Overview: Look past the silk-smooth chocolate, cuckoo clocks and yodelling – contemporary Switzerland, land of four languages, is all about epic journeys and sublime experiences.
This country begs outdoor escapade with its larger-than-life canvas of fantastic landscapes etched so perfectly one wants to cry – or at least grab boots, leap on board, toot the bike bell and let spirits rip. Skiing and snowboarding in the winter wonderlands of Graubünden, Bernese Oberland and Central Switzerland are obvious choices. But there is plenty to do when pastures are green. Hiking and biking trails abound in both glacier-encrusted mountain areas and lower down along lost valleys, mythical lakeshores and pea-green vines. View the natural grandeur from the sky in a balloon basket or parachute, or afloat from a white-water raft. Most appealing of all, you don’t need to be a mountaineer to do it.
The perfect antidote is a surprise set of cities: the capital Bern with its medieval Old Town and world-class modern art, fantastic Zurich, deeply Germanic Basel and its bold architecture, shopping-chic Geneva astraddle Europe’s largest lake, tycoon-magnet Zug (play millionaire over a slice of liqueur-soaked cherry cake). Switzerland is a country to discover..
At a glance:
- Population: ~ 8.1 million
- Area: 41,300 sq. kms
- Capital City: Berne (pop. 122,000)
- Major City: Zurich (pop. 342,000)
- Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
- Time zone: UTC+1 / Summer UTC +2
- Religion: Christian (Roman Catholic and Protestant)