Official languages: French, German, Italian, Romansh
National Anthem: Swiss Song
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
National holiday: 1 August
Border countries: Liechtenstein, Italy, France, Austria, Germany
Why you should visit Switzerland?
In this small country, also called the Swiss Confederation, there are almost as many cantons (26) as there are nations in the European Union. Union of which Switzerland is not a member, as we like to remind people of its neutrality. Nevertheless, four national languages are spoken here, and perhaps even more so during the tourist seasons when the country is shaped by the magnificent mountainous landscapes and numerous lakes.
Switzerland is an incredible hydrological source in Europe, where the Rhine, the Rhone, and tributaries of the Danube, among others, have their source. Embedded between the Alps, the Jura and the Plateau, the Swiss region is therefore very natural. To recharge your batteries, there’s nothing like visiting Geneva or Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva, or window-shopping in Zurich, learning about culture in the capital Bern and tasting local specialities such as chocolate melting in the summer sun and the best cheeses in a fondue in winter. Beware of prejudices, Switzerland is not only the country of watches and banks, hikers will tell you all about it!
Activities and places to discover in Switzerland
In your list of destinations not to be missed in Switzerland, you should add these ones: the Lötschental valley, very well preserved from constructions, the Matterhorn, mythical peak, the Canton of Valais and its capital Sion, the Canton of Graubünden and all that it includes, the small town of Stein-am-Rhein very close to Lake Constance and Germany, or the Swiss National Park and its secret hikes.
1- The Lake Geneva area
The Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Western Europe and borders France. At the extreme south-western end of the lake, you will find the city of Geneva, which is particularly well known as the headquarters of many world organizations (with the UN at the top of the list). To discover: the old town with its town hall and Baudet tower, the Tavel house, the old shops of the Grand’Rue, and other curiosities. Outside the old centre you will have a wide choice of museums, and the Les Pâquis district for going out.
2- The city of Lausanne
The city of Lausanne is highlighted by its intense cultural side and its numerous museums, but also by its nightlife and trendy districts such as Saint-Pierre. Take advantage of the Ouchy district and its port for a drink.
3- Canton of Vaud
A word about the Canton of Vaud, which is home to almost 50% of the population of French-speaking Switzerland, but which above all offers superb landscapes with its many castles and vineyards. Between two points of view above the lake, the town of Montreux, known for its festivals, is not lacking in charm. Unmissable, the Castle of Chillon was the residence of the Counts of Savoy. The best way to admire it is to go there by boat.
4- Bern and its surroundings
The capital sometimes looks like a country village, especially as Bern is pleasantly animated by street artists. The capital city is situated on the banks of the River Aare and has a beautiful heritage. Wander 40 to 50 km through the streets of Fribourg with its castles and cheese dairies, or those of Neuchâtel with its thermal baths and lake.
The place to be in summer for big concerts and festivals, Zurich is not only a financial centre. Although the banks are everywhere, it is the city’s marginal culture that makes it stand out from the crowd. The Aussersilh district is very fashionable.
A trijunction with France and Germany, Basel, or more commonly Basel, is a very cultural city with no less than thirty museums. You won’t have any problem to make yourself understood here since the people of Basel are multilingual. A nice place for a weekend with the old centre as a postcard.
7- Locarno and Lugano
The Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, which borders Italy, is made up of a myriad of small villages, of which Lugano (city) has the most souls. A luxurious seaside resort, it is above all the area around Lugano that deserves to be consecrated. The romantic village of Morcote will please you as much as the little train that will take you to the roof of Monte Generoso from which you will have a breathtaking view (if the clouds don’t get in the way).
Locarno, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, looks like Venice, Cannes, or the Tuscany region. Around the lake, take the opportunity to absolutely visit the villages of Ascona, Bellinzona, Bissone, Olivone, Origlio, and Vico Morcote.
It’s no coincidence that Lucerne is one of the most visited cities in the world… Overlooking Lake Lucerne, the city has a fairly substantial heritage with the Chapel Bridge at the top of the list. You will enjoy strolling through the old town.
9- The ski resorts
Switzerland is also, as you might expect, a mountainous country for skiing and winter sports (if you like snow, of course, because in summer it’s hiking that takes over). So here are the resorts (others exist) that deserve a few sticks: the three resorts of Laax, Flims and Falera, the famous Gstaad, Villars-Gryon, Leukerbad, the pearl of the Saas-Fee Alps, and Crans-Montana. Some of these resorts have thermal spas.
Costs of living in Switzerland
The cost of living in Switzerland is very high, but it’s no small evil to be able to travel to this clean, natural and safe destination. Its geographical position is ideal to spend a weekend there, and to visit the neighbouring countries. It is a perfect country to practice water and mountain sports activities (rafting, sailing, skiing, etc…) but also to relax around the lakes, in the thermal towns, or in the chalets. If all these Swiss attractions were still unknown to you, let yourself be tempted by this typical destination.