What do you think of when you imagine Switzerland? I picture a sea of blues. Deep royal blue, pale cerulean, and aquamarine, layered like the mountains and the ocean. Switzerland is a beautiful country, with a lot of relaxing and gorgeous places to explore. Here are my top ten tips to get the most out of your trip.
1) Visit in the summer.
When I visited Switzerland, it was the end of May, and I had to wear a coat much of the time. I personally would have preferred the weather to be a bit warmer. Maybe check out the country during the summer if you also tend to be chilly. Unless, of course, you're there to hit the slopes.
2) Be sure to visit Lac Leman.
Lac Leman, also known as Lake Geneva, is one of the loveliest bodies of water I've ever seen. At points deep blue and others bright green, the lake is a gorgeous accent to the periwinkle mountains and rolling hillsides.
3) Hit up Gruyeres.
Home of the similarly-named cheese, Gruyeres is an adorable medieval town which contains, among other things, La Maison du Gruyere, a museum all about cheese. What's not to love?
4) Parlay with Parliament.
Go to Bern if you can. In addition to the Bern bears, you will also find the Swiss House of Parliament here in the nation's capital city. You should take a tour of the parliament building, which is impressive both architecturally and historically. Our tour guide was also extremely informative and kept the tour very interactive.
5) See the Jet D'eau.
A tremendous fountain that pumps 500 liters of water per second 140 meters in the air, the Jet D'eau is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Geneva, and for good reason. It's beautiful to behold, especially on a sunny day when it catches the light. Perfection.
6) Go to the Jungfraujoch Ice Caves.
For an experience unlike anything you can imagine, plan a visit to this fantastic ice cave while in Switzerland. Here, you can stroll through a veritable ice palace and see many impressive sculptures. Be careful in warmer weather, as the floors may be slippery.
7) Rent a car.
Rent a car and drive through the Swiss countryside. Everywhere you look are sprawling gardens, mountainscapes, and lakes. It's absolutely breathtaking. This is not a trip to rush about and check landmarks off a list. Take time to savor every moment.
8) Leave Switzerland.
This is sort of cheating, but while you're in Switzerland, you should take a ferry across Lac Leman and visit Yvoire, a medieval French town. Yvoire is known as one of the most beautiful villages in France, and for good reason. Small shops, adorable cafes, and a lakeside fortification are made all the more quaint by the village's no-vehicles policy. This is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.
Switzerland has an amazing mix of cultures, and its food reflects that. Try as many foods as possible during your trip (perhaps skip meringues, however--ew). French food? Check. German food? Check. Swiss food? Check check check.
Along the same lines, Swiss is a melting pot (no fondue pun intended) of languages. Here, you'll hear French, English, German, and Swiss German, largely, and a smattering of other languages here and there. Sit back at a cafe and just take it all in.
And there you have it! Switzerland is less of a "must-see" country than a "must-experience" one. And I hope you are able to experience it all! Happy Travel Tuesday!