Switzerland


A Visitor’s Guide To Switzerland

The nation of Switzerland occupies a particularly mountainous and scenic portion of Central Europe, and is famous both for its superb scenery and the fact that the country chooses to remain neutral in any military conflict. Indeed, Switzerland hasn’t been involved in any conflict since 1815, and the country’s soldiers are best known for being the Swiss Guard that help to protect the Vatican in Rome. Switzerland is a very wealthy country, and along with a strong tourism sector it also is known for its banks, while the people of the country enjoy a life expectancy among the best in Europe.

Visitors are advised by the US State Department to avoid any demonstrations that are usually held in Geneva, Bern and Zurich, but apart from this they consider Switzerland to be a reasonably safe country to visit.

Top Sights To Visit In Switzerland

Geneva – Located in the French speaking portion of Switzerland, this city has a wonderful old town to explore, with the St-Pierre Cathedral and Calvin’s Auditorium showing off the city’s history as a leading light in Protestant Christianity, while the Jardin Botanical Garden is truly beautiful.

Bern – The Swiss capital is a relatively small city by European standards, but has some lovely old buildings in the center, and is surrounded by stunning scenery, with the Gurten Hill offering some great views, while the Bear Pits allow people to see the bears of the region in large enclosures.

The Castles Of Bellinzona – Nestled high in the Alps the city of Bellinzona was historically at the heart of several trade routes that passed through the area crossing to various parts of Europe, and its three castles have been protecting the city for at least five centuries from their spectacular locations.

Grindelwald – This stunning village has a wonderful location at the foot of some of the highest mountains in the Bernese Alps, within easy reach of the Eiger glacier and a range of ski slopes, while the Jungfrau takes passengers over two thousand meters up to the highest station in Europe.

Interlaken – Commonly known as the adventure sports capital of Switzerland, Interlaken is a charming town with some spectacular views, and offers access to skiing, skydiving, hang gliding and canyoning, along with a stunning bungee jumping site near the Stockhorn mountain.

The Bernine Pass Railway – Connecting the towns of Chur in Switzerland with Tirano in Italy, this is the most spectacular way to cross between the two countries, with the large panoramic windows offering beautiful mountain views in summer and stunning snowy landscapes during the winter.

Meiringen – The small town of Meiringen is famous for being mentioned by Arthur Conan Doyle, and is the location where Sherlock Holmes plunged over the Reichenbach Falls with his nemesis Professor Moriarty, while there is also a museum to Holmes in the basement of the English Church.

Lake Zurich – The city of Zurich is found on the banks of this spectacular lake, which can be explored by boat, and offers some stunning views back over the city and over the Alps.

Lausanne Cathedral – This stunning cathedral was constructed over a seventy year period covering the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and is noted for its spectacular rose window and the wonderful flamboyant Gothic architecture.

Zermatt – First developed to serve the mountaineering community in the nineteenth century, this stunning resort at the foot of the Matterhorn still serves those looking to climb Switzerland’s highest peaks, while it is now also a popular skiing resort, boasting spectacular views over the mountains.

Where To Stay In Switzerland

Geneva

Torhotel Geneve – With a great location at the heart of the city center, guests at this hotel will enjoy spacious and well equipped rooms that are a great place to stay, with nice bathrooms and access to the attractive communal areas of the hotel.

City Hostel Geneva – A fine choice for those who are looking to stay in the city on a budget, this hostel offers beds in shared dormitories along with single and double rooms at reasonable prices, while still being within easy reach of the city center.

Bern

Hotel City am Bahnhof – The sleek modern lines of this hotel are stylish, while the rooms are clean and attractive too, with comfortable beds and nice bathrooms, while guests can enjoy the great location that is at the heart of the main sights of Bern.

Hotel National Bern – This pleasant and traditional hotel is located in an ideal location for exploring the city, while the guest rooms are spacious and airy, and there is a quaint historic elevator that rises through the central stairwell of the hotel.

Zurich

Hotel Sternen Oerlikon – This modern stylish hotel offers everything you would expect in a modern hotel including flat screen televisions and wireless internet access, while the rooms are sleek and attractive, with luxury bathrooms and good transport links to the city center.

Easyhotel Zurich – A fine choice for those heading to Zurich looking for budget accommodation, this hotel offers clean and compact rooms with bathrooms that are a miracle of space saving design, while the hotel also has an internet cafe and a great location among the main sights of the city.

Interlaken

Interlaken Hotel – With a grand front standing next to a historic church in the town, this hotel offers spectacular surroundings for a visit, and the rustic style rooms are pleasant and comfortable, while the hotel has a lovely garden and is just a brief walk from the town center.

Youth Hostel Interlaken – Offering dormitories and private rooms at an affordable price, this hostel is a great choice for those on a budget, with simple and modern rooms and access to a games room, while also being within easy reach of the center of Interlaken.

Swiss Cuisine

Along with the variety of languages spoken in Switzerland, the cuisine is also influenced by different countries, with distinctive dishes drawing on French, German and Italian influences depending on the area of the country. Pizokel is a common dish in Swiss cuisine and is a type of wheat based pasta that is boiled and then usually served with cabbage. Birchermuesli is the original breakfast mix that was created by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner and is still a popular breakfast throughout the country. One of the dishes from the French area of Switzerland is Papet Vaudois, which is a hearty combination of leeks and potatoes that is often served with cabbage and sausages.

Currency And Visa

The local currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc, and those who are exchanging their US Dollars for Francs will usually receive around 0.90 Swiss Francs per Dollar. Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Agreement that is signed with a total of twenty three European countries, meaning that those traveling to these countries from the United States will only need a visa if they plan to stay in the region for over ninety days.

Further Reading

A distinctive feature of a visit to Switzerland is that it is a very clean and efficient country, and this article looks at how this can sometimes be a little unsettling. One of the quirkier attractions in Bern is featured here, where you can see the picture of the humorous statue depicting a fairy tale character eating babies.