Switzerland travel guide

Planning a trip to Switzerland

Whether it's in the banking Mecca of Geneva or a ski-and-hike resort amid the mighty cut-glass, glacier-clad peaks of the Alps, touring the medeival captial of Berne or admiring modern art in Basel, standing on the 560-foot covered bridge that zig-zags across the Reuss River in the lovely market town Luzern, or strolling the lakeside quais of Zurich tossing bread to the swans, all Swiss towns share a subdued refinement and sensible elegance.

As modern as Switzerland gets, as business-like as its reputation may make it seem, it always surprises me that you can still find, in everywhere from Alpine villages to the busiest bustling centers of commerce, lovely medieval nooks and crannies where cobblestoned streets are lined by half-timbered houses, little shops, and homey taverns where ruddy-faced men squeeze accordions and sing songs about herding on the high Alpine meadows.

Switzerland truly is one of Europe's great underrated countries these days.

A century ago it was a center for intellectuals and de rigeur stop on any European Grand Tour; now it's virtually ignored by the tourism masses concentrating on France, Italy, England, Spain, and Germany—a place to be flown over or overnight-trained through.

These days, Switzerland usually only ever comes up as a plot point in spy movies for the villain to have a secret bank account.

Oh, but what they're all missing.

It's not so much the Swiss cities—though Zurich, the art city of Basel, and the cute capital of Bern all deserve a stop.

A Swiss trip is all about scaling the cut-glass, glacier-clad peaks of the Alps, meandering through tiny peaked-roof villages that ring with the sonorous sound of cow bells, bunking down in touristenlager mountain hostels or straw-strewn schalf im stroh barns for under $20 per night, and picnicking on scrumptious cheese, chocolates, and beer amid flower speckled meadows.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in December 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.