Despite being smaller than its neighbours, Switzerland is home to some of the world’s most majestic lakes, quaint villages, and of course the iconic snow-capped Alps. There is an almost unending bucket list of things to do, places to see, and activities to try in this country. However, no matter what you’re travelling here for, make sure you get to experience these five places during your trip.
Lucerne and the Kapellebrucke
Better known as the Chapel Bridge, the Kappellebrucke in Lucerne is one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Switzerland. It gives the city of Lucerne a genuinely medieval flair and is one of the oldest wooden footbridges in Europe. It spans the River Reuss right in the centre of Lucerne and doubles as both an art gallery and history museum. With a display of paintings dating back to the 17th century all along the roof of its interior, your neck will be sore by the time you have crossed the river. But, it’s certainly worth it.
Of course, Lucerne itself is also a destination of choice in Switzerland, sitting on Lake Lucerne and flanked by some seriously scenic mountains. While you are there, the opportunity for a cultural immersion in the Old Town or an excursion on Lake Lucerne or to nearby mountains cannot be missed.
A Train Trip Up To The Jungfraujoch
Jungfraujoch is aptly nicknamed the “Top of Europe” as it is the highest train station on the continent. At 3,454 meters (11332ft), this mountain pass connects the Jungfrau and Monch peaks right above the picturesque town of Grindelwald. Another reason to pop in here.
The train trip to the station is the heart of this top-notch Swiss experience. All trains to the Jungfraujoch depart from Kleine Scheidegg, a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 meters. Impressive to begin with. From there, the train carves its way through the Eiger mountain, with only a window or two to shine daylight in until you exit on the other side.
And when you reach the top, there are a whole swath of activities you can indulge in at the Jungfraujoch itself. Most involve snow (which is there year-round), but there is also an ice palace carved into the mountain, as well as a clear view of the impressive Aletsch glacier, the longest in Europe at 23km (or 14 miles).
Zermatt and Matterhorn
Zermatt is an idyllic mountain town located at the foot of the Matterhorn, one of the world’s most famous and stunningly beautiful mountains. The town sits at an elevation of 1,600 meters and lies in the middle of a huge ski region with 54 mountain railways and 360 km of pistes that also juts into Italy.
Other than location, the popularity of this town for snow sports is due to the meticulously groomed pistes for both beginner and expert skiers and snowboarders. Visitors can also hike and bike on the almost never-ending trails, or if you have the skills, climb the Matterhorn. Less adventurous types also have a choice of luxury hotels, spas, and shops to keep them entertained.
The Glacier Express Train Trip
The Glacier Express train trip covers a distance of 290 kilometres (180 miles) between Zermatt and St. Moritz. While it may actually be the slowest “express” train in Europe, running at just 24 mph, the breathtaking scenery you pass along the way makes the long and lazy trip worth it. The train is also equipped with panoramic sightseeing windows to give you an unobstructed view of all the jaw-dropping mountains you pass. Throughout the journey, the train passes through narrow valleys, tight curves, including 91 tunnels and 291 bridges. This really is a one of a kind train ride!
The whole trip, going in one direction, can last up to 7 ½ hours. So, it will certainly keep you busy for the entire day.
The Swiss National Park
Founded in 1914, the Swiss National Park is Switzerland’s only national park and Europe’s oldest. This highly protected park covers 172.3 square kilometres of land with 80 kilometres of hiking trails and is home to hundreds of local species of foliage and wildlife. The Swiss National Park is also quite accessible via public transport via the public transport including the local Rätische Bahn (RhB) railway. And, if you want to drive your way down here, that is possible too!
Because this is a national park, keep in mind that there are only two types of activities allowed here: hiking and observing flora and fauna. Camping is not allowed inside the park, but guests who wish to stay the night can choose between the rustic Chamanna Cluozza or the more modern Hotel Parc Naziunal Il Fuorn.
It can be tough to narrow down your itinerary when passing through Switzerland, and I certainly understand that not everyone is lucky enough to spend a month in this glorious country. If you plan carefully, you may just be able to squeeze in these experiences, and maybe even a few more!