Switzerland, situated in Central Europe, is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and historic cities adorned with medieval architecture. The country is not only famous for its precision clocks and luxury watches but also for its delectable chocolates. Switzerland boasts some of Europe's tallest peaks, with the iconic Matterhorn being a standout example. Additionally, the country is blessed with an abundance of over 7,000 lakes and features some of the world's longest tunnels.
Bern: Switzerland's capital city, is built along a bend in the Aare River. Its history dates back to the 12th century, and the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, retains its medieval architecture. The Lauben, a covered shopping promenade, stretches for six kilometers, making it one of Europe's longest weather-sheltered shopping promenades.
Interlaken: Nestled between the glacier-fed lakes of Thun and Brienz, serves as the gateway to Switzerland's Jungfrau region. This renowned summer holiday destination boasts the Hohematte, a 700-yard-long pedestrian paradise teeming with shops, hotels, and charming sidewalk cafes, interspersed with inviting gardens.
Lucerne: Located on the shores of Lake Lucerne, offers stunning views of the Alps' snow-capped peaks from nearby foothills. The well-preserved medieval town center traces its origins to the 8th century when a small Benedictine monastery was established at the confluence of the River Reuss.
St. Moritz: A prestigious ski resort situated in the southern Swiss Alps, is renowned for its mineral springs and top-notch restaurants. It's not just a winter destination; St. Moritz beckons visitors in the summer with opportunities for hiking, sailing, and leisurely lakeside strolls.
Zermatt: Nestled at the base of the Matterhorn, is a world-class car-free resort celebrated for its breathtaking mountain and glacier landscapes. It also offers exceptional cuisine and an elegant mountain ambiance.
When to go / useful information
When to go
The seasons in this region are easy to tell apart. In spring (March to May), everything comes to life. Meadows turn a lush green, trees burst into blossoms, and the weather is comfortably mild. As we move into summer, things start to warm up, and it can occasionally get a bit humid, especially in July and August. These months are fantastic for those who love high-altitude hikes and cycling adventures.
Autumn brings a unique charm as the fruit ripens, and the leaves on the trees change into brilliant hues of red, orange, and yellow. It's a splendid time to explore nature. Finally, winter arrives with its colder temperatures and a generous blanket of snow. From late December to early April, ski resorts are in full swing, making it the high season for snow enthusiasts.
Whether you're a fan of blossoming springs, warm summers, colorful autumns, or snowy winters, this region has something special to offer in every season.
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
Language: Switzerland has four national languages: German (63.5%), French (22.5%), Italian (8%) and Romansh (.5%). German is the most widely spoken, and 19 of the country’s 26 cantons are predominantly German speaking. French is mostly spoken in the western part of the country, Italian in the south, and Romansh in the canton of Graubünden. English is quite widely spoken throughout the country.
What makes it special: Just like other European countries, it has its own distinct charm. The combination of amazing weather, eye-captivating scenery of the Alps, and small but nice things like the best cheeses, chocolates, and watches together are what makes Switzerland and its people so intriguing. It's a fantastic place for winter sports.
Weather: The climate in Switzerland is generally temperate, but depending on the altitude the temperatures may vary.
Social customs: Don't disturb people in public. The Swiss are serious about peace and order in public spaces. Greet people with respect. The Swiss don't like disturbance, but they sure love warm greetings. Observe table manners. There are also dining etiquettes that you must know in Switzerland.
With only 500,000 population, this beautiful city is quieter than most European cities and has a quaintness about it. Lovely and peaceful to walk around, very safe, even if out late on your own. The forms of transportation are bus, train, ferry and obviously walking.
The Left Bank is where high end shopping such as Prada, Tiffany & Co, Gucci to Louis Vuitton are, in two large shopping streets - the Rue du Marché and the Rue du Rhône. The promenade is a happening place with Ferris wheel and little Christmas market while I was there.
The Old Town is the heart of the historic Geneva. Les Armures, a charming boutique hotel named after the armoury that once stood there, is both a hotel and a well-known restaurant for traditional Swiss mountain food like cheese fondue. The Old Town is worth visiting, with its Roman ruins in the cathedral crypt and its 400-year old houses. It is not known for its shopping, but has several small antique shops, gorgeous little cafes/restaurants and art galleries on narrow cobblestoned streets.
The Right Bank has most of the prestigious hotels, but also the alternative and working-class district of Les Pâquis. It has many restaurants and cafes. Its only department store is Manor, which is part of a Swiss chain. Otherwise, its shops are mainly small and alternative, or the luxurious watch and chocolate shops on the rue du Mont-Blanc.
Surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, this side has views across the Lake and towards the Alps, especially the Mont-Blanc. On a city tour I learnt Geneva is the Headquarters of Europe’s United Nations and the Red Cross, it’s a global hub for diplomacy and banking. French influence is widespread, from the language to food and culture.