morning mist alps

It’s always a treat to fly across the European Alps on a clear day. The views of the snow-capped mountains, jagged peaks, verdant valleys and lakes are absolutely breathtaking. On a recent morning flight from Amsterdam to Milan Malpensa, I had the most amazing plane window views of the Swiss Alps and Lago Maggiore, the famous lake that is shared by Switzerland and Italy. I love taking photos of the views and checking the locations on Google Maps. This time, as I pinpointed the locations, I made a surprising discovery!

Aerial views of the Swiss Alps

plane window view swiss alps
The Swiss Alps south of Zurich.

Flying over the Swiss Alps is always an amazing experience on a clear day. My advice is to get a window seat (on either side of the plane) to enjoy the views. I sat in row ‘A’ on this flight to Milan Malpensa. During the approach into Milan, the plane followed a path across the Swiss cantons of Zurich, Schwyz, Uri, Graubünden and Ticino before entering Italian airspace above Lago Maggiore.

It was early-October so the valleys were still green with some snow on the higher elevations. These plane window views of the Swiss Alps were simply phenomenal!

aerial view swiss alps
A view of Oberarth in the Swiss canton of Schwyz.

The source of the Rhine River

As I started editing my photos from that flight and checking the locations on Google Maps, I made a surprising discovery. I had, unknowingly, photographed the source of the Rhine River in the canton of Graubünden! The second-longest river in western/central Europe after the Danube, the Rhine’s catchment area lies in the mountains of Graubünden. From here, it flows through the Rhine Valley, then northwards into Germany before reaching the North Sea in the Rhine Delta in the Netherlands. From my plane window, I had panoramic views of the various sources of the Rhine in addition to the Rhine Valley!

graubunden source of the rhine river
The mountains of Graubünden are the catchment areas of the Rhine River. The various tributaries flow into the Rhine Valley (in the middle of the photo) and continue northwards. The zig-zag of the Oberalps Pass road can be seen in the bottom middle.
aerial view curnera dam lake switzerland
A closer look at two of the sources of the Rhine: Lai da Curnera (or Curnera Lake), a lake behind a dam. On the other side of the mountain, you can also see Lai da Nalps (another dam lake).

Aerial view of Lago Maggiore

The plane soon crossed into the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino and the famous Lago Maggiore came into view. I instantly recognised it as Lago Maggiore because of its size and serpent-like appearance, and the towns of Locarno and Ascona which lie on a peninsula in the northern end of the lake. The views of the lake and the mountain ranges, with the morning mist hanging in the valleys, were absolutely magical.

morning mist alps
The Alps in the morning mist.
aerial view locarno ascona
The Alps in the mist. In the foreground is the northern end of Lago Maggiore, with the Maggia River flowing into it. On the right side of the river lies the town of Ascona and on the left, Locarno (both in Switzerland).
plane window view lago maggiore
An aerial view of Lago Maggiore.
aerial view lago maggiore
The bend in the lake, with the town of Luino (Italy) on the right.
lago maggiore plane view
One last view of Lago Maggiore before the final approach into Milan. The town in the top right corner is Lugano (Switzerland), on the shores of Lago di Lugano.

It’s been a while since my last visit to Switzerland and these views sure reminded me how stunning this country is! I think it’s time to return!

Read other Velvet Escape posts from the Plane Views series:

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