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Introducing Switzerland

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Swiss Alps © Artur Staszewski

Switzerland Travel Guide

Boasting snow-capped mountain ranges, glamorous ski villages and shimmering lakes dotted with lavish spa resorts, Switzerland's fame as a top European holiday destination is long-established and well deserved.

The majority of visitors head to Switzerland over the ski season. The country's southern Alpine region offers some of the best skiing in the Europe with reliable snow, staggeringly beautiful scenery and world-class resorts like Davos, Gstaad, St Moritz, Zermatt and Verbier.

Those that travel to Switzerland over the summer will be overwhelmed by the beauty of the Bernese Oberland region. A popular hiking destination, this a land of distant mountains and lush edelweiss-strewn meadows dotted with quaint wooden chalets.

The sophisticated cities of Zurich, Geneva and Bern are also a draw for visitors, with their rich histories, upmarket dining, and exclusive boutiques.

Best time to visit Switzerland

Switzerland is a year-round destination. The ski season lasts from late November to mid-April, and the slopes are busiest over Christmas and New Year, and during the Easter school holidays. Walkers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts head to the Alps over the summer months (June to September). Read more on Switzerland's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Switzerland

-Admire the dramatic Mont Blanc from cruise on Lake Geneva. There are cruise operators on Lake Zurich and Lake Lucerne.

-The stunning 13th-century Château de Chillon is a medieval castle that looks stolen straight from a fairytale.

- Historic Bern is a charming city filled with cobbled streets, ornate fountains and spired cathedrals.

-See the Lion of Lucerne, which Mark Twain called 'the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world'. Read more about Switzerland Attractions.

What to do in Switzerland

-Go to the Swiss Alps and experience some of the best winter sport action to be found anywhere in the world.

-Visit Interlaken, the king of Switzerland's summer resorts, and bask in the glorious sunshine, lake views and edelweiss fields.

-Take a trip on the cog railway to Jungfrau - and be greeted by awe-inspiring glacial fields and a 'palace' filled with ice sculptures.

-Take in some culture at one of Switzerland's celebrated museums, including the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva, and the Museum of Design in Zurich.

Getting to Switzerland

There are regular flights to Switzerland from a number of airports in the US and UK. Direct flights to Geneva or Zurich are plentiful, while visitors from the UK can also find flights to Bern and Basel. Get more information on Switzerland Airports.

Read

Dark Palace by Frank Moorhouse.

Watch

North Face (2008), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), and Heidi's Song (1982).

Eat

Zurcher eintopf (a hot-pot dish famous in Zurich), rippli (pork ribs), fondue, rosti and sauerkraut; also try desserts like apfelküchlein (deep-fried apple cookies) and nusstorte (nut cake).

Drink

Rivella, a milk whey-based soft drink; and try some locally-produced Chasellas or Pinot Noir wine.

What to buy

Watches and clocks (Switzerland is the watch-making capital of the world), chocolate, cheese, cow bells, clothing embroidered with edelweiss flowers and - of course - Swiss army knives.

What to pack

Ski kit or hiking boots, depending on the reason for visiting. If travellers are heading over in spring or summer, they should take a lightweight rain jacket in case of light showers. Switzerland is unbelievably expensive, so it's best to pack well!

What's on in Switzerland

The Geneva Festival (August) is the highlight of Switzerland's summer event calendar, with musical performances, food fairs, parades and fireworks displays. The Montreux Jazz Festival (July) attracts a crowd of more than 200,000 every year, and is deservedly renowned as one the best jazz festivals in the world. Art Basel (June) is known as the 'Olympics of the art world', and features work from 300 leading galleries from around the world. More information on Switzerland Events.

Did you know?

-Switzerland has not been at war since 1515.

-Switzerland has the second-highest life expectancy in Europe (after Sweden).

-The Swiss flag is the only square-shaped flag flown at the United Nations.

A final word

A land of cosmopolitan cities that function with the precision of clockwork, and of extraordinarily beautiful natural surrounds, Switzerland is quite simply one of Europe's finest tourist destinations.

Become our Switzerland Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Switzerland travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Switzerland or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.