Travel to Switzerland

Travel to Switzerland

Flecked with glacier-blue lakes and echoing with the jingle of cowbells, this chocolate-loving Alpine wonderland is almost too good to be true.

From Zürich and Basel to Geneva and Bern, Swiss cities—famous for their almost unrivaled quality of life and role as global financial hubs—offer a wonderfully cosmopolitan counterpoint to the country’s postcard-perfect countryside. Linger happily in Zürich’s superb museums, or take a leisurely stroll along Geneva’s lovely waterfront. Tasting your way around Switzerland is a scrumptious form of tourism. In this dairy-rich and sweets-loving land, you’ll revel over homegrown cheeses and chocolates—and fondue, of course, the national dish! Follow the tinkle of cowbells and the track of cable cars up to Switzerland’s grandest sights in the Alps, which play host to numerous fairytale high-country villages. One of Europe’s greatest panoramas await you on the Jungfrau railway, which tops out at the summit station of Jungfraujoch. Lake Geneva, meanwhile, has drawn visitors for centuries with its ethereal beauty. Most magnificent of all, of course, is the Matterhorn—perhaps the world’s most celebrated mountain peak.

Switzerland's cultural diversity is one of its many merits. Incredibly, this rather small, landlocked nation has four official languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh – and the different groups of people who speak them bring their own interesting cultural traditions to the Swiss table. Again with the marvel of Swiss rail technology, you can begin your morning in a German-speaking city – and be in a French or Italian-speaking one by lunchtime! As you travel throughout Switzerland, you are continually exposed to new cultures.

Some common traits that spring up throughout all of Switzerland are that most places are immaculately clean and safe. The Swiss keep the bar set very high to maintain their extraordinarily beautiful environment. The Swiss also like precision, and if your train is meant to depart at 9:58 – it will depart exactly at 9:58. (They cannot help it – the Swiss are some of the world's top watchmakers.) Switzerland also has a strong tradition of music. Not only does it keep its own traditional, folk music going strong (think Alpine, Heidi-like horns), but it also hosts some of Europe's top music festivals like the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Food in Switzerland is so good, that writing this is making us hungry! Switzerland is the proud home of many outstanding cheeses – like Gruyere and Emmentaler, both of which frequently find their way into popular dishes like fondue and raclette. There are delicious sausages to be had all over the country and in addition to national dishes, each region has its own specialties - often with traces of French, Italian or German influences.

The local Swiss wines are excellent – as is the beer. But when we think of food and Switzerland, one delicious word comes to mind: chocolate. The Swiss are the kings of chocolate (no disrespect to the Belgians). They even have a Chocolate Train! Visitors can also quite easily attend a chocolate-making class when traveling to Switzerland.

Switzerland is one of those countries whose peddled postcards showcasing incredible natural landscapes look too heavenly to be real. Once you arrive however, you'll see for yourself that those sweeping green valleys, tumbling waterfalls, dramatic glaciers and crystal-clear lakes are in fact – very much real. And the fact that Switzerland plays host to some of the world's most impressive scenic trains – like the Bernina Express, the Golden Pass Line, the Glacier Express, and the Wilhelm Tell Express – makes traveling through its glorious backdrops relaxing, pleasant and stress-free.

This land of lakes and mountains – which borders Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein – is understandably a paradise for travelers seeking the great "Alpine" outdoors. Activities like skiing, mountain climbing, hiking and biking attract not only visitors, but the Swiss themselves – almost every weekend. And courageous, thrill seekers travel to Interlaken, a town famed for its adventure-sport offerings. Interlaken also works as an ideal base to take the legendary Jungfrau Railway up, up and away to the Jungfraujoch, Europe's highest railway station; this spectacular, glacial area forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Natural Site in the High Alps.

Switzerland is also home to two other World Heritage Natural Sites: the Monte San Giorgio and the marvelous Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona, a mountainous stretch in the northeastern part of the country that contains seven peaks that rise above 9,800 feet. And while it is not a large country (slightly smaller than New Hampshire + Vermont combo); there is much to do and to appreciate while on vacation in Switzerland. Its largest cities are Zurich, Geneva and Basel. Its capital is Bern. Other popular Swiss cities, towns and resorts for tourists include Lucerne (a great base for visiting Mount Pilatus), Interlaken, Lausanne, Montreux, Zermatt, St. Moritz and Mediterranean-like Lugano.

Most visited cities: Zurich, Geneva, Zermatt, Lausanne

With the exception of some pesky, invading neighbors (Napoleon), for much of Switzerland's history, it has been a loosely-arranged confederation of self-ruling districts called cantons. And on the larger, European political scene, it still very much marches to the beat of its own drum. In armed, international conflicts, it is almost always neutral. It didn't join the United Nations until 2002. It is not a member of the European Union – or of the European Economic Area. Its neutrality however has made Switzerland an attractive place for many of the world's top organizations. Several (of hundreds) who call Switzerland home include the Red Cross, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization and the CERN science research center. Switzerland is also consistently rated as having one of the highest qualities of life in the world.

In terms of sightseeing, Switzerland will delight any history buff. It is home to no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites including medieval abbeys, castles and market towns. Its cities' Old Towns are some of the prettiest in all of Europe, with Zurich's and Bern's being particularly lovely. The Protestant Reformation also played a major role in Switzerland's history, and many visiting Switzerland seek out Protestant-related sights associated with Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin – like the St. Pierre Cathedral and the Reformation Wall in Geneva.

Switzerland Vacations

Geneva Enchantment
Zurich & Lucerne
Zurich at Its Best
Lucerne at its Best

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