Whether you visit Switzerland for its bucolic scenery or dramatic mountain ranges, there’s nothing forgettable about this European nation. Travel to Switzerland and discover a country that is unofficially divided into four linguistic regions—the surrounding nations of France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein gladly sharing their mother tongues with their landlocked neighbor. Several geographic regions formed by the famed Swiss Alps in the southern region and the Jura Mountains, which line Switzerland’s western border. But even with all these geographic and linguistic divisions, the Swiss have truly embraced their melting pot culture with most citizens congregating in the major cities of Geneva, Bern and Zürich on the country’s centrally-located Swiss Plateau, where most of those planning Switzerland travel will most likely spend a great amount of time. In these major cities, visitors will see how the Swiss built their unrivaled reputation for diplomacy, high quality of life and business acumen and why the country continues to receive so much praise from the outside world. Use Travel + Leisure’s Switzerland travel guide to get the most out of your visit to one of the world’s best destinations.
Things Not To Miss in Switzerland
• Experienced mountaineers won’t want to miss out on climbing the Matterhorn, the most famous of the Swiss Alps, or hiking through the Swiss National Park
• Go on a hot balloon ride and take in Switzerland’s lovely geography from above
• Cheer on your favorite team at the Tour du Lac regatta, held every September, or see some of the world’s greatest musicians at the Montreux Jazz Festival in early July
• Check out local sports like schwingen (Swiss wrestling) and steinstossen (stone throwing)
• Take in the medieval architecture and Renaissance era allegorical statues at the heart of the Old City of Bern or gaze at the gorgeous painted ceiling of the Einsiedeln Abbey in Schwyz
• Marvel at the Jet D’Eau water fountain, tour the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and explore the quirky neighborhoods of Carouge and Quartier des Grottes in Geneva
• Take a train ride over the Landwasser Viaduct, tucked into the Alps and completed in 1902
• Tour the Museum of Art, visit the Cabaret Voltaire (birthplace of the Dada art movement), or dance your way through the Street Parade, one of Europe’s largest techno parties in Zurich
• Go on wine tours in the towns of Ticino, Vaud and Valais or revel in Swiss art culture in Basel, home of the Art Basel Festival
When to Got to Switzerland
The extremely varied topography of Switzerland means weather patterns across the nation vary greatly depending on where you are and what time of year it is. Be aware that precipitation is most prevalent in the summertime, though it tends to be heavier in the more mountainous regions than on the Swiss Plateau. Overall, rainfall is spread throughout the year, so it can be very hard to completely avoid it during your trip, but don’t let that deter you. One of the best times of the year to visit Switzerland is during the summer months when the days are warm and sunny, and the temperatures rarely exceed the mid-70s to low 80s. Or for those who have winter activities like skiing, sledding and snowboarding on their agenda, be sure to visit Switzerland between December and March for the freshest powder.