Where to go in Switzerland
By world standards, Switzerland is a tiny country. Nestled between France, Italy, Germany and Austria, the compact size and world-class public transport system mean that it’s very easy to see large swaths of the country in a relatively short space of time. Here the train is king, but don’t be put off by the thought of taking public transport; Swiss trains are clean, comfortable, run on time, and always seem to link up with enough time to change easily at larger stations. Staff are also on hand everywhere to help and speak perfect English. Traveling by public transport in Switzerland isn’t a chore, it’s a way of life for everyone here.
Many first-time travelers start in either Geneva in the French-speaking west or Zurich in the German-speaking east, however, there are also good train connections directly from France as well as Milan, Turin and Venice in Italy. For those with less time or just looking to add Switzerland to a longer holiday we recommend staying in the Alpine regions that run along the south of the country. Some of the best ways to do this are on the Glacier Express, which runs from Zermatt to St. Moritz, or the Bernina Express from St Mortiz to Italy.Read More
Bern isn’t your typical capital, especially picturesque, from the lush surrounding hills to the red roofs dotted across a spit of land along the turquoise Aare River. Its medieval city center is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site with picturesque bridges, covered arcades, the country’s tallest bell tower, and 16th-century fountains, all backed by the dramatic soaring Alps. It’s remained virtually unchanged since the 15th century while boasting a surprisingly laid-back atmosphere for a capital city. Visitors can also enjoy a unique bear park, world-class museums, and a thriving drinking scene.
Set alongside Europe’s largest lake, Geneva is a cosmopolitan city home to the European headquarters of the United Nations and the International Red Cross. It’s also filled with interesting attractions and striking beauty. A boat cruise on Lake Geneva brings breathtaking views of the Alps where locals and visitors can enjoy outstanding hiking or skiing, depending on the season. With vineyards and wineries dotted around the lake, it’s ideal for wine enthusiasts year-round. There are many offbeat markets for shoppers and clubs for those who want to experience lively nightlife as well.
Interlaken is tucked between two alpine lakes, a tourist resort that was once most well-known as a watchmaking center. Today, visitors come for its enchanting landscape with snow-covered mountain peaks where cascading waterfalls trickle down to sparkling lakes and lush valleys. It also offers jaw-dropping views of some of the country’s most famous mountains, Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch, as well as being a popular base for taking part in outdoor adventures, including hiking and paragliding. Visitors can also become immersed in local daily life by taking a class at a woodcarving school.
The quintessential Swiss city, lakeside Lucerne is a breathtaking city with a well-preserved Old Town, attractive town squares, painted veneers and narrow cobbled lanes, all highlighted with a dramatic mountain panorama. Discover castles, towers, pretty bridges and a Renaissance town hall. The ideal place for a stroll, one can get lost among its labyrinth of passageways, enjoying the colorful medieval architecture. Head to the top of Mount Pilatus for a dazzling view over it all and experience it from the water on a vintage paddle-wheeler boat cruise across Lake Lucerne, which many call Switzerland’s most picturesque lake.
Bordering Italy along the shores of Lake Lugano, rimmed by mountains in Switzerland’s southern region, the town of Lugano is an attractive city with a maze of steep cobbled streets. They meander down to the edge of the lake and alongside a flower-filled promenade, lined with sidewalk cafes, upscale designer boutiques and buzzing bars. Famous for its enchanting Mediterranean-like scenery, temperate trees grow alongside cypress and citrus trees. It’s also known as the former residence of Nobel Prize winner Herman Hesse. The Hermann Hesse Museum in nearby Montagnola houses memorabilia from his time here for more than 40 years up to his death.
St. Moritz has long attracted VIPs from royals to Hollywood celebrities, with jaw-dropping good looks that include a sparkling aquamarine-hued lake, emerald forests and imposing mountains. While it’s famous for its skiing, most visit for its glitz and glamour, with everything from Europe’s highest shopping street to fine dining restaurants for indulging in caviar and truffles. There are plenty of decadent spas with mud and mineral baths ideal for relaxing after a day of play whether hiking the soaring mountains or taking part in popular winter activities. The town is also the starting point for both the Bernia and Glacier Express, two of the most beautiful rail journey’s in the world.
Switzerland’s wealthiest metropolis and largest city offers everything from impressive architecture, world-class museums and art galleries to thrilling outdoor adventures. It boasts a picturesque well-preserved Old Town with cobblestone streets, winding lanes and medieval buildings. Top attractions include the Swiss National Museum and Bahnhofstrasse, the main downtown street that’s one of the most exclusive and expensive shopping avenues in the world. It’s also become a hip and trendy destination with old factories converted in creative living spaces and cultural centers, particularly in Zurich West, the hub of nightlife.
The stunning resort town of Zermatt is overlooked by the Alps’ most famous peak, the Matterhorn which soars nearly 14,000 feet high near the Italian border. One of the world’s most photographed mountains, visitors can ride a cable car to the summit to soak up views from the highest scenic outlook platform in Europe and discover an ice palace. It’s also an easy ride or walk to villages that seem lost in time and miles of scenic hikes. In the car-free village, you’ll find many outstanding restaurants and exciting nightlife options, including swanky lounge bars that attract the style-conscious.
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