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Switzerland

Switzerland

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

2

Total Stars:

7.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Strongest ratings mostly from the middle of the scale-Centric-Authentics, Centric-Venturers and Mid-Venturers

Did you know … ?

  • Grand St. Bernard Pass gave its name to the well-known dogs.
  • Davos at 5,118 feet is the highest town in Europe.
  • Maienfeld and area provided the geographic setting for the “Heidi” books.
  • The Red Cross symbol is the Swiss flag in reverse (not a religious cross).
  • Women did not have the right to vote in national elections until 1971.

Heidi and high finance

Because the Swiss have avoided war for more than 700 years, the countryside, villages and cities, plus the many tangible monuments to their heritage, remain impressively intact. There is even something tangible — Heidi’s Village at Maienfeld — that recalls a popular fictional character from children’s literature. Tourists may also tour the cheese factory in Gruyeres, the Nestle chocolate factory in Broc or a museum devoted to clock making in Geneva.

On the other hand, images of the yodeling Swiss mountaineer wearing lederhosen and suspenders are outdated. Switzerland is a modern state, much esteemed in the world of finance and site of the very high-level (in every sense) Davos World Economic Forum.

Travelers who name Switzerland as a favorite vacation destination cite beautiful valleys filled with charming villages framed by the breathtaking Alps. Such terrain provides opportunities for many types of recreation. Also, this nation is impressive for its high density of castles, forts and historic churches.

Fans comment on how clean the country looks and how safe they feel. Switzerland has an excellent train system, useful for getting around such a mountainous nation. It sets the standard for the world’s hotel industry and leads the industrialized nations in environmental protection.

Thanks to its location in the center of Europe, Switzerland borrows customs, language and cuisine from several bordering nations and cultures. Thus, within very short distances, visitors experience the French Swiss, the German Swiss, the Italian Swiss and the Romansh Swiss. Food, wine and architecture in each area reflect the differences.

Not surprisingly, venturesome travelers particularly appreciate this exposure to a variety of people and cultures. They hit the slopes for some of the best skiing in the world, but these active visitors also praise Switzerland’s hiking trails and the boating on its many lakes.

Others appreciate many of the same things, but express a greater interest in Switzerland’s history. Their sightseeing includes old castles and other venues where historical dramas played out.

The least adventurous appreciate how hard the Swiss work to make guests feel cared for and welcome, and they — like everyone — delight in the beauty of the mountains, valleys and villages.

Things to do for Venturers

  • If you ski, try Zermatt (the highest glacier skiing), Gstaad (to ski with the international jet set), St. Moritz and St. Cergue. Switzerland also offers fine ice skating, hockey and curling.
  • Attend any of a number of folk music events that include yodeling, then try your own yodeling skills — if you dare.
  • Plan a long hiking trip, or plan several day trips. Trails are well marked.
  • Rent a bicycle and follow one of the nine interconnected and signposted cycling routes that crisscross Switzerland. Those routes extend more than 2,000 miles. There are more than 3,000 miles of regional routes as well.
  • Rent a holiday apartment and live more or less like a local.
  • Via ferrata (meaning literally, iron road) is a form of rock climbing along routes equipped with fixed wire ropes and artificial hand- and footholds, reducing the risks associated with a climb for the novice, or for anyone in very difficult terrain. The most demanding of Switzerland’s via ferrata routes, Leukerbad, is cited for its “steep and strength-sapping climbs.”

Things to do for Centrics

  • The cities boast an abundance of parks, good for jogging. So, go running.
  • A good place for active sightseeing is Interlaken in the Romansh area. Confident drivers will enjoy the alpine views on the way from Geneva or Montreux. Once there, you can take the funicular up the Harder Kulm, visit the ibex preserve, see innumerable castles and experience another of Switzerland’s several cultures.
  • Take one of Switzerland’s many scenic alpine train routes. For example, the William Tell Express journey, operated May to October, which is really a boat-and-train combo, starts with three hours aboard a historic paddle steamer on Lake Lucerne.
  • Attend the Montreux Jazz Festival, held each year in early July.
  • For the lover of history, one way to approach the theme is: Build an itinerary around Switzerland’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which would take you to some of the country’s religious institutions, castles, vineyards and scenic landscapes deemed most important to protect and preserve.
  • Take a lake steamer trip on Lake Zurich, which gives you another way to admire the scenery plus access to a number of towns on the lakeshore. Or, take a boating excursion across Lake Geneva if your itinerary takes you there.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Switzerland has a long-standing reputation for clock and watch making. In Geneva, the Musee de l’Horlogerie et de l’Emaillerie celebrates the history of the trade, displaying countless fine examples.
  • Visit Lake Lucerne, which mirrors mountain scenery and medieval town walls in its clear water. Overnight in Lucerne, or take a day trip from Zurich if time is short. Take a cruise on the lake — make that a lunch cruise.
  • Visit the Heidihaus (Heidi’s House) in Heidi’s Village (Heididorf) at Maienfeld.
  • Make a meal of raclette or fondue, traditional cheese dishes in Switzerland, followed with a little Swiss chocolate.
  • Tour the Nestle chocolate factory in Broc; also, the cheese factory in Gruyeres.
  • There are several wine festivals in late summer/early fall. Select one or two that fit your schedule and go tasting.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Switzerland Tourism at www.myswitzerland.com and, to find a Switzerland Specialist, use the section labeled Connect With a Travel Agent to make direct contact with an agent.