Since there are many long weekends coming up, I decided to inspire you with three of my favorite summer city breaks in Switzerland.
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. The ski region encompasses 54 mountain railways and lifts as well as 360 kilometers of pistes. The region called “Matterhorn glacier paradise” is Europe’s largest and highest lying summer skiing region. Numerous national ski teams train here in the summer.
The region is legendary amongst mountaineers: the Haute Route, a challenging international route that takes several days to complete, leads from Mont Blanc to Zermatt. Over 400 kilometers of hiking trails lead through and out of the Matter Valley, including the mule traders’ trails, which date back to the 13th century (a part of these paths is paved)
Summer activities: Walking, cycling, climbing and high-Alpine tours are popular activities in summer and autumn. Every year, the four-thousand-metre summits attract many Alpinists. 400 km of walking trails also guide guests who are not overly adept at climbing through the mountainscape around Zermatt.
The cog railway operates between Zermatt and the 3089-metre-high Gornergrat. The summit offers up spectacular views of the Matterhorn, the glaciers and the Monte-Rosa massif.
At 3883 metres in altitude, Europe’s highest vantage point able to be reached by cableway also offers a fascinating panoramic vista of the Matterhorn (4478 metres) and summits of the Swiss, Italian and French Alps. The glacier palace can be admired 15 metres beneath the ice surface. Six ski lifts as well as a cableway provide access to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, the highest summer ski region of the Alps on the Theodul glacier.
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, where Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born. The «mouettes», a type of water taxi, enable crossings to be made from one lakeshore to the other, while larger vessels invite visitors to enjoy cruises on Lake Geneva.
Geneva is Switzerland’s most international city, as it is where the European seat of the UNO is based. Even the International Red Cross directs its humanitarian campaigns from here. Besides being a congress city, Geneva is also a centre for culture and history, for trade fairs and exhibitions. The «Horloge Fleuri», the large flower clock in the “Jardin Anglais” (English Garden), is a world-renowned symbol of the Geneva watch industry.
Culturally, this city on the westernmost fringe of Switzerland has much to offer. International artists perform in the Grand Théâtre and Geneva Opera House, and an extremely diverse range of museums such as the “Musée international de l’horlogerie”, a watch museum with a collection of jewellery watches and musical clocks, and the International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which provides an insight into the work of these humanitarian organisations, invite city guests to visit them.
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.
Grindelwald – Bernese Oberland
Thanks to its magnificent vista and the glacier which once reached right into the basin, Grindelwald attracted its first guests – primarily the English – from the end of the 18th century onwards. The actual breakthrough of Alpinism occurred in the mid 19th century, and local mountain guides climbed the peaks of the region with English tourists. The first ascent of the Eiger, the most difficult of Alpine mountains took place in 1858 (the north face only in 1938).
Road and railway construction made Grindelwald much more accessible towards the end of the 19th century, which in turn also heralded the onset of winter tourism. The first cableway in the Alps was built here in 1908 on the Wetterhorn. And in 1912, a railway reached the Jungfraujoch via Kleine Scheidegg; today the «Top of Europe» still remains Europe’s highest railway station and a world-renowned excursion destination within permanent snow and ice.
Grindelwald: Copyright by: Switzerland Tourism – By-Line: swiss-image.ch / Signature : Markus Aebischer