SWITZERLAND – HOW TO EXPLORE – SAPPHIRE TRAVELS

SWITZERLAND – A COUNTRY whose very name conjures images of the glacier-carved Alps beloved of writers, artists, photographers, and outdoor sports enthusiasts from around the world. A landlocked country of towering mountains, deep Alpine lakes, grassy valleys dotted with neat farms and small villages, and thriving cities that blend the old and the new, Switzerland is the nexus of the diverse physical and cultural geography of western Europe, renowned for both its natural beauty and its way of life. 

SWISS CITIES

1. ZURICH – A metropolis of experiences, with over 50 museums and more than 100 art galleries, and the most flamboyant and lively nightlife in Switzerland. Zurich boasts the highest density of clubs in Switzerland – here, you can never turn up too late. From a house music party in the legendary Kaufleuten to Greatest Hits from the Eighties at the oldest club in the city, the Mascotte, to a gay event at the Labor Bar – parties really get going after 11.00 pm and continue into the wee hours of the morning. Here, there are no official closing times. In summer, nightlife can be found not only in the clubs, but also outside in the open air; the venues where visitors bathe and relax during the day are ideal places to flirt and dance at night.

Recreational activities range from a visit to the riverside and lakeside bathing areas in the very heart of the city, to a spectacular hike on the Uetliberg mountain.

TIP: Pre book a SWISS RAIL PASS for travelling to and within SWITZERLAND. The pass varies from number of days to usage and can be booked a a multi country pass in Europe as well. Talking specifically about SWITZERLAND, the type of pass you book will let you use thier public transport services at your convenience. One pass gives you access to all modes of public transport.

The SWISS RAIL PASS, needs to be validated at the first point of entry into Switzerland. It could either ZURICH or GENEVA or any other airport you land at. Please check with us for more details.

2. LUCERNE – The gateway to central Switzerland, sited on Lake Lucerne, is embedded within an impressive mountainous panorama. Thanks to its attractions, its souvenir and watch shops, the beautiful lakeside setting and the nearby excursion mountains of the Rigi, Pilatus and Stanserhorn, the town is a destination for many travel groups and individuals on their journey through central Switzerland.

Luzern is ideally placed for day trips to most parts of Switzerland to get the most out of your Swiss Pass.
We suggest the following:

Trips around Lucerne – A trip up one of Lucerne’s regional mountains, the Pilatus or the Rigi(excursion mountains made accessible by cableways, offering up picture-book panoramas of the regions around Lucerne) – the queen of mountains – is a must. Your 5.5-hour round-trip journey includes a 30-minute panoramic gondola ride from Kriens to Fräkmüntegg terminus plus an ascent by aerial cableway to the peak of Mt. Pilatus.

Mount Pilatus

But excursions up onto the Stanserhorn, the Bürgenstock or a steamship cruise on Lake Lucerne(the scenic beauty of the lake can be discovered on the many different cruises offered by paddlewheel steamers and motor vessels) with its many bends and arms are certainly no less worthy. The lake Lucerne cruise can be done from city itself, its as easy as boarding a bus and if pre-paid with the SWISS PASS we book(please check at the time of booking), you can do an intercity cruise between Interlaken to Lucerne or vice-versa.

Mt. Titlis – Ride an aerial cableway from the Alpine village of Engelberg to the summit of Mt Titlis on this afternoon tour from Lucerne. Then squeeze in as many snow-themed attractions as you can during your time at the top.

A day trip to Lugano over the famous Gotthard line – One of Switzerland’s prettiest cities.  Lugano boasts a pedestrian-only downtown core, filled with piazzas and cafes, and a beautiful palm-tree lined lakefront. It’s great for shopping, people-watching, swimming in the lake and short excursions to nearby sights.

For a 1 or 2 day trip to Lugano, we’d recommedn that you stick to town, checking out the cafes and shops, walking along the lake, and perhaps either a trip to Gandria by boat or to Bre by funicular train. If you have a car and a bit more time, Varenna on Lake Como is very nice, as is the Val Verzasca trip.

Foxtown – the largest factory outlet shopping mall in Switzerland for all highend & luxury fashion brands like FENDI, DIOR, FERRARI,SALVATORE FERRAGAMO, GUCCI etc….Head here and grab unbelievable bargains.

Bern – A UNESCO World Heritage city, and the medieval capital of Switzerland. With pretty, red-roofed buildings and cobbled streets, Bern is considered by many to be Switzerland’s most attractive city.

Its best you chose what suits you. We would recommed atleast 2 nights in LUCERNE which would ensure that you cover most of the attractions while enjoying the city by itself.

Other places of interest from LUCERNE :

The Voralpen Express, Luzern to St Gallen.

Take the Gotthard line as far as Goschenen and then the mountain railway to Andermatt then the route of the Glacier Express to Chur returning on the main line to Zurich and Luzern.

3. INTERLAKEN – Interlaken is an ideal starting point for countless excursions. Over 45 mountain railways, cable cars, chair lifts and ski lifts lead to 200 kilometers of pistes and a dense network of hiking trails. Excursion ships, including historic paddle steamers, ply the waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

The SWISS RAIL  PASS that you collected in Zurich or Geneva, entitles you to a train journey from either airports to Interlaken, served by two major stations – Interlaken OST & Interlaken West. Why the emphasis on train stations? Well a major part of your travel in Switzerland depends on public transport. So it is ideal to stay as close to these train stations. We recommend you chose hotels within walking distance from either of the two.
Trips around INTERLAKEN:

Jungfraujoch – Board a cogwheel train from Grindelwald up the Jungfraujoch pass and arrive at Europe’s highest railway station, known as the ‘Top of Europe’. Admire the Swiss Alps from the Top of Europe at 11,333 feet (3,454m)! Walk through the inside of a glacier at the Ice Palace. From the Sphinx Observation Terrace, scour the horizon for the Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in Europe, and see if you can spot neighboring countries like France and Germany.

Matterhorn – the King of Mountains, is the most-photographed mountain in the world. Thanks to its shape and its free-standing position, the Matterhorn is considered to be the epitome of a mountain. There is no better-known mountain in the world whose natural shape is so close to a pyramid. 100 million years ago, enormous forces brought Africa closer to Europe. 50 million years later, as the rock masses folded and deformed, the Matterhorn was born from the rock thrusting upwards.

Matterhorn

Zermatt The location of Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn and in the middle of an enormous hiking and ski region makes it one of the world’s most attractive vacation villages.

Zermatt
Zermatt

The town’s touristic development is closely linked to what is most probably the world’s most famous mountain. The vacation destination is a car-free zone, has preserved its original character and offers nearly unlimited possibilities as far as excursions are concerned.

Glacier 3000 Imagine a pristine alpine haven where you can ski, hike, snowboard and go on dogsled rides through some of the most scenic outlooks in the world. The world’s highest toboggan run is waiting to whisk you through one glacier vista after another at speeds of up to 25 mph. Witness 24 snow-capped mountain giants including Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau, the Matterhorn, Grand Combin and even Mont Blanc. Walk between two peaks on a beautifully engineered suspension footbridge that leads to a summit station with a restaurant where you pinch yourself to make sure it’s all real.

St. Beatus Caves – one kilometre of lit limestone caves with stalagmites, impressive halls and waterfalls accessible by boat, car, bus or on foot on the historic pilgrims way.

Thun – This beautiful town which is about 30 minutes from Interlaken has a picturesque setting on Lake Thun. There is plenty to visit here including a picturesque castle and a medieval centre as well as having some splendid views of the Bernese Alps.

Other places of interest from INTERLAKEN:

  1. Neuhaus
  2. Beatenberg-Niederhorn
  3. Spiez
  4. Thun
  5. Habkern-Lombachalp
  6. Brienz
  7. Schynige Platte

We would recommed atleast 3-4 nights in INTERLAKEN which would ensure that you cover most of the attractions while enjoying the city by itself.

4. GENEVA is one of the greenest cities in Europe: 20% of the country is covered in green areas. It is often called the “city of parks”. These green areas, in fact, contribute greatly to the quality of life of its inhabitants.

The symbol of the “world’s smallest metropolis” is the “Jet d’eau” – a fountain with a 140-metre-high water jet at the periphery of Lake Geneva. Most of the large hotels and many restaurants are situated on the right-hand shore of the lake. The old town, the heart of Geneva with the shopping and business quarter, holds sway over the left-hand shore. It is dominated by St. Peter’s Cathedral, however the actual centre of the old town is the Place du Bourg-de-Four, which is the oldest square in the city. Quays, lakeside promenades, countless parks, lively side streets in the old town and elegant shops invite guests to stroll. One of the best-maintained streets is the Grand-Rue.

Jet d’eau

A rewarding excursion destination is Mont Salève, which is situated in neighboring France. The cableway lifts visitors to an altitude of 1100 metres in less than five minutes, giving rise to outstanding vistas across the city of Geneva, Lake Geneva, the chain of Alps, the Jura and Montblanc.

Use Geneva as your entry/exit point into SWITZERLAND. Depending on where you come from, both Geneva and Zurich are accessible by AIR, RAIL and ROAD. Once you enter one of these cities, the rest of the travel is best done through public transport. Do not look to book airport or city transfers are they will dig deep holes in your pockets. The ideal thing to do is to ensure that your hotels are located at convenient walking distances from major train stations or bahnhofs.

There is much to explore in this majestic country of the Apls, mountains and lakes and most of it is done through the Swiss Rail. Be sure to carry a good pair of sports shoes as you will need to make full use of the same.

Check out our link on Scenic Train Journeys in Switzerland for more Information.

We are always happy to help plan your holidays, just call us on 09999065555 or visit us on www.sapphiretravels.com

 

 

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