Switzerland is one of few countries with four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. It is a small country in central Europe, bordered by Germany, Austria, France, Italy, and Liechtenstein and each of the four different language-speaking parts of the country possesses a unique sub-culture. Switzerland is a very popular tourist destination and is well known for its world-class cheese, chocolates, watches, Swiss army-knives, snow-capped mountains, and its myriad opportunities for outdoor activities.
Switzerland’s biggest tourism-draw is its eclectic landscapes. In the north and central regions, the country is rounded out by lush grasslands and hills while thick forests blanket the southeastern part of the country. The heart of Switzerland is also crossed by vineyards along the Rhône and Rhine river valleys. The south bordering Italy is Mediterranean in climate and flowing with hills, gardens, and lakes. And traditional dairy farmlands dot throughout the regions. Perhaps most important to tourists, Switzerland is home to a treasure of mountains and lakes. These rich landscapes make the country an earthly heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. The Alps, Matterhorn, and Jura slopes are popular for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and places like Interlaken are ideal for hiking, mountaineering, hang-gliding, paragliding, skydiving, and canyoning in the summer. Lakes like Lake Geneva are great places for water-skiing, windsurfing, rafting, sailing, canoeing, rowing, scuba diving, and bathing.
Culturally, the Swiss hotspots are Geneva and Zurich. World-class museums and galleries adorn these cities. Zurich, which is consistently rated among the best cities in the world to live in, is considered the intellectual and cultural center of Switzerland whereas Geneva is a world-international meeting place, cosmopolitan in every sense of the word. Basel and Bern are also cultural towns and feature exuberant festival celebrations during Mardi Gras – a time when parades, music, dancing, and partying fill the air. Local towns are also known to embrace traditional folk customs, hosting smaller village festivals and other events. Some of the other top Swiss destinations include Lausanne, Montreux, St. Moritz, Zermatt, Davos, Laax, and Champery. Switzerland is truly one of those rare countries that seem to have something to offer every type of traveler.