July 16, 2024

Olympia Travel Tips

Maniac Travel Update

Five of the best books to guide you around the Alps

This article was produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Seeking adventure in the Alps this summer? These new titles explore the unique culture and natural splendour of Europe’s mega-mountains, with guidebooks to the region’s grande dame hotels, unique flora, secluded wild swimming spots and most spectacular day hikes, with options for all levels and interests. And for a vivid visual journey: a photographic collection that captures the high drama of our mighty yet fragile Alpine ranges, a place of constantly shifting moods and hues, never more than now, as they face the challenges presented by climate change.

Great Escapes Alps: The Hotel Book, by Angelika Taschen

(TASCHEN, £40)

Angelika Taschen follows in the footsteps of 18th-century travellers, visiting the Alps’ historic hotels from grand palaces to gravity-defying mountain refuges. These include Schatzalp in Davos, immortalised in literature by Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain, Refuge du Montenvers high above Chamonix, where mountaineers have stayed overnight for more than 140 years, and a youth hostel in a former sanatorium, declared a Swiss heritage monument in 2002.

The Alps: A Natural Companion, by Jim Langley and Paul Gannon

(Oxford Alpine Club, £19.99)

A guide to the geology and flowers of the Alps by science-focused authors Jim Langley and Paul Gannon. The Snowdonia natives and hiking enthusiasts uncover the natural wonders of the mountains with a detailed guide to 306 alpine flowers and plants for on-the-spot identification, photographs, maps and diagrams explaining how mountains are formed, plus 20 suggested walks taking in some of the best geological and botanical spots across the Alpine range.

Wild Swimming: Alps, by Hansjörg Ransmayr 

(Wild Things Publishing, £18.99)

Discover more than 150 ‘secret’ bathing and swimming spots from family-friendly waterfall hikes to mountaintop challenges for the true adventurer. Offering up detailed descriptions and tips on safety and access, this guide includes inspiration for places to picnic by pristine forest lakes, the chance to swim over rare underwater meadows in transient summer lakes and plunge into the icy waters of an underground glacial lake set at an altitude of 10,500ft.

Walking: Day Walks in the Dolomites, by Gillian Price

(Cicerone Press, £19.95)

Explore 50 short walks spanning the breadth of Italy’s UNESCO-listed Dolomites, each offering a taste of this unique stretch of the Alps. Taking in peaks such as throne-like Pelmo and Queen of the Dolomites, the Marmolada, each walk can be tackled in a day, graded from easy to strenuous, ranging from hour-long lake strolls and lift-assisted short walks to 13-mile full-day hikes. The book also includes guides to local food and drink, history, folklore, nature and geology. 

The Alps: High Mountains in Motion, by Andreas Fischer

(teNeues Verlag, £29.95)

The Alps are a place of high drama — extreme weather, shifting seasons, the freeze and melt of ice, avalanches that contrast with times of tranquillity. A veteran photographer of the Alps, Lorenz Andreas Fischer brings together the best of his collection, illustrating the startling beauty of the range as climate change increasingly disrupts the region’s natural cycle, with informative texts and inspiring travelogues by mountain experts and aficionados.

Published in the Alpine 2023 guide, distributed with the April 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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