Bucket List Worthy
Don’t let Switzerland’s size fool you. Sure, the country is roughly one-tenth of the size of the state of California, but that doesn’t mean it should fall below your travel radar. The pint-sized country packs a lot of punch in terms of world-famous mountain peaks, stunning waterfalls, picturesque villages, unforgettable nightlife and experiences that can only be had in this small corner of the world.
Despite the country’s standing as one of the best places around the globe for snow sports and quality Swiss-made products (think Lindt chocolates), these 10 reasons to visit Switzerland will help you explore the individuality of the Swiss Confederation off the beaten path.
The riverside city of Basel is one of the most culturally diverse areas in Switzerland. Lying along the borders of Switzerland, Germany and France, the scenic city is overflowing with culture influenced by all three countries. There are more than 40 museums in the town of less than 200,000 people, and Basel is also home to Switzerland’s largest theatre scene. In addition to thriving European culture, visitors can enjoy a true summer vacation, sunbathing, barbecuing, bar hopping and playing along the river Rhine.
Transportation can be a reason to visit or avoid a particular city or country. Switzerland lures visitors into its charming mountain villages and bustling city streets with one of the best transportation systems in the world. Travelers can cruise throughout the country by rail, waterway or road with the unprecedented Swiss Travel Pass, which is an all-inclusive ticket for transportation on all Swiss public transportation systems. The pass also includes free access to more than 400 museums and free transportation for kids under the age of 16.
The long-awaited opening of the 57-kilometre-long Gotthard Base Tunnel took place on June 1, 2016. You can be one of the first to travel through the Swiss Alps in the world’s deepest and longest traffic tunnel. The tunnel, which has been 68 years in the making, was celebrated on the weekend of June 4-5, 2016, with grand festivities bringing between 50,000 and 100,000 people to festival sites at Rynächt, Pollegio, Biasca and Erstfeld.
They say the Swiss people are the happiest in the world, and you can find out why on a single summer vacation. MySwitzerland.com offers a selection of Grand Tours of Switzerland, ranging from seven- and nine-day Grand Tours to the Fantastic Harley-Davidson Adventure, the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland and Grand Tours of individual Swiss regions, including the Western and Southern regions, the Western and Central regions and several others. These in-depth tours take you into the heart of Switzerland to discover some of the country’s picture-perfect lakes, mountain vistas, authentic eateries, smiling citizens and so much more.
It’s no wonder the landscape of the Jungfrau Region has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jungfraujoch railway station is the best place to experience the beauty of this one-of-a-kind area. The Jungraujoch – Top of Europe railway station sits 3,454 metres above sea level. From here, visitors can experience the wonders of the high-Alpine environment, including snapping photos of fairytale-like combinations of ice, rock and snow, dining at the Top of Europe, taking mountain tours, hiking among glaciers and even sleeping above the clouds at the Mönchsjochhütte hut.
Anyone who has ever dreamt of being James Bond for a day will feel closer to that opportunity than ever at Schilthorn. The 2,970-metre-tall peak in the Bernese Alps features the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria — with postcard-worthy panoramic views — where the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was filmed. The film’s production team helped finance the completion of the restaurant and helicopter landing pad. Visitors seeking the full Bond experience may want to stay at the Hotel Jungfrau Mürren in Mürren or the Hotel Schweizerhof in Bern, as both hotels made appearances in the 1969 film.
Mount Pilatus is one of the most iconic places in Switzerland. The mountain is steeped in history and folklore with tales of its origin dating back to 1420. In addition to its ancient legends, the mountain is known for the number of adventures that can be had on its steeps. Visitors can take the world’s steepest cogwheel railway past meadows, wild flowerbeds, streams and rock cliffs from Alpnachstad to the summit. The Aerial Cableway and Aerial Panorama Gondola are additional ways to take in the sights in less adrenaline-filled settings.
Travelers ready for adventure can take part in one of 2,132 experiences that can be had at Pilatus, including Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run, the Pilatus Rope Park, family-friendly recreational days on the Krienseregg, climbing excursions, mountain treks, paragliding, boat trips and so many more.
Avid travelers know that waterfalls never get old. The Rhine Falls is Europe’s largest waterfall with roaring waters flowing down the 23-metre-tall and 150-metre-wide fall at an average rate of 250 cubic metres per second. The falls, dating roughly 15,000 years back to the last ice age, offer an unforgettable experience that can be seen, heard and even felt through the deep vibrations of falling water. Visitors can admire the falls from scenic platforms or get up close and personal (and a little wet) on one of many boat trips. Visit the falls on Swiss National Day, August 1, and you’ll never forget the fireworks display that attracts tourists from around the world.