Switzerland. What comes to your mind when you hear this word? Delicious chocolate, expensive watches, snow-capped Alps, mouth-watering cheese, reliable banks, cuckoo clocks, yodeling, and alphorns? Yes, sure, it’s all that. But after relocating to Switzerland a while ago, I got a new perspective on this stunning country, a semi-local one if I may. The country, where its 26 cantons are so different from one another, 4 languages are spoken, epic scenery surrounds you on every single corner, offers so many jaw-dropping experiences. Let me tell you about some of the best places to visit in contemporary Switzerland that you can enjoy on your Trafalgar tour.
I’ll start with my absolute favourite – views around Lake Lucerne, or Vierwaldstättersee as it’s called in Swiss German. Whether you are visiting the beautiful town of Lucerne or taking a boat ride around the lake, you will see the most picturesque views of the surrounding Alps.
From here you can also see the Rütli meadow – the birthplace of the Swiss Confederation. Here in 1291 representatives of the nobility of the Uri, Schwyz, and Nidwalden communities came together to declare their support for each other in the face of the Habsburgs ruling in the Roman Empire. Switzerland was created.
Little villages around the lake are unique. Here there are no monuments, tourist centers, and souvenir shops. But there is the true spirit of Switzerland, a country that managed to unite under one roof 4 languages, 3 cultures, 2 confessions, and 26 cantons.
Around Lake Lucerne is located the famous 35-kilometer Weg der Schweiz – one of the most beautiful and historic swiss trails. It was created as a joint project of all cantons, timed to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Confederation.
Village of Zermatt
Another favourite of mine in winter or in summer is the famous resort village Zermatt. It is one of the most popular ski resorts located in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Surrounded by 4000m high mountain peaks and free of cars, this amazing alpine village in the canton of Valais offers an atmosphere of complete tranquility.
New buildings of luxury hotels border stunning 100-years-old houses with wooden beams. Most of the buildings are chalet-style and are so charming. Zermatt is home to some of the highest mountains in Europe and the high level above the sea guarantees record snowfall for a long time.
Here you can enjoy not only winter sports but also hiking or wandering through the stunning streets of this beautiful village, all with a view over the symbol of contemporary Switzerland – The Matterhorn mountain. It is considered the most-photographed mountain in the world. That is also the mountain that is depicted on the famous Toblerone chocolate bar.
Lavaux wine terraces
Swiss wine is one of the ‘best-kept secrets’ of the locals, you almost never hear about it abroad. It’s all because the Swiss drink almost all of it themselves – only 2% is exported. Wine production here is as environmentally friendly as it gets. You will also not find such well-groomed vineyards as in Switzerland. The biggest and the most famous is the UNESCO heritage site Lavaux, which also offers absolutely jaw-dropping views. Stretching for about 30 km along the south-facing shores of Lake Geneva, this area accounts for one-third of swiss wine production.
As locals say, the grapes here are warmed by 4 suns – the sun itself, the heat radiated from the walls of the terraces, the light reflected from the lake, and the sun that is in the heart of the winemaker. You must try the famous Chasselas variety when passing from Geneva around the Swiss Riviera.
Just off the Alpine town of Interlaken, in the beautiful valley nearby, lies the town of Lauterbrunnen. Majestic waterfalls, alpine meadows, sheer cliffs, and observation decks – this is what a visit to this village in the Berner Oberland region promises.
The village, located in the center of an alpine valley, is surrounded by majestic mountains and waterfalls. Lauterbrunnen is often called the Valley of Waterfalls, there are 72 of them here. The famous 300-meter Staubbach waterfall is located right outside the village. It is considered one of the highest waterfalls not only in Switzerland, but in Europe.
Stunning Montreux in the Swiss Riviera
Montreux is a postcard town. It is surrounded on three sides by high Alpine mountains, and the mild Mediterranean climate makes the resort one of the most popular on the entire coast of the Swiss Riviera and contemporary Switzerland.
Montreux is known to many for its jazz festival – Montreux Jazz Festival. Every year in the middle of summer dozens of music performers flock here to perform their hits and present new compositions.
From 1979 to 1993, the band Queen owned Mountain Studios in Montreux. It was here that the famous lead singer of the group, Freddie Mercury, recorded his last album, entitled “Made in Heaven”. The singer also chose the city as his place of residence and once said, “If you want peace of mind, come to Montreux.” And it’s hard to argue with that!
Where are the places to visit in contemporary Switzerland you are dreaming of? Are you fond of mountains or lakes, buzzing cities or outdoor adventures? We’d love to hear all about them, so share your dreams in the comments below.