Vevey, Lake Geneva, West Switzerland.
Guide Map of Europe Switzerland
is a little, landlocked country in central West Europe that may conjure up pictures - in those who have
never been there - of chocolate, cheese, humourless efficiency,
rich folk skiing down impossibly beautiful snowy slopes in winter
and sturdy, ageing hikers gamely staggering up impossibly
beautiful flowery slopes in summer.
Well, chocolate, cheese
and efficiency are certainly a part of Switzerland's tourist
experience and cool attitude occasionally, but otherwise
there's a lot more going on than the stereotypical skiing and
Many Swiss cities are home to striking, well-preserved
ancient architecture, with lively street life, excellent and varied
dining possibilities and wild nights. And they're usually
framed by spectacular mountains and huge, tranquil lakes, so
urban sightseeing can be as rewarding as the natural side.
Furthermore, activities are neither necessarily expensive nor
limited to winter sports and hiking. In fact Switzerland offers a massive
range of outdoor options, including cycling on 3,000 kms of dedicated
track, inline skating on 600kms of asphalt, white-water rafting
and hang gliding off those monster peaks.
Wellness centres cater to those in need of pampering or therapy,
while for the nutters there's zorbing (rolling down a mountainside
in huge transparent ball) or house running (abseiling down tall
buildings at high speed). Dull? Nope!
Swiss domestic travel is efficient though probably the most expensive in Europe so get the discounted Swiss Pass.
Just half an hour through the verdant vine terraces of Lavaux from looming, booming Lausanne is tiny and exquisite Vevey - particularly the lengthy and brilliant lakeshore path on a summer's day.
Zurich, North Switzerland
Zurich offers few major attractions and doesn't require much more than a day or two. The city is more about minor, quirky sights such as building décor, street plant pots and ambience in the Altstadt district which encompasses the old town on both sides of the River Limmat, east and west.
Berne, Bern, West Switzerland
The old city of Bern, (aka Berne in French) is the country's diminuitive capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a very easy walking tour since the old section comprises no more than a few streets.
Montreux, West Switzerland.
This large and well-organised lakeshore town just a few kilometres from Vevey offers shady walks, parks and mountain views, much like other tourist lake towns. The main difference is the musical theme, with statues and designs incorporating musical notes scattered around the well-maintained lake side. Unfortunately the Montreux marketing apparatus was clearly working with great efficiency as the entire area was saturated with tourists, piling out of buses or coming and going on the lake ferries.
Lausanne, West Switzerland.
Lausanne is one of the bigger French-oriented cities in Switzerland sports a grand joie de vivre but is sadly less interesting in terms of sights than the Germanic cities of central Switzerland, though it has a lengthy lakeshore, good free cycling and some fine museums. Live there? Oui. Tourism? Hmm...
However, all is not lost because Lausanne is not far from some excellent activities and destinations, such as Vevey (20 mins by car or bike there), Montreux (1 hour), Geneva (30mins by train), Berne (70 mins by train) and Verbier ski resort (1 hour by train)
Lucerne, Luzern, Central Switzerland.
Founded officially in 1178, Luzern is probably Switzerland's best summer tourist destination, with a large range of sights and activities in the vicinity that will easily occupy a week or more, whereas Bern and Zurich, for example are potential day-trip destinations.
Engelberg is more famous as a winter sports destination but also offers plenty of summer action including hiking, mountain biking, 'devil' biking', 'trotti' biking, Climbing, paragliding, a rope park, glacier walking, summer toboggan runs on the Ristis (near Brunni) and nordic walking.
Luzern Photos >>>