PASSPORT

A SWISS ODYSSEY

Six reasons to visit Switzerland for your next holiday

JESSICA HALL

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Already dreaming of your next trip – whenever that might be? Switzerland may be known to many as the land of chocolate and cheese, but the country has so much more to offer travelers. From nature to culture to wellness, here are six excellent reasons why you should be planning.

Nature

Picture Switzerland, and what likely comes to mind are scenes of snow-capped mountains, glassy lakes, and verdant forests. Indeed, the country is renowned for its ample natural charms, which lend themselves well to all types of holidays – whether you’re looking for a relaxing trip or a high-octane expedition. Enjoy a week skiing and snowboarding in the Alps, spend a day hiking the dizzying heights of the Hardergrat ridge trail, or while away a lazy afternoon paddle boating on Lake Lucerne. Whatever you choose, you’ll get to enjoy magnificent views straight out of a postcard.

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Food

 

Swiss cuisine draws influences from neighboring countries Germany, France, and Italy – and the result is nothing short of delectable. One of the country’s most iconic dishes is cheese fondue, which is eaten by dipping bread cubes into a pot of blended mountain-style cheeses. Other traditional favorites include rosti, which comprises grated potatoes pan-fried until golden, and bircher muesli, a clod breakfast dish of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and fruits. And, of course, it’s a must to sample a bar or three of the country’s legendary chocolate – be it from big-name brands like Lindt and Läderach or one of the many artisanal chocolatiers across the country.

Culture

 

Like its cuisine, Switzerland’s cultural fabric is highly multi-faceted. For instance, there are not one but four national languages – German, French, Italian, and Romansh – which are spoken in different parts of the country. Also, the local customs and traditions practiced in the Alps are vastly different from those in the Jura or the Central Plateau. These regional nuances are reflected in the country’s diverse vernacular architecture, ranging from tone-byredwellings to half-timbered houses to wooden chalets. Wherever you are in Switzerland, there’s always something new to discover.

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Wellness

 

In Switzerland, you might find yourself landing in hot water – quite literally. The country has a long spa tradition that dates back to several centuries. Today, it is home to numerous thermal resorts, where you can immerse yourself in mineral-rich waters lauded for their curative properties. From the hot springs of Baden to the pampering hammams in Zurich, you’ll find plenty of places to relax and unwind after a long day of sightseeing

Infrastructure

 

With a comprehensive public transport network spanning over 29,000km, getting around in Switzerland is a breeze. Rail is the quickest and most convenient mode of transport, especially between major cities; major train routes, such as the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz, also offer some exceptionally spectacular views. Alternatively, you can explore the country’s scenic waterways on a passenger ferry. Cyclists are catered for as well: biking routes and trails are plentiful, be it within city centers or up in the Alps. Here, the journey matters just as much as the destination.

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Hospitality

 

Ultimately, it’s the little interactions with the locals – the chatty barista, the friendly waiter, the thoughtful concierge – that will set the tone for your holiday. Switzerland is known for its world-class hospitality and has been taking outstanding care of its visitors for the last two centuries. Service staff across the country are trained to the highest standards, and they are often well-versed in various languages and cultures. Whether you’re in Zurich or Zermatt, Lucerne or Lugano, you’re sure to find a friendly face and a helping hand.

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