A heady mix of art, culture, food, and exhilarating Alpine activities, get ready to explore Switzerland. Tailor your vacation to your tastes by hiking the national park, gazing across Lake Geneva, or skiing in the Alps. Or, just sit back in a trendsetting café after an afternoon of taking in architecture and artistry in Zurich.
For a touch of Alpine luxury, visit Switzerland’s mountain villages. Vals offers lush valleys set against grand mountains. Hike or ski to take in stunning views, then visit the thermal baths to soak and relax. Grindelwald, a picturesque village nestled in the foot of the Bernese Alps has world-famous ski slopes such as Eiger and Kleine Sheidegg. Melchsee Frutt, a village that borders Lake Melchsee, offers fantastic views of the peaceful surroundings. Gstaad is frequented by high society and international jet setters. Fairytale castles like the one in Gruyères lie in wait on picturesque cobbled streets or on the shores of Zurich lake. Rapperswil Castle towers above a quintessential Swiss town and home to the area's oldest vineyard.
Popular with city and culture lovers alike, Zurich is full of exciting things to see and do. Marvel at 13th-century architecture such as the Fraumunster, a church that features some of the most beautiful stained-glass windows in the world. Be sure to stop and take in the rose window at the northern transept of the building, created by Augosto Giacometti in 1945. The green-fingered will delight in Sukkulenten-Sammlung, home to more than 4,000 species of succulents. For more of Zurich's natural beauty, the city's botanical garden showcases indigenous flowers and trees.
Every year in early August, Zurich’s streets pulse with electronic and techno music. Dancing, DJs, and an incredible party atmosphere draw people from across the globe. Street stalls serving food and drinks pop up across the parade’s route and you are sure to meet plenty of new friends.
The Swiss are famous for their cheese and chocolate. Be sure to try the national dish of cheese fondue, which melts together Emmentaler and natural Gruyère in white wine before being flavored with garlic and lemon juice. Freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and Swiss kirsch are among the more traditional seasonings. Swiss dumplings, or spatzli, are served in most places and Toblerone chocolate is the perfect end to any meal.
Use the network of trams, buses, and local trains to get around the city. Zurich HB is the central station and most places can be reached from here. A Zurich Card, which can be used for up to 72 hours, can be bought from most rail or bus stations across the city and gives you access to all public transport within the city without the need for extra tickets or fees.
Peak ski season is from mid-January to mid-March. In March, the sun is warmer, but the slopes remain in good condition for skiing, snowboarding, and other snow sports.
Take the gondola up from the village center of Grindelwald to the summit of Schwarzhorn for the First Cliff Walk, a metal walkway that has views of Alpine pastures, lakes, rocky peaks, and even a waterfall. If you are feeling adventurous, you can zip-line here, too.