Is this the most beautiful country in the world? In all likelihood, especially if sunshine, lush meadows and snowy peaks are your idea of postcard perfect.
And the chocolate! Oh, the chocolate. It alone makes a visit worthwhile.
There’s no doubt this is a nation that will bring out the outdoors in even the most committed homebody. Cruise across Lake Geneva, jump on two wheels to explore the country’s 20,000 kilometres of cycle trails, and paraglide over the magnificent mountainous landscape. Come winter, everyone heads to the snow for those quintessential alpine conditions. Switzerland has 57 peaks higher than 4000 metres (the most of any country in Europe), world-famous resorts and plenty of opportunities to partake in winter activities beyond downhill skiing. Try the cross-country variety, snowshoeing, airboarding (for the uninitiated, they’re like inflatable boogie boards) and tobogganing for a little diversity in your cold-climate adventure.
Each of its cities has its own personality. Bern revels in its old-world charms (part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site). There’s shopping aplenty in the six kilometres of arcades known as lauben, museums and galleries like Albert Einstein House and Centrum Paul Klee, and beautiful Bear Park (yes, it is home to a family of bears) with its elevated rose garden.
Don’t be put off by Zurich’s reputation as Switzerland’s financial centre because there’s plenty more on offer, including international design, a mass of art galleries and museums (more than 150 all together), hip nightlife and an idyllic setting where the Limmat River meets Lake Zurich.
Then there’s Geneva. With people from across the world living and working at its multitude of diplomatic organisations, including the United Nations and Red Cross, it fairly hums. Built along the shores of Lake Geneva, it offers cultural highlights, international cuisine and, at stores like Favarger and Teuscher, some of the finest chocolate you could possibly wrap your lips around.