The world knows Switzerland for the exquisite watches, the delectable chocolates, multifunctional Swiss army knives, and aromatic wines. The magnificent Alps that tower over the landscape offer a picturesque view and winter sports. Switzerland portrays itself as a country of four languages – German, Italian, French and Romansh; just like the myriad of languages, the nation has an interesting mix of cultures. Farming and herding are common as livelihoods, and so is mountain biking, due to the wide range of terrains. The Alpine influence on Swiss music is apparent – embodied by traditional yodeling, the alphorn and the accordion; so be sure to catch a yodeler in action if you can!
Geneva and Zurich are amongst the country’s most international cities. Start with Zurich for a destination without losing the conveniences of a metropolis city – the pristine streets, efficient transport systems and great service will keep you grounded as you explore the wilder side of Zurich. Pop by the legal graffiti walls for a showcase of art, exhibit Freikörperkultur (skinny dip) at Strandbad Tiefenbrunnen and join local personality Dan Dent on a prowl for the supernatural after dark. Challenge the limits of your disgust meter with the 3D wax replicas at Moulage Museum and discover the nightclub Hive, where eco-friendliness meets art as you dance the night away.
Next is Geneva, the heart of the humanitarian efforts of Red Cross. Watch the seconds tick by on the Horloge Fleuri, the large flower clock, pride of the local watch industry. Marvel at the Jet d’Eau, one of the largest fountains in the world, walk along the shore path of Lake Geneva, and capture the beauty of St. Pierre Cathedral. Slow stroll through Geneva’s marvelous parks, tour the chambers of the United Nations Palace and trek up to the peak of Mont Saleve.
Pass by acres and acres of vines at the Lavaux on the way to Brig and, perhaps, be a tad intoxicated on a taste tour. Enter Stockalperschloss, previously the abode of a powerful businessman before he was banished, live the village life vivaciously through the displays at Saaser Museum and watch the vaporous cascades at the Staubbach Falls.
The oldest city of Chur is not to be missed for its daredevil activities– dangle your feet from the Brambrüesch cable car before you ski your way down from 1600m, drop 500m from Mittelstation to Litzirüti – on a bike! – and white water raft through treacherous waters of the Vonderrhein. The kids can find their haven at the Madrisa Land theme park, especially if they are animal embracers – there’s the playground, in case they’re not.
How to get around
Switzerland is extensively connected throughout by railway between different regions, but networks are also available in major cities. In certain seasons, there are boats operated to ferry passengers to places such as Estavayer-le-Lac and Yverdon-les-Bains. Roads are two-lane so basic navigation should be able to get you through if you decide to drive.
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