Hoping to visit Switzerland, but not sure on where to start your trip of this beautiful country? Read on to discover four must-visit places that should be included on your itinerary when visiting the country of chocolate, watch making and cheese.
It might not be one of the largest or most well known lakes in Switzerland, but it certainly is one of the most beautiful, particularly due to the bright blue water. Just look at it!
Lake Brienz is one of the two lakes divided by the town of Interlaken, where you can catch a boat to the other end of the lake to – funnily enough – the town of Brienz. As you’d expect from a country well known for it’s organisation and timekeeping, all public transport systems are interlinked, so it’s only a short wait after getting off the train at Interlaken to catch the boat, which is just a short walk from the station.
It’s not just any boat either. One of the two ships that criss-crosses the lake is an old-timey paddle-steamer – The DS Lötschberg, originally built in 1914 and refurbished in 2001.
be sure to take a seat on one of the outside decks, as even on a cloudy day, as it was on my last visit, there’s still plenty to see. Upon arrival in Brienz, you can either explore this quaint small town, or take a train or hike to the top of the Rothorn mountain.
From Brienz, you can take the train across the Brünig pass to Luzerne, one of the most famous cities in Switzerland, thanks to Kapellbrücke, a long, medieval bridge spanning diagonally across the edge of the Reuss river where it enters Lake Luzerne. You’ll find the bridge almost immediately after leaving the station.
Architecture and history fans are served well by this city thanks to it’s long cultural and religious history, plus many historic castles, churches, towers and other buildings. Check out the Musegg Wall, part of the city ramparts built in 1386 which are still almost entirely intact, the town hall on the banks of the river, dating back to 1602, and the Hof Church from 1645. After that, why not explore the many town squares, or find a spot to eat some fondue?
Thanks to the location, Luzerne is also a great base to explore the country, thanks to being the terminus for the alpine narrow gauge railway and mainline trains. Seriously, train travel is one of the best ways to go due how well interconnected the transport system is. Just be aware of the cost – it is unfortunately also notoriously expensive.
Berne – not Zurich, as some believe – is the capital of Switzerland, and a must visit because it’s quite unlike many other capital cities in Europe. With a city centre population of 142,000, it’s Switzerland’s fourth largest city, but also very small for a national capital.
One of the reasons why the city centre is so small is it’s still largely medieval, and has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site as a result. The city is surrounded by the Aare river, creating a natural fortification. Inside the historic old town in the centre, you’ll find 6 kilometers of covered medieval shopping arcades, serving as protection from the snow in winter, allowing you to window shop in comfort.
On the other side of the river you’ll find the Bärengraben or bear pit, where bears have been kept since the 16th century, and lend their name to the city. Four bears are still kept in a giant open air enclosure on the banks of the river nearby, with plenty of viewing platforms for visitors.
The Eggishorn Mountain
A visit to Switzerland is incomplete without a climb to the summit of at least one of the mountains in the alps. Yes, there’s plenty of famous mountain summits to visit, however they tend to be very expensive if you’d rather take the cable car to the top.
The Eggishorn may not be one of the most famous mountains, but thanks to this, the price to take the cable car up is around half that of other, more widely known mountains. Plus, thanks to it’s location in the centre of the Swiss Alps, you can get magnificent, 360 degree views of some of the other most well known mountains – great for photographers!
But one of the best reasons to climb the Eggishorn is to see the Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps. Seriously, the scale of this thing is impressive! At the summit you’ll find a few hiking routes too so you can explore the glacier further, but remember your winter coat – it’s cold up there!
Have a read of Travel Pocket Guide’s other places to add to your European bucket list.