Haven’t decided on a place to celebrate winter yet? Look no further! Even though Switzerland is perfect for skiing and snowboarding, there’s still many activities to choose from that don’t require goggles. Here are ten good reasons why your next vacation destination should be Switzerland!
1. The Matterhorn
You’ve seen it on boxes of chocolates and calendars (and possibly in an amusement park, too!), but visiting this mountain in person is something truly breathtaking. The Matterhorn is recognized around the globe as the proud symbol of Switzerland. Standing at a staggering 14,692 feet, it challenges mountaineers worldwide and welcomes less energetic visitors as well, to enjoy its tranquil beauty. Whether you’re traveling in the winter or summer, a ride on the Gornergrat railway from the village of Zermatt takes you to the starting point of an unforgettable tour that’s focused on the legendary mountain.
2. The Waterfalls
An inspiration to poets and painters, Switzerland’s waterfalls are among the highest and biggest in Europe. Goethe and Byron wrote about the Staubbach Falls in the Bernese Oberland, just one of 72 spectacular falls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. In the same valley are the mysterious Trümelbach Falls, which are inside the mountain, but open to visitors. The largest waterfall is the Rhine Falls, where you can take pictures from the top. If you dare you can even venture through the mountains and visit the waterfall at night!
3. Mountain Adventures
Visiting the Swiss mountains is a must, and now you have the opportunity to ride high for a low price. Many of Switzerland’s peaks are accessible to visitors by cable car or cog railway. If you purchase a Swiss Pass, you benefit from a discount off the price of most trips. You’ll be able to see and experience Swiss mountaintops like never before.
4. Ticino (Switzerland’s sun lounge)
Although not a sizeable country by area, Switzerland is huge in terms of diversity. Situated between Germany, France, Austria and Italy makes for some pretty different cultural activity no matter where you decide to unpack. If you’re looking for Italian flair, venture to the southernmost canton of Switzerland, the Ticino. Ticino is a “land of culture,” with plenty of things to do—from both Swiss and Italian food, to music and art performances around every corner. It’s also a great region for cycling—from the stunning mountainous scenery and sparkling lakes to the red-roofed village houses clustered along the shores.
5. Swiss products
If it’s your first time in Switzerland, the question isn’t—where can I find a Swiss watch, but rather, which one should I choose? Swiss watches are crafted with ingenuity, precision, and quality, and as far as competitors go, Switzerland crushes the competition. Swiss watches are sold pretty much everywhere, but specifically in the Watch Valley in western Switzerland you’ll find a particular acumen for the various brands. Whether it’s a souvenir or the treasure of a lifetime, a Swiss watch means something to everyone.
6. Winter sports
What kind of guide would this be if we left out winter sports? The breathtaking mountains not only attract poets and painters worldwide but also daredevils looking for thrills. The chic resort of St. Moritz in the Engadin has twice hosted the winter Olympics—and rightfully so, with 217 miles of ski pistes, the Cresta run skeleton track, and the oldest bob run in the world (which is constructed every year of natural ice). Spending any amount of time here, where the action is endless, is the perfect athletic getaway.
7. The Geneva Festival
Maybe you’re visiting family this winter and can’t get away until the summer. No worries! Fêtes de Genéve (Geneva Festival) runs from July 17-30, 2014 and is one of the city’s annual events that brings people from all over together. Set in Geneva, Switzerland’s most cosmopolitan city, this festival highlights music of all kinds—classical to country, rock to reggae with over a hundred different concerts. Complete with fireworks and the chance to sample local food, this is truly a summer event not to miss!
When you want to relax, do you envision going somewhere that will be your Zen hideaway when you’re stressed at home? The Pfäfers hot springs in the Tamina gorge near the Bad Ragaz canton has been known for centuries (since 1535 when the doctor, Paracelsus, wrote of its virtues) to aid with ailments. The old spa in the romantic gorge is open to visitors but those wanting to experience its therapeutic mineral springs can stay in the luxurious surrounding hotels.
There’s no better place than Lausanne to party and there is a club for every age and every taste, some with well-known DJ’s that have the grooves down. The variety of bars, cafes and music clubs is astounding – and the city itself isn’t exactly forgettable. Among the most popular is the Bleu Lezard (Blue Lizard), an artistic and lively bistro-bar and nightclub—which is quite popular among both locals and tourists.
Here’s something a little different. Why not experience Swiss nature to the max and stay in a hayloft? 200 farms throughout the country offer this adventure to tourists. It’s an especially great opportunity for kids, who’ll get the chance of a lifetime to cuddle with some irresistibly cute farm animals that’ll almost make them forget the family cat. And of course, the animals are more than happy to share their bunks for a few nights. You’ll get to discover a rural and serene side of Switzerland that you’ll never forget.
Ready to get natural? I’ve touched just the tip of the iceberg, I mean mountaintop, in this Swiss round-up and am certain that you’ll have plenty more to add yourself after spending some quality time in such a quality place.