If you’re fortunate enough as I was, you will get the travel bug as badly as I did and openly accept any invitation to travel across the world to visit people. Clearly, I am very lucky and have friends around the globe. Who are willing to put up with me. Then give me a bed and some food and set me free in their countries. Scary thought.
Well this opportunity arose when I met an amazing person who is now one of my best friends and definite soul sister literally 3 months before I showed up on her doorstep in Switzerland. And this is why, I never say no to travel.
Due to my work schedule I could only get off 2 weeks, but within 2 weeks I saw SO much of Switzerland and understood its funny culture so well, it made it really hard to come home. I know a lot of people skip Switzerland due to its very high costs when doing a Euro-trip, but there are SO many free things to do in Switzerland it is not even funny. Plus, if you’re like me and love to research your trips, you’ll find it’s a lot more affordable than I originally thought – with the right mindset.
So off we go!
- Zermatt / The Matterhorn
When I look back on my short time in Switzerland instantly I picture the frigid and crooked peak of the Matterhorn as it looms above and watches Zermatt the village far, far below (close to 13000 feet). This mountain for me is what made me hold my breathe, and look for it no matter where I went, and funnily enough wherever you go in Zermatt the very cute ski chalet village below, you will find the grand Matterhorn looking back at you to. Zermatt is mainly a ski village, but from the stunning train ride in (so worth it by itself), to the amazing bakery we indulged in, to the visit to the ‘Glacier Paradise’ it was easy to say ‘this place is a dream’. And I did many times. If you ski or snowboard definitely look into doing that here – the powder looked amazing. But due to running out of time and money we just did the cable car ride. Which was STUNNING! You still go to the very, very top almost 13,000 feet up and can walk through the ‘Glacier Paradise’ to look over the French Alps that go on for miles as well. You also feel slightly tipsy at this height as well and believe it or not, can drink a cappuccino for 10,000 feet up and watch the sunrise by the Matterhorn like we did.
Interlaken was my favorite ‘town’, without a doubt. A stunning town set with towering mountains booming in on both sides, and 2 turquoise lakes hugging its other sides, it is a sight to see. Although I only had 2 days here, there was so much to do it was overwhelming. It has a small town feel, with the openness of not feeling like a town at all. Even walking the town, it is silent and stunning. I really felt at ease here and really recommend making this a ‘must do’.
- Paraglide Interlaken
Furthermore, Interlaken is known as Switzerland’s adrenaline capital, so I wanted to see if it lived up to its name. For my 22nd birthday, I wanted to top skydiving 14,000 feet over Rainbow Beach, Australia for my 21st and this came pretty close. We wound up and around the mountains of Interlaken, got out of the van, buckled up, and began running tandem down a hill until we took off. Our decent was 4444 feet, and 20 minutes of pure awe. I totally recommend doing this!
How can any visit to Switzerland be complete without an evening of candle lit fondue? Honestly, I’m not even a ‘cheese person’ but I was so so so stoked to get the authentic Swiss experience of cheese fondue. Let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. I actually had it more than once… I wont reveal how often but lets just say… I’m hooked. How can you not love a glass of wine, a full bread basket of crusty bread, and a bubbling aromatic pot of hot cheese laid out before you? You would be crazy to not be completely infatuated with it. Because I was. But I will warn you – dining out for dinner in Switzerland is quite costly. By that I mean, one night I went for a solo fondue experience and paid 40 Swiss Francs for a pot of fondue, a bowl of bread, and a bottle of water (you have to pay for water as well). All I have to say is, do it once. You wont regret it.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland! Many people skip over it as it isn’t as big as Zurich or flashy as Geneva, but it really is a gem. I went at an amazing time. Early December, when all the Christmas decorations are out and markets are open, the streets are lined with lights and people huddle around to drink mulled wine and listen to orchestras practicing. I only had 1 night here, and I spent all of it – except for maybe 5 hours sleep I spent it outside. Walking the historic cobble stone streets, and watching the sunset.
- The Uetliberg at Sunset
I spent 2 beautiful days in Zurich enjoying the Christmas markets, and its stunning historic beauty. After a day full of walking the city, and touring around, I caught the train up to the Uetliberg from the main station, just in time for the sunset. And my, what an experience that was. As you depart the train station there is a viewing platform, and that is just a taste of the sunset you have in store. As you wind up to the very top, you receive panoramic views over Zurich and its surrounds.
A picturesque hide away in the mountains, that’s inaccessible by car is an amazing spot. We hiked, walked, took a cable car, and ended up in Murren. At 5413 feet elevation, this little village is a breathe of fresh air, literally. Often overlooked due to the Jungfraujoch which is the highest point in Europe at 11, 332 feet altitude, Murren still is a stunning spot. In the season we went, you couldn’t access the Jungfraujoch, so make sure to do your research if this is a ‘must do’ for you.
I think the pictures speak for themselves.
- Swiss Chocolate
Alright, so if you want the low down on Swiss Chocolate, here it is. You have to taste it all, to know it all. Am I right? So I sacrificed myself to try a lot of chocolate. Yes, I can soundly say… Swiss Chocolate is supreme, and cant compare to any other. Really, it’s just a stand alone chocolate. I love hazelnuts, luckily because they’re in a lot of the chocolate and its sinful. The only treasures I brought back were chocolate, and an iron on for my bag… the chocolate was definitely the highlight though.
Many of you know the popular Swiss chocolate brands like Lindt, Toblerone, and Ragusa. So you can also say that you’re a Swiss chocolate connoisseur.
Zurich is a magical spot to slow down and experience Swiss culture and history. I roamed around Zurich by myself from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and didn’t even want to stop. I chose to explore it via the heel-toe-express and I am so happy I did. You can walk for miles, and still feel safe and still be in awe of its beauty. I loved the cobble stone historic area where cars weren’t allowed to go, and people bustled in and out of the markets. All the while still feeling very small amongst the massive Grossmunster, Fraumunster and St. Peter’s Churches. The best part was, amongst it all I went and sat down beside Lake Zurich and then saw the Alps looming in the back.
A quick walk through Lucerne shows you the passion Swiss people have for their culture and history. The Kapellbrücke is a well known Swiss tower built in 1333. Its pretty hard to fathom how they built it then, and it still stands proudly today. So of course you have to tour around the old city and walk the cobblestone streets, fresh streusel in hand.
Something a little off the beaten path I suppose, but this tiny town had a massive impact on me. After our cable car ride up to Murren, we hiked all the way down (2.5 hour hike and 3000 feet down) to Lauterbrunnen, and were greeted with this stunning sight. I think this proves just how picturesque and worthwhile any journey is.