Switzerland is a pretty amazing place with some pretty amazing scenery, neighbors, history and cuisine. You can find cuckoo clocks, cheese, chocolate, castles and charm throughout the country. The Alps run through most of the country, but the most photographed mountain is the Matterhorn. Near the border of Italy, the Matterhorn is the mountain of mountains. GetAway Travel can map you an itinerary around the Alps, around Zurich or from one end of Switzerland to the other. Let’s talk about Geneva, Lausanne, Zermatt and, of course, the Matterhorn.
No, you don’t have to ski to love it
Of course you can ski in Switzerland, and snowboard, cycle, skate, snowshoe and hike, but you can also enjoy amazing scenery that will give you a lifetime of memories without doing any of those things. If you want to start with the Matterhorn, then Zermatt is where you want to be. There are more than 200 miles of slopes in the area for all levels of skiing expertise, but there are also more than 60 mountain trains that you can ride to get you close to the slopes without touching a ski.
Zermatt is home to some fabulous international resorts and part of its charm, in addition to the shops, chalets and restaurants, is there are no gas-powered vehicles. You park in a huge lot three miles from the city and get shuttled in.
The huge, graceful Matterhorn dominates the area. Described by some as a pyramid and others as a jagged tooth, three faces of the mountain are in Switzerland and the fourth face is in Italy.
Climbing it is an adventure to be braved only by the experienced. There are plenty of other challenging climbs that guides can direct you to.
But don’t skip the marvelous chance to experience the mountains and the scenery — take a train. The Gornergrat Railway is Europe’s highest mountain railroad. It takes 45 minutes to take the six-mile trip up the east side of the Nikolai Valley and then around the sweeping curve up the slope of the Riffleberg. The rail line also runs above the Gorner Glacier to the Gornergrat Observatory giving visitors a spectacular look at the Matterhorn as well as the glacier.
The Matterhorn Museum details how the history of Zermatt is tied to climbers. A relief of the Matterhorn shows the routes climbers take, there are artifacts and exhibits and outside is the quirky Marmot Fountain. Bronze marmots cavort in cascading water and behind the fountain is a life-size bronze of a large, horned mountain goat.
World organizations headquartered in Geneva
Switzerland’s 2nd largest city is home to luxurious hotels, trendy boutiques, high-end jewelers, fine restaurants and famous chocolatiers.
It is also home base for world organizations including the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Bank and the United Nations.
The United Nations, or the Palais des Nations, is the second largest UN center. New York’s UN is a bit larger. Take a tour, explore the lovely grounds and admire the spectacular ceiling murals in the council chambers.
The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire is the city’s largest art museum. The museum contains more than 1 million pieces from artists such as Degas, Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Renoir. It also contains a library with 400,000 volumes dedicated to art and archeology, art restoration studios and research laboratories.
The Swiss are renowned around the world for their watchmaking and the Patek Philip Museum in a restored art deco building traces the history of time pieces from the 16th century to modern times. Tour the Red Cross museum and the Musée Ariana with its stunning glass and ceramic pieces.
Lake Geneva is Europe’s largest alpine lake, that is a lake that is at a high altitude above sea level. A pencil fountain in the lake, the Jet d’eau shoots a plume of water into the air and on sunny days the mist creates little rainbows.
Shop the cobble-stone streets of Old Town, take a tasting tour of the chocolatiers and sip wine in the vineyards of Lavaux. The renowned vineyards are a Unesco World Heritage site because of their cultural significance.
On to Lausanne…
Around Lausanne is more vineyards to tour if you couldn’t fit them in when you were in Geneva. Some great historic adventures await visitors to the city. The Lausanne Cathedral is one of the most beautiful examples of gothic architecture in Europe. It also offers fabulous views of the city. The Fondation de l’Hermitage is housed in a stunning mansion. It features revolving exhibits of famous painters as well as a large, permanent collection of Chinese porcelain. The Art Brut Museum has unusual collections of pieces from self-taught artists.
The Olympic Museum takes you on an interactive history of the games.
Plateforme 10 was unveiled in 2022 and it’s an art district housed in one building which was a former repair shed for locomotives. It includes the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts, also known as the Vaud Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Design and Contemporary Applied Arts and the Photo Elysée. The Vaud Museum, one of the oldest of the Swiss museums, features works from Vaudois painters including Ducros, Gleyre, Steinlen, Vallotton and Soutter. The Museum of Design is dedicated entirely to design aspects of western Switzerland. There is contemporary art and glass, jewelry, graphic arts items, ceramics and media. The Photo Elysée showcases all things photographic including numerous collections — one showcases the photos of Charlie Chaplin.
Swiss cuisine is a combination of French, German and Northern Italian influences. Cheese, as you might imagine, is at the center of most dishes. Cheese fondue IS the traditional dish in Switzerland, but you an also enjoy raclette (cheese subjected to heat and it’s molten goodness is scraped onto your food). Try Älplermagronen which is macaroni and cheese amped up to the 100th degree. It includes Gruyere cheese sauce, cubed potatoes, bacon and carmelized onions. It is usually served with a side of applesauce. An important side dish is rösti or grated potatoes formed into a small cake and fried.
While the Swiss are the biggest consumers of chocolate in the world, chocolate is not a predominant ingredient in desserts. They are usually made with hazelnuts, chestnuts, apples and cherry liqueur, or Kirsch.
Is Switzerland on your bucket list? Give us a ring or shoot us an email at GetAway Travel and we’ll get started on making your dream adventure a reality. Reach us at: (262) 538-2140, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com