Switzerland is simply a beautiful place. Lofty alpine landscapes set above spectacular lakes compete for your attention with charming towns, villages and cities. The people also have a reputation for being amongst the politest and most cultured in Europe. Switzerland is all of this and more. Switzerland is a country of such breathtaking beauty that once you have visited it will stay in your memory for ever.
Switzerland is a mix of German, French and Italian cultures which have taken on its own strong national identity. Locals take pride in their beautiful environment, well ordered tidiness and reputation for efficiency and punctuality, including trains and other forms of transport which run effortlessly on time.
English is widely spoken but German is the main language followed by French, Italian and Romany. German, a dialect known as Schwyzertütsch, is spoken by about 66 per cent of the population.
Switzerland has attracted foreign artists and writers for many generations including Lord Byron, James Joyce, Charlie Chaplin and Lee Scratch Perry.
If you get tired of the numerous outdoor activities like skiing, hiking and sailing, or the charm, beauty and sophistication of Swiss towns and cities tempt yourself with some delicious Swiss food. The tasty assortments on display include high quality chocolates and cheeses.
Visitors need clothing suitable for a range of temperatures. It's easy to be sunning yourself in the lowlands and within an hour or two be walking in snow in the high country. Switzerland's mountains also create different regional microclimates. Ticino in the south is hot while the majority of Switzerland has a central European climate - summer temperatures around 15C and just above freezing in winter - but with much colder temperatures on the peaks. There is permanent snow cover above 9842ft. Most visitors find summer time the best time of year for outdoor pursuits, including hiking. Skiing is obviously mainly a winter activity.
Visit the Einstein House in Bern where the physicist developed his theory of relativity in 1905 while working as a clerk in the patents office.
Switzerland's largest ruins by the Rhein are the last remnants of a vast Roman colony founded in 43 BC. Includes open air theatre, temples and a Roman bath house.
Over 160 square km of woodland and mountains in eastern Switzerland. Ibexes, chamois, marmots and red deer are some of the animals living wild amidst the magnificent views.
Switzerland's third-largest city on the shores of Lake Geneva. Includes a selection of superb museums and galleries.
The town of Zermatt offers perennial skiing holidays and amazing views of one of the world's greatest mountains.
Woodlands in the Jura Mountains with charming hiking and horse riding trails.
Stunning oval shaped 13th century castle set in a stunning position on Lake Geneva. Includes countless courtyards, towers and halls filled with treasures and works of art.
The world's biggest collection of Paul Klee masterpieces as well as work by artists such as Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso.
Switzerland borders Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein in the middle of western Europe. The Alps occupy the central and southern regions of the country and the Jura Mountains straddle the border with France in the north east. The Bernese Mittelland - an area of hills, rivers and winding valleys - lies between the two mountain systems and is home to Switzerland's major cities. Over 60 per cent of Switzerland is mountainous and a quarter covered in forests.
Switzerland has been a federation since 1848, a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central federal government. Switzerland has a powerful economy based around banking finance and banking. Switzerland is also known for its tradition of political and military neutrality.
Most international flights go to Zürich and Geneva and then Basel, Bern and Lugarno. Switzerland has a comprehensive integrated public transport which includes cable cars. Trains are affordable, extremely reliable and clean. A bus network exists but train travel is luxurious in comparison. You can access Switzerland via river boat trip from Amsterdam and via Germany and via Lake steamer ferries from Germany, Italy and France. Roads are well maintained and there are plenty of car hire options. Bicycle hire is only advised for the super fit.
Swiss people enjoy the highest standard of living in Europe.
Switzerland is a very safe destination. It's always best to take caution though especially in urban areas. Also go easy in the mountains. What can be described as a lower peak in Switzerland can still be colossal by most European standards. Take appropriate footwear and watch your step.
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