Top Things to Do in Switzerland
Of course. Alternatively called Il Cervino (Italian) or Le Cervin (French), this is Switzerland's trademark, drawing crowds every year. The pedestrian-only town of Zermatt offers a fairy-tale version of the typical Alpine village, with carriage rides, chalet restaurants and hotels, and shops galore, all under the shadow of the world's most recognizable peak. For a grand vista, head to the summit station of Gornergat, where nature's snaggletoothed masterpiece steals the thunder from all other surrounding mountains.
A town that perches on a cliff face over the southern end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, this half-earthly, half-heavenly village is pasted like a wasp's nest 3,200 feet up a mountain. Dine on a nearly levitating terrace and it seems you can practically reach out and touch the Eiger and Jungfrau peaks. Continue on up the mountain via cable car to reach the spectacular Schilthorn peak, crowned by the Piz Gloria viewing station and restaurant (you might recognize its starring role as Ernst Blofeld's hideout in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service).
The town that's on everyone's list. A mere 9 square miles in size, Luzern is many of Switzerland's cities in a nutshell: a well-preserved medieval Old Town, a magnificent lakefront, and a wide variety of shops stuffed with souvenirs. As you stroll along the lakeshore promenade, many Alpine views will look familiar, as this is where all those travel poster photos originate.
With an altitude of 11,400 feet, and an almost alien landscape slathered in whipped-cream snow all year round, this is the most accessible high-altitude peak in Europe. Don't try to attempt it all in one day—add an overnight or at least a very long lunch midway, in Grindelwald, say—because the difference in altitude from valley floor to the "Top of Europe" literally will make your head spin.
Lake Geneva's Wine Country
From Nyon to Aigle, the slopes of Lake Geneva are carpeted with vineyards that produce some of Switzerland's best wines. While a few varieties—mainly Chasselas or Pinot Noir—are exported to stores abroad, this is the only place to taste the rest. Say "santé" to your new best friends: Arvine, Gamaret, or Humagne Rouge, for example.
The "high" point of any trip to the mountainous Berner Oberland region may turn out to be Europe's most "viewtiful" valley. Sheltered from the world by picture-perfect mountains and threaded by more than 72 cascading waterfalls, Lauterbrunnen makes you feel as if you stumbled upon a film set for Lost Horizon's Shangri-la.
Take New York luxury, Paris fashion, a bit of London and Milan, a drop of Munich, a handful of Rome, large swaths of premium ski slopes, add the bubbling "champagne climate" of dry air and sun, mix well, and pour onto a few acres in a gorgeous high-altitude valley. How can anything compare with this überchic resort?
The Tellskapelle, Lake Luzern
Set on one of the most glorious stretches of the Urnersee—the southern leg of Lake Luzern—this High Victorian lakefront chapel honoring the legendary Wilhelm Tell is so magnificently picturesque it will practically click your camera for you.Updated: 09-2013
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