Incredible skiing on the Swiss Alps and delectable Swiss chocolate are only two reasons for visiting Switzerland. Located between Austria, France, Germany and Italy, you can get quite a diverse European cultural experience depending on which region of Switzerland you choose. And though the food, music, art and people themselves are very much influenced by their European neighbors, they are all still uniquely Swiss. You will leave with plenty of memories to savor for a lifetime.
World famous and the symbol for Switzerland, this mountain is the most photographed in the world. It faces the four cardinal directions and is the tenth highest mountain in Switzerland, but because it has a pyramid shape it is very challenging to climb. The first ascent was in 1865 and cost the lives of 4 out of 7 alpinists. It gets its German name from the words matte meaning meadow and horn meaning peak.
This village is like no other. It lies at the foot of what is probably the world’s most famous mountain. It also is located in an enormous hiking and ski region, making it a great vacation spot, even in the summer. This is a car-free zone vacation spot, making it possible to preserve its historical features as well.
As the capital of Switzerland it has managed to retain its historic features. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It features 4 miles/6 km of arcades, or as the locals like to call it ‘Lauben,’ making it the longest weather-sheltered shopping in Europe. They also hold the seat of Switzerland’s government, many festivals, a bear park, and beautiful historic buildings that line the streets.
This gateway to central Switzerland sits on Lake Lucerne and has a view of the mountain from wherever you are. Aside from the view it has the Chapel Bridge which is one of Europe’s oldest wooden bridges. A tourist favorite is to visit its souvenir and watch shops, which Switzerland is known for.
It is only expected that the country that created chocolate is the country that consumes the most chocolate as well. It was created by adding milk to chocolate to try to reduce the cost and make it more palatable, which lead to milk chocolate. Switzerland now has over seven major chocolate companies. The best part is if you are a chocolate lover you can tour these companies and try their many different chocolates.
Swiss fondue was created by local villagers with limited access to fresh foods in the winter. They discovered that if you heated the aged cheese with wines, garlic, and herbs then dipped your stale bread it would soften in the flavorful cheese mixture. Families would cook together in one pot and eat by the warm fire, becoming a Swiss winter tradition over time known as fondue.
This train ride is like a day vacation. You experience two languages, three regions, and eight lakes. The company focuses on journey and comfort not just transportation. It has seven different lines you can choose from, with the most famous being the panoramic that has panoramic windows that allow you to be one with the landscape. The other is the chocolate train which is a first class trip that lets you experience the production of famous Swiss cheese, the creation of Swiss chocolate, and a chance to see its magnificent castle.
This may be the slowest express train in the world, but for a reason. There is so much to experience on this journey that they slow it down for you. It takes you from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The train ride is an eight-hour panoramic journey. You travel into the Alps, go through 91 tunnels, and 291 bridges.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization encourages the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world. Switzerland has three natural and eight cultural sites that can be visited when in the country.
The currency is the Euro in almost all of Europe. In Switzerland, the Swiss Franc is used (CHF). Your personal bank card may work at local ATM machines in the destination you are traveling to and would dispense local currency. Please contact your bank to determine if this option is available.
You're in for a treat as you truly savor the local flavors of the Alpine region. In Austria, look for the beef soup -- Rindsuppe -- a clear soup with gold color that is as tasty as it looks! The Tafelspitz is beef boiled in broth, often served with an apple and horseradish sauce. It's one of Austria's most savory dishes.