Visiting The St. Bernard Hospice In Switzerland: Epic Guide

St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland is a fascinating destination to visit. The hospice has a rich history, it’s architecturally impressive, and it’s positioned in one of the most beautiful alpine destinations.
Whether you plan to stay at St. Bernard Hospice overnight or want to experience some of the best winter hiking in Switzerland that goes past the famous old monastery, a visit to this destination is always worthwhile. 
Here’s everything you need to know about St. Bernard’s Hospice in Switzerland and how to visit it with us at Skyhook Adventure.

What is St Bernard Hospice Switzerland?

St. Bernard Hospice, also known as the St. Bernard Monastery, is located in the Western Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy.
The hospice is located in the Great St. Bernard Pass, at an elevation of about 2,469 meters (8,100 feet) above sea level. This historical building has served various purposes throughout its existence.
The St. Bernard Monastery in Switzerland is perhaps most famously known for its association with the St. Bernard dogs, a breed that has been historically bred by the monks to assist in search and rescue operations in treacherous mountain conditions. These dogs were trained to locate travellers who had become lost or trapped in the snow.
The hospice itself has a rich history and was initially established in the 11th century by St. Bernard of Menthon, the patron saint of mountain climbers. Over the centuries, it has served as a refuge for travellers, a monastery, and a place of hospitality for pilgrims and those traversing the alpine pass.
While the hospice has retained its historical character, it also welcomes visitors and tourists who are interested in learning about its history and the famous St. Bernard dogs.
The location offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and is an important landmark in the region.
If you want to combine trekking Switzerland’s Alps with a historical stop, then the St. Bernard Switzerland monastery is an excellent place to visit.
st bernard peaks
St. Bernards Hospice in the snow.

What Can You Do at St Bernard Hospice Switzerland?

Visiting the St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland offers a range of activities and experiences, making it a memorable destination for all kinds of travellers. 
Here’s what you can do at the St. Bernard Hospice and why the historic destination is worth a visit.

Explore the Historic Hospice

Immerse yourself in the rich history of the hospice, founded by St. Bernard of Menthon in the 11th century. 
Wander through the ancient halls, chapels, and courtyards, and discover the architectural and cultural treasures that have withstood centuries.

Learn About St. Bernard Dogs

Gain insights into the legendary St. Bernard dogs, historically bred by the monks for search and rescue missions. 
Depending on the time of year and specific arrangements, you may have the opportunity to see these iconic dogs in action or learn about their training and role in Alpine rescue operations.
st bernard dogs at monastery
The hospice is famous for its dogs.

Guided Tours

Take advantage of guided tours if available. Knowledgeable guides can provide detailed information about the history, architecture, and cultural significance of the hospice, offering a deeper understanding of its role in the region.

Stay Overnight

Consider extending your visit by staying overnight at the hospice. This unique experience allows you to immerse yourself fully in the tranquil mountain atmosphere and experience the hospice's hospitality. 
Overnight stays offer a blend of historical charm and a serene connection with the Alpine surroundings. It's also one of the best places to stay in Switzerland for hiking.

Hiking and Outdoor Activities

The St. Bernard Hospice is an excellent starting point for the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners or a fun sledge run in Switzerland.
Some of the best hiking in Switzerland can be enjoyed here in the surrounding area. Start by exploring the scenic Alpine trails, taking in breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys.
Whether you're an experienced hiker or a casual walker, there are routes catering to various skill levels.
fun hike to st bernards
Hiking to St. Bernards in the snow is always a fun experience.

Attend Religious Services

Although it’s a popular tourist attraction, the St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland is also still an important religious landmark.
Check if there are any religious services taking place during your visit. The hospice has a religious heritage, and attending a service can offer a glimpse into its ongoing spiritual significance.

Culinary Experiences

Enjoy local cuisine at the hospice or nearby establishments. Savour traditional Swiss and Alpine dishes, providing a taste of the region's culinary delights.

Connect with Nature

Take time to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding the hospice. The crisp mountain air, the sound of cascading streams, and the breathtaking vistas create a serene environment for relaxation and reflection.

Join Events and Festivals

Check the event calendar for any special activities, events, or festivals happening in the area. These occasions can enhance your visit, providing a chance to engage with local culture and traditions.
Whether you're a history enthusiast, nature lover, or adventure seeker, the St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland offers a diverse range of experiences, making it a multifaceted destination in the heart of the Swiss Alps.
historical statues at st bernard
The area is full of historic significance.
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How to Get to St Bernard Hospice Switzerland

There are a couple of different ways to get to the St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland.
Just take note that transportation options may vary depending on your starting point, and it's recommended to check for the latest information and travel conditions before planning your journey.

Hiking 

If you enjoy hiking or outdoor activities, there are trails leading to the St. Bernard Pass in Switzerland.
This is absolutely one of the best ways to reach the monastery, and doing one of Switzerland's multi day hikes really helps you appreciate the secluded destination. 
However, be prepared for challenging mountain terrain, and ensure you have the necessary equipment and information for a safe journey.
Knowing what to wear when hiking in Switzerland is essential if you plan to do this hike - especially in winter.

By Car

The St. Bernard Pass is accessible by car, and it is located on the border between Switzerland and Italy. The pass is part of the road connecting the Swiss town of Martigny in the canton of Valais with the Aosta Valley region in Italy.
If you're travelling from Martigny, you can take the E27 road toward the Great St. Bernard Pass. The journey will take you through picturesque mountain landscapes.
landscape around st bernard hospice
The landscape around the hospice.

By Public Transportation

Train

Take a train to Martigny, a town in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. Martigny is well-connected by train to various Swiss cities.
From Martigny, you can then take a bus or other forms of transportation to reach the St. Bernard Pass.

Bus

There are bus services that operate between Martigny and the St. Bernard Pass. The journey provides scenic views of the Alps.

Taxi or Shuttle Services

Depending on the season, there might be taxi or shuttle services available that can take you from Martigny to the St. Bernard Hospice.
It's essential to check the current road and weather conditions, especially if you plan to travel during the winter months when the pass can be subject to closures due to snow. Additionally, verify the availability of public transportation options and services.
snow dog visiting st bernard hospice
A snow dog visiting the hospice.

Visiting St Bernard Hospice Switzerland: What You Need to Know

If you're planning a visit to the St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Here's a more detailed guide to help you make the most of your experience.

Guided Tours

One of the best ways to experience the St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland is through a guided tour. This includes regular tours of the monastery, but you can also go on a more exciting adventure tour to get to the hospice. 
For example, taking a multi-day snowshoe hiking tour to St. Bernard’s Hospice is a truly awesome experience. This lets you enjoy the incredible surroundings of the hospice in winter while learning a fun new skill in snowshoeing.
winter hiking in switzerland
Taking a snowshoe hike to St. Bernards.

Weather and Seasonal Considerations

The Great St. Bernard Pass experiences diverse weather conditions. Winters can bring heavy snowfall, impacting road accessibility. 
Check weather forecasts and road conditions before embarking on your journey, and consider visiting during milder seasons for a more comfortable experience.

Historical Significance

Dive into the rich history of the hospice, founded by St. Bernard of Menthon in the 11th century. 
Explore the architectural marvels of the hospice itself, and take advantage of guided tours if available to gain deeper insights into its historical and cultural significance.

St. Bernard Dogs

Learn about the famous St. Bernard dogs, an integral part of the hospice's identity. Understand their historical role in search and rescue missions in the Alps. 
While the presence of these dogs can vary, inquire about scheduled appearances or demonstrations during your visit.

Visiting the Hospice

Familiarize yourself with the hospice's opening hours, as they can fluctuate, particularly during the off-season. 
If the opportunity arises, consider spending a night at the hospice for a unique overnight stay that connects you with centuries of tradition.

Accommodations and Amenities

Check for available accommodations at or near the hospice. Embrace the chance to savour local cuisine and hospitality. Some accommodations might provide modern amenities while preserving the authentic charm of the region.

Safety Precautions

Prioritize safety by being prepared for changes in weather, especially at higher altitudes. Pack essentials such as water, snacks, and layers of clothing to adapt to varying conditions.
Always verify the latest information and services to ensure a seamless and enjoyable visit to the St. Bernard Hospice. Immerse yourself in the history, natural beauty, and cultural richness of this iconic Alpine destination.
snowy st bernard trails
Snowshoe trekking to the hospice.

Conclusion

Whether you visit to soak up the history or the natural beauty of the building’s surroundings, the St. Bernard Hospice is an amazing destination in Switzerland. 
We recommend taking your time to explore the area on foot, and to stay overnight at the hospice. This gives you the best possible experience of the area and lets you learn all about the dogs, monks, and Alpine history of this famous place. 
And you can experience this epic Swiss adventure and more with us at Skyhook!

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