Heidi, clocks, great cheese and chocolate…But there’s more to this cliché than what meets the eyes: the very alluring, inspiring Alpine scenery; verdant valleys; quaint pastoral villages and placid towns of pretty chalets revolving around a church; and the intense audacity of its winter sports juxtapose with the vibrant urbanism of its big cities like Zurich to make Switzerland a great European destination. Also convenient is its geography: France to the west, Italy to the south, Germany to the north and Austria to the east. It might as well be a good starting point into those countries.
The largest city in Switzerland, Zurich is a leading global city as a major financial centre, with hundreds of banks and other world financial institutions headquartered there. Typical areas visited include Niederdorf, noted for its shops, cafes, and traditional Swiss architecture and winding streets. Neumarkt is in the historical city centre and consists of well-kept medieval buildings and Switzerland’s famed synagogue, as well as the stylish Theater am Neumarkt. The Kunsthaus represents the country’s most prestigious art gallery while the Fraumunster, on the banks of the Limmat River, is the city’s most attractive church, with its green, pointed belfry and quintessential clock all facing the picturesque Musterhof Square and its iconic medieval Guild Houses. More attractive is Augustinegarsse, a quarter packed with still functioning medieval buildings, cafes and shops. If you feel like you can take the hammer on the wallet, head for the trendy and sumptuous Bahnhofstrasse, where you’ll find one of the world’s most expensive shopping boulevards. But your budget doesn’t have to take the abuse; a stroll through the tree-lined avenue and coffee can be as rewarding an experience as shopping. The stroll can lead you to Paradeplatz Square, the most expensive place in Europe, but again, pics and walking are for free…so is breathing! While in Zurich, don’t forget to taste its specialty—Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, or sliced veal in white cream sauce. To feel like ‘the king of the world’ head to Üetliberg Mountain for a breathtaking view of the entire city.
- Geneva and Lausanne:
Behind Vienna and Zurich, Geneva has the third highest quality of life in any city in the world, and it doesn’t end there. Rivaling Zurich in financial power, Geneva is also the headquarters of major UN institutions and the Red Cross. The city is also the hub for major luxury watchmakers like Rolex, Omega, Vacheron Constantin, and Patek Philippe amongst others. So important and so high-tech is Geneva that events like the Geneva Motor Show attracts thousands of visitors who flock to see the major automakers unveil their new, and sometimes futuristic, concept models. The main landmark is Lake Geneva, or Lake Leman, with a tremendous column of water spewing from the middle. Though a major world city, Geneva has a far more placid side than Zurich and unlike it, the city is set against a rising landscape of towering mountains; amongst them is the famed Mont Blanc. A curious geographic occurrence, though, is the fact that Geneva seems to have been inserted deep into French territory; one would think it France proper, which also accounts for its more Francophile attitude and culture. For the young and adventurous, Lausanne, offers that rather bold and romantic appeal with inspiring landscapes such as the ever omnipresent Mont Blanc and the enchanting Alpine scenery of the Jura Mountains. A boat ride to nearby Geneva across Lake Leman would also do much to enliven your day trip.
- St. Moritz:
Swoop down a snowy mountain amidst pines and maybe even catch a glimpse of a fairy tale prince or of your favorite actress skiing next to you in this ultra-luxury winter resort. The typical alpine scene, St. Moritz is perched high above the Engadine valley, on the slopes of the Albula Alps. The view of the valley and its lake is simply breathtaking. The town of St. Moritz itself is filled with ultra-luxurious hotels, stylish shops, cafes and fine restaurants. If you feel your wallet is immune to the viral expensive of this resort, then know it is the most expensive winter resort in the world. But perhaps catching a glimpse of Kate and William skiing might as well be worth it!!