Life is good in Switzerland: perfect alpine landscapes for hiking and skiing, pretty mountain chalets, fairy-tale castles, and cutting-edge museums. Add luscious chocolates and rich bubbling fondue, and the lucky tourist gets a harmonious blend of epic and romantic, pleasurable and charming.
In vibrant Geneva, view the Pencil Fountain and visit the Palais des Nations, home of the United Nations. Lake Geneva brings you to the Swiss Riviera, with bridge bars at Lausanne, wines at Lavaux, and open-air music festivals at Montreux and Nyon. Taste the amazing cheeses of Gruyeres; explore the medieval towns of Fribourg and Neuchatel, and the deep forests of rural Jura. Visit Bern, the capital, for cobbled streets, clock towers, and a countryside that produces the quintessentially Swiss Emmental cheese.
Adrenalin-fueled Interlaken offers adventure sports, from the peaks of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, to the via ferrata of Muuren, the ski slopes of Gstaad, and the waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen. Marvel at the striking perfection of beautiful Matterhorn, Switzerland's most iconic mountain. Hop onto the Glacier Express train at Zermatt for stunning views of Aletsch Glacier.
Experience Italian-style living in Locarno and Lugano. Visit the medieval fortress of Bellinzona and the vineyards of Mendrisio. Near exquisite Lucerne, walk on the Swiss Path, watch sunrise from Mt Rigi and eat cherry cake in Zug. In big-city Zurich, experience art at Kunsthaus, nightlife in Langstrasse and the wild Street Parade in the summer.
Art fans flock to Basel for the Fondation Beyeler and the Vitra Design Museum. Near the meadows of Appenzell are the ornate castles of Schaffhausen, the rococo library of St Gallen, and Rheinfall, Europe's largest waterfall. Go skiing in Davos in the Swiss Alps, and rafting along the Rhine Gorge. After a tiring day of activities, relax at the stylish resort of St Moritz.
Like everything Swiss, the public transport system is extremely efficient. Also like everything Swiss, this doesn't come cheap - so invest in a travel pass if you are planning extensive travel.
With such stunning scenery, transport isn't just about getting around. In addition to a standard and extensive rail network, scenic journeys like the Glacier Express have extended-height windows for fantastic views. Other scenic trips include the William Tell Express and the Chocolate Train.
Get to smaller towns on the yellow-coloured Post Buses, so aptly named because they follow postal routes. The bigger lakes have steamer services, and mountains popular with tourists usually have a cable car. Well-maintained roads and hassle-free car rental also makes driving a viable option.
Switzerland has four official languages: German, Italian, French, and Romansch. This reflects a fascinating geographical spread of cultures - in the northeast and centre, the beer-drinking German-speakers; in the southwest, the French-influenced wine-drinkers; in the southeast, the cappuccino-sipping Italians. Romansch is the least common, spoken only in scattered parts of the east.
Fondue is a traditional dish where skewers of bread are dipped into a pot of bubbling cheese. In Switzerland, cheese-only fondues are standard, and usually made with a combination of Gruyere and Emmental cheeses. Other popular fondue variants include beef-based fondue bourgignonne and fondue chinoise. Chocolate fondue, apparently, is only meant for tourists.
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