Switzerland travel tips
Switzerland - travel basics
The Swiss Confederation, or Switzerland, borders on France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Liechtenstein. Switzerland can be divided into five geographical areas (the Jura, the Swiss plateau or “middle land”, the pre-Alps, the Alps and the southern side of the Alps) and with these come great climatic differences.
There are 74 mountains in Switzerland that are higher than 4,000 m (13,123 ft). 55 of these are to be found exclusively in Switzerland and 19 are on the border to Italy. The twelve highest are in the Pennine Alps and the highest, the Dufourspitze (Monte Rosa) with 4,634 m (15,203 feet), is in the Monte Rosa massif on the border to Italy. The highest mountain, which is exclusively on Swiss soil, is the Dom (4,545 m, 14,911 ft), between Zermatt and Saas Fee. The Matterhorn (4,478 m, 14,693 feet) south of Zermatt is the best-known mountain in the Swiss Alps. Amongst the best known in the Bernese Oberland are the Eiger (3,970 m, 13,042 ft), the Monch (4,107 m, 13,468 ft) and the Jungfrau (4158 m, 13,669 ft), the Piz Bernina (4049 m) and the Piz Palü (3901 m) are the most prominent points on the eastern Alps.
Switzerland: geography and climate
There are many lakes in Switzerland due in particular to glaciations during the ice age. The largest lake in Switzerland is Lake Geneva. Then comes Lake Constance, which borders on Germany and Austria and then Lake Maggiore that borders on Italy. The Neuenburgersee, Vierwaldstättersee and Lake Zurich are the largest lakes exclusively in Switzerland. Two of Europe’s big rivers, the Rhine and the Rhone, also have its sources in the Gotthard massif in Switzerland, the Aare and Reuss also flow from here.
The climate in Switzerland varies greatly due to the high altitude and the direction of the mountains. In the “middle land”, the Swiss plateau, fog is frequent particularly in the marsh and water regions. The climate in Switzerland is good for the health, especially the mountain air. The mid-European climate north of the Alps is temperate, whereas south of the Alps, the weather tends to be more Mediterranean. Temperatures in Switzerland are primarily dependent on the altitude and are about 1°C higher in the west than in the east. Winds are the mild “foehn” and the cold “bise”.
Switzerland: getting there and what to see
The largest airport in Switzerland is Zurich Airport (IATA: ZRH). Other international airports are to be found in Geneva, Euroairport Basel, Lugano-Agno, Bern-Belp and St.Gallen-Altenrhein.
The most significant theaters in Switzerland include the Schauspielhaus and the Opera house in Zurich as well as the theater in Basel, the Stadttheater Berne, and the Cabaret Voltaire. Interesting museums are the Swiss Landesmuseum (National museum), the Bern Historical Museum, and the Kunstmuseum (Art Museum) in Basel, the Kunsthaus Zurich, the Kunstmuseum Bern, Anatomical Museum in Basel, the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne, the Technorama in Winterthur und the Olympic Museum.
Berne is the capital city of Switzerland and the seat of the “Weltpostverein”. It is located in the Swiss plateau (the middle land) and its historical center is located in a meander of the River Aare. The nearest airport is several kilometres south of the city. The historical center of Berne is particularly worth a visit. It originated in the middle ages and has maintained its medieval charm until today. The historical center is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. Going for a swim is a must in the summer in Berne, not only for tourists, as entry into the open air swimming pools is free. There are many different swimming pools: the Lorrainebad (pool filled with water from the Aare, complete with fish) to the Marzilibad with its sports pool. A swim in the Aare is also to be recommended for competent swimmers. Places of interest in Berne include the Zytglogge Tower (Clock tower), the Käfigturm, Holländerturm, the city hall, the Bundeshaus and square, the Orangerie Elfenau and the Marzilibahn (the shortest cable car in Europe) is also found here. There are numerous churches in Berne, such as Berne Cathedral with its platform, the Friedenskirche, Dreifaltigkeitskirche and many others. Palaces worth a visit include the Alte and Neue Schloss Bümplitz, the Schloss Holligen and Schloss Wittigkofen. Other places of interest are the Bubenberg monument, the Erlach monument, the Weltpost monument as well as the Einsteinhaus and the Swiss literature archive.
Other cities worth visiting in Switzerland are the economic center Zurich, the international city of Geneva, the cultural city of Basel, the Olympic city of Lausanne, and Lucerne, Lugano, Montreux and Interlaken.