Switzerland for its bucolic scenery, dramatic mountain ranges and tennis legend Roger Federer 😉 – There’s nothing forgettable about this European nation (My Aunt is actually Swiss so it was an added bonus to see her homeland). The country that is unofficially divided into four linguistic regions—the surrounding nations of France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein gladly sharing their mother tongues with their landlocked neighbor. Several geographic regions formed by the famed Swiss Alps in the southern region and the Jura Mountains, which line Switzerland’s western border. But even with all these geographic and linguistic divisions, the Swiss have truly embraced their melting pot culture with most citizens congregating in the major cities of Geneva, Bern and Zürich on the country’s centrally-located Swiss Plateau.
Things Not To Miss
• Experienced mountaineers won’t want to miss out on climbing the Matterhorn, the most famous of the Swiss Alps, or hiking through the Swiss National Park
• Go on a hot balloon ride and take in Switzerland’s lovely geography from above
• Cheer on your favorite team at the Tour du Lac regatta, held every September, or see some of the world’s greatest musicians at the Montreux Jazz Festival in early July
• Check out local sports like schwingen (Swiss wrestling) and steinstossen (stone throwing)
• Take in the medieval architecture and Renaissance era allegorical statues at the heart of the Old City of Bern or gaze at the gorgeous painted ceiling of the Einsiedeln Abbey in Schwyz
• Marvel at the Jet D’Eau water fountain, tour the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and explore the quirky neighborhoods of Carouge and Quartier des Grottes in Geneva
• Take a train ride over the Landwasser Viaduct, tucked into the Alps and completed in 1902
• Tour the Museum of Art, visit the Cabaret Voltaire (birthplace of the Dada art movement), or dance your way through the Street Parade, one of Europe’s largest techno parties in Zurich
• Go on wine tours in the towns of Ticino, Vaud and Valais or revel in Swiss art culture in Basel, home of the Art Basel Festival
Geneva: Like the swans that frolic on its eponymous Alpine lake (Europe’s largest), Genève is a slick, cosmopolitan and constantly perceived as the Swiss capital (it isn’t), the people of Switzerland’s second-largest city chatter in almost every language among streets paved by gold. (The headquarters of the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, International Committee of the Red Cross, the second-largest branches of the United Nations and World Bank (among some 200-odd international organisations, including not-for-profits are here too).
Bern: The Country capital, Bern’s flag-festooned, cobbled centre, is an aesthetic delight, with 6km of covered arcades, cellar shops and bars, and fantastical folk figures frolicking on 16th-century fountains. From the surrounding hills, you’re presented with an equally captivating picture of red roofs arrayed on a spit of land within a bend of the Aare River.
Zürich: Culturally vibrant, efficiently run and attractively set at the meeting of river and lake, Zürich is regularly recognised as one of the world’s most liveable cities. Long known as a savvy, hard-working financial centre, Switzerland’s largest and wealthiest metropolis has also emerged in the 21st century as one of central Europe’s hippest destinations. Much of the ancient centre, with its winding lanes and tall church steeples, has been kept lovingly intact. Yet Zürich has also wholeheartedly embraced contemporary trends, with the conversion of old factories into cultural centres and creative new living spaces.