The Berner Oberland
Little, mountainous, efficient Switzerland is one of Europe's most appealing destinations. Wedged neatly between Germany, Austria, France, and Italy, Switzerland melds the best of all worlds — and adds a healthy dose of chocolate, cowbells, and cable cars. Fiercely independent and decidedly high-tech, the Swiss stubbornly hold on to their quaint traditions, too. Join cheesemakers in a high valley, try to call the shepherds on an alphorn, and hike through some of the world's most stunning mountain scenery.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Gimmelwald and the Berner Oberland Rustic village spectacularly perched on a cliff in this mountainous region — popular for its alpine towns and scenic hikes, lifts, and train rides — with touristy Interlaken as the gateway.
▲▲▲ Bern Cozy capital of Switzerland tucked in a sharp river bend, with arcaded shopping promenades, medieval clock towers, and museums devoted to Albert Einstein and artist Paul Klee.
▲▲ Zürich Bustling cosmopolitan city — Switzerland's largest by far — with upscale shops and a charming riverside old-town quarter full of pointy church spires and pealing bells.
▲▲ Luzern and Central Switzerland Touristy yet worthwhile town of historic wooden bridges, picturesque streets, and vintage steamships that ply lovely Lake Luzern, ringed by mountains with stunning vistas accessible by high-altitude lifts.
▲▲ Murten Quaint, small walled town sitting right on the German/French linguistic fault line, with nearby Roman ruins and museum in Avenches.
▲▲ Lake Geneva and French Switzerland Small-but-sophisticated lakeside city of Lausanne, Switzerland's best castle experience at Château de Chillon, the cute cheesemaking center of Gruyères, and pleasant scenery of the surrounding countryside.
▲▲ Appenzell The most traditional Swiss region, known for pastoral scenery, small towns, cows, folk museums, and, just a cable-car ride away, the rustic retreat at the cliffs of Ebenalp.
▲▲ Scenic Rail Journeys Four famous train rides, each offering panoramic views and crisscrossing the country.
▲ Zermatt and the Matterhorn Glitzy ski resort still sporting some traditional old-fashioned touches, in a valley at the foot of the famous Matterhorn.
▲ Lugano Leading city of Italian-speaking Switzerland, with a tidy if dull urban core, scenic boat trips on Lake Lugano, and mountain lifts to lakeside peaks.
▲ Pontresina, Samedan, and St. Moritz Romansh-speaking mountain resort region, anchored by three towns: touristy Pontresina, humble Samedan, and swanky St. Moritz.