Switzerland activities, Things to do in Switzerland
22 things to do other than skiing in Switzerland
Skiing and Switzerland go together like a hand and (ski) glove, but there is so much to do when the weather turns cool and the land is blanketed in snow... Read on to see what other activities you can do outside of skiing in Switzerland...  1. Head up in a hot air balloon Go hot air ballooning at Château-d'Oex, the venue for the International Hot Air Balloon Week every January, when around 90 balloon pilots take to the skies. Flights are available all year round, and encompass the whole Alpine landscape from Mont-Blanc to the Eiger, taking in the Grand-Combin, the Matterhorn and the Jura, as well as the regions around Lake Geneva and the canton of Fribourg. 2. Watch a White Turf horse-race Attend White Turf, the annual horse-racing meet in St. Moritz that takes place on ice instead of turf every February. 3. Zipline with First Flyer Reach speeds of up to 84 kilometres an hour ziplining on the First Flyer down Grindlewald First. With 800 metres of steel cable and up to 50 metres high, ziplining provides an exciting journey through stunning winter scenery, and comes to an end thanks to a giant spring device. [caption id="attachment_28333" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Paragliding in Grindlewald is a perfect way to see the spectacular Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains.[/caption] 4. Ice-skate on Lake Zurich Ice-skate at Lake Zurich at the Seehotel Sonne’s Live on Ice. Located in the gardens of the hotel, right next to Lake Zurich, the rink is open from early November until early February. After you are finished on the ice, you can warm up at the mulled wine stand. [caption id="attachment_28303" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Fairy lights, candles and mulled wine; Seehotel Sonne’s Live on Ice in Lake Zurich is perfect for couples.[/caption] 5. Hike with a Saint Bernard Try hiking with a Saint Bernard; every weekend from the end of December until the end of February, the Barry Fondation (owner of the 300-year-old breeding kennel from the Great Saint Bernard Pass Hospice – the Holy Order of the Great Saint Bernard Monastery) organises walks accompanied by Saint Bernard dogs in the Valais mountain village of Champex-Lac. You walk the dog, and little people can take a sled ride pulled by them. 6. Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to Lake Lauenen in the Bernese Oberland. Leaving from the pretty village of Lauenen, the tour takes roughly one hour and fifteen minutes, gliding through the pristine Rohr nature conservation area to Lake Lauenen and then back again. Each sleigh takes up to six months to make by master craftsmen Ernst and Ueli Reichenbach; sheepskin rugs keep you cosy on route. 7. Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Meiringen, close to the fateful Reichenbach Falls where the fictional detective met his end. The museum is located in the basement of the old English church in the heart of the village. It features exhibits relating to the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his most famous characters, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, including a faithful reconstruction of the living room at 221B Baker Street. 8. Experience a dogsled ride Jump on a dogsled in Speicherschwendi with Christine and Michael Hanselmann and learn how to handle a team of sled dogs, before experiencing the pure exhilaration of slicing through the snow behind these mighty malumuts. Also try Huskystuff in Alt St. Johann or a Husky Lodge near Lucerne. 9. Strap on snow shoes Strap on snow shoes and go walking (not skiing) in the snow. There are endless destinations across the country where you can hike through exquisite villages and scenery for anything from a few hours to a few days. Choose a trek that involves overnighting in a mountain hut for a true Alpine experience. 10. Para-glide down a mountain Jump off the side of a mountain. After taking a gondola up Grindlewald First, you’ll strap in for a tandem paragliding flight back down again, taking in the spectacular vista of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. 11. Get on a Toboggan Toboggan through mountain scenery. After a leisurely post-bus ride through the beautiful Rosenlaui Valley, jump aboard a toboggan and start your rather more adrenalin-packed descent at the foot of the mighty Wetterhorn.   The Eiger Run, which starts at Alpiglen and ends at Brandbegg, is also a great option. Many toboggan runs are lit up at night, adding a new element of loveliness. [caption id="attachment_28311" align="alignnone" width="1000"] A breathtaking view while strolling up the mountain for a toboggan ride. Switzerland.[/caption] 12. Try out a fatbike Rent a fatbike and get riding. As the name implies, fatbikes have extra-wide tyres that are designed specifically for riding in the snow and on ice. Currently taking the country by storm, there are lots of places you can indulge, including Andermatt, Valais and Gstaad, where the third annual Snow Bike Festival will take place on 17-22 January next year. 13. Go on a Mount Titlis Cliff Walk Walk Europe’s highest suspension bridge, the Mount Titlis Cliff Walk, at 3041 metres above sea level and 500 metres off the ground. Not for the faint-hearted, the bridge is just one metre wide, 100 metres long and suspended by steel cables. It even sways! This isn’t for anyone with a fear of heights! 14. Climb a glacier in Interlaken Go ice-climbing on a glacier in Interlaken with specially trained mountain guides who will instruct you in the safe use of ropes, ice axes and crampons. There’s no need to be a bodybuilder: routes of differing grades will be set up on ice walls so everyone, big and small, can try it out. After the effort of going up, rappelling down the deep crevasses is pure fun, and all gear is provided. swissalpineguides.ch 15. Ice-kart in Verbier Feel the need for speed? Try ice-karting in Verbier, driving karts specially designed for the snow with studded tyres, adjustable bucket seats for children, roll bars and a fitted safety remote control which allows the staff to control the speed of the karts if necessary (especially handy when children are on the track). 16. Chocolate at Confiserie Isler Stay warm with some hot chocolate at Confiserie Isler in Stäfa, and learn about the fine art of chocolate-making. You’ll make and decorate chocolates, produce your very own moulded Easter bunny, and Finish off with an aperitif. 17. Do a Snow tube run Launch yourself down well-groomed tracks atop an air-filled tyre. You can go snow tubing at Titlis Glacier Park, which has groomed runs that have you spinning in circles before coming to a bumpy but safe stop. 18. Learn about the wildlife Go wild for wildlife in Val Müstair, where game warden Jon Gross will take you hiking through the landscape to observe the habits of numerous animals that are found there. 19. Admire the alpine night sky Do some stargazing at Alpine Astro Village in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Val Müstair, from three-hour night sky observations to a seven-day New Year’s Stargazing in the Alps program of gazing and photography throughout the long clear Alpine nights. 20. Warm up at a Ski resort Enjoy some après ski action, even if you don’t ski. Ski resorts are fun places to be after dark when restaurants and bars fill up with visitors and locals and a convivial atmosphere prevails. Warm up from the inside with local staples like fondue and Glühwein. 21. Stay at the luxurious Whitepod Check into Whitepod, an eco-luxe hotel made up of 15 individual self-supporting pods sitting 1400 metres above sea level at Les Cerniers, with magnificent unobstructed views of Lake Geneva.   Each one has a pellet-burning stove and all the comforts of home, with breakfast served in the central pod-house, and endless nature just beyond each pod’s adjoining deck. [caption id="attachment_28313" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Whitepod is an eco-luxe hotel in Les Cerniers with magnificent views of Lake Geneva.[/caption] 22.  Catch the Cricket on Ice Watch Cricket on Ice in St. Moritz at the premier event on the Swiss cricket calendar (who knew there was one?).
Train in Switzerland
5 of the best train journeys in Switzerland
Known for its unrivalled beauty and spectacular panoramic rail journeys, Switzerland is the ultimate destination for nature-lovers and train enthusiasts. For a country just two-thirds the size of Tasmania, you might be surprised that you can actually embark on an epic journey through a series of majestic mountains, endless verdant valleys and glassy lakes via 1200 kilometres of tracks, encompassing four language regions, passing through more than 90 tunnels and over about 295 bridges in just 10 days! [caption id="attachment_47657" align="alignnone" width="600"] Switzerland at it's finest.[/caption] Whether you pick the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, which can be completed in a leisurely 10 days, or the specially designed Ultimate Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, which not only takes 13 days, but also includes hotel stays at some of the country’s most on-trend establishments, the sheer magnificence of the landscape will have your jaw dropping. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the most incredible journeys on rails. 1. Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe A ride up to Europe’s highest-altitude railway station, sitting at 3,466 metres above sea level, Jungfraujoch, connected to the Top of Europe building, is where you will enjoy unobstructed views of the regions’ snow-capped peaks and glacial valleys. While you may want to marvel at the view outside, you won’t want to miss the Ice Palace ice caverns on the inside either. Make sure you allocate some time to appreciate the many ice sculptures on display here beneath the glacier. There is even a bar made of ice, if you want to take time out for a beverage or two! [caption id="attachment_47658" align="alignnone" width="600"] Switzerland has ice like nowhere else.[/caption] 2. GoldenPass MOB Panoramic The GoldenPass MOB Panoramic is an ideal sampler of Switzerland’s premium panoramic train routes for the more time-poor traveller. This short and sweet 1 hour, 48 minute journey links the quaint village of Zweisimmen in the Bernese Oberland with Montreux, the charming French-speaking town that was once home for Queen singer Freddy Mercury, and is still home to the world’s second-largest jazz event, the Montreux Jazz Festival. [caption id="attachment_47659" align="alignnone" width="600"] Wild perfection.[/caption] For the ultimate travel-back-in-time Orient Express experience, jump on the charming ‘Belle Epoque’ train, which runs daily from Montreux to Château-d’Oex, Gstaad and Zweisimmen. For the full experience in these beautifully kept carriages, a cold dish can be requested during reservation. 3. Glacier Express A 7.5-hour journey between Zermatt and St Moritz, the Glacier Express is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest train journeys. Thoroughly scenic from start to finish, the views through the wide panoramic windows and skylights make the most of the slowest express train in the world as it crosses an astounding 291 bridges, passes through 91 tunnels, and ascends up to 2033 metres (the highest point of the track). A large part of the Glacier Express also travels along the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rhaetian Railway. [caption id="attachment_47660" align="alignnone" width="600"] Flowers in full bloom.[/caption] Adding to the already impressive experience is the sheer comfort and class of the modern train service and the delicious hearty meals offered on board. 4. Bernina Express A four-hour journey between Chur in the north and Tirano in the south, the Bernina Express is another unforgettable Swiss train experience. Regardless of your start or end point, you will be utterly gobsmacked by the contrasting scenery from icy glaciers to leafy palm trees. The journey stretches 122 kilometres, passing through 55 tunnels and crossing a series of 196 bridges and viaducts, including the Rhaetian Railway. In summer, there is also an extended service on the Bernina Express bus that connects Tirano to Lugano in three hours. 5. Gotthard Panorama Express Operating twice a day from April to October, the Gotthard Panoramic Express is an unforgettable three-hour cruise and rail experience. The itinerary travels between the historical city of Lucerne in the heart of Switzerland and the Italian-speaking Lugano and Bellinzona in the sun-kissed Mediterranean south. [caption id="attachment_47661" align="alignnone" width="600"] Picturesque rivers.[/caption] Highlights en-route include the historic paddle steamer ride on Lake Lucerne; the church of Wassen from three different angles, thanks to the loopy railway layout; and the journey past the Rütli Meadow, which saw the founding of Switzerland in 1291.   Whether you choose to experience part of the suggested journeys or the full itinerary, by the end of your tour, you will no doubt have a much better understanding and deeper appreciation for Swiss engineering as well as the country’s pristine scenery. [caption id="attachment_47662" align="alignnone" width="600"] River deep, mountain high.[/caption] To enjoy these journeys, you’ll need a Swiss Travel Pass, which then allows you unlimited access to all the country’s public transportation system of trains, buses and boats, up to 50 percent off mountain and cableways, and free entry to more than 500 museums. Children under 16 travel for free with an accompanying adult using the Pass.   [caption id="attachment_47663" align="alignnone" width="600"] Is this the prettiest country in the world?[/caption] See here for more information on rail packages.
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.
The essential guide to seven picture-perfect days in Switzerland
Looking to make the trip? We've got the itinerary for seven incredible days in Switzerland...   With more than 65,000 kilometres of marked hiking trails, 54 designated regional bike routes, 336 recognised ski resorts, 900 museums and a 29,000-kilometre public transport network linking every town and village in the nation, working out what to leave out on a Swiss holiday is the hardest decision. International Traveller suggests a seven-day itinerary that’s sure to please.   Day one [caption id="attachment_43686" align="alignnone" width="600"] Zurich Old Town.[/caption]   Long considered one of the world’s most liveable cities, Zurich wraps around the eponymous lake’s most westerly point, where a vibrant Old Town containing cobbled streets, Reformation-era churches, leafy squares and artisanal boutiques spread either side of the Limmat river. It also contains some of Europe’s best shopping, with Bahnhofstrasse rivalling London’s Regent Street and Paris’s Avenue des Champs-Élysées as one of the planet’s most exclusive shopping strips. Easy day excursions include to the Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen or to the alpine meadows that stole Heidi’s heart, above the village of Maienfeld.  Insider tip: Sip hot chocolate in Zurich’s oldest cafe, Conditorei Schober, in the Old Town’s ‘sweet corner’.   [caption id="attachment_43685" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hotel Ambassador, Bern, Switzerland.[/caption] Stay: Hotel Ambassador, Zurich   Day two [caption id="attachment_43680" align="alignnone" width="600"] The dining area of the beautiful Basel Teufelhof.[/caption]   Nuzzled up against the German and French borders an hour west of Zurich, Basel is Switzerland’s third largest city and its cultural capital – home to the nation’s highest concentration of museums, its busiest carnival and its oldest university. In mid-June, the city hosts the world’s premier contemporary art fair, Art Basel. Around Basel, visit Augusta Raurica – a Roman theatre once holding 10,000 spectators. Alternatively, ride the panoramic gondola to Wasserfallen, Basel’s local mountain, or mountain bike from Beinwil to the Laufental valley. The nearby Jura Mountains contain countless rock climbing routes for beginners to experts. Insider tip: Float down the Rhine river on an air mattress in summer.   [caption id="attachment_43681" align="alignnone" width="600"] An exterior shot of Basel Teufelhof.[/caption]   Stay: Der Teufelhof Basel   Day three With a medieval Old Town dominated by a Gothic cathedral dating back to the 13th century, Lausanne’s picturesque lakeside setting overlooking Lake Geneva (Léman) – Switzerland’s largest – is one of the finest in the land. Soak up the views from the cathedral bell tower then hire a bicycle to ride along the swanky waterfront promenade in Ouchy – headquarters for the International Olympic Committee and home to the Olympic Museum. Later, stroll down to the quay for a sightseeing cruise along the Swiss Riviera. [caption id="attachment_43774" align="alignleft" width="1500"] REGIS COLOMBO/diapo.ch[/caption] Insider tip: Jump on the hourly Train des Vignes (vine train) from Vevey to Puidoux as it climbs the terraced Lavaux vineyards cultivated by generations of wine growers. Stay: Château d’Ouchy, Lausanne     Day four [caption id="attachment_43682" align="alignnone" width="600"] The view of the breathtaking Schynige Platte.[/caption]   Grindelwald, at the foot of the infamous Eiger North Face, is Switzerland’s quintessential mountain village. Though Eiger summit attempts are best left to experienced climbers, a railway tunnel runs inside the mountain to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station affording views over the longest glacier in the Alps. The world’s longest downhill ski race starts here – part of 200 kilometres of pistes across three Jungfrau region resorts. James Bond fans can ride a series of cable cars to Piz Gloria, the revolving summit restaurant on Schilthorn that featured in the 1969 spy film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Insider tip: Ride the historic cogwheel train from Wilderswil to Schynige Platte then walk through alpine meadows to First. It’s arguably Switzerland’s most scenically rewarding day hike. [caption id="attachment_43820" align="alignleft" width="1500"] The slopes of Jungfraujoch Keyvisual Neu[/caption] Stay: Eiger Selfness Hotel, Grindelwald   Day five Spend the day in the Hasli valley, where Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, battled the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. Ride Europe’s steepest funicular to the glacial Lake Gelm then continue up the valley for lunch at the Grimsel Hospiz. In winter, the road is covered in snow so the hotel is only accessible via several gondolas and a three-kilometre-long ride through the power plant’s tunnel system. Insider tip: Get around the valley using the yellow postal bus services. Stay: Hotel Alpbach, Meiringen     Day six With a lakeside setting beneath picture-perfect mountains and a walled Old Town containing covered bridges and historic churches, it’s no wonder Lucerne has been described as the storybook Swiss city. Lucerne rests on the banks of what is often described as Switzerland’s prettiest lake, where a fleet of ferries, including several historic paddle steamers, connect its farthest corners and dock beneath summit lookouts accessed by cog railways and cable cars. Insider tip: Board a train to Willisau then ride back through rolling farmlands to Lucerne on an electric bike without breaking a sweat. Stay: Art Deco Hotel Montana, Lucerne     Day seven [caption id="attachment_43684" align="alignnone" width="600"] Titlis Rotair, the revolving car cable pictured high above the ground.[/caption]   Engelberg is a small mountain village at the end of a valley where the world’s first rotating cable car climbs the north face of Mt Titlis. The views alone – towards Switzerland’s second highest peak, Dom, and across the Jungfrau Range – make the trip worthwhile. Up top, burrow through a glacial ice cave, snow tube downhill or brave a cliff walk on Europe’s highest suspension bridge. When you’re done, hike back to Engelberg along grassy trails then return to Zurich for your evening flight home.   [caption id="attachment_43679" align="alignnone" width="600"] A photo of Zurich with the Limmat river in shot.[/caption]    Insider tip: Hire a Trottibike (actually a scooter) in Untertrubsee then speed downhill to Engelberg’s cable car station along a winding blacktop road.
Switzerland: home to the world’s most picturesque cycling routes
From rolling green countryside to lakes and mountains, the beauty of the Swiss landscape is best experienced by bike.   With nothing between you and the view but the lenses of your sports sunglasses, hear the cow bells clang, breathe the fresh air and feel the atmosphere shift as you change altitude. Road cycle touring in Switzerland allows you to connect more closely with the country’s dramatic landscape than car touring does, yet you cover far more ground with greater ease and speed than you can on foot. Cycle routes range from flat-out easy to epic multiday tours zig-zagging over some of the country’s highest paved passes. Though keep this in mind when planning: it’s Swiss people, raised around the alps, who grade them easy, moderate or difficult. Don’t feel you can’t catch the PostBus or utilise bike transport on steeper ascents. 1. Loop-de-lake [caption id="attachment_43696" align="alignnone" width="600"] Tour of Lake Lucerne, Switzerland.[/caption]   Start ‘easy’ by getting to know the countryside around one of Switzerland’s most beautiful lakes. The 68-kilometre Tour of Lake Lucerne begins and ends in a city that’s stood on that lakeshore since the Middle Ages. From Lucerne’s main railway station, cycle south along the waterfront to Hergiswil before diverting to one of the valley’s oldest settlements, Stans. Back at the lake, take a 15-minute boat ride from Beckenried to Gersau then head for the village of Weggis for a caffeine injection. From there the road gently undulates offering elevated views of Lake Lucerne and snow-capped mountains. Hire a bicycle in Lucerne from Boardlocal Bikelocal.   2. Take me to the river [caption id="attachment_43692" align="alignnone" width="600"] Stein am Rhein: a small town west of Lake Constance (Bodensee), in northeastern Switzerland.[/caption]   Swiss Rhine Highlights is a four-day/three-night tour that’s as ‘easy’ on the eye as it is on the legs. For 160 kilometres from Kreuzlingen/Gottlieben to Rheinfelden you’ll follow the general course of the Rhine with only minor ascents. Get to know one of Switzerland’s major rivers and see Europe’s largest waterfall, Rhine Falls. This tour is available from May to October from around $435 per adult, which includes accommodation, luggage transfer, route guidance, travel documents, GPS data and service hotline. Single supplement and bike or e-bike hire at additional cost.   3. Make a pass [caption id="attachment_43661" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Grosse Scheidegg is a mountain pass in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland, The pass crosses the col between the Schwarzhorn and the Wetterhorn mountains at an elevation of 1,962m.[/caption]   The Jungfrau region has Europe’s highest railway station, top-class alpine hiking and one of the continent’s finest mountain passes – the Grosse Scheidegg (alt 1962 metres) – which is car-free apart from PostBuses and the odd tractor. This 80-kilometre circular alpine route, taking in that pass, has been deemed ‘moderate’.   [caption id="attachment_43662" align="alignnone" width="600"] A cow passes a cyclist on The Grosse Scheidegg.[/caption]   From Interlaken, tackle the route clockwise for a long lakeside warmup to Meiringen (alt 595 metres) before turning off for the Grosse Scheidegg ascent on which the road steepens to a gradient of up to 16 per cent. Yet the rewards are great: rock features up to 1700 metres high on either side of the road, the enormous Eiger and visible glaciers. Sail down the other side to the village of Grindelwald. Hire a bike in Interlaken from Flying Wheels.   4. Basel brush [caption id="attachment_43695" align="alignnone" width="600"] A stunning cycling track in Baselbiet, Switzerland.[/caption]   The canton of Basel-Landschaft is locally known as Baselbiet. After easily negotiating your way out of Basel on a Swiss-engineered intercity cycle path network, explore country backroads and conquer a couple of passes on a 103-kilometre ‘moderate’ route. From Aesch, where urban gives way to rural, you’ll start to encounter some decent ascents with sweeping views of pastures, woodlands and wilder scenery. Enjoy the hairpins on the descent towards Balsthal. Hire a bike in Basel from Geneva-based BikeSwitzerland.   5. From one lake to the next [caption id="attachment_43664" align="alignnone" width="600"] A cycling track through Aigle; a historic town and a municipality and the capital of the district of Aigle in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland.[/caption]   For those looking for a ‘moderate’ multiday trip consider the 4-day/3-night Lakes Route from Lake Geneva to Lake Thun overnighting in Gruyères and Gstaad. The rolling green countryside of this 135-kilometre hilly route is some of Switzerland’s prettiest non-alpine scenery. Start with a night in Montreux then, the next morning, catch the cog railway up Mont Pèlerin for an altitudinal headstart towards Gruyères and a fondue dinner.   [caption id="attachment_43694" align="alignnone" width="600"] Gruyere Lakes Route, Switzerland.[/caption]   This May to October tour, from around $550 per adult, includes accommodation and luggage transfer. Single supplement and bike or e-bike hire at additional cost.   6. Up and at ‘em [caption id="attachment_43660" align="alignnone" width="699"] Col de la Croix is an Alpine pass in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland. It connects Bex and Villars-sur-Ollon with Les Diablerets.[/caption]   Villars’ loop with a view, graded ‘difficult’, starts and ends in Villars-sur-Ollon/Gryon and demands you ascend 2250 altitudinal metres over a 92-kilometre route. It begins with a serious slog up to Croix Pass (alt 1774 metres) into the foothills of the Alps to overlook Lake Geneva and see the surrounding mountains. The views are particularly glorious on the descent to Les Diablerets (where you’ll want coffee) and, from there, sections of climbing and the grand scenery last all the way back to Villars. Hire a bike in Villars-Sur-Ollon or Gryon from McBoard/Paragon. Check beforehand that Petit Hongrin military zone and Agites Tunnel – both in the first 50 kilometres of the route – are open to traffic.   7. Aching for the Alps [caption id="attachment_43693" align="alignnone" width="600"] Klausen Pass is a high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps connecting Altdorf in the canton of Uri with Linthal in the canton of Glarus.[/caption]   This 270-kilometre Alpine Panorama Route from Appenzell to Thun is a challenging cycling tour graded ‘difficult’. The highlight for most riders is Klausen Pass (alt 1948 metres) through the largest alp in Switzerland, called Urnerboden. The grass is definitely greener on the other side in the agricultural Schächental Valley with its mountainous backdrop. Stop overnight in Appenzell, Linthal and Lake Sarnen.   Available late-May to mid-October, this tour is from $660 per adult and that includes accommodation and luggage transfer. Single supplement and bike hire at additional cost.
10 ways to do a digital detox in Switzerland
With isolated retreats, the best picnic spots in the world and heart-thumping activities among the forested slopes of its many spectacular peaks, exploring the Swiss Alps in summer is the ideal way to refresh one’s mind and body.     Taking an enforced break from our devices doesn’t mean we need to journey to some remote corner of the Earth until the signal drops out. We just have to put ourselves somewhere so beguiling it holds our attention, and do things while we’re there that keep us so focused we forget about everything else or so relaxed we don’t care about anything else. Switzerland in the summertime is that place. (Warning: some activities listed here are as addictive as social media.) 1. Watch cows come down from the alps adorned with blooms On the last Sunday in September every year a festive procession of beauties wearing fresh blooms wend their way down from the alpine pastures where they have been sunning themselves all summer. Accompanied by their proud farmers and a chorus of chiming cow bells, the herd enters the village of Charmey with yodellers, alpine horn blowers and flag wavers providing the entertainment and markets selling regional arts, crafts and food.   [caption id="attachment_43397" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Walk the high Alps for some draw-dropping scenery[/caption]   2. Gaze at a waterfall or two (or 72) Seeing 20,000 litres per second of glacier meltwater thundering through the interiors of a mountain makes the Trümmelbach Falls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley a sight to behold. Europe’s largest subterranean waterfalls are actually easy to access – there are even lifts. And don’t miss the Staubbach Falls either; you take an easy hiking tour from Lauterbrunnen to view some of the 72 waterfalls in the region.   3. Sleep in an alpine hut A quaint wooden hut surrounded by a pristine alpine landscape, the solitude only broken by the sound of birdsong: it’s the stuff that Swiss holiday dreams are made of.   [caption id="attachment_43398" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Stay in your very own mountain hut.[/caption]   No television, no broadband, some can’t even be reached by car, Switzerland’s alpine pastures are dotted with huts that offer up pastimes from hiking and wildlife watching to revelling in the restive quiet. Huts can be easily booked; go to alp.holidaybooking.ch and pick your piece of pastoral paradise.   4. Hit the trail The 4.5-kilometre Jochpass Trail in Engelberg spoils riders with its sheer beauty, as they cruise past mountain lakes, gently flowing streams and majestic glaciers. Designed to cater to beginners and experienced bikers alike, the 440 metres of descent start at Trübsee mountain station and takes in curves, bumps and rollers. It’s accessible from June to October.   5. See eye to eye with an ibex On the Niederhorn Ridge, with the awe-inspiring sight of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains nearby, it is the gentle meandering of the impressively horned ibex that will capture your attention.   [caption id="attachment_43401" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Don't leave without photographing an ibex.[/caption]   It is possible to get up close to these furry alpine residents on a wildlife tour with a passionate guide, armed only with binoculars and a camera and spurred on by a sense of adventure. Sir David Attenborough eat your heart out.   6. Walk the vineyards of Lavaux Wine regions don’t come much more stunning than the UNESCO-listed vineyard terraces of Lavaux on the banks of Lake Geneva. Walks here take in uniform rows of vines and historic towns, with the still waters of the lake and the mountains that fringe it stretching across the horizon. Once you’ve finished the 10.4-kilometre walk (it should take you about four hours), head to Chexbres and cool off in a lakeside pool with a glass of the region’s delightful white wine in hand.   7. Go for a dip in the Rhine Swimming in the mighty Rhine, one the most famous rivers in the world, is an experience not to be missed. And it’s actually easy with a Wickelfisch swim bag; invented in Basel, the starting point for your swim, the bag is shaped like a fish and allows you to keep your clothes and valuables dry while you float effortlessly downstream on the current past the beautiful architecture of this city.   [caption id="attachment_43402" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Mighty rivers of glacier meltwater roar through green pastures come summer[/caption]   8. Eat you way from farm to farm Bike route 44 through the Bernese Jura region is understandably celebrated as much for its stunning alpine vistas and pristine nature as it is for the 50 ‘Métairien’ or farm restaurants that present ample opportunity to sample delicious local food and produce prepared and served up by the folk who are lucky enough to call this place home. Try the buttery, crisp rösti for a real treat.   9. Try fondue with a view It is impossible to visit Switzerland and not eat fondue, and one of the best places to sample the dishes is the ‘fondue trail’ from Gstaad to Saanenland. The region is known for the variety and quality of cheeses produced here, some of which go into making the famous hot and gooey dipping sauce. You can take everything you need to have a fondue picnic in the mountain air with a fondue backpack from the Schönrieder dairy, containing fondue mix, a fondue pan, burner, forks and bread. Easy and cheesy!   10. City SUP and sunbake In Zurich stay in a hotel that loans out bicycles, like 25hours Hotel Langstrasse (25hours-hotels.com), and cycle to Lake Zurich for a stand-up paddle with SUPSwiss (supswiss.ch). Afterwards ride to one of the city’s historic open-air public baths on the river Limmat. Frauenbad is women-only and Flussbad is men-only. Nudity isn’t compulsory but stretch out in the afternoon sun without a top or a care and get that book finished.   To learn more, visit myswitzerland.com
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