Switzerland travel guide
Take the lure of its snow-capped peaks, fresh mountain air, flower-strewn green meadows, deep blue lakes, waterfalls and rivers rushing down narrow gorges - all set against the gentle tinkling of cow bells - and you will see why Switzerland is just as irresistible to winter skiers and summer time hikers alike. Explore all with our Switzerland travel guide.
Bernese Oberland - Switzerland
The ancient capital of Bern is best known for the elegant shopping in its charming 11th century arcaded streets. Everywhere you look - in the flags, statues, stained-glass windows and souvenirs - is the city's famous emblem of the bear, a reminder of its medieval past. This is the heart of the Bernese Oberland an area that is home to such mighty giants as the Eiger and the Jungfrau - one of the most scenic areas of a stunning country and a draw for skiers in the winter and hikers in the spring, summer and autumn. To the south of Bern, you will find the tiny traffic-free ski resort of Murren where the challenging skiing includes the famous Schilthorn run that many say was where modern-day skiing was first invented.
Valais - Switzerland
The Valais Apls, towering above the picturesque Rhone Valley in south west Switzerland, are the highest in the country. The mountains here are truly spectacular with some of the most celebrated winter sports centers and world-class skiing for all abilities, as well as a lively aprés-ski nightlife. A host of Alpine villages such as Villars-Sur-Ollon, Ovronnaz, Haute Nendaz, Les Diablertes and Verbier - at the heart of Les Quatre Vallees ski area - offer easy access to the pistes. Further south of Valais's resort is fashionable Zermatt at the foot of the mighty Matterhorn, where you will find the highest aerial cablecar ride and longest ski run in Europe. Not skiing? Try snowboarding, take a toboggan run or go snow-shoeing accompanied by huskies, sink into a thermal bath in one of the ancient spa resort such as Saillon, or simply relax and admire the fairy-tale views of mighty Alpine peaks and snow covered woods under brilliant winter blue skies.
Getting out & about
The Fall of Sherlock: Of the many spectacular waterfalls in the Bernese Oberland, the most famous are the Reichenbach Falls. This is the setting that novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose to stage the death of Sherlock Homes and his archenemy Professor Moriarty. Nearby Meiringen hosts regular pilgrimages to the world's most famous sleuth.
What to do
Hiking is a national passion for the Swiss and over 50,000 km of well-marked trails will take you through every terrain this spectacular nation has to offer, from Alpine moors to meadows and mountains. Cyclists will also find thousands of kilometers of easy riding routes to follow and cycles can be hired at most railway stations. As well as skiing and snowboarding, winter sports for the more adventurous include glacier walking, climbing, ice climbing, toboggan runs and deep-snow-skiing and heli-skiing.
To experience one of the most amazing feats of mountain engineering, climb abroad a carriage on the Glacier Express. The 'slowest fast train in the world' will take you on a breathtaking eight-hour journey from Zermatt to the St. Moritz cutting right through the most dramatic of Switzerland's stunning alpine scenery. The famous red mountain train crosses nearly 300 bridges, winds its way through 90 tunnels, along seven valleys and clambers up the 6,670ft high Oberlap Pass.
Switzerland's most famous culinary export has to be its cheese. Eat your Emmenthaler or Gruyere here and it is likely to be by dipping chucks of bread into a molten cheese fondue. Crispy, fried shredded potatoes called Rosti is another tempting national dish. Divine Swiss chocolate is also a favorite, eaten on its own or in desserts and cakes.
As you might expect, the Swiss public transport system ticks along like clockwork. Trains are clean, reliable and frequent and integrate well with the national bus network. All the larger lakes are serviced by steamers. Funiculars and cable cars take you to the higher elevations. Roads are well maintained, well signposted and not too congested, however if you do travel by car, parking can be limited.