The Best of Switzerland’s Natural Scenery
Switzerland seduces visitors all year round with some of the best and most astonishing natural scenery in the world. In summer, the shimmering lakes of Geneva, Zurich, and Como host an array of water activities and have numerous scenic spots to lounge around. Rising up from the blue waters are the dramatic Swiss Alps, with their snow-capped peaks penetrating the wispy clouds. In winter, Switzerland’s scenic mountains dominate the skyline—none more so than the iconic Matterhorn.
St Moritz, Switzerland
In a country full of swanky resort towns, St. Moritz takes the crown with its wide array of five-star hotels, designer stores, and award-winning restaurants. The town is also home to such exciting activities as skijoring and ice cricket, which help to keep all the celebrity visitors entertained.
With well over a thousand lakes, Switzerland is blessed with its fair share of stunning bodies of water. The most extensive, however, is Lake Geneva (also known as Lac Léman), where you can bask in seductive views and amazing sunsets. It’s practically impossible to take your eyes off the shimmering water when driving down the mountainside or gazing out a train window, especially in the upper regions of Montreaux and Vevey. Other recommended viewing points include the banks of Lausanne, where bobbing swans and crystal-clear water calm the soul, and the Château de Chillon, a castle three miles from Montreux. Of course, you could also enjoy the views from the lake itself, where steam boats, ferries, and private yachts roam freely.
Col du Pillon, Route du Pillon 253, 1865 Les Diablerets, Switzerland
The vast wilderness of Glacier 3000 continues to beguile visitors year after year. While you can ski here, most take a snow cat or dog sled across the plateau, or hike to the precipices and look down on the surrounding area. Glacier 3000 is also home to the world’s highest rollercoaster, which hurtles around corners and dips drastically, imitating the sensation of freefalling toward the ice at heart-racing speeds.
Sils im Engadin/Segl, Switzerland
“Philosophy, as I have so far understood and lived it, means living voluntarily among ice and high mountains—seeking out everything strange and questionable in existence...” Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, famously spent a long period of his life surrounded by ragged, snow-capped mountains of Sils-Maria, in the Upper Engadine region. Here, he claimed there to be “the best and mightiest” air to breathe in Europe. Indeed the region remains popular among visitors who come to see the house where Nietzsche stayed every summer from 1883-1888, and trek the very mountains with which he found such extreme isolation.
Bahnhofpl. 1, 7000 Chur, Switzerland
I didn’t even realize that the Bernina Express scenic train journey was on the UNESCO World Heritage list until I arrived at the small northern Italian town of Tirano to start the trip. There are several different routes from which travelers may chose, but that day I took a one-way trip from Tirano to the Swiss mountain town of Chur. It was the middle of winter and I was excited to see the famous snow-covered Alps in person. Images of Maria from the Sound of Music kept running through my head as the train slowly pulled out of the small station. The journey is a scenic one and the train cars have been designed to maximize the amazing views. The windows are extra large and there is more than enough room between seats to allow for even the most ardent shutterbug. Our trip took about four hours, during which time we passed through narrow valleys and swept past mountain villages that looked like they were plucked out of a model train set. The unique and stunning scenery I was lucky enough to witness proved to me why UNESCO very smartly placed this journey on their important list. Tirano is easy to reach from Milan and there are many different train routes available including trips to St. Moritz and Davos.
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 valley offers the Jungfrau, Munch, and Eiger summits in one amazing vista. If you prefer a ride, you can take the series of white-knuckle gondola trips to the summit of Schilthorn, a popular viewpoint for 360-degree views of the Alps.
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 past cliffs, villages, chalets, tinkling-bell-clad cows, and finally, up into the clouds. At the 2,970 m (9,744 ft) summit, a revolving restaurant commands views of the Berner Oberland. Instead of taking the cable car back down, I hiked—from being on top of the world back down into grass, back down to the cows, descending to tree line, and finally, into the cluster of chalets that make up the village of Mürren.