All the quaint stereotypes are true – cheese, chocolate, clocks, obsessive punctuality – but there’s much more to Switzerland than this. The major cities are cosmopolitan and vibrant, transport links are excellent, and the scenery takes your breath away. Switzerland is diverse and multilingual – almost everyone speaks some English along with at least one of the four official languages (French, German, Italian, Romansh).
Top cities in Switzerland: –
Interlaken – Jungfrau Region – Zürich – Lausanne – BERNESE OBERLAND – Geneva – Bern
It is centred on its long main street, Höheweg, which is lined with cafés and hotels and has a train station at each end, though the best way to arrive is by boat. The town lies on a neck of land between two of Switzerland’s loveliest lakes, and it exists chiefly to amuse the trippers on their way to the mountains. Interlaken Ost station is the terminus for both main-line trains and those into the mountains coming from Luzern, you could get out at Brienz and do the last stretch to Interlaken Ost by boat. Likewise, from the Bern/Zürich direction, you could take a boat from Thun to Interlaken West.
The spectacular Jungfrau Region is named after a grand triple-peaked ridge – the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau – which crests 4000m. Most popular mountain railway of Switzerland is celebrating its centenary in 2012, trundles south from Interlaken before coiling up across mountain pastures, and tunneling clean through the Eiger to emerge at the Jungfraujoch (3454m), an icy, windswept col just beneath the Jungfrau summit.
A beautiful city, set astride a river and turned towards a crystal-clear lake and distant snowy peaks, Zürich has plenty to recommend it. Niederdorf’s steep cobbled alleys are great to wander around, with an engaging café culture and a wealth of nightlife, whereas to the northwest of the center the city’s former industrial quarter, known as “Züri-West”, has become home to many of the city’s trendiest clubs. Whether wandering the streets of the Old Town, window shopping in Bahnhofstrasse or day-tripping to the Rhine Falls, you may end up spending longer here than originally planned.
Lausanne is attractive and vibrant, set on a succession of south-facing terraces above Lake Geneva, with the Old Town at the top, the train station and commercial districts in the middle, and the former fishing village of Ouchy, now prime territory for waterfront café-lounging and strolling, at the bottom. Switzerland’s biggest university makes this a lively, fun city.
Legendary Alpine area offering classic Swiss scenery alongside famous destinations such as Lauterbrunnen and Staubbach Falls.
Like the swans that frolic on its eponymous Alpine lake (Europe’s largest), Geneva (Genève) is a rare bird. Slick, cosmopolitan and constantly perceived as the Swiss capital , the people of Switzerland’s second-largest city chatter in almost every language among streets paved by gold. The headquarters of the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, International Committee of the Red Cross, the second-largest branches of the United Nations and World Bank are here, along with the overload of luxury hotels, boutiques, jewelers, restaurants and chocolates accompanying them.
Of all Swiss cities, Bern is the most immediately charming. The city’s quiet, cobbled lanes, lined with sandstone arcaded buildings, have changed little in five hundred years. It’s sometimes hard to remember that this petite town of just 130,000 people is the nation’s capital.