Switzerland is an incredible country to visit both in summer and winter. The extensive mountain ranges, glacial lakes and rivers, and diverse countryside mean that there isn’t a single square inch of Switzerland that isn’t beautiful. It’s cosmopolitan, yet old-world cities have a distinct Swiss charm, and its mix of French, German and Italian culture and cuisine, make for an exciting visit to this pristine country.
The best lake: Lake Luzern
The old city of Luzern (Lucerne in French), is a highlight of many trips to Switzerland. The lake is surrounded by mountains, including the famous Mount Pilatus. A trip up this mountain will afford spectacular views of the lake and city.
Hire pedalos, take a boat trip, or hike around the edge of the ‘Lake of the Four Forest Cantons’: the meeting point of four Swiss regions. Exploring the city of Luzern is well worth it too, with its incredible fondue restaurants, beautiful river and old bridges, and the popular Lion Monument.
The best mountain: Jungfrau
Visitors can ascend this mountain from the charming village of Lauterbrunnen, taking the world’s steepest cog railway to the ‘Top of Europe’. The journey is an adventure in itself, but at the top visitors are afforded views of the surrounding countryside at 3,571 m above sea level.
Even in fog it’s worth the trip, as Jungfraujoch has snow year-round, with an ice cavern and snow activities to keep you entertained. Half way up is Kleine Scheidegg, which is great to visit in winter for its bar, after which you toboggan back to the village of Grindlewald.
The best town: Bern
Bern is the unsung capital of Switzerland. Surrounded by the Bernese Alps, the old city is a spectacular little place to wander around. It’s possible to swim in the river, although be aware it’s glacial so very cold! Ask the locals where to get in and out, to avoid getting swept away.
Stand on the bridge over the river to look down on the Barengraben, a pit housing brown bears. The bears have lots of space, and swim in a section of the river. Bern owes its name from these majestic creatures.
The best for culture: Geneva
Geneva is the liberal home to the United Nations building, and the ideal of international cooperation has helped Geneva to grow into a spectacular cosmopolitan city. Events, concerts, an outdoor cinema and multiple museums and galleries make Geneva a great city to call home for a few days.
In the winter, many visitors pass through Geneva on the way to the mountains, but those who linger are glad they did. Geneva’s old town is a national heritage site, with bars, cafes, narrow passageways and hidden courtyards. The 14th
century Maison Travel Museum and the Cathedral of St Pierre are top places to visit.
The best for skiing: St Moritz
Synonymous with Alpine tourism, St Moritz is the top ski location for royals, celebrities and the rich since 1864. The clear lake, dense forests and jagged peaks attract thousands of tourists each year. The town itself is spectacular, with designer boutiques and pristine streets.
However, the real show is on the peaks of Diavolezza or Corviglia, and the miles of hiking trails during the summer. This resort is going to host the FIS Ski World Cup in 2017.