Switzerland is a little country sandwiched between France, Italy, Germany and Austria. It’s famous for its mountains, rivers, lakes and ski resorts. It’s also known for being very wealthy, which explains why there are so many banks in Switzerland. Politically, it is quite different to the countries it’s surrounded by – it does not use the Euro, it is not in the EU, and frequently asks its populace to vote on important political matters. Its political situation has strongly influenced Switzerland’s place in both history and international relations, and other European countries often remark on how fiercely neutral Switzerland is. Mind you, this isn’t always a good thing – especially when it comes to the wars in the 20th century.
You probably mainly know it as a winter sports destination, though. Owing to the fact the country is almost entirely covered in mountains, it’s a fantastic place for skiing, snowboarding, climbing and snowball fights. Switzerland incorporates some of Europe’s highest mountains, as well as more iconic ones like the Matterhorn. Famous ski destinations include Zermatt, and many snow sport world championships have been held in the country.
However, it’s not just good in the winter. Switzerland is astonishingly beautiful all year round. The really high mountains are in the south west of the country, but even though the north is somewhat flat, it’s still beautiful. Up in this part of the country you can find cities like Basel and Zurich. Well, it would be rather tricky to build major business hubs in those narrow mountain valleys! Switzerland can be reached from Paris by fast train in a little over 2 hours, and it’s very good for driving, so if you’re in that part of Europe this summer anyway it could be worth a look. Here are just some of the things you can see in Switzerland in the summer.
First off, you’ll need to know something about how the locals communicate. There are four (yes, four!) official languages in Switzerland – German, French, Italian and Romansh. In part, this is due to the borders changing constantly in the last few centuries, incorporating people who once would have lived in different countries. Most of Switzerland’s major cities, and indeed the majority of its population (almost 65%), speak the Swiss version of German. However, many Swiss people are bilingual, so there’s a good chance they would understand if you spoke in French or even Italian to them.
With this in mind, you can be on your merry way. As well as financial hubs like Zurich, and numerous ski resorts, Switzerland also has lots of beautiful lakes and summer residences of the rich and famous. It borders Italy, so many Italian lakes like Como and Maggiore lie partly in Switzerland. Lake towns like Montreux and medieval Lucerne have certainly made the most of this kind of tourism.
You can even do some summer skiing in certain parts of the country, if you wish! If this is a little out of your price range, though, don’t worry. Switzerland has plenty of lake castles, historical buildings, mountain trails and even amusement parks for you to enjoy. Just one thing before you go – Switzerland is a pretty expensive country. Wages are higher there, but so are living costs, so try to avoid buying food there if you can. Buy it from France, Italy, Germany or Austria, and you can take it across the border. A pint of milk is almost double the price there than it is in the Eurozone, so make sure you go to Switzerland well prepared!
Otherwise – have a fantastic trip, and feel free to get in touch with us to tell us how it all went.
Photo credit: Alice Barnes-Brown