Switzerland is a country on almost everyone’s bucket list, yet it can be a hard one to explore without a little insider knowledge. I’m blessed to have seen it as few outsiders can, through the eyes of my Swiss husband and his family and friends. I love its chocolate, cheese and crisp white wines; farmhouse stalls and outdoor food markets; watches, cowbells and edelweiss. But most of all, like everyone else, I love its breathtaking, chocolate-box scenery. From the Alps to the lakes, here are five of my favourite Swiss sights.
Alps Bernese Oberland (Bern)
The most awe-inspiring sight in a lifetime of travel, I find it hard to believe that any mountain chain can be this high. I love glimpsing the Alps from a distance and waking among them, as you do at the rustic Griesalp Hotel at 1400m with the 3661m Blüemlisalp looming above it.
Lakes Lake Geneva (Vaud)
I love the terraced vineyard towns above Lake Geneva (especially Saint-Saphorin) with their gorgeous views and delicious white wines, fondue at Café Tivoli, lunch at Café de Riex, strolling the cobbled streets of the old town of Vevey and visiting Charlie Chaplin’s statue on the lake front.
Valleys Valle Maggia (Ticino)
Switzerland’s valleys are as special as her mountains – and my favourite is this long, green, steep-sided valley in Italian-speaking Ticino. Dotted with picturesque stone buildings – some of which house traditional grotto restaurants, like La Froda overlooking a wonderful waterfall.
Passes Albula Pass (Graubünden)
Visit Switzerland in summer for a chance to drive over wonderfully winding high mountain passes, such as the Albula Pass in the remote north-east. Stop for a bowl of gerstensuppe (Swiss barley soup) at the Hospice, then drive on to the spectacularly-located village of Soglio.
Medieval Towns Murten & Gruyères (Fribourg)
Many Swiss towns have well-preserved fortifications and old town walls. Climbing the ramparts surrounding the historic old town of Murten is one of my favourite Swiss pastimes. Hilltop Gruyères, with its 13th-century château, fondue restaurants and kitsch-but-cute souvenirs is another favourite.