1. Conquer Great Heights
Imagine being at one of the top-most summits of Europe – amongst clear blue sky, proudly looking down upon earth-bound valleys. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is exactly what a Swiss holiday offers you. You don’t have to be a world-class climber for that. Happily hop on cable cars, funiculars or trains, and you will be whisked off for an awe-inspiring ride of the mountains. The journey itself is mind-blowing. Once there, you can enjoy the spectacular summit view, eat out at the many mountain-top restaurants, visit illuminated glacier caves at Mt. Titlis or visit a James Bond villain’s lair at Piz Gloria.
2. Go on a Hike
Switzerland’s immense natural beauty makes it a minefield of hiking trails. You can hike its mountainous terrain or beautiful woodland valleys. Appenzell Alpine Trail (Schwägalp – Kronberg), Chemin du Gruyère: The Swiss Chocolate and Cheese Trail (Charmey – Gruyères), the Zermatt Lake Trail and the National Park Trail (Champlönch – Il Fuorn) are some of the popular trails, to name but a few. You won’t find any dearth of choices here. Just pack your bags, grab a walking pole and a pair of sturdy hiking boots, and you are good to go. The activity will leave you with a rejuvenated mind and soul for the rest of your Swiss tour. Check also the best hotels in Switzerland.
3. Participate in a Local Festival
Participating in local festivals and carnivals are the best way to experience the culture of a place. And Switzerland, with its customs as diverse as its people, has a lot to offer. Some of the popular festivities include the “drey scheenschte Dääg” or the Basel Carnival which goes on for three days and is characterized by beautiful lanterns; the Chestnut Festival at Ascona which celebrates the staple food, sweet chestnut in all its myriad flavors; the parade of the “peluches” or the Carnival of Evolène in which youngsters wear elaborate animal masks and parade the valley; and the Rigi folklore day which celebrates Swiss folklore with music and songs. The Swiss are a jolly lot – you will find reasons to celebrate each day of your stay here.
4. Go Skiing!
A trip to Switzerland is simply incomplete without a bit of skiing, even if you get hurt in the process. Skiing is one of the most popular recreational activities here. The jagged mountainous landscape is perfect for skiing and other snow-based activities like snow-boarding and mountaineering. You will inevitably stumble upon at least one of the many ski-fields that this place harbors. There are ski resorts in almost all prominent mountainous region including St. Moritz, Grindelwald, Zermatt and Davos. Indulge in freestyle or cross-country skiing and let the wind be your sole companion in this daring sport.
5. Indulge in Swiss cheese
Boasting about 450 varieties of Cheese, thanks to the Swiss cows, Switzerland is a dream destination for cheese lovers. Just one bite, and you’ll be hooked – such is the charm of Swiss cheese. From hard cheese to semi-hard to soft – the place has it all. Raclette and Gruyère are two of the most popular cheese here. Raclette is basically scraps of melted cheese, usually consumed with small firm potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions, and dried meat; in some cases it is accompanied with tea or white wine. Gruyere is a hard yellow cheese with a flavor that varies with age.It is usually used in soups, sandwiches, quiches and the immensely popular fondues. Other cheese varieties include Sbrinz, Emmental, and Bundner Bergkase.
6. Explore Chillon Castle
Exploring Chillon Castle means exploring a thousand years of history. This magnificent island castle reposes on the shores of Lake Geneva with the majestic Alps watching over it. With a history dating back to the Bronze Age, the castle has been a witness to major historical periods. From 12th century to 16th century , to the 18th century and the end of 19th century, the castle has been a major site of power struggle. Through all these years the castle has been used as a fortress, a prison house, arsenal and a tourist destination. Needless to say, this delightful castle holds many secrets in its deepest recesses.
7. Go for a Stroll on the Streets of Old Town
A stroll through the quaint narrow streets of Old Town is an absolute must on your Swiss tour. The cobblestone streets dotted with small stores, restaurants, cafes, bars, fountains, towers, religious landmarks and lakes with a view of the distant alps is an absolute delight to wander. At night, with subdued lights illuminating the streets, and the moon-kissed night enveloping your senses, the place takes on a whole new aura. You can afford to get lost here – you’ll never know what you will find.
8. Sin on Chocolates
Yes, you read it right. Chocolate will become your favorite vice in Switzerland. You’ll transgress all boundaries to have that one small bite of luscious delight. The best thing about the place is that the Swiss take their chocolate very seriously – chocolate-making is both an art and a way of life here. From chocolate bars, to chocolate drinks, to chocolate cakes and pastries – the place gives you creative ways to gorge on chocolate. Don’t be surprised if you get chocolate cravings once you leave this place and no ordinary chocolate manages to satiate your dark desires.
9. Buy Some Time
Next time, you point to your watch and say ‘Swiss made’, you’ll definitely grab some eyeballs. Switzerland is well know for the superb quality of its watches. From highly expensive Rolex and Tag Heuer to second-hand watches – you can take you pick according to your taste and pocket. Some shops also sell antique watches as souvenirs or collector’s item. So the next time you travel to Switzerland, don’t forget to buy some quality time. The best places to look are the the local markets of Zurich, Geneva and Lucerne.
10. Use Public Transport
Switzerland is known for its world-class transportation facilities. It is unarguably one of the best in the world. The incredibly efficient organization of buses, trams, trains and boats makes it easier for the common traveler to get anywhere around the country. Almost every popular destination is accessible through public transport. Not only is it affordable, the buses and trains are clean and punctual and incredibly comfortable. To partake in one of the most competent man-made system of the world is indeed a privilege you can get only in Switzerland. Then of course there is the added advantage of a hassle-free Swiss vacation.