Switzerland. No Filters.
It is just impossible not to fall in love with a country like Switzerland. And without a doubt, every visit just deepens my affection for the country.
Switzerland is, in every way, a picture perfect country largely made up of snow-capped mountains and lush rolling hills enveloping clear, glassy lakes. It is pure heaven for the avid photographer that I am. In fact, it’s a no-filters heaven.
From mountains to lakes and everything in between, I think Switzerland offers a fantastic balance of things to see, do and experience. Indeed, this country proved to be so much more than just a pretty face I had initially thought it was. For me, a visit to Switzerland is incomplete without visiting Luzern, the Jungfrau Region and Montreux. Here’s why…
A charming and historical storybook image of a typical lakeside Swiss city, Luzern is very special in my view. Firstly, it’s home to possibly one of the most photographed bridges in the world, the 1333 built Chapel Bridge, which features more than 100 17th century paintings depicting patron saints and scenes from the town’s history. It’s quite an experience walking across it – it’s like stepping back in time.
Secondly, Luzern is a ridiculously photogenic city. I can never tire of walking through the cobbled streets of its Old Town, where well preserved and beautifully decorated burgher’s houses surround little squares and fountains still stand. The fairy-tale like atmosphere is incredible and you’d just want to get lost in the narrow side streets.
I really enjoy visiting Mount Pilatus via the scenic ferry ride and then up the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. The journey there in itself makes up a large part of the experience. The same goes with travelling on the Titils Rotair, the world’s first revolving gondola, when ascending the snow-covered mountain up 3,020m above sea level. As with all Swiss cities, the proximity of mountains from city centres, and the ease and convenience of getting to them via the most spectacularly scenic ways possible is unbeatable. The Swiss get it right. Every. Time.
A paradise for adventurers, the Jungfrau Region basically “had me at hello”. While I’m not one for long or steep hikes across rugged mountain terrains, I am definitely one who enjoys marveling at the imposing mountains with my jaw dropping at every turn. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the various peaks in this region provide some fantastic day excursion options.
For great views, I recommend Jungfrau, Top of Europe. Home to Europe’s highest railway station at 3,454m above sea level, the way up is via a cogwheel railway at Klein Scheidegg. The journey up reveals some of the country’s most magnificent Alpine landscapes. A tip is to go up early before the clouds and crowds set in!
Another fabulous peak is the Schilthorn, where the newly opened 007 Bond World and the 007 Walk of Fame are located. If you’re a Bond fan like me, you will appreciate being able to relive some of the moments in On Her Majesty’s Service. I also like that the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria, which served as villain Blofeld’s headquarters, there you will find a good hearty meal with glorious 360 views of the surrounding peaks.
I must say, however, one of my favourite excursions is to Grindelwald First. You cannot go there without zip-lining on the First Flyer and walking on the First Cliff Walk, which is a circular walk consisting of a suspended bridge, a cliff-side walkway and a vantage platform at a knee-wobbling height. I love heights, so this is something I can never tire of. To get back down the mountain, I love that you can hop on a on a trotti bike and just meander your way along the winding path passing the greenest pastures with wind in your hair – it’s the best feeling!
Located on the shores of Lake Geneva and a stone’s throw away from Lavaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and what I feel is one of the most beautiful wine regions) Montreux sits oh-so elegantly against the stunning backdrop of snow-capped Alps.
Montreux is the capital of the Vaud Riviera and home to the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival as well as one the country’s most famous Christmas markets. It is easy to see why this painfully pretty town is the most popular destination along the Lake. Mind you, it’s not far from the equally wonderful towns of Vevey, where the Chaplin’s World is located, and Lausanne, the charming university town where the Olympic Museum sits. I recommend a scenic ferry ride to go from one place to another. It might take a tad longer, but the views of the shoreline are worth it and you can even sip on a glass of bubbles or lunch onboard the vessel!
One of the things I absolutely adore about Montreux is its quirkiness, a stark contrast to the refined French sophistication it boasts. A short stroll along the lakeside esplanade of classy hotels and restaurants, you will see a series of creative garden art, where items such as damaged cars, wheelbarrows, toilet bowls, bathtubs and broken chairs have been re-purposed as garden décor. I love it!
And to tie it all in, the panoramic rail journey of The Golden Pass Line is, I believe, the best way to go. Linking Luzern and Montreux via Interlaken (gateway to the Jungfrau Region) I feel the Golden Pass Line is a journey that just keeps giving. Travelling across two language regions on three trains, it goes through three mountain passes, along eight lakes and numerous quaint villages. Trust me, you’ll find it hard to peel yourself away from the windows even when the hot lunch is served.
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This blog is courtesy of Mark Wettstein from Switzerland Tourism.