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Switzerland is a popular destination for those interested in skiing. This isn't all there is to do in Switzerland however. Read our travel guide and find out a lot more information on Switzerland including what the major tourist attractions are, where to pick up some good shopping bargains and which restaurants you'll find the best foods in.
Switzerland, is a landlocked country of 7.5 million people in Western Europe.Switzerland is a federal republic consisting of 26 states called cantons. Switzerland is bordered by Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. Switzerland is multilingual and has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Switzerland has a long history of neutrality – it has not been at war since 1815 – and hosts many international organizations, including the Red Cross, the WTO and the U.N.'s European headquarters.
Though Switzerland's scenic beauty is ample explanation of why the country draws millions of tourists each year, it would be wrong to assume that this alone accounts for the popularity. Besides the glorious summits and breathtaking Alpine trail, there are the world-class cities of Geneva and Zurich, which showcase many of Europe's most prized artistic, musical, and architectural treasures. Smaller cities offer countless picturesque hamlets, adding to the countries allure with their captivating old towns and quaint charm. Linking everything is a dense network of carefully coordinated trains and well-tended budget accommodations, all of which help thrifty travellers explore on schedule and in comfort.
Switzerland is an adventurer's paradise, with infinite opportunities for pulse-quickening exploits. Mountain climbing, paragliding, and cannoning, along with unparalleled opportunities for hiking and skiing, provide exposure to an outdoors that has awed visitors for centuries.
Summer temperatures seldom rise above 26°C in the cities, and humidity is low. Because of clear air and lack of wind in the high alpine regions, sunbathing is sometimes possible even in winter. In southern Switzerland the temperature remains mild year-round, allowing subtropical vegetation to grow. June is the ideal month for a tour of Switzerland, followed by either September or October, when the mountain passes are still open. During summer the country is usually overrun with tourist traffic.
The first thing that comes to everyone's minds when they think of Switzerland is mountains. The second thing that comes to mind are the lakes - wide expanses of clear blue water, crisscrossed by ferries and sailboats, fringed by charming cities and villages, and breathtakingly beautiful at any time of the day. There are many lakes, rivers and streams in Switzerland, forming ribbons of blue and white across the landscape, but the most famous lake of them all is undoubtedly Lake Geneva.
Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Central Europe. The geographical surroundings of the lake are also remarkable for their diversity and beauty. The entire shoreline seems to consist of one breathtaking panorama after another: thick forests stretching down to the waterfront, snow-capped mountains rising majestically across the lakes, rivers and streams flowing endlessly into the waters.
In addition to the cosmopolitan delights of the lakeshore communities, there are scores of beautiful residences dotting the slopes of the lakeside. These homes range from rustic chalets clustered into little hamlets on the lower banks of the lake to forbidding stone castles brooding over the land from high promontories. Little wonder then, that the area is also one of the most heavily visited parts of the country, boasting millions of tourists each year.
Switzerland is also blessed with beautiful rivers. Most of these are wild, frothing surges of white-water, perfect for more adventurous spirits but there are a few more sedate stretches where a riverboat cruise can be taken. Along the Rhone river just west of Genevem, there is a short wooded stretch just perfect for a romantic cruise while a stretch of the Aare river northeast of Biel runs past an island stork colony and offers a refreshing change of pace for the more hectic itineraries. Of all the river cruises on offer however, perhaps the most enchanting is a trip along the peaceful waters of the Rhine from Konstanz to the falls at Schaffhausen, the only stretch of that river left free from the marks of human industry. It is along this panoramic stretch, where the sky is reflected in the waters and green meadows climb up to meet towering crags, that the full beauty of Switzerland becomes dazzlingly clear.
The Swiss National Museum showcases the history and culture of Switzerland from prehistoric times to the present day. The museum has a collection of prehistoric relics, and objects from Roman and Carolingian times, as well as works of art from the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods. Also on display are collections of rare Swiss weaponry, armour and clocks. Ancient apparel and folk artefacts from each of the Swiss Cantons are also displayed.
The Rietberg Museum is the collection of a wealthy amateur collector, Baron von der Heydt, who left his collection to the city of Zurich in 1952. The Reitberg Museum houses a large collection of Buddhist and Asian art and sculpture, as well as masks from Africa and Oceania, artwork from the Americas and carpets from Central Asia.
Switzerland has a wide range of nightlife entertainment. Nightlife of Zurich and Berne is very much popular among night lovers. Live rock and Jazz music make nights unforgettable. Zurich city also has a world famous opera. While Bern's nightlife is decorated with live music, dance nights, theatre, opera and films.
Switzerland has grand relation with music from ancient times. Yodelling, a folk music is a popular musical style of Switzerland. Many music festivals including world famous Montreux Jazz Festival held annually.
One of the most popular Entertainment destinations of Switzerland is the Mystery Park in Interlaken. It is the perfect holiday and entertainment destination for peoples of all age group. Mystery Park is a Theme Park with theme pavilions. The Nazca Pavilion in the Mystery Park is an interesting place for late evening fun.
Switzerland is famous for watches, chocolate, cheese, and Swiss Army knives. Switzerland is the watch-making capital of the world, and "Swiss Made" on a watch face has long been a mark of quality. While the French-speaking regions of Switzerland are usually associated with Swiss watchmakers (like Rolex, Omega, and Patek Philippe), some fine watches are made in the Swiss-German-speaking region, such as IWC in Schaffhausen.
Switzerland may always have a rivalry with Belgium for the world's best chocolate, but there's no doubting that the Swiss variety is amazingly good. Switzerland is also home to the huge Nestlé food company. If you have a fine palate you can find two of the finest Swiss chocolatiers in Zürich: Teuscher and Sprüngli. For the rest of us, even the generic grocery store brand chocolates in Switzerland still blow away the Hershey bars found elsewhere. For a good value, try the "Frey" brand chocolates sold at Migros. If you want to try some real good and exclusive swiss chocolate, go for the Pamaco chocolates, derived from the noble Criollo beans.
Many different regions of Switzerland have their own regional cheese speciality. Of these, the most well-known are Gruyère and Emmentaler Be sure to sample the wide variety of cheeses sold in markets, and of course try the cheese fondue! Fondue is basically melted cheese and is used as a dip with other food such as bread. The original mixture consists of half Vacherin cheese and half Gruyère but many different combinations have been developed since.
Switzerland is the original home of the Swiss Army Knife, with offerings ranging from the "My First Victorinox" for kids to the monstrous, pants-ripping, 72-function "SwissChamp XXLT". There are two "official" Swiss Army knife manufacturers, Victorinox and Wenge. While sold throughout the country, Interlaken is a particularly good place to buy these souvenirs, with twenty or more shops on Hohweg Street selling them. When flying home it is important to remember to pack the knife into checked baggage to avoid security issues!
Ski and tourist areas will sell the other kinds of touristy items - cowbells, clothing embroidered with white Edelweiss flowers, and Heidi-related stuff. Swiss people love cows in all shapes and sizes, and you can find cow-related goods everywhere, from stuffed toy cows to fake cow-hide jackets.
Switzerland is overshadowed by its near neighbours when it comes to food and drink, and yet the country nurtures a wide and absorbing range of local cuisines, taking in influences and styles from the surrounding diversity of French, German and Italian cooking while sticking close to its rural and Alpine roots.
Swiss cooking is firmly rooted in dairy products – cheese, milk, cream, butter and/or yoghurt find their way into most dishes. It's far from impossible to find good-quality, interesting and varied vegetarian options, and all but a handful of places offer vegetarian set menus alongside the standard meaty ones, but veggies should be aware that most restaurants default onto meat-based dishes: innocent-looking tomato soup may have bits of bacon added, and fresh salads may come layered with ham or salami. Switzerland must be the only place in the world where you can order a Fitness Teller ("healthy meal") and be presented with a thick slab of veal in a cream sauce. Vegans will no doubt come prepared to cook their own food at least some of the time but, with careful choices, you should be able to pick your way through a menu with the help of accommodating restaurant staff. Alternative-style co-operative-run diners, many in squats in the major cities, offer budget vegetarian and vegan meals as standard.
Catholicism and Protestantism have left their mark on Swiss society and continue to do so today. Even if Christian values are turning less and less to ecclesiastic institutions as a means of expression, Churches and the Christian perspective remain a stabilizing factor of the society. At the same time, there is a more pronounced tendency towards individual interpretation of religion, and the interest in new forms of religion and spirituality is growing.
Many see in the Swiss work ethic, their reserved nature and realist outlook, an influence of Protestant values with the stamp of Calvinism. If economic thought has its foundations in Protestantism, then it is perhaps the Catholic tradition that gave the Swiss character its strong ties to the land and its love for rural traditions and ritual festivities. The year passes by to the rhythm of the holidays.