Switzerland has been among the top ten happiest countries in the world several times, its high median wage and safe environment are two aspects that have made the country its place. While these characteristics certainly make Switzerland an easy place to be happy, there is a lot to be said about how our surroundings affect our outlook on life.
A strong sense of community, a rich history and a friendly culture make a trip to Switzerland an unforgettable experience at any time of the year. The country is surrounded by an enchanting alpine landscape, the iconic mountains rise around beautiful waters at every corner. These colorful and historic Swiss cities serve as cultural centers full of sights straight out of a storybook.
Located in southern Switzerland, the breathtaking city of Locarno is just a stone’s throw from Italy. The popular holiday resort sticks to its historical roots and offers classic Swiss flair as well as Mediterranean flair. Part of Lucarno’s architecture dates back to the 13th century, including the Visconti Castle, which contains an archaeological museum with medieval artifacts.
The cobblestone streets of Piazza Grande, a town square adorned with pretty pastel-colored buildings, are just lovely. The Cardada mountain offers views of the highest and lowest points in Switzerland, Monte Rosa and Lake Maggiore. In 2022, Locarno will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its film festival, which every year attracts thousands of cineastes to 11 days of open-air screenings.
Zurich is the financial capital of Switzerland and is considered the most luxurious city in the country (and one of the most expensive places in the world!). Modern life pulsates through the streets, an interesting sight in an area marked by its pre-medieval history. A stay in Zurich costs a pretty penny, however, so those looking for a cheaper adventure may want to book another accommodation and take a day trip into the city.
The Fraumünster is a must. It is an abbey founded in 853 AD for aristocratic women. The original structure from the ninth century is surrounded by several centuries of additions, including five visually impressive stained glass windows. Visitors should also check out the Swiss National Museum, which displays a number of artifacts showcasing all of Switzerland.
Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, hilly Lausanne has served as the Olympic capital for 100 years. The International Olympic Committee opened a museum in the early 1990s to tell the rich history of the Games and highlight the human connection that the event promotes on a grand scale.
The medieval towers of the well-preserved Lausanne Cathedral, consecrated in 1275, tower well above the surrounding buildings. Over 400,000 visitors come every year to marvel at the impressive works of Gothic architecture. Once the city’s bustling industrial hub, Flon is now the heart of the area, lined with warehouses that have been converted into restaurants, shops and cinemas.
There is not enough time in a day to capture everything that Geneva was and is. The city is another expression of Switzerland’s commitment to promoting an international sense of community. It serves as the seat of the European United Nations, the World Meteorological Organization and the Red Cross, to name a few. The Swiss Alps and the Jura Mountains surround the city, which means wonderful views in all directions.
Geneva is another Swiss city that prides itself on its original architecture. Renaissance and medieval buildings line the charming, narrow streets, many of which serve as museum grounds, scientific centers, and religious sites. Boat tours on Lake Geneva allow people to appreciate the man-made beauty of the city surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
4th St. Gallen
St. Gallen is located in northeastern Switzerland and is best known for its collection of old books and documents in the monastery library, some of which were handwritten over a thousand years ago. The baroque architecture from the outside and the richly decorated interior are just as impressive as the historical contents inside. All the more impressive is the fact that the library was founded as early as 719 AD.
St. Gallen is not only a history and art lover’s dream, but also a university town and therefore full of hipness to entertain the younger generation. There are trendy cafes and restaurants on every corner. Modern art adorns the streets, complemented by the medieval architecture of yesteryear. Above the clouds you can take the cable car to the Säntis Mountains, where you have a panoramic view of six countries.
People will know they’ve reached Vevey when they see the iconic fork that juts out of Lake Geneva. It is only fitting that the town has a utensil-shaped monument, as Vevey has several Michelin-starred restaurants. The admiration for the city’s gastronomy attracts many people to the Fête des Vignerons, the largest wine festival in the world, which only takes place every 20 years.
After he was banned from the United States, legendary actor Charlie Chaplin Vevey called home. The city pays tribute to the comic with a statue near the giant fork and a world-class museum highlighting its achievements. Like so many other Swiss cities, the historic architecture and the surrounding mountains make them particularly beautiful from the deep blue waters of Lake Geneva.
Despite its compactness, Lucerne has a lot of power, and most travelers in Switzerland like to spend at least a few days exploring it. Unsurprisingly, the city is surrounded by the Swiss Alps, which are full of impressive medieval architecture and are home to various museums.
Hikers who make a pit stop in Lucerne must see the view from the summit of Mount Pilatus. Folklore claims that healing dragons once lived on the 1,919 foot high rock formation. Another popular attraction is Old Town, a traffic-free, paved conglomerate of beautifully painted historic buildings. Guests are guaranteed to feel the magic when they cross the Chapel Bridge. It is the oldest surviving wooden truss bridge in the world and its ceiling is painted to tell the stories of Lucerne’s rich past.
The setting sun illuminates the historic buildings of Neuchâtel as if from a dream. The majestic 12th-century castle is open for tours in April, but the view from the outside is reason enough to visit at any time of the year. You will find the purest beauty of Neuchâtel in the rich nature reserves nearby.
Just west of the city is the Creux du Van, a large crater and natural amphitheater that draws tourists in search of hiking trails and lush scenery. On the narrow bridges and paths of the Gorges de l’Areuse, a nature reserve with steep cliffs and forests not far from Neuchâtel, visitors will feel like characters in a fantasy novel.
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