This compact, landlocked country in the heart of Europe is no stranger to stereotypes, with many well-known traditions and products from Swiss Army Knives, cheese fondues and chocolate, to its financial infrastructure, exquisite timepieces and the art of yodelling. Yet, no one can deny that it is one of Europe’s most picture-perfect destinations with some of the most breath-taking landscapes in the Alps – towering snow-capped mountains, glaciers, lush valleys and pristine lakes, with one of the world’s most sophisticated network of scenic trains, steamer boats, cable cars, gondolas and cogwheel trains throughout the country that provides easy access to the vast natural playground both in summer and winter.
Beyond the natural wonders, Switzerland abounds with cultural attractions, a melting pot of influences from its neighbours with a touch of its own quaint traditions. There are world-class museums touching on history (Bellizona’s Fortresses, Swiss National Museum), art (Zentrum Paul Klee, Kuntmusem Basel), culture (The Olympic Museum, Ballenberg Open-Air Museum), even food (Lindt Home of Chocolate, La Maison du Gruyere), renowned festivals such as the Montreux Jazz Festival, International Balloon Festival and Festichoc. There is so much that this small nation can offer that intrigues in unforgettable ways.
The best time to visit Switzerland is in summer (mid-June to August), but it’s also at its the busiest, and rightfully so. The weather is ideal for mountain and lake excursions, with all the cable cars and boats in full operation. In winter (mid-December – March), the mountain resorts are also busy for the ski season, and prices are at a premium; however, it’s low season for the rest of the country. Between summer and winter, the hotels and cable cars in the mountains may close for refurbishment and servicing – check ahead and avoid where possible! That said, the weather is generally pleasant during spring and fall, and makes a good time to explore the cities and Switzerland’s excellent museums, with many outdoor pursuits still possible.