Right in the middle of Europe, but not part of the European Union, Switzerland is a mix of chocolate box prettiness and cutting edge design, Latin joie de vivre and Germanic precision. Set against a backdrop of 4000m high peaks, untamed glaciers and gorgeous lakes, the Swiss have it good... maybe that's why visitors keep coming back again and again!
Switzerland varies from canton to canton, language to language. The regions are given a great deal of autonomy, which reflects the different cultures that co-exist within such a small place. It’s little wonder Swiss Democracy is seen as the archetype and has been copied – with varying degrees of success – around the world. There’s something in the Swiss temperament that encourages balance and harmony.
In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, one-time bankers’ playground of Zurich has become one of Europe’s hippest destinations. The Zurich Street Parade in August has now overtaken the Notting Hill Carnival as Europe’s largest street party, while the local art scene thrives. Basel too has strong ties to the art world and hosts the world’s leading art fair each year.
In the Francophone west, the cosmopolitan vibrancy of Geneva and Lausanne are a short but spectacular train journey from the gentle beauty of Montreux. All three sit on the spectacular shore of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman to the locals) where you can enjoy a huge range of sports in the summer or just enjoy the gorgeous blues, greys and purples year-round. The Montreux Jazz Festival in July brings world-famous acts to perform by the lakeside and is a high point in the busy cultural calendar.
If you head in the other direction, up into the mountains, you will find some of the world’s finest skiing resorts with a season that often continues after most of Europe’s resorts have shut up shop, due to the altitude. Take the time to get to know Switzerland... you won’t be disappointed.