Switzerland is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe, with tiny hamlets dotted in between the snow glistening on the Alps, lakes of blue, valleys of vibrant green and glaciers. The perfect fairytale interspersed with international ski resorts, hiking trails, paragliding centers and so much more. But Switzerland isn’t just about the scenery. Millions of people come here every year to see the history, the culture and the architecture that make up this landlocked jewel of Europe. So much to see, so little time to see it all in. You can’t do Switzerland justice in a few days but if that’s all you have then make these five your places to visit.
- The Matterhorn
[ Image : Wikipedia ]
The iconic Matterhorn stands at 4,478 meters high, one of the tallest peaks in the Alps. Bordering Italy, the four faces of the mountain each faces one of the four compass points, and the steep sides of the mountain have seen more than their fair share of tragedy. Today, the mountain is climbed by thousands of people every year.
Zermatt is a charming village lying at the foot of the mountain, one of the most popular resorts for international guests. The village is full of restaurants, hotels, and chalets and one of the most popular forms of transport, bearing in mind that motorized vehicles are not allowed to enter, is the horse-drawn carriage. More than 300 km of icy slopes attract skiers every winter and in the summer, visitors come from all over to take in the mountain air while on a hike, a bicycle ride, playing tennis and swimming.
[ Image : Wikipedia ]
Called “The Top of Europe”, Jungfraujoch is reached by a winding train journey. At 3,343 meters you will find a scientific observatory and a terrace, offering fantastic photo opportunities and view that is second to none. The Great Aletsch Glacier starts at Jungfraujoch, the longest one in the whole of Europe and has been classed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The North Face is footed by the Eiger Trail that runs from the glacier station at Eiger to Alpiglen and, if walking is your thing then there are plenty of other trails, through pastures, meadows, and woodland. For the less active. There are cable cars and gondolas to take you to stunning viewpoints that look across the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
A stunning glacier village called Grindelwald is situated at the base of the mountains and is one of the oldest resorts in Switzerland. The Wetterhorn towers above the valley along with the imposing north face of Eiger, one of the most difficult climbs in the world. Grindelwald itself nestles between two glaciers in the valley and, for the best views of the imposing peaks, head 2,681 meters up to Faulhorn.
With Lake Brienz lying to the east and Lake Thun lying to the west, Interlaken is a popular resort for the summer. The town center is dominated by Höhematte, 35 acres of urban open space. The Höheweg is the primary boulevard that wends its way through, surrounded by gardens, cafes and hotels and offering fantastic views of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch peaks that tower above Interlaken, peaks that offer pursuits such as kayaking, abseiling, hiking and climbing.
There are more than 45 cable cars, mountain railways, ski lifts and chair lifts taking visitors all over the mountains and the countryside. Resorts surround Interlaken, offering plenty of opportunity for winter snowboarding and skiing and paragliding in the summer. If you want to see the scenery from below, take a paddle steamer ride around the lakes.
Lake Lucerne sparkles blue in the sunlight, lying between the mountains, bridges that are covered, a medieval town that has banned cars, historic buildings, and plazas with fountains. Popular with tourists, Lucerne is home to some of the best music concerts, attracting orchestras, conductors and soloists alike to the International Music Festival, held every year, and the Culture and Convention Center houses a leading concert hall.
The Chapel Bridge is one of the top landmarks in Lucerne, constructed in the 14th Century. The world-famous Lion monument can be found in a small park, commemorating the Swiss Guards who lost their lives in the French Revolution, in the attack on the Tuileries. The Transport Museum has exhibits covering all transport forms and a planetarium and, for one of the most stunning views of the Alps, Lucerne and Lake Lucerne, take a funicular ride to the Dietschiberg, go up to the Rigi lookout point or head up Mt. Pilatus in a cable car.
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, one of the biggest hubs for transportation and a popular place for tourists. It lies on the river Limmat at the end of Lake Zurich and is one of the banking capitals of the world. The Old Town is made up of cobbled streets lined with cafes, shops and art galleries. Bahnhofstrasse is a mile long, one of the best shopping areas in Europe offering designer brand clothes, jewelry, and watches.
Away from the shops, you will find art galleries and museums in abundance, one of the best being the Kunsthaus Zurich, a fine arts museum with one of the best collections of art from the Middle Ages to now. The Reitberg Museum is another top museum, housing works of art from China, Africa, and India. The Swiss National Museum shows off the cultural history of Switzerland while the Zurich Zoo offers entertainment for families. For the best views of the city and the surrounding countryside, head on a train up to Uetliberg Mountain.