Where else can you be in three places at once? Switzerland can best be described as the sum of its parts – one cup each of French, German, Italian, and a generous dollop of Romansch. While visitors may feel like these areas and cultures are separate entities, with distinct languages, cuisines, and even architectural styles, for the Swiss, this internationalism is the tie that binds and most locals move between the worlds fluidly. And it is these worlds which you must explore during your stay. While Switzerland’s natural beauties and bounty of outdoor activities are obvious and will not disappoint (you can climb up or ski down the (in)famous Matterhorn, also known as Cervino or Cervin, in German, Italian, and French respectively, one of the highest and deadliest peaks in the Alps, sky-dive or white water raft in Interlaken, and frolic in Lake Lucerne), make the most of your trip by immersing yourself in the Swiss cultural fondue. Dine on national constants, such as raclette and rosti, but make sure to try the specialities of each region. If you find yourself in an Italian speaking region, seek out your closest grotto, or old wine cave-turned-restaurant, where you can cool off against the granite in hot summer months with Cervelat, the national sausage. Dairy goes a long way here: the chocolate and the fromage (especially Gruyere and Emmental, produced in valleys of their names) are unparalleled and beverages range from lactose-based soft drink Revella to Ovaltine! Architectural styles also vary from region to region, as well, with cathedrals 12th century Romanesque in Geneva, Lausanne, Basel, Sion, and Chur, Gothic in Schaffhausen, Zug, and Zurich, and Baroque in Einsiedeln and St. Gallen. Trips to any of these towns will prove not only pleasant and rewarding but extremely efficient, as Switzerland boasts one of the best public transportation networks in Europe. Check out the chic and cosmopolitan Geneva, the university town of Neuchatel, the countryside of Ticino, then Lausanne, which houses the fascinating “Collection de l’Art Brut,” an old mansion full of thousands of pieces created by the insane and mentally challenged. Come springtime, make your way to Martigny, where you’ll catch St. Bernards (yes, the dogs!) heading down from the mountains. Switzerland may be one of the most expensive countries in Europe but with pockets of Germany, Italy, and France, you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
Top Destinations in Switzerland