Switzerland, the dream destination of most of the globetrotters offers the best assortment of history, art, and modern culture. The country is a bit on the expensive side and this can be the reason that it is still a dream for some to visit the place.
You must have heard the phrase “All those who wander are not lost” but I believe “All those who wander in Switzerland absolutely get lost in the beauty of this place”.
The country is full of magnificent scenic places and you will find several opportunities to be a part of the adventure that this place to offer. The mountainous region from Jungfrau to Matterhorn mountain peak covers the best place to satisfy your passion for skiing and snowboarding.
German, French, Italian, and Romansh are the official languages of Switzerland which exhibit the diversity that exists in the country.
So if you are thinking about visiting this place any sooner, make sure to read the guide till the end, it is going to be a lot helpful for your trip.
Switzerland’s History at a Glance
Situated in the heart of Central Europe, Switzerland is a small federal country. If we talk about its history, the country has a lot on its table to share.
So before I start guiding you for your trip to the country, let’s get intimate with its history and culture first.
- Human life in Switzerland started around 150,000 years ago when hunter-gatherers used to reside in the area; they are thought to be the earliest inhabitants.
- Around the years 450-50BC, much of Europe was ruled by Celtic tribes. Towards the end of 58 BC, the area was subjugated by the Roman Empire. For over 500 years, Switzerland was controlled by the empire that opened the country to international trade and travel.
- In 400 AD, the empire saw a decline and then it was German tribes who ruled the region.
- France began to enter the region in 600 AD and most of Europe was ruled by Charlemagne of the Franks of France. The empire was split among the king’s descendants and by the 13th century, Switzerland was under the rule of the Austrian Hapsburg family.
Interesting Facts about Switzerland Politics
- Switzerland is the first and the only country to have a direct democratic government where the jurisdiction is based on the administration of the people.
- Each of the 26 federal states (also known as cantons) has its own government, court, constitution, and legislature.
- The Federal Constitution was established in 1848, making the country’s constitution one of the oldest in the world.
- The main governing bodies include:
- Bicameral Parliament- in-charge of the legislative
- Federal Council- holds the executive power
- Federal Court- in-charge of the judiciary
- It was in 1291 when the Swiss Confederate was formed by the 3 cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden as an alliance against the Hapsburgs. They proclaimed the country free from the Hapsburgs family but official independence wasn’t accepted by the Holy Roman Empire until 1499.
Map of Switzerland
Switzerland on a map is bordered by France in the west, Austria in the east, Germany in the north and Italy in the south. It is quite a small country that spreads across an area of 15,940sq miles in Western Europe. It stretches about 220 miles (350 km) from west to east and 135 miles (220 km) from north to south.
The east and the west of the southern region have some of the most popular tourist destinations such as The Swiss National Park, Jet d’Eau and Chillon Castle. Switzerland’s Map marks Lake Neuchatel, Lake Geneva, and Lake Zurich as the important lakes of the country.
Have a look at the map of Switzerland to get a better idea of where you want to head towards:
Popular Cities and States of Switzerland
‘Lausanne’ is the judicial center, while ‘Bern’ is the administrative capital of Switzerland. Lausanne is also known as Olympic Capital since 1994 as the International Olympic Committee is based here.
Some of the other popular cities and states of the place include;
Zurich is the most populated city and is also known as the banking capital of the country. The population count is approx. 366,445 and you will find the best of culture, cuisine as well as shopping.
Geneva, the second most populated city is also a banking center and also has many UN agencies in the city, making it a diplomacy center as well. The place holds around 177,500 French-speaking Swiss citizens and the architectural inventory has its name in the Swiss Heritage sites.
Basel, being the third most populated city, holds somewhere around 165,000 German-speaking Swiss citizens. The city’s economy majorly revolves around banking and chemical manufacturing.
Getting Around Switzerland
Public transport in Switzerland is wide-ranging. In a nutshell,
- Traveling by train is comfortable, hassle-free and picturesque with mountain routes the main attractions of the journey. The majority of the area is served by Interregio, Regio, Intercity, suburban trains and mountain railways.
- Where there are no trains, buses cover the distance. There you will find yellow post buses to receive you from the train stations. However, buses, when compared to trains, take quite longer than trains and only run a couple of times per day. On the contrary, trains run several times per hour to and from major cities in Switzerland.
- There are lake ferries that run from April to October and cover the duplicate routes quickly than rail and at a cheaper rate.
- To get around in cities, suburbs, villages and remote places up in the mountains there are post autos. Earlier, they were in the service of transporting mails but with time they were opened to the public as well.
- The major cities even offer the facility of public bike and car sharing.
Moreover, the country is not that huge so you will not feel the need for flying, simply take the train or bus as per the distance you have to cover.
Popular Tourist Places Not to Miss in Switzerland
At this point, you must have got excited to book your flight tickets to the place and explore the country in and out. But for that, you need to know what is worth exploring and what you can skip. Have a look at the top 5 tourist places for the wanderers:
|Explore the Capital City- Bern has a wonderful and historic town centre that you will not get tired of walking around. You will also get acquainted with cobblestone streets, churches, medieval clocktowers, and unspoiled sandstone homes. Don’t forget to walk the River Aare way, explore the History Museum, the Einstein Museum, and the Bear Park.|
|Visit Zurich- Zurick Lake surrounded by the mountains is a must-visit there. It is situated closer to Bern and the historic centre opens up on the lake. You can spend the day sitting in the park on the lakefront with a beer in hand or witness the street art and museums of the city.|
|Ski the Matterhorn- Take a train or bus to the Zermatt area to visit the Matterhorn’s sharp angular peak, one of Switzerland’s most iconic attractions. Zermatt is the closest town to the mountain and cars aren’t allowed there. Not only skiing, but you can also praise the clean and pollution-free city. Come hike the mountain during the summers for the best experience.|
|Relax at the Swiss Riviera- In Lavaux, you will find the mesmerizing view of the ‘Swiss Riviera’ that goes along Lake Geneva. There are distinctive terraced vineyards all around the late. Apart from this, the 12th-century castle Château de Chillon built on the water adds to the beauty of the place and the town of Montreux is famous for its annual jazz festival.|
|Enjoy Adventure at Interlaken- Interlaken; the outdoor capital of the country is quite touristy during peak season. If you are high on adventure, there is a lot to do such as skiing, skydiving over a Swiss glacier, water-skiing, hiking, etc. apart from this, there are so many outdoor activities available for backpackers for free.|
When to Go for Switzerland?
One of the most important questions that must be lingering in your mind is when to visit the country. It entirely depends on what you want to do.
The majority of the visitors come here during the summer seasons from May to September and if you go during August, you may get the chance to witness the Swiss National Day.
If you are there just for skiing, December to March months are for you but during this duration, resort towns get quite crowded and tickets are expensive. However, Switzerland is synonymous with Skiing, so you must never think about skipping this lifetime experience. With this, I wrap up my guide and wish you an experience that you cherish forever.
Keep Active With These Activities in Switzerland
Switzerland is the world’s best destination for skiing. It has an abundance of world-class skiing resorts with all the facilities you can ever dream of. The slopes of the high Alps Mountains and the favorable skiing weather in the winter, will not fail to satisfy any skiing connoisseur. Switzerland offers skiing adventures for all ages and for all skill levels. There are thousands of skiing teachers as well as companies that rent skiing equipment, clothes, and gear.
Switzerland has over 30 000 miles of hiking paths in the mountains and the mountains are well equipped with refuges, hotels, and restaurants. There are trains and cable cars in most high altitude regions to make walking a lot easier in the high rocky regions. Switzerland’s hiking trails are very well maintained but at the same time are pretty much untouched and they are very well marked.
Cycling is an immensely popular pastime in Switzerland. The popularity is perhaps because of the steep hills that make the ride more adventurous, although there are also lots of good cycling in the valleys. Cycling routes are very well marked and maintained. Bicycles can be hired from most train stations, the bikes are always new and in tip-top condition. For a small extra fee, the station will allow you to drop off the bike at another station.
Water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, and kite surfing are becoming more and more popular by the day. These sports can be done on most lakes, the only drawback is that there can be a distinct lack of wind during the summer months. There are many watersport companies that rent canoes, rafts, boats, and equipment.
Switzerland is blessed with a huge collection of ice skating destinations. Some of them are artificially made, but most of them are natural lakes that freeze over in the winter. Some of the places use a pool for entertainment in the summer and then they use the same pool for a ice skating rink in the winter. Ice skates and ice skating gear are available to rent at numerous stores.