Combining expansive greenery, slick cities and bucketfuls of fresh air, Switzerland is a stylish tourist destination that offers countless outdoor adventures and contemporary urban breaks.
Switzerland’s Alpine vistas are so picture-perfect, they appear to have been plucked from a postcard or the pages of a storybook. But these disarming landscapes are alive and kicking, as the myriad spots for skiing, hiking or mountain biking can attest. Ski resorts like Zermatt (home to the lofty Matterhorn), Verbier and celebrity-studded St Moritz provide everything from big, bad Olympic runs to encouragingly gentle novice slopes. And when the snow melts at low altitudes, the white-tipped mountain peaks remain against a backdrop of blue skies, providing a superb setting for summertime hiking.
The ancient capital Bern provides almost endless opportunities for sightseeing, shopping and traditional folk entertainment, while Zurich leads the way in art, design and nightlife, from opera and world-class theatre to stylish bars and nightclubs. Geneva is the sleekest and most upscale of Switzerland's cities, acting as home to a thriving community of ex-pats, many of whom work for the numerous international organisations that are headquartered there.
Yet Switzerland’s cultural offerings don’t stop there. When it comes to contemporary art, polished Basel reigns supreme, with more than 40 museums and galleries nestled in this compact city. For a few days every year, Basel takes centre stage for the eminent Art Basel fair. French-flavoured Montreux also steals a moment in the cultural spotlight when it becomes the centre of focus for the jazz world during the Montreux Jazz Festival. Elsewhere, dotted around green foothills, are countless spruce towns and folkloric villages, where ancient farm culture survives and cattle still loiter amid flower-filled pastures.
Small, mountainous and wealthy, Switzerland is renowned for its enviable quality of life, with public services ticking along like clockwork. Come for the creamy, complex cheeses, smooth chocolates and luxury watches; stay for the exquisite culture, incredible scenery and sheer sense of fun.