Switzerland packs an amazing number of picturesque towns, cities and vistas within its borders (roughly the size of half of Pennsylvania). This means that a wide variety of vacation options are within a few hours away from any major city in the country. Start your Swiss adventure in the enchanting town of Mürren, built on a mountain cliff at 5,500 feet with sweeping views over the famous Lauterbrunnen Valley. This mesmerizing view from a balcony room at Mürren’s Hotel Alpenruh is what awaits you in this charming town.
If you enjoy paragliding, you’ve come to the right place. This region of Switzerland is considered one of the world’s top paragliding destinations. That being said, if you’re not inclined to take wing yourself, you can still enjoy watching the paragliders sail over mountains and rooftops from morning till night.
Enjoy a four-minute funicular ride from the station in Mürren up to the Allmendhubel, where you’ll savor unspoiled nature and unrivaled views of the most beautiful peaks in the Alps. Stroll the Flower Trail and admire more than 150 different species of mountain blooms, including alpine roses and edelweiss.
Got kids in tow? Families with children will delight in Allmendhubel’s adventure playground with its breathtaking view. Kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy any number of hiking trails leading out from this area, all of which feature endless alpine vistas. If you work up an appetite after all that hiking, a restaurant adjacent to the playground features an extensive menu of Swiss culinary specialties.
The sky’s the limit after a short, 20-minute trip by cable car from Mürren to the top of the Schilthorn. At 9,700 feet, you’ll be in awe of the incomparable views of the “Swiss Skyline,” the majestic panorama of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks. On clear days, you can even view Mount Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, from this vantage point. The cable car operates all year round, except for the month of November.
While you’re at the top, explore Bond World, an interactive exhibit that takes you behind the scenes of the Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” filmed 50 years ago on this original set. Enjoy the famous brunch, lunch or dinner at the 360-degree revolving Piz Gloria restaurant and watch more than 200 spectacular mountain peaks glide by for a dining experience you will never forget.
On your way up or down on the cable car from Piz Gloria and Bond World, make sure to stop at Birg for the thrill of your life! Take a stroll on the Skyline Walk platform, which goes out over a vertical precipice providing stunning and exhilarating panoramic views. For a spine-tingling mountain experience perfect for the adrenaline-obsessed, the Thrill Walk is a 650-foot-long steel and glass path that has several sections to walk, climb or crawl through.
From the famous cheese fondue to an endless variety of farm-to-table gourmet dining options, Swiss cuisine is sure to please all palates. If you love salads, you’ll delight in the fresh salad options served in all the local restaurants, either as a side or main dish. Many are served with toasted bread topped with melted local cheese. It’s a meal in itself!
Another short cable car ride will take you from Mürren to the authentic mountain village of Gimmelwald, where most of the inhabitants are farmers. Stroll through the streets and admire the carefully decorated houses and the numerous wooden huts where cheese is stored. The local farmers sell their produce directly at their farms or at the market in Mürren.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Trümmelbach Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site, located just a few miles outside of Lauterbrunnen and easily reached by the city bus. These impressive falls are the only accessible glacial waterfalls inside a mountain in Europe. The falls, which flow at 20,000 liters per second, are produced by the glacier run-off of the nearby mountains. Designated paths lead you past a variety of views on this impressive natural wonder.
Of course, you could rent a car for this voyage through Switzerland, but why would you want to? The Swiss rail system, always on time to the minute and offering great comfort and amenities, will take you anywhere you want to visit. Purchase a Swiss Travel pass for your all-in-one ticket to travel by rail, road and waterway throughout the entire country. The pass not only covers train travel and public transport in 75 Swiss towns and cities, but provides discounted and/or free travel on cable cars, ferries and free entry to around 500 museums in Switzerland. Check it out!
In a little over an hour from Lauterbrunnen, the train will transport you to picturesque Interlaken, famous for its two connecting lakes surrounded by majestic Alpine peaks. You can board a ferry along various pick-up points around the lake. The ferry will take you past scenic historical towns on the lake en route to your final destination of Thun. There is a restaurant and bar onboard, so plan to have lunch as you look out on some of the lake’s stunning scenery.
The medieval city of Thun is located on the river Aare, just a short walk from the ferry stop. Stroll through the town’s cobblestone streets and visit the formidable castle that dates back to the 12th century. Here you’ll enjoy a look back in time and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the castle’s turrets. Photographer’s tip: This is the classic view of Thun from the castle turret, so make sure you climb the stairs for this vantage point!
Surfing in Switzerland? You bet! On a warm summer afternoon in the charming town of Thun, people frolic in the rapids of the Aare river, which happens to be the longest river that is completely contained in Switzerland. The pristine water of the river is an amazing turquoise blue and invites all sorts of water recreation. The Aare river walk is a pleasure to stroll all year long, and takes you past some of Thun’s most beautiful vistas.
You would never expect it, and it still remains a somewhat undiscovered visitor experience, but the St. Beatus Caves on Lake Thun are definitely a must-see natural attraction if you’re in the area. The cave tour takes you past stalactite and stalagmites, spectacular grottos, subterranean waterfalls and other-worldly scenes that were millions of years in the making. It’s no wonder that these caves inspired Tolkien, who visited the area as a youth, to write his vision for “The Lord of the Rings” fantasy world of Rivendell.
Less than two hours by train from Interlaken will bring you to the historic and picturesque city of Basel, Switzerland, where cosmopolitan hustle and bustle blend with relaxed conviviality, urban style, and a deep history and culture. This lovely city is located on the shores of the Rhine River and is a popular destination for independent travelers as well as Rhine River cruise passengers.
While strolling through the picturesque medieval streets of Basel, you will no doubt come across this vividly red building which is the city’s 500-year-old Town Hall. It is one of Basel’s most iconic buildings as well as a major tourist attraction. Classical concerts are often held in the inner courtyard, which add to the spirit of your visit. Check out the colorful farmers market held on specific days during the week on the square, where you can purchase a wide range of local fruits and vegetables in season.
The Swiss have a unique way to beat the summer heat – they grab their inflatable dry bags and roll down the rivers that crisscross their lovely country. Here in the beautiful city of Basel, Switzerland, the Rhine River provides the perfect aquatic experience on a hot summer’s day. The source of the famous Rhine is Tomasee, a lake located a little over 100 miles from Basel, so the water is pure and exhilarating.
Did you know Basel dates back to prehistoric times? Learn this and more at the Basel Historical Museum, one of the most important museums of its kind in Switzerland. The exhibits at this formidable museum take you back through each century of the city’s history. The museum features a major collection of medieval sacred art from the 11th-16th century, including a prized collection of tapestries meticulously crafted by hand in Basel in the 15th century.
From classical to country to punk, and every genre in between, music lovers will delight in the number of concerts Basel offers its visitors all year round. Concert venues are spread throughout the city, and stages are even set up in the flowing Rhine. During the IM FLUSS (“in the river”) festival in August, you can enjoy concerts featuring popular artists from all over the world featured on a stage situated along the river’s shores.
Celebrate the end of a perfect day at one of the many bars and restaurants along the banks of the Rhine. Watch the setting sun illuminate Basel’s cathedral, which dates back to the Middle Ages, as you raise a glass to the beauty and culture you enjoyed during your visit to unforgettable Switzerland.