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The AFAR Guide to Switzerland

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The Swiss Confederation provides travelers some of the most dramatic geographical contrasts in the world, and a wealth of ethnic and cultural diversity. Among the mountains, valleys, and lakes of Switzerland you will find three main cultural and linguistic traditions: German, French, and Italian—as well as the Romansch-speaking regions often included with the Italian sphere of influence. The Swiss enjoy a quality of life that is rated among the highest in the world.
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Lucerne, Switzerland
Throughout Luzern, so many of the buildings have crazy, wild paintings all over them. Loving it! Wish more buildings in Brisbane were like this!
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Via dal Dazzi 233, 7560 Martina GR, Switzerland
Made since 2004 in a microbrewery in Tschlin, the organic Biera Engiadinaisa takes its flavors from barley grownin the surrounding fields. Demand is starting to exceed supply, and it’s no wonder: Served in area hotels and bars, BE lager has a...
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Hérémence, Switzerland
High in the Alps, at 2365m/7759ft above sea level, at the head of the Dixence Valley, stands the Grande Dixence Dam. 285m/935ft tall, it's the highest dam in Europe and the largest of its kind in the world; by volume, it's larger than the Great...
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Münsterhof 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
This small, elegant church near Paradeplatz has been around since 853, but it wasn’t until 1970 when it received its crowning touch: five glorious stained glass windows created by Marc Chagall when he was in his 80s. Also not to be missed: Augusto...
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Münsterbrücke, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
I love the bicycle, and cycling is an activity I try to do in every single place that I visit. There is nothing like exploring a city on a bike, although in some places this can be a challenge. Zurich, Switzerland, has made it incredibly easy to...
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Bern, Switzerland
While touring Bern I stumbled upon the KindliFresser, or "Child Eater", Fountain right in the middle of busy Kornhausplatz. Bern is famous for it's many 16th century fountains, but I hadn't been prepared for one this creepy. The villain is eating...
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Gruyères, Switzerland
Could there be a more glorious setting for a cheese's origin? These pastures surrounding a hilltop village (Gruyères) crowned with a castle (the Château de Gruyères), happy Swiss cows grazing with views of the Alps all around,...
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3920 Zermatt, Switzerland
Just as Rome has the Colosseum and Paris the Eiffel Tower, so Switzerland has the Matterhorn. Located above Zermatt, this 48,195-foot wonder attracts hordes of visitors, eager to see the morning sunlight beam off its four faces, ski its...
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Bahnhofpl. 6, 3920 Zermatt, Switzerland
After 20 minutes on a series of gondolas, we arrived at the top of Rothorn peak and walked over to our take off point. My friend, Hera, turned to her guide and said, "Uhhh, I didn't realize I would have to run off of a cliff!" "It's more like...
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9050 Appenzell District, Switzerland
Hiking from Appenzell to Wasserauen, the trail took me through parks, villages, and right through the farmlands of the locals. The day of my hike was overcast and foggy, but when we passed this cluster of farms the sun came out and lit up the...
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Neuchâtel, Switzerland
"Un autre enfant, une autre fenêtre!--Another kid, another window!" Check out the second floor of this Renaissance building. Local legend in Neuchâtel says that when construction on this house began, the architect had six children. As the work...
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1854 Leysin, Switzerland
Looking for a great little ski town in the Swiss Alps? Head to Leysin, located in the Bernese Alps. Take a cogwheel train 1600 meters up from Aigle, and you are there. You can walk everywhere in the town, from the hotel to the chair lift to the...
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Southern Europe
A day trip to Lake Como from Milan is easy and worthwhile. Although we did not find George Clooney's villa, we did find the lake-side towns of Menaggio and Verenna to be charming. With no prior planning we took a thirty minute train ride from...
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23900 Lecco, Province of Lecco, Italy
The place where Italians go to vacation. Simple as that. I've been fortunate enough to travel to Europe many times and often to the charming must-go-to destinations. But those who have been there before know that some, most, of the best parts of...
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Gandria, 6978 Lugano, Switzerland
Behold Gandria! When my Airbnb host first suggested I visit Gandria I was a little unsure, mostly because of it's name. But boy was she right, this little village navigable exclusively by foot was so picturesque and quiet. Situated on a hill just...
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Via Enrico Caronti, 69, 22020 Blevio CO, Italy
I sip a glass of prosecco on my rooftop terrace with a book by my side, but nothing can divert my attention from the sunset view of Lake Como and the mountains beyond. Opera music drifts from my neighbor’s suite, which is fitting, given the...
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Lugano, Switzerland
Lugano, Switzerland is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. With the Mediterranean climate of the Ticino region and the Swiss-Italian culture, Lugano is not your average stadt der Schweiz. Palm trees sway and colorful flowers...
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Via Regina, 40, 22012 Cernobbio CO, Italy
The 152-room Villa d’Este resides about an hour north of Milan in the quiet surrounds of Lake Como. The 16th century palatial estate has 25 acres of manicured Italian gardens, and it’s been a favorite escape for Hollywood types (Alfred Hitchcock...
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Bellinzona, Switzerland

Most people rush through Bellinzona, never giving it much thought.  What a shame to miss one of the 3 Castles that have been an UNESCO World Heritage Site for the past decade. 

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6633 Lavertezzo, Switzerland
It is the 60th birthday of a Swiss native and this is where she wants to go. A place where water can be drunk straight from the stream. A place where her family came every summer, to a small cottage across the double arched bridge, to live the...
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Domaine de Rochegrise, Route du Col de la Croix, 1884 Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland
A sleek, bustling hotel in the Vaud Alps, Chalet RoyAlp also honors traditional Swiss architecture with its fir walls and intricately carved balconies. The mountain railway adjacent to the chalet offers easy access to the slopes. Chalet RoyAlp...
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3920 Zermatt, Switzerland
The five-star Riffelalp Resort, which opened in 1884 and subsequently became a playground for the rich and famous, enjoys an enviable location in the heart of Switzerland’s Gornergrat skiing and hiking district. The setting borders a stone...
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Sachseln, Switzerland
A deep valley in eastern Switzerland, the Lower Engadine region is a lesser-known alternative to themore developed Upper Engadine (think St. Moritz). Full of remote villages that sit along a gorge carved by the Inn River, the area draws hikers to...
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Piz Gloria, 3825 Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
From the Lauterbrunnen Valley south of Interlaken, you can take a series of cable cars up to the peak of the Schilthorn, across from the Jungfrau massif in the Bernese Alps. Silent, effortless, costly, and worth every Swiss Franc, you float up...
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Lucerne, Switzerland
by Alonda De La Parra A true 21st-century concert hall, the KKL was designed by Jean Nouvel, and it is architecturally breathtaking. It has an incredible system for adjusting the acoustics, so the sound is amazing.kkl-luzern.ch This appeared in...
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3718 Kandersteg, Switzerland
Stop for coffee at the Berghotel Schwarenbach. This isolated hotel is located on the Gemmipass hiking trail between Kandersteg and Leukerbad, Switzerland. Late August...a good time to hike through these alpine mountains.
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Last summer, Tim and Kathy Turner took a break from the Mont Blanc hiking circuit for a night at Refuge des Mottets, a French backcountry lodge decorated with cowbells and old iron cookware. The Turners, from the United States, were the only...
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Gimmelwald, 3826 Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Gimmelwald is a tiny farm community in the mountains above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Hiking from here begins on nearly vertical trails along grassy pastureland. I've never hiked in a more beautiful place than this, where the view across the narrow...
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Gornergrat, 3920 Zermatt, Switzerland
A trip up to the Gornergrat provides the best view of the Matterhorn without ripping a huge hole in your wallet. For less than 10 Francs, we were able to ride the lift up to Gornergrat and see one of the most spectacular views. At the top there is...
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Denkmalstrasse 4, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland
I was forewarned that this monument to the slain Swiss soldiers killed in France was deeply moving, and that Mark Twain had called it "the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world." I still wasn't prepared for how heartwrenching it was....
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3920 Zermatt, Switzerland
This champagne bar looks like a mirage as you're coming down the last stretch of the narrow Sunnega run back into Zermatt. A classic après-ski spot, it’s where the local instructors gather at day’s end. The Cuban-born bartender...
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3920 Zermatt, Switzerland
Named among the best mountain restaurants in the world by The Telegraph, Chez Vrony sits on Rothorn Mountain, a short ski down from the Sunnegga Express in the hamlet of Findeln. Housed in a rustic-chic Swiss chalet, it’s been in operation...