What would be recommended for someones first 3000/4000er in the Alps? Guided or non guided I don't mind.
I'm based in the UK and spent many days in the mountains here, but they are quite small compared to the rest of Europe. I also spent a couple of weeks in the Alps over the summer. The highest I've been so far is 2,970m hiking up the Schiltorn in Switzerland. I'd like to go above the snowline next season.
The Alps are big, spanning seven or eight countries (the eighth is Monaco), with lots of mountains that would fit your bill. If you could narrow it down to a smaller part of the Alps that you're interested in, it would be easier to answer your question. And it also helps if you elaborate on what you did in the mountains - did you hike, scramble or climb? And did you do summertime fell walking or Scotland winter trips?
On one aspect I can already say something: with many days in the mountains in the UK, there are many 3000-ers in the Alps that you can hike up to by yourself. No guide needed.
I'm opened minded about the location. The apls in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France is the area i'm thinking. Still a huge area but anything that stands out would help.
What I've done; hiking, scrambling, and ridges 3000m and below. My experience is almost all summer, but intending to get some winter experience this year in the UK. Never used Crampons for example, but hopefully will have that experience by next season. The idea is to get some winter experience and then go above the snow line next year in the 3000/4000m range. I think this is the next logical step.
That is indeed still a huge area; in fact that covers most of the Alps. I'll just give a few different possibilities to consider, hopefully that will help you to focus a bit more.
Switzerland Mountains everywhere, with routes from benign walk ups to extreme climbs. It's by far the most expensive country in the Alps, which is one of the reasons I don't go there more often. The Infrastructure is great, with many cable cars that can quickly get you high up in the mountains, and lots of refuges.
If you have glacier experience, Switzerland offers some of the best climbing in the Alps. However, since you don't have that yet, you would have to go with more experienced friends or hire a guide. If that does not put you off, I suggest the Saas valley. Some easy 4000-ers to consider are Allalinhorn, Weissmies and Lagginhorn.
Germany The south of the country has a fairly big area with hills and mountains, though none that exceed the 3000 m mark The glaciers are almost all gone, and apart from a very few exceptions you won't need crampons anywhere during the summer season. The Wetterstein and neighboring Karwendel ranges, both on the border with Austria, are my suggestion. Plenty of hiking to be had there, but you can find some nice scrambles as well. And if you're up for it, there are lots of climbing routes and some vie ferrate too, but considering your experience you're probably not ready for those just yet.
Austria I first started mountaineering in the Ötztal Alps, and together with the Stubai Alps that's my suggestion. At the northern end there are lots of mountains, including some over 3000 m, that are technically fairly easy to reach. The south is glacier country, but there are still a lot of possibilities that skirt by the glaciers, so you can watch them but don't need to cross them. My recommendation? The Kreuzspitze, one of the highest mountain in the Alps with a trail to the summit. Apart from some lingering snow high up on the mountain, there are no technical difficulties. What makes it challenging is that it's an almost 1600 m ascent by the normal route from Vent, the village at the end of the road. But then you get some fine summit views as reward.
France If you don't mind lots of other people enjoying the mountains, the area around Chamonix is the place for you. It's where I usually go when I go to the French Alps. North of the main valley are the Aiguilles Rouges, which are hiking and climbing territory. To the south is the heavily glaciated Mont Blanc massif. If that's your choice, you'll need a guide. For a bit more solitude, try the Ecrins or Vanoise.
You're not kidding about Switzerland being expensive. I spent a couple of weeks there over the summer hiking around in the Berneses Oberland and burned money while doing it. Doesn't put me off though and I'd love to go back, but I also have limited resources and would like some new experiences.
So think I've narrowed it down to areas around Zermatt or Chamonix and probably both areas over the summer. I have about 4-5 weeks I can split into two trips. The first one will definitely be guided and involve 4000ers, and I plan to spend the first week of each trip acclimatising and maybe do some hut to hut hiking. Ideally I want to gain some experience with glaciers, snow fields, altitude, and dealing with common hazards. So going beyond the hiking summits is top priority.