Titlis Rotair Switzerland
12 world-record breaking attractions you’ll only find in Switzerland
Switzerland might be a small country that is roughly two-thirds the size of Tasmania, but this country is an overachiever when it comes to breaking world records. You’ve read about the scenic train routes, the picturesque cycling routes and skiing in the shadow of the Matterhorn but the Swiss also have 12 world-record breaking attractions you'll want to add to your travel itinerary. 1. World’s steepest cogwheel railway [caption id="attachment_47290" align="alignnone" width="600"] Switzerland is home to the world's steepest cogwheel railway and can be found in Lake Lucerne.[/caption] The cogwheel railway is one of the most popular attractions on Lake Lucerne thanks to its 48-degree gradient. Ascending 1635 metres from Alpnachstad (where the ferry stops), the railway travels 4618 metres up to the fun park of Mt Pilatus. The ride itself takes about 30 minutes and operates between May and November. 2. World’s longest suspension bridge [caption id="attachment_47291" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Charles Kuonen Bridge is the world's longest suspension bridge and connects a hiking trail between Grachen and Zermatt.[/caption] There's nothing like crossing a suspension bridge to get your heart rate up, and you'll find the world's longest in Switzerland. The Charles Kuonen Bridge connects a hiking trail between Grachen and Zermatt and stretches 494 metres in length. The views from the bridge are equally thrilling, being set against the world’s most recognisable mountain peak, the Matterhorn. 3. World’s longest tunnel [caption id="attachment_47292" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Gotthard Base Tunnel is 57-kilometre long; making it the longest in the world.[/caption] The Gotthard Base Tunnel has a long and legendary history originating in the 13th century, but it's the length of the tunnel that breaks the world record. It took 17 years to construct the 57-kilometre tunnel that runs through the mountain at a depth of up to 2300 metres. Not only is the Gotthard Base Tunnel an engineering feat, but it's also powered by hydroelectricity. 4. World’s oldest covered wooden footbridge [caption id="attachment_47293" align="alignnone" width="600"] The world's oldest covered wooden bridge dates back to the 14th century and can be found in Lucerne.[/caption] The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne dates back to the 14th century and was part of the original fortifications of the city. Destroyed in a fire in 1993 , it was quickly restored back to its original form. The bridge is one of Lucerne's most charming attractions and is decorated with pictorial panels that depict historical life in the country and city during the 17th century. 5. World’s first revolving cable car [caption id="attachment_47294" align="alignnone" width="600"] The glacier chairlift of Mt. Titlis, the Ice Flyer, is the world's first revolving chairlift.[/caption] Not far from Lucerne is the 3062-metre-high Mt Titlis, home to Europe’s highest suspension bridge and the glacier chairlift ‘Ice Flyer’. To get up there you'll need to take a 30-minute scenic ride on the Titlis Rotair – which is an experience in itself. As you travel above the spectacular alpine landscape, take note of the fact that you're riding on the world's first revolving cable car. 6. World’s highest consumption of chocolate [caption id="attachment_47295" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Swiss enjoy their own chocolate as even more than the rest of the world.[/caption] They've given the world Nestle, Lindt and Toblerone, so it comes as no surprise that the Swiss are their own biggest fans when it comes to chocolate, taking home the record of consuming the highest amount of the sweet treat in the world. In 2017 alone, the average consumption hit 8.8 kilograms per person. That's a lot of Lindt balls! 7. World’s highest density of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita [caption id="attachment_47296" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Michelin starred Ritzcoffier Burgenstock.[/caption] Switzerland recorded a total of  128 Michelin starred restaurants in 2019, securing its position as the country with the highest number of top-rated restaurants per capita. Pavillon in Zurich and focus in Vitznau are the country's most recent restaurants to make their way into the Michelin guide. 8. World’s longest downhill ski race [caption id="attachment_47297" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Lauberhorn-Wengen FIS Alpine Ski World Cup is the world's longest downhill ski race.[/caption] Attracting an average of 30,000 spectators each year, the history of the Lauberhorn-Wengen FIS Alpine Ski World Cup dates back to 1930 and takes place every year in mid-January. With the downhill course stretching over 4.4 kilometres, run times are usually 2.5 minutes where top speeds reach about 160 kilometres per hour. 9. World’s longest staircase [caption id="attachment_47298" align="alignnone" width="600"] You can climb 11,674 steps to reach the peak of Nieson; making it the longest staircase in the world.[/caption] Located in the Bernese Alps, the pyramid-shaped mountain peak of Niesen overlooks Lake Thun in Interlaken from 2362 metres above sea level. Ascending the peak can be done via a funicular, which departs every 30 minutes from 8am to 5pm, or by the impressive 11,674 steps. 10. World’s only peak-to-peak suspension bridge [caption id="attachment_47299" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Peak Walk at Glacier 3000 is the world’s first suspension footbridge linking two mountains peaks.[/caption] Boasting spectacular views of more than 24 snow-capped peaks of at least 4000 metres above sea level including the Eiger, Monch, the Matterhorn, Jungfraujoch and even Mont Blanc, the Peak Walk at Glacier 3000 is the world’s first suspension footbridge linking two mountains peaks. 11. World’s oldest vegetarian restaurant [caption id="attachment_47300" align="alignnone" width="600"] Haus Hiltl in Zurich first opened its doors in 1898, and it holds the record for the oldest continuously opened vegetarian restaurant in the world.[/caption] Having first opened its doors in 1898, Haus Hiltl in Zurich holds the record for the oldest continuously opened vegetarian restaurant in the world. You can take healthy indulgence to a whole new level at Hiltl, with its selection of 40 varieties of salad, fresh food juices and Indian buffet. 12. World’s best tennis player [caption id="attachment_47301" align="alignnone" width="600"] Roger Federer, who was born Basel, is currently the world's best tennis player.[/caption] Apart from incredible natural assets, impressive engineering feats and talented chefs, Switzerland is also home to the world’s best tennis player, Roger Federer, who was born Basel. The nation’s art and architecture capital, Basel is located on the River Rhine and borders France and Germany.   Planning a trip to the home of the Swiss? Make sure you check out the rest of our guide to travelling Switzerland.
What to do in Bern, Switzerland
Bern, the capital city of Europe’s most scenic country, Switzerland, looks as though it is peeled directly from the pages of a fairy-tale book. With the old city surrounded on three sides by the turquoise waters of the flowing river Aare, a sea of medieval buildings spanning the old town and the spire of the Bern cathedral piercing the blue sky, Bern is a sight not to be missed. Staying in Bern Switzerland is renowned for being one of the most beautiful (and most expensive) countries in Europe. Bern is no exception – particularly when considering accommodation. The Bellevue Palace If you have the money to spend, for around $600 a night you can book yourself into Bern’s best hotel: the Bellevue Palace. With five stars and set in the heart of the city, the Bellevue was built in 1865 as an upmarket hotel, and has remained that way. [caption id="attachment_47240" align="alignleft" width="600"] Grand exteriors of The Bellevue Palace[/caption] Luxe red velvet curtains, decorative cornices and bay windows are some of the features of this luxurious hotel, where even sleeping is an experience in itself. Hotel Jardin For a more affordable stay in Bern, consider the Hotel Jardin for $195 a night. Offered in this price is a comfortable queen bed, free tea and coffee in the concierge and free use of public transport throughout the city. [caption id="attachment_47243" align="alignleft" width="600"] Hotel Jardin is a more affordable accommodation in Bern[/caption] With colourful rooms, all the modern amenities and great customer service, this is an excellent and less costly alternative to the Bellevue. Floating on Aare The best experience to be had in Bern, if the weather permits, is to go floating down the crystal clear waters of the fast-flowing river Aare. Dissecting the city, a swim down the river not only offers Bern’s most unique experience, but also some of the best views. [caption id="attachment_47245" align="alignleft" width="600"] The River Aare in the heart of Bern[/caption] The water, flowing from the Upper Rhine, is essentially glacial water making its way down from the mountains, meaning the river is both fast and freezing (and remarkably refreshing).   This activity is not for the faint-hearted, although reasonably safe, with exit points all along the river.   It is advisable for non-so-confident swimmers to engage a flotation device like a ‘Wickelfisch’, which seconds as a bag to store your clothes and shoes. Bear spotting at Bärengraben Legend has it that the city of Bern was actually named after a bear, the first animal that the Duke of Zähringen found on a hunt in the surrounding areas. [caption id="attachment_47246" align="alignleft" width="600"] The bears can be watched from above[/caption] Therefore, visiting the Bear Pit, stationed beside the River Aare, is a fitting thing to do while in town.   The three bears – Finn, Björk and Ursina – can be watched from above, or below (through a glass divider), paddling in the fresh river or scaling the hill to find a good sunbaking spot.   You can also enjoy a delicious dinner at Brasserie Bärengraben, situated above the bear park in a historic building. At this restaurant you can enjoy duck terrine with onion confit, foie gras with wine jam and marinated mussels. [caption id="attachment_47248" align="alignleft" width="600"] Enjoy a delicious dinner at Brasserie Baerengraben[/caption] Explore the old town on foot Only six kilomtres at its widest point, the Bern’s old town is perfect for exploring on foot.   A UNESCO World-Heritage site, it’s renowned for its perfectly preserved medieval buildings and is home to the Bern cathedral and clock tower. These monuments, straight out of the storybooks of your childhood, should definitely be on your Bern itinerary. [caption id="attachment_47249" align="alignleft" width="600"] The old town clock tower[/caption] While in the old city, have a wander through the boutique shops and admire the sculptured fountains, framed by posies of red flowers against the carved stone. These fountains, found all through the Old Town, are the perfect place to wash your face and fill your water bottle, as the water is pumped straight from the glacial waters below. [caption id="attachment_47239" align="alignleft" width="600"] Wander through the streets of this UNESCO world heritage site[/caption] Immerse yourself in Swiss cuisine Swiss food, although somewhat pricey in Bern, is an important part of exploring the city.   Swiss chocolate, the most famous chocolate in the world, is best eaten at Läderach. With three stores in the city, it offers chocolate slabs that come in an immense range of different concoctions. [caption id="attachment_47251" align="alignleft" width="600"] Laderach chocolate is a local favourite[/caption] Try the hazelnut milk (we are talking whole hazelnuts), classic milk or caramel fudge.   To supplement the above food group, head out and try a Swiss rösti. The rösti, essentially a big hash brown, is often accompanied by a range of hearty ingredients. The best rosti in Bern can be had at the famous Kornhauskeller, where they’re served with tomato, bacon, onion and cheese.   Other delectable items on the menu here include boiled beef with smoked ham and bacon, thin-skinned beef carpaccio and grilled sea bass fillets with tomatoes, olive oil and thyme. Not only is the food brilliant, but the Kornhauskeller also boasts baroque architecture and is located in a vault in the centre of the old town. [caption id="attachment_47252" align="alignleft" width="600"] Kornhauskeller is waiting[/caption] Other places to consider a night out are Krone restaurant for a delicious Mediterranean feed and Wash Bar (a trendy bar for ‘coffee, drinks and laundry’) where you can multitask your afternoon away, meeting some locals while you clean your clothes. Satisfy your inner child with a toboggan run down Gurten Gurten, Bern’s resident mountain, has a lot to offer. Standing tall at 860 metres above sea level, you can scale it by train or foot for a fantastic view over the city and three lakes region.   Add toboggan runs for all seasons into the mix – one of Bern’s most loved and cheap-as-chips activities – and you’ll find a day on Gurten is a day well spent.
Romantic Switzerland
6 of Switzerland’s most romantic stays
From fairytale towns to vertiginous heights, these just might be the most romantic destinations in not just Switzerland but all of Europe. 1. An igloo stay One of the most romantic forms of accommodation in a country with an abundance of grand hotels is an igloo stay. What could be cosier than snuggling up with your significant other in a room made entirely from ice and situated in a winter wonderland of white?   There are various Igloo Villages scattered around the country, including in the resort town of Gstaad and in Engelberg, near Trübsee Lake at the foot of the mighty Titlis.   Book the Romantic Igloo, which features unique snow art, two-person sleeping bag, and thick sheep skin rugs. 2. Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen Located 15 minutes from Basel, the Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen is the ultimate candlelit-dinner location. It’s a 13th-century castle surrounded by a moat and rambling gardens where you dine on the finest French cuisine. [caption id="attachment_28154" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Entrance to Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen, it's a 13th-century castle in Switzerland that serves French cuisine.[/caption] It is after dark that the castle really sets hearts aflutter, when intricately draped fairy lights sparkle and reflect off the still waters of the castle moat. 3. Wildflowers spotting Each year from mid-June to mid-August the spectacular Bernese Oberland erupts in a blanket of colour and fragrance. [caption id="attachment_28156" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Blanket of fragrant and pretty wildflowers in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland.[/caption] To really indulge in the beauty of it all, base yourself in the lovely town of Grindelwald and hike to surrounding towns like Meiringen and Adelboden. 4. Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen Book-lovers will swoon at the sight of the Abbey Library at St. Gallen. [caption id="attachment_28155" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Majestic ceiling and soaring book shelves of Switzerland's Abbey Library at St. Gallen.[/caption] While the Abbey itself dates back to the eighth century, the sublime Rococo library was constructed between 1758–67. It is widely considered one of the best in the world, with burnished woodwork and delightful ceiling frescoes.   Among its roughly 170,000 priceless pieces are illuminated texts, prayer books and biographies of the saints dating from the ninth century.   The Abbey precinct, including the library, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 5. Mount Pilatus Mount Pilatus is regularly listed as one of the best places to propose in all of Europe. It certainly makes for a memorable experience: the peak is traversed via the steepest cog railway track in the world (or you can take a gondola). [caption id="attachment_28152" align="alignleft" width="1000"] View of a romantic sunset from Mount Pilatus over the Lake Lucerne.[/caption] Once at the top, the panoramic view, which has been marveled at by the likes of Richard Wagner and Queen Victoria, takes in 73 peaks and stretches on forever.   True romance requires Champagne: book a table at Hotel Pilatus-Kulm’s outdoor terrace for lunch. 6. Water Castles Water castles, as the name implies, are moated castles; what isn’t hinted at from the name is how evocative and ethereal they are.   Chillon Castle, located on a rock on the banks of Lake Geneva near Montreux, is the most visited historic building in the country but, for a less crowded experience, try Hallwyl Castle near Seengen. [caption id="attachment_28151" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Ethereal Hallwyl Castle in Seengen, Switzerland.[/caption] Easily accessible from Zurich, every three years an opera is held here on the grounds, with the floodlit castle as a spectacular backdrop.   Meanwhile Castle Hagenwil in Amriswil, another impeccably preserved castle, has an à la carte restaurant for dinners à deux and its annual festival in August has a roster of theatre and events in the delightful castle courtyard.
No wheels, no worries: Best way to explore Switzerland? Sans car
Those punctual, hardworking Swiss have thought of everything – after all, where would we be without velcro, the World Wide Web (invented by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee at CERN) and… LSD? But there’s one thing you’ll never have to think about when it comes to travelling through their picture-perfect country: a hire car. Of course plenty of the population drive their fuel-efficient cars on their impeccably-designed motorways, but for travellers, a car is about as useful as a pair of knitting needles on a Swiss Army knife. Although the country is compact at around two-thirds the size of Tasmania, Switzerland’s public transport network is unrivalled, weaving a hyper-punctual web of rail, trails, river boats and buses across the land using one integrated pass – the Swiss Travel Pass. This is how you can keep your travels clean, green and lean while exploring Switzerland’s natural beauty by any means but car.   Why drive when you can first-class train? You’d be hard pressed to find a destination in Switzerland not serviced by a train. One with wrap-around panoramic windows and tea service, at that. There are 29,000 kilometres of public transport routes crisscrossed across the country and you can buy a blanket Swiss Travel Pass or individual region passes, depending on where you’re going. Just getting from A to B? You’ll truly understand the term “Swiss efficiency” after touching down in Zurich and zipping to the other side of the country in two hours flat. However, for most people, it’s all about the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland – an experience in and of itself, which attracted a 48% increase in bookings in 2017. It combines eight different routes including iconic panoramic journeys like the Glacier Express (travelling across the Alps) and GoldenPass (with its beautiful Belle-Epoque GoldenPass Classic). With a Swiss Travel Pass in hand, you’re not only covered for train journeys but the entire network of boats, buses and city transportation along with many mountain cable cars and free admission to over 500 museums. [caption id="attachment_43969" align="alignnone" width="600"] Experience the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland – where you can journey through the Glacier Express.[/caption] More cycling trails than the Tour de France The circuit of the Tour de France may clock 3500 kilometres but Switzerland has over 12,000 kilometres of signposted cycling trails, making it one of the most cycle-friendly countries in the world. They’re now even shutting down roads so you can ride in the shadows of snow-capped mountains. Select mountain passes will be closed to motorists between May and September for Ride the Alps, a cycle series that allows cyclists to freely ride through the storybook landscape without fear or inconvenience of passing cars. But it’s not just the Swiss who are nuts for two-wheel transport – almost two million visitors to Switzerland will cycle during their holiday, with around 30% opting for the ease of e-bikes. Companies like Rent a Bike allow you to pick up wheels in one spot and drop them in another while you’ll also find bike-storing facilities on public transport, and for the serious lycra-lovers, there are even bike hotels where you’ll find handy facilities like bike repair workshops, e-bike charging stations, and luggage transfer services.   Food on foot There’s nothing more quintessentially Swiss than to hike throughout the day before retreating to a traditional fondue house for schnapps, rösti and raclette. However, there’s more to Switzerland's culinary landscape than chalets of cheese. In Zurich, explore the up-and-coming Zurich-West quarter on foot with fellow foodies on the Zurich Food Tour and you’ll taste your way through some of the city’s top restaurants and try freshly brewed Zurich beer. Continue your explorations and you might stumble upon Max Chocolatier. The artisanal chocolate house, which has its flagship on the banks of the River Reuss in Lucerne, offers private chocolate tastings to learn about the origins of their cocoa and other natural ingredients. Wandering is also the best way to discover the makers within Basel’s Markethalle (Market Hall), which operated as a local market from 1929 until 2004. After laying dormant for a decade, it was rejuvenated and re-opened in 2014 with a line-up of food stalls and a weekly market on Saturdays.   Just staying there gives you free transport Rather than transport costs gobbling up a good chunk of your holiday budget, many major cities within Switzerland provide a discount card when staying in one of its hotels. You’ll generally receive unlimited access to the city’s public trains, buses and trams, but some cards include additional extras, which make the argument for leaving the car in the rental bay even stronger. On top of free transport, the Basel Card for example gives holders access to free Wi-Fi at 17 spots around the city; and 50% off admissions to Basel Zoo, a two-hour sightseeing bus, a walking tour of old town and scheduled river cruises. In Bern, airport transfers are thrown in. And in Lausanne the Transport Card also grants holders discounts at selected shops, theatres and museums.
No wheels, no worries: the best way to explore Switzerland is sans car
Those punctual, hardworking Swiss have thought of everything. After all, where would we be without velcro, the World Wide Web (invented at CERN by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee) and… LSD? But there’s one thing you’ll never have to think about when it comes to travelling through their picture-perfect country: a hire car. Of course plenty of the population drive their fuel-efficient cars on their impeccably designed motorways but, for travellers, a car is about as useful as a pair of knitting needles on a Swiss Army knife. Although the country is compact – at around two-thirds the size of Tasmania – Switzerland’s public transport network is unrivalled, weaving a hyper-punctual web of rail, trails, river boats and buses across the land and requiring just one integrated pass: the Swiss Travel Pass. This is how you can keep your travels clean, green and lean while exploring Switzerland’s natural beauty by any means but car.   Why drive when you can first-class train it? You’d be hard pressed to find a destination in Switzerland not serviced by a train – one with wrap-around panoramic windows and tea service, at that. There are 29,000 kilometres of public transport routes criss-crossing the country, and you can buy a blanket Swiss Travel Pass or individual region passes to make use of them, depending on where you’re going. If you’re just getting from A to B, you’ll truly understand the term ‘Swiss efficiency’ after touching down in Zurich and zipping to the other side of the country in two hours flat. However, for most people, it’s all about the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland – an experience in and of itself, which attracted a 48 per cent increase in bookings in 2017. It combines eight different routes, including iconic panoramic journeys like the Glacier Express (travelling across the Alps) and GoldenPass (with its beautiful Belle-Epoque GoldenPass Classic). With a Swiss Travel Pass in hand, you’re not only covered for train journeys but the entire network of boats, buses and city transportation, along with many mountain cable cars and free admission to more than 500 museums.   [caption id="attachment_43773" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Take a glimpse of beautiful Haslital.[/caption] More cycling trails than the Tour de France The circuit of the Tour de France may clock 3500 kilometres, but it’s Switzerland that has over 12,000 kilometres of signposted cycling trails, making it one of the most cycle-friendly countries in the world. They’re even shutting down roads so you can ride in the shadows of their snow-capped mountains. Select mountain passes will now be closed to motorists between May and September for Ride the Alps, a cycle series that allows cyclists to freely ride through the storybook landscape without fear or inconvenience of passing cars. But it’s not just the Swiss who are nuts for two-wheel transport – almost two million visitors to Switzerland will cycle during their holiday, with about 30 per cent opting for the ease of e-bikes. Companies like Rent a Bike allow you to pick up wheels in one spot and drop them in another. You’ll also find bike-storing facilities on public transport, and for the serious lycra-lovers, there are even bike hotels where you’ll find handy facilities like bike repair workshops, e-bike charging stations, and luggage transfer services.   [caption id="attachment_43774" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The stunning Lausanne in full view.[/caption] Food on foot There’s nothing more quintessentially Swiss than a hike throughout the day before retreating to a traditional fondue house for schnapps, rösti and raclette. However, there’s more to Switzerland's culinary landscape than chalets of cheese. In Zurich, explore the up-and-coming Zurich-West quarter on foot with fellow foodies on the Zurich Food Tour and you’ll taste your way through some of the city’s top restaurants and try freshly brewed Zurich beer. Continue your explorations and you might stumble upon Max Chocolatier; the artisanal chocolate house, which has its flagship on the banks of the River Reuss in Lucerne, offers private chocolate tastings to learn about the origins of their cocoa and other natural ingredients. Wandering by foot is also the best way to discover the makers within Basel’s Markethalle (Market Hall), which operated as a local market from 1929 until 2004. After laying dormant for a decade, it was rejuvenated and re-opened in 2014 with a line-up of up-market food stalls and a weekly market on Saturdays. Just staying there gives you free transport To avoid transport costs gobbling up a good chunk of your holiday budget, many major cities within Switzerland provide a discount card when staying in one of its hotels. You’ll generally receive unlimited access to the city’s public trains, buses and trams, but some cards include additional extras, which make the argument for leaving the car in the rental bay even stronger. The Basel Card, for example, gives holders so much more than free transport, such as access to free wi-fi at 17 spots around the city; 50 per cent off admissions to Basel Zoo; a two-hour sightseeing bus; a walking tour of old town; and scheduled river cruises. In Bern, airport transfers are thrown in. In Lausanne, the Transport Card also grants holders discounts at selected shops, theatres and museums.

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