• On the Grütschalp–Mürren trail, Berner Oberland, Switzerland
    The Berner Oberland

Switzerland

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.

Places

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; touristy Interlaken is the region's 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.

▲▲ Zermatt Glitzy ski resort that sports some traditional old-fashioned touches and glorious hiking options, in a valley at the foot of the famous Matterhorn.

▲▲ 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.

▲▲ 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.

▲▲ Murten Quaint, small walled town sitting right next to 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 in 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, a rustic cliffside retreat at Ebenalp.

▲▲ Scenic Rail Journeys Four famous train rides, each offering panoramic views and crisscrossing the country.

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.

Upper Engadine Romansh-speaking mountain resort region, anchored by three towns: touristy Pontresina, humble Samedan, and swanky St. Moritz.

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