As picturesque as its urban landscape is, it is Switzerland's countryside, mountains, lakes, and rivers that will take your breath away. Away from glamorous St. Moritz and crowded Interlaken, there are plenty of hidden corners in the Jungfrau region where you can take in the magnificence of Switzerland's peaks. Those looking for extreme winter sports, hiking, or a good snowball fight have found the right place. Historic Neuchatel's fountains, Valle Maggia's villages, and Valais' offerings of wine valleys and ski slopes will leave you in no doubt of the Swiss countryside's appeal.
Depending on which border you're close to, you're likely to hear more German, French, or Italian besides the local Swiss and Romansch, but English is spoken widely enough for you to get by without too much gesturing and pointing at maps. The border influences are also evident in French Geneva and Lausanne, German Basel, Italian Lugano, and completely cosmopolitan Zurich.
Although you can't go wrong with local chocolate and cheese, the influx of global influences has given Swiss food a lot more variety. You can now find food from the Australian outback in Zurich, or Indian cuisine restaurants in Geneva. For a more traditional meal, try a fondue, emmental meatloaf, or chügelipastete paired with local Swiss wine.
Zurich (ZRH) and Geneva (GVA) are Switzerland's main airports and both have excellent connections to the city centres as well as other destinations across Switzerland. Flights to these cities are invariably cheaper than to other airports in the country. For connections to Basel or even France and Germany, the conveniently-located Basel-Mulhouse (BSL) serves many budget airlines as well as major international carriers. Berne (BRN), Lugano (LUG), St. Gallen (ACH), and Lausanne (QLS) have smaller airports catering to regional traffic but are increasing their number of international flights as well.
Air Canada and Swiss offer direct flights from Montreal and Toronto to Zurich and Geneva, while other airlines such as Delta, US, American, KLM, and Jet Airways offer flights with one stopover on the way.
Switzerland has all the typical seasons of the European continent. Summer extends from June to mid-September when the temperatures range between 18-28°C, winter temperatures range between -2°C to 7°C from December to February, while spring and autumn temperatures are between 8°C and 15°C. Higher altitude regions are significantly colder and the temperature also drops by quite a few degrees at night.
A typical Swiss summer day will have sun, rain, and maybe some strong gusts of wind depending on which part of the country you're in, so come prepared for all three. April, May, September, and October are good months to visit as long as you avoid the Easter holidays. Consider avoiding the peak tourist period between July and August. For winter sports enthusiasts, the peak season runs from mid-December to early January so pack your skis for November or mid-January to beat the crowds.