Switzerland is characterised by three large landscape areas: The Alps, which spread like a wide arc through the country and occupy a large part of the surface; the hills of Jura, ranging from Geneva to the regions of Basel and Zurich; and the hilly midland in between, which stretches from Lake Constance to Lake Geneva. All three regions offer countless known and unknown pearls of nature.
Landscapes like Jura, Engadine, Goms, Appenzell, Ticino, the Lake Geneva region and many others contribute to the dazzling natural scenery of Switzerland. Matterhorn and Dufourspitze (the highest peak in Switzerland with an elevation of 4,634 m) are the most famous alpine peaks in Valais. The big three mountains of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau are the famous peaks in the Bernese Alps while Piz Bernina is the highest peak in the Grison Alps with Biancograt and Piz Palü not too far away.
A unequalled natural spectacle is the Great Aletsch Glacier, which is a part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area, the UNESCO world heritage site of the Swiss Alps, followed by the Rhine Falls, which are located near Schaffhausen and are the largest waterfall in Europe.
Other attractions of nature include the 16 metre Elmer Martinsloch in the Tschingelhörner, through which the sun shines twice every year to create a breath-taking natural spectacle, the Aare Gorge and the Creux du Van, a huge natural rocky arena with vertical rock walls.
Countless lakes in the midland and heavenly mountain lakes, many rivers, streams and waterfalls make Switzerland extra magical: the lakes in the Upper Engadine and Lac de Joux in western Switzerland as well as the Blausee in Riederalp and the Giessbach Falls on Lake Brienz. In the land of the Prealps and Alps, in the land that is a transport hub located on the trade, communication and army routes from north to south, there are numerous pass crossings and large passes, which can be overcome only by one's own muscle strength and have blossomed into attractive touring highlights in the times of outdoor sports.
The finest cultural delicacies
The cities of Switzerland are as diverse as its landscape spaces. Characterised by a changing history and by regional and cultural characteristics, customs and traditions, the quadrilingual country offers a fascinating kaleidoscope of towns and villages that are worth visiting.
Stein on Rhine and Schaffhausen, St. Gallen and Zurich, Basel and Bern, Aarau and Solothurn, Bremgarten and Aarberg, Liestal and Porrentruy, Fribourg and Gruyère, Murten and Sion, Brig and Lucerne, Lugano and Chur - the list of places with beautiful historic city centres is endless.
The picturesque villages across Switzerland, such as Guarda in the Lower Engadine, Soglio in Bergell, Gandria and Morcote in Ticino, Grimentz and Evolène in Valais are as beguiling. Fortresses, castles and ruins sit enthroned, lofty and defiant, on rocks and hills, moated castles such as the Chillon Castle and the Hallwyl Castle are idyllically located on the lake.
The most popular cultural attractions in Switzerland include the covered Kapellbrücke in Lucerne; the fortresses, city walls and defensive walls in Bellinzona, Munot in Schaffhausen, the Abbey Library in St. Gallen, the Basel cathedral, the Fraumünster church in Zurich with its Chagall windows, the Stockalper Palace in Brig and the Landwasser Viaduct of the Rhaetian Railway.
Tourist facilities that are worth visiting can be found throughout the country, from the Swissminiatur in Ticino to the Klangweg and Witzweg (sound and joke trails) in eastern Switzerland, the Roman town of Augusta Raurica in north-western Switzerland and the Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum in the Bernese Oberland. And finally, the customs and traditions attract many locals and tourists alike: the carnival in Lucerne and Basel, the Chienbese in Liestal, Sechseläuten in Zurich, the Peitschenknallen in Schwyz or the Tschäggette in Lötschental.
Much more than just cheese
Every region of Switzerland has traditional regional dishes to offer, many of which are well-known and popular across cantons and even beyond the country's borders. For example, fondue and raclette, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes and Älplermagronen, Rösti and Bratwurst, Pizzoccheri and polenta, Zuger Kirschtorte (cherry cake from Zug), Biber of Appenzell, Läckerli of Basel, Aargauer Rüeblitorte (carrot cake from Aargau) and the Gâteau du Vully from Romandy. Pizokels, Maluns and Ribel sound like magic words and they all taste fantastic. Not to forget the apple juice from Mostindien, eastern Switzerland.
And finally, Switzerland is known for its wine regions, from eastern Switzerland to the Zürcher Weinland (Zurich’s wine land), Bündner Herrschaft, Ticino and Valais, to the UNESCO world heritage site on Lake Geneva, the terraced vineyards of La Lavaux.