If you’re looking for a sustainable adventure, Switzerland should be first on your list.
This jaw-dropping, nature-packed country is a global leader in sustainable tourism and climate change action. Thanks to its remarkable railway system, ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ scheme followed by locals, amazing biodiversity, and ultra-clean air and water.
But Switzerland’s enchanting water-side cities (Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne and Bern), majestic mountains (Mount Stanserhorn), waterfalls (Staubbach Falls), glaciers (Aletsch Glacier: the largest in the Alps) and 7000 shimmering lakes (like Lake Geneva and Lake Brienz) are under threat from overtourism and a rapidly warming climate.
Consequently, we must tread lightly when travelling to Switzerland. And yes, this means skipping the busy summer season.
Travelling to Switzerland in the ‘low-season’ is a low-impact adventure
Like most European countries, summer travel (June-August) and snow-sport season (January-early March) can be intense. And Switzerland is no exception.
During this time, heaps of tourists can put a strain on nature, environmental resources and local employees; as well as stand in the way of your cultural immersion into Switzerland.
On the other hand… travelling to Switzerland in the low-season (September-April) can benefit the environment, communities and local businesses (many of which may otherwise be forced to find other work during this quiet time). Key resources (like water and electricity) are shared among fewer numbers; and air pollution and trash does not add-up on the same scale – lifting a load off the environment.
Put simply: autumn and spring adventures to Switzerland result in more balanced tourism. As well as witnessing the country ablaze with seasonal colour, travellers can reap the rewards of lower prices and lesser crowds in the off-season. This means extra room to explore Switzerland’s 65 kilometres of mountainous hiking trials, plus quaint lake-side villages, cities and more.
RELATED CONTENT: 11 reasons to travel to Switzerland outside of the ski season
Heard of ‘Swisstainable’? Tips for travelling to Switzerland responsibly
‘Swisstainable’ – the coin term for Switzerland’s sustainable ethos – is about putting your finger on the pulse of Swiss life. Here’s how you can do it.
Take the train
Did you know a train journey to Switzerland results in 20 times less carbon dioxide than a car journey on the same route?
The country’s world-record 5126km of railway is the only way to travel Switzerland. There’s no need to hire a car here. As the Swiss Travel Pass unlocks you unlimited travel by train, bus and boat, and on premium trains up to mountains and glaciers. As well as free admission to 500 museums. Expect the most jaw-dropping train journeys of your life to happen here.
RELATED CONTENT: 9 incredible train journeys to complete in your lifetime
Get to know authentic culture
The beauty of travel lies in experiencing new cultures. That’s why we recommend throwing yourself in local life as freely as possible. This involves eating regional products from Swiss vintners and brewers and gorging on delicious Swiss chocolate; listening to folk music like yodelling; admiring Romanesque Cathedrals in Basel, Geneva and Zurich. Plus getting to know Swiss history knives and watches in boutique stores and museums.
To start: why not memorise a few useful Swiss German phrase before your flight?
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Show respect to nature
Travelling to Switzerland means stepping into Mother Nature’s heart. So while you take panoramic videos of ethereal landscapes, remember to show kindness and respect to what’s around you. Try to treat every hiking trial, waterfall, glacier, lake and rolling green hill with care. Do not leave rubbish. Camp where possible. And re-fill your reusable water bottle from one of the country’s drinking fountains.
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Slow down and soak it all in
Rushing through a country often leaves us with a bursting camera roll, but little lasting memory attached to it. Trafalgar’s top tip for travelling to Switzerland is… wait for it… to travel slowly. Unhurried, conscious travelling means wondering the cobbled streets of Lucerne and following your instincts by walking into cosy chocolate-filled alleyways or wood-carving store. Savouring each second of the sunset over Lake Geneva, or the incredible mountainous landscape during your 6300ft cable journey up Mount Stanserhorn.
The list goes on. But it’s your turn to find out.
RELATED CONTENT: The art of slow travel
If you contribute to this sustainable ethos when travelling to Switzerland, the country is likely to meet its goal of carbon neutral by 2050. Question: when will you visit?
This blog post was created in partnership with Tourism Switzerland.