| Major Cities & Towns|
Switzerland is a land of contrasts. Cities like Lucerne combine
modern architecture with a medieval downtown and a 2500 m high
mountain is just around the corner. Nevertheless, one may say that
those who are looking for music, arts, important historical monuments,
museums or shopping will generally find points of interest in major
cities while those who want to get more than a glimpse of the alpine
scenery are much better served in the alpine resorts. Quality of
service and access to modern communication is equally high in both
|Chapel Bridge with Water Tower;
(around 1300), most ancient preserved wooden bridge in Europe;
Spreuer bridge with scenes from the Dance of Death;
Musegg Wall & Towers;
Swiss Transport Museum; Cultural and Congress Centre by Jean Nouvel;
Picasso Museum; Rosengart Collection; Glacier Garden; Lion Monument;
Pilatus [Mount Pilate];
Steamboat ride on Lake Lucerne;
Headquarters of 130 international organizations;
Palais des Nations (former seat of League of Nations,
now UNESCO / UNICEF headquarters); Jet d'eau [water jet, 130 m / 425 ft];
town hall; botanical garden|
|Switzerland's capital. Bundeshaus (seat of
federal government and parliament); old downtown is an UNESCO world
heritage site: arcades, eleven fountains (16th century) with allegoric
figures, Gothic cathedral, play of figures on Zytgloggeturm [clock tower]
4 minutes before the full hour, bear pit;
open-air rock festival on Gurten hill|
|Gothic Minster (1185), town hall with painted façade,
Spalentor, numerous museums, Art Fair, Carnival, Tinguely Fountain,
zoo, paper mill, dolls house museum, cartoon museum|
|Largest Swiss city; Grossmünster (Romanesque cathedral);
Fraumünster with windows painted by Marc Chagall; Landesmuseum
[National Historical Museum]; Zoo;
Sechseläuten [traditional end of winter festival];
|Cathedral Notre-Dame; Hôtel de Ville [town hall]; St-François church|
|Chillon castle; Lakeside promenade, hotels in Riviera
style (19th century); Châtelard castle (15th century);
jazz festival (July)|
|school of photography, camera museum; food museum|
|Monastery library and cathedral (UNESCO world cultural heritage site)|
|Three castles (UNESCO world cultural heritage): Castelgrande
(with museum), Castello di Montebello, Castello di Sasso Carboro|
|Bilingual city; watch and clock making industry, watch museum|
|Street layout in chessboard style, highest city in Europe.
Center of Swiss watchmaking, clock and watches museum.
Birthplace of architect Le Corbusier, writer Blaise Cendrars and
automobile designer Chevrolet. Art Nouveau buildings.
Underground mills of Col-de-Roches|
|Most ancient Swiss city; late Romanesque
Cathedral (12th century); St. Martin's church with painted windows
by Augusto Giacometti|
|Churches Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Maria in Selva; Film festival|
|Cathedral San Lorenzo; church Santa Maria degli Angioli|
|Church Notre-Dame; Maison des Halles [Renaissance style commercial building from 1569-79];
Hôtel DuPeyrou [Louis-XVI-style palace]|
|Technorama; art collection Reinhard; Kyburg castle (11th-13th century)
|Thermal baths; remains of Roman baths;
Savoyan castle (13th century); monument to Heinrich Pestalozzi
(1746 - 1827, reformer of Switzerland's schools);
prehistoric menhirs [aligned blocks of stone]||
|Prealpine & Alpine Resorts|
Over 200 first class resorts with more than 1700 cogwheel railways,
cableways and ski lifts offer a wide range of scenic ski runs for
downhill skiers and snowboarders as well as loops for cross-country
skiers and ice-fields and make Switzerland a world class destination
for winter sports. Snow conditions are best from January to end of
March, while not all resorts can guarantee snow in December.
February tends to be a little crowded due to sports holidays of
Swiss schools. There are even trails for winter hikers.
Best conditions for alpine
like hiking, climbing, mountaineering and mountain biking are from
mid June to late September.
||The classical alpine region:
see Gstaad-Saanen, Grindelwald, Interlaken, Mürren, Wengen
|Largest alpine resort in Switzerland, only major town in the Alps.
Excellent accomodation, crisp mountain air, 5 large ski areas, among
them Parsenn. Davos hosts World Economic Forum (WEF)
and Switzerland's Avalanche Research Institute.|
|Engelberg, one hour from Lucerne, is the gateway to Mount Titlis.
Those who couldn't get enough of skiing in winter and are not
interested in adventure sports, may do summer-skiing on Titlis glacier
on 3200 m [10,500 ft].
|Glacier village; Eiger north face. Hiking and mountain biking in
Summer. Recommended ski resort for beginners and families.|
|Winter sports resort; St. Nicholas Gothic
chapel with painted windows (15th century); worthwile village museum
(Saanen); hiking in summer; Swiss open tennis tournament.|
|Oldest Swiss tourist resort;
governor's castle; Unspunnen festival (folklore);
Tellspiele [performances of Schiller's drama]|
|Klosters is a small, quiet and rather traditional village and the
perfect resort for those who'd like to use the large Parsenn ski area
without the activity of Davos. Klosters known to be the choice of
|Relax in thermal spa after skiing (winter) or hiking (summer)|
|Situated on a terrace opposite to mounts Eiger, Mönch and
|Gateway to the Bernina region, Morteratsch and Roseg glaciers.
A smaller and more quiet alternative to St. Moritz.|
|Winter sports / skiing resort;|
hiking in summer
|Very stylish, very expensive, featuring the most energetic nightlife
out of all Swiss alpine resorts. Bob run. Thermal spa. The Engadin region is a
paradise for cross-country skiers:
(more than 12,000 participants).|
|At the feet of Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau.|
|Matterhorn, Switzerland's most famous mountain|
Switzerland maintains a large network of hiking paths with small yellow signposts and markings.
There are three categories:
- easy-to-go (flat regions) - no special equipment needed (but not suitable with high-heels)
pure yellow signposts and markings
- alpine/mountain trails - use special hiking shoes covering your ankles to prevent
luxation in case your foot bends on bumpy sections of a trail.
yellow signposts with white-red-white marking, white-red-white markings on rocks etc.
- climbing routes - for experienced climbers only (or with a professional guide)
Most alpine resorts do offer some easy-to-go routes near the village or starting from the
top station of a gondola. The majority of hiking trails in the alps will be of the
alpine trail category, however. To suggest any particular destination here would be
quite unfair to the others as they all invest heavily in maintenance of trails and
Climbing is a strong experience - but also a sport with a death toll of about
two dozen people every year in Switzerland. Therefore instructions by a qualified
guide are an absolute must for beginners. Of course you also need proper equipment
(may be rented or is supplied by the guide). For beginners, there are hundreds of
indoor and outdoor training facilities all over the country.
Some resorts offer fixed-rope-routes for climbers where you may concentrate on
climbing instead of finding the right place to set a clamp. Among these are:
Aletsch (Wallis), Andermatt (Uri), Baltschieder (Wallis), Braunwald (Glarus),
Engelberg (Obwalden, 3 routes), Evolène (Valais), Grindelwald/Wengen
(Bernese Oberland), Kandersteg (Bernese Oberland), Les Diablerets (Vaud),
See list by myswitzerland.com
Biking and Inline Skating
There are 9 national bike routes and some 100 regional routes for bikers with
quite good markings (small dark red signs). Dedicated maps are available at
local tourist offices and bookstores. While some routes crossing the alps offer
a real challenge to your fitness, there are some regions very suitable even for
families with school children. Best suited in the easy-to-go category both for
biking and inline skating is the Seeland region around Lake Neuchâtel,
Lake Biel and Lake Murten with Murten, Kerzers, Ins or any small
village in the region as a starting point.
Mountain Biking (MTB)
Those seeking a challenge may go for mountain bike tours in almost any alpine
resort. State of the art mountain bikes are for rental at these places, in some
hotels bike rental is even included in the arrangement. Local mountain biking routes
often start on paved side-roads but you might soon come to small trails (narrower
than 1m / 1 yard) and have to share it with hikers. At some points mountain
bikers are expected to carry their bike over a fence or a small brook - so
this is definitely a sport for tough people. Of course you may rent a mountain
bike and stay on paved roads, if you prefer, but in this case you should read
the section above for suitable resorts.
Easy to reach mountain tops provide ideal premises for paragliding. In major resorts
you can find schools for paragliding.
Any Swiss alpine resort above some 1500 m [5000 ft] can offer a choice of
ski runs at different degrees of difficulty and corresponding transportation
(gondolas and ski-lifts). There are some really demanding ski runs, like
the famous Lauberhorn descent (Wengen) for those seeking a challenge.
Cross Country Skiing
The Engadin region, a long and relatively flat valley
with some 50 km [35 miles] of cross country ski-runs from one end to
the other with possibilities to get back to your starting point from
a dozen of train stations is an ideal place for cross country skiing.
Quite similiar is the Goms region, the upper part of the Rhône
valley (canton Wallis/Valais).
Other aspects than available sports facilities might be more important
for an individual choice: Are you interested in extensive night-life after skiing?
Then you might prefer stylish St. Moritz or Davos (the only town with more than
10,000 permanent residents among the alpine resorts). But if you prefer quietness,
a smaller resort, maybe even a car-free one might be a better choice (Mürren,
Wengen in Bernese Oberland; Bettmeralp, Riederalp, Saas Fee, Zermatt in Wallis).
Some resorts offer thermal spas - this might be a nice recreation after
a day of sports activities. Leukerbad
is among the
classical Swiss thermal spas
and can offer all kinds of winter sports in an breathtaking alpine scenery as well,
St. Moritz and Scuol (Engadin) spas are fun for those just seeking wellness.
Sledge Runs / Tobogganing
More than 150 sledge runs with lengths between 1 and 15 km [0.6 .. 9 miles].
Most starting points may be reached by gondolas, but for a few you'll have to walk
uphill. Traditional wooden toboggans may be rented at the gondola stations.
See list by myswitzerland.com