One just has to look beyond all of those icons that evoke images of Switzerland, chocolate, cuckoo clocks and yodeling – to find a contemporary Switzerland.
A land of four languages ( Swiss, German, French and Italian), that is all about exciting journeys, heart-racing Alpine pursuits or the pursuit of its unique urban culture.
Swiss Alps Train journey
Switzerland’s stunning and varied landscapes demand immediate action. Skiing and snowboarding in Graubünden, Bernese Oberland and Central Switzerland are winter choices. When the pastures turn green, hiking, and biking trails in glacier-encrusted mountain areas and the lower down places among lost valleys, glittering lake shores and pea-green vineyards are plentiful and varied.
You can view the grandeur of this country from a hot-air balloon or paragliding or floating in a white-water raft. Then there are those bucket list moments – encountering the Eiger’s chiseled north face up close and personal, or reaching the crevassed ice on the Jungfraujoch, or viewing the iconic Mont Blanc or Matterhorn. The best thing is you do not need to be a mountaineer to achieve these feats.
The perfect antidote to the beauty of Switzerland’s countryside, is its urban edge: the capital Bern with its medieval old town and world-class modern art, the deeply Germanic city of Basel with its bold architecture, and home of Swiss Watches, the chic and modern Geneva sitting a stride Europe’s largest lake named after the town, the party-loving towns of Lausanne and nearby Montreux, home to the iconic Jazz festival, or the uber-cool city of Zürich with its numerous riverside bars, and a reborn industrial western district.
Castles and craft beer, entertainment, and new-wave restaurants – you are sure to find it all in the Swiss cities.
Variety is the spice of the rural life in this mountainous country, where Alpine the tradition is rooted in the agricultural calendar and soaring mountains are plenty to be had. Travelling around this country, is easy, with the many destinations mapped by villages with timber granaries built on stilts to keep the rats out, and chalet farmsteads brightened with red geranium blossoms. Its ancient markets, folkloric fairs, flag waving and alp-horn concerts mark the passing of each of the seasons and leave an indelible mark in everyone’s soul.
The Matterhorn Mountain
Of course, not to be forgotten is the food: a hearty and flavorsome gastronomic celebration of gooey cheese – Raclette served with boiled potatoes and dill pickles and Fondue (molten cheese eaten with bread), Rösti (fried grated potatoes), Muesli (an oatmeal breakfast dish) and Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (veal and mushrooms on a cream sauce), autumnal game, and Landjager, air-dried meat.
Enjoying ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ (coffee and cake) is a much-loved pastime in Switzerland and there’s no better cake to enjoy with your cup than Himbeerkuchen (raspberry cake) or of course indulge in velvety chocolate, with brands like well-known Lindt and Toblerone, but also Switzerland’s chocolate producers include Frey, Maestrani, Teuscher, Cailler and Laderach.
So, welcome to Switzerland!