Country guides Europe
Switzerland Travel Guide
Boasting snow-capped mountain ranges, glamorous ski villages and shimmering lakes dotted with lavish spa resorts, Switzerland's fame as a top European holiday destination is long-established and well deserved.
The majority of visitors head to Switzerland over the ski season, with the country's southern Alpine region offering some of the best skiing in the Europe, thanks to its reliable snow, staggeringly beautiful scenery and world-class resorts such as Davos, Gstaad, St Moritz, Zermatt and Verbier.
Those that travel to Switzerland over the summer will be overwhelmed by the beauty of the Bernese Oberland region. A popular hiking destination, this a land of distant mountains and lush edelweiss-strewn meadows dotted with quaint wooden chalets.
The sophisticated cities of Zurich, Geneva and Bern are also a draw for visitors, who will relish the rich histories, upmarket dining, and exclusive boutiques these destinations have to offer.
Best time to visit Switzerland
Switzerland is a year-round destination but the ski season lasts from late November to mid-April, and the slopes are busiest over Christmas and New Year, and during the Easter school holidays. Walkers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts head to the Alps over the summer months (June to September).
What to see in Switzerland
-Admire the dramatic Mont Blanc from cruise on Lake Geneva. There are cruise operators on Lake Zurich and Lake Lucerne.
-Visit the stunning 13th-century Chateau de Chillon, a medieval castle that looks as though it were plucked straight from a fairytale.
-Explore the charming, historic city of Bern's cobbled streets, ornate fountains and spired cathedrals.
-See the Lion of Lucerne, which Mark Twain called 'the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world'.
What to do in Switzerland
-Go to the Swiss Alps and experience some of the best winter sport action to be found anywhere in the world.
-Visit Interlaken, the king of Switzerland's summer resorts, and bask in the glorious sunshine, lake views and edelweiss fields.
-Ride the cog railway to Jungfrau and see awe-inspiring glacial fields and a 'palace' filled with ice sculptures.
-Take in some culture at one of Switzerland's celebrated museums, including the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva, and the Museum of Design in Zurich.
Getting to Switzerland
There are regular flights to Switzerland from a number of airports in the US and UK. Direct flights to Geneva or Zurich are plentiful, while visitors from the UK can also find flights to Bern and Basel.
Dark Palace by Frank Moorhouse.
North Face (2008), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), and Heidi's Song (1982).
Zurcher eintopf (a hot-pot dish famous in Zurich), rippli (pork ribs), fondue, rosti and sauerkraut; also try desserts such as apfelkuchlein (deep-fried apple cookies) and nusstorte (nut cake).
Rivella, a milk whey-based soft drink; and try some locally produced Chasellas or Pinot Noir wine.
What to buy
Watches and clocks (Switzerland is the watch-making capital of the world), chocolate, cheese, cow bells, clothing embroidered with edelweiss flowers and, of course, Swiss Army knives.
What to pack
Ski kit or hiking boots, depending on the reason for visiting. If travellers are heading over in spring or summer, they should take a lightweight rain jacket in case of light showers. Switzerland is unbelievably expensive, so it's best to pack well!
What's on in Switzerland
The Geneva Festival (August) is the highlight of Switzerland's summer event calendar, and there are musical performances, food fairs, parades and fireworks displays. The Montreux Jazz Festival (July) attracts a crowd of more than 200,000 every year, and is deservedly renowned as one the best jazz festivals in the world. Art Basel (June) is known as the 'Olympics of the art world', and features work from 300 leading galleries from around the world.
Did you know?
-Switzerland has not been at war since 1515.
-Switzerland has the second-highest life expectancy in Europe (after Sweden).
-The Swiss flag is the only square-shaped flag flown at the United Nations.
A final word
A land of cosmopolitan cities that function with the precision of clockwork, and of extraordinarily beautiful natural surrounds, Switzerland is quite simply one of Europe's finest tourist destinations.