown if you are afraid of heights?

Posted by
11887 posts

"How are you traveling to Switzerland from your hometown if you are afraid of heights?"

Just because someone has a fear of heights does not mean they also fear flying. As mentioned I do have a strong fear of heights but getting on a plane is no problem at all. And yes, I can sit in a window seat.

I will say that for my fear level, repetition is the key for me to overcome certain things. Living in North Idaho I've gotten used to driving mountain roads with drop offs, even in snowy/icy conditions and without guard rails, lol. I couldn't have done that a number of years ago.

Posted by
5719 posts

Hi, I have a true fear of open heights, so I can completely relate to you. Mine is more severe than some mentioned, so I’ll give you advice for having a great time if you are in the Lauterbrunnen area and have a paralyzing fear.

During a RS tour, we stayed in a Lauterbrunnen hotel. The group took the cogwheel train up to Wengen and the gondola up to Mannlichen. I couldn’t go beyond Wengen, so I just enjoyed that village while telling my hubby to have fun. When they took the train from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen, I just joined back with them to head back down.

My husband and I walked to Trummelbach Falls the next day - recommend it.

My husband and I returned to this area a few years later, and we stayed in Wengen - definitely recommend it for beautiful views , yet not scary. We took the train up to KS, and I was fine riding the train - just not a gondola up in the air.

Have a great time and do what works for YOU! ; )

Posted by
5719 posts

And I don’t have any issues flying on a plane. Well, unless it was a skydiver plane - LOL!

Posted by
1253 posts

Stroll the lakefront promenade in Montreux, walk the town of Gruyeres, explore the heart of Bern, visit the village of Kandersteg, view the Eiger from Grindelwald, hike the Lauterbrunnen Valley, enjoy the waterfront in Lucerne, overnight at the hostel in Zurich.

Posted by
9631 posts

I survived and I suffer from fear of heights. I was fine on the trains, trams in the mountains. I had some trouble in Murren but was fine in Wengen and Grindelwald.