Switzerland, formally known as The Confederation Helvetica, is a landlocked mountainous haven in the heart of Europe. Partially due to the isolating geography, the Swiss people have maintained a strong commitment to tradition, independence and the preservation of their long-established way of life. Hence, it is very important for the traveler to note that Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and uses the Swiss Franc as their form of currency.
An incredible benefit of Switzerland’s independence is a clean, speedy and reliable train system and public transportation network, including the new Rail 2000 program that offers regular half-hourly service between all major cities.
The thought of Switzerland strikes up images of enchanting castles, milk chocolate, fine cheese speckled with holes, sturdy watches and the Matterhorn. Don’t be fooled by this simplicity or the precision and just-so design of Swiss towns and get ready to discover a society far more rich, worldly and dynamic than you had ever imagined when you travel Switzerland! As homogenous as the nation might appear, Switzerland is divided into very diverse regions with four national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansch (a Latin derivative). English is also spoken widely. The fusion of these cultures adds a zest of flavor that complements the serenely picturesque landscape.
Four Seasons to Travel to Switzerland
Unlike many other European destinations, it is wonderful to travel to Switzerland at any time of year! Switzerland is centrally located on the European continent and consequently enjoys moderate and consistent weather for each season. Skiing is by far the best excuse to travel to Switzerland in the winter, but make sure not to miss the splendor of cities like Geneva covered in a blanket of snow. Geneva, the second-largest city, is close to the Swiss Alps and the French border and also boasts an international history of its own. The municipality has been central to European affairs for centuries, most notably including the Geneva Convention. Interlaken should be a part of a summer and winter itinerary as well. The pristine setting among some of the tallest and fiercest alpine peaks makes Interlaken a sanctuary for skiers and hikers alike. The town is small and limited on lodging so make reservations early.
In addition to the most popular destinations, such as Zurich and the Alps, the Swiss traveler is encouraged to leave the beaten path behind to discover the true beauty of the country and meet the resilient and warm people who define a nation that is over 700 years old. Remember that traditional does not translate into old-fashioned or archaic in Switzerland. The Swiss society stands out among European nations as an extraordinarily progressive and cutting-edge standard of modernity.
Here are our Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Switzerland :
Bern (French: Berne; Italian: Berna; Romansh: Berna) is known as the capital of Switzerland but another thing comes up when the city is being mentioned: UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Eurail pass holder will find it easier to travel and experience walking through the streets of Bern where architectural structures show epic designs of grandeur and beauty. Added to the remarkable designs are the breathtaking clock towers and fountains which most tourists consider as a charming accent to the city. It has about 130,000 inhabitants and is it a charming capital city of Europe.
In the country of Switzerland you will find the city of Geneva. This city is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland called Romandie. The city of Geneva which is the second-most populous city in the Romandie area is also the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva. The city of Geneva is situated by the location of the Rhône River where it exists into Lake Geneva. You will find that this lake is known in French as Lac Léman.
You will find that Geneva is a cosmopolitan city where you will be able to hear a number of different languages being spoken. In addition to hearing these various languages you will also be able to see the modern looks of the buildings mixing with the tasteful charm and elegance of Swiss hospitality. Visitors to this country will find there is a number of interesting places they can visit while they are here. For this reason you may want to take the time to get acquainted by the many wonders you will find before you start your sightseeing.
You’ve got to wonder where the Swiss go to relax and unwind as their entire country is pure heaven. Chocolate, yodeling, mocha-colored cows with bells that gently sing with each step, and charming chateaus – all set within the mountainous bliss of the Alps. I can’t speak for all Swiss, but plenty of them, as well as masses of international visitors, migrate to the quiet town of Interlaken each year.
Interlaken’s name means ‘between the lakes’…appropriate, as it sits elbow-to-elbow between the Thun and Brienz Lakes. Scenery meant for a jigsaw puzzle, this Swiss Town blends a traditional look with modern times. Ice-cold alpine waters boisterously rush through the town. Colored with a slightly blue-green tinge from the mountain minerals, it provides a source of power for the area. This water power ensures an uninterrupted energy supply and residents and visitors alike enjoy breathing the invigoratingly crisp, fresh air.
The Jungfrau region is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s a glistening mountain landscape with colliding glaciers, lush alpine meadows, moist forest trails, and hundreds of dazzling waterfalls. Located in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland and most easily accessed from the city of Interlaken, the Jungfrau region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized worldwide for its stunning natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Most travelers to the area visit the village of Grindelwald and gaze at the North Face of the Eiger. Over half a million passengers per year take the Jungfrau mountain railway to the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe where they can overlook the Aletschgletscher, the longest glacier in the Alps, and even walk through tunnels inside the glacier. You’ll also want to visit Staubbach Falls, the highest waterfall in Switzerland. And just across the Lauterbrunnen Valley, within walking distance of Staubbach Falls is Trummelbach Falls, one of the world’s most spectacular underground waterfalls, where torrents of water have created a series of caves made easily accessible by a funicular cut into the mountain, and a series of stairs and tunnels to discover the 10-tiered majesty of the falls. The village of Lauterbrunnen is set in the world’s largest glacial valley and is ringed by over 70 waterfalls.
Lake Geneva, or Lac Leman in French, is Central Europe’s second largest freshwater lake, after Hungary’s Lake Balaton, and covers an area of 225 square miles. Forged by the receding Rhone Glacier, Lake Geneva receives the headwaters of the Rhone River, which flows into Lac Leman on its South east shore, between the municipality of Villeneuve and the town of St Gingolph, before the Rhone continues its journey towards the Mediterranean, leaving from the south west of the Lake.
Owing to the sheer size of Lake Geneva, jurisdiction is shared by the two countries it straddles, with Switzerland owning 60 per cent and France the remaining 40, which lies across the country’s Savoy Alps in the western Haute-Savoie region.
This small city is home to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee. Travelers, especially Eurail pass holders who finds traveling to Lausanne convenient as it is part of the most efficient rail services in the world, come to Lausanne because it is the gateway towards some of the best ski slopes in the world. Lausanne is in French-speaking Switzerland and the two major universities of Lausanne afford the city with a vibrant nightlife and a community with artistic spirit as shown in its architecture and culture.
The city of Lucerne in Switzerland is among the most sought after holiday destination. With beautiful scenery of mountains and pretty lakeside views Lucerne attracts millions of tourists and visitors every year. The best known attraction of the city is the Lake Lucerne from where Reuss River originates. Well known for its quaintness and rich cultural life, the everydayness of Lucerne city is the true essence of the land of Switzerland. Like the city even Lucerne Hotels are a class apart. Rendering the finest of accommodation facility these hotels make lodging in Lucerne a wonderful and a memorable experience. To reach the city of Lucerne which is located in the central region of Switzerland you may board train from the city of Zurich. From Zurich it would take you approximately 45 minutes to reach Lucerne. From Geneva, Lucerne is around 245 kilometers away and from Berne it is 92 kilometers away.
Lugano is a lakeside city that is situated in the southern part of Switzerland. Most part of the city enjoys temperate climate all around the year. The city is known for its boulevards which provide you some of the stunning views of the Alps and other surrounding lakes.
The city of Lugano also forms a good base for visiting the other cities and places in Switzerland. The best time to visit this city is during the summers and is situated only half an hour away from Lake Como.
The city of Lugano has a small international airport that handles limited number of flights from nearby European countries such as Italy, England, France and Germany. Many low cost international carriers such as Ryan Air and EasyJet operates its flights to and from this airport.
In the country of Switzerland you will find the town of Zermatt. This lovely town is located in the canton of Valais which can be found in the Visp District. The town of Zermatt is situated by the edge of the Mattertal Valley at a height of 1,620 meters. The town can be found lying in the shadow of the Matterhorn Mountain which towers high above the valley. The Theodul Pass which borders Italy can be found about 10 kilometers away from Zermatt. Unlike many winter resorts that you will find in the world the ski resort of Zermatt lies in a combustion free car zone.
Zurich is regarded as the largest city of Switzerland. Zurich is considered as the major platform and hub for financial and cultural areas. The city is also referred to “Cultural Capital of Switzerland”. If we take a look at the statistics of 2006 to 2008, then Zurich has the honour of being named as the city which provides the best quality of life. Zurich is also recognized as one of the richest city of the world. The city is also the second most expensive one in Switzerland after Geneva. The metropolitan area of Zurich is home to about 1.68 million.
The climatic conditions of Zurich are typical as expected according to the season. But overall the climate is not towards the extreme side and remains somewhat mild. Summer season receives temperature ranges in between 20 – 25 degrees. Zurich mostly enjoys the rainy season during summers. Winter season is very cold in the city. The temperature can even drop to -5 degrees during nights. One most important reason for visiting Zurich is also its climatic conditions. The season in which it receives most of the tourists are the spring and autumn seasons. The seasons have a very mild and cool temperature with beautiful breezes and beautiful sun shines.