Hospitable Switzerland. A country with a lot of attractions

The 20 main sights of Switzerland

Once you think of Switzerland, you immediately conjure up images of Alpine meadows, the famous cuckoo clock and chocolate melting in your mouth. Basically, this is the quintessence of this small, mountainous and rich country, conveniently located in the heart of Europe. Add to that the trendy ski resort of Zermatt, or celebrity-driven St. Moritz or politician-driven Davos, plus the enchanting old town of Bern, banking-class Zurich with its art galleries and cosmopolitan Geneva, and you know what makes Switzerland so appealing to tourists!

Here are 20 of Switzerland’s must-see attractions if you decide to visit this beautiful country.

Switzerland’s 20 Greatest Sights:

1. Chillon Castle.

Chateau de Chillon Montreux Sqitzerland 20 best sights of Switzerland

Situated in a fantastic location on the east side of Lake Geneva, framed by rocky mountains, Chillon Castle is one of Switzerland’s top attractions. As if growing right out of the water, this medieval fortress and famous prison is one of the best preserved examples of medieval architecture in Europe. Take a leisurely stroll through the Great Hall, the Hall of Justice, the Arsenal, the Chapel of St. George and other halls of the castle that reveal the history of this fortress. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere of the Bonivar prison and to admire the magnificent scenery of the shores of Lake Geneva, on foot or on one of the cruise ships.

2. the Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area

Switzerland's 20 Great Sights - Aletsch

Virtually untouched except for trails and a few picturesque mountain huts, the Jungfrau-Aletsch region in the Swiss Alps is the largest glaciated area in Western Europe. Located between the cantons of Bern and Valais, the area is a group of eternal mountain glaciers covering an area of about 35,000 hectares. The longest glacier in the Alps Aletsch, stretching for 23 km, is located here. A trip here is a real journey into the world of ice and rocks, steep peaks and alpine flora and fauna. No wonder that the Jungfrau-Aletsch region has long been one of the most popular hiking destinations, with spectacular skiing and hiking, breathtaking panoramic views and local specialties.

3. lake Lugano

Monte Brae Ticino Lake Lugano Switzerland

Lugano, in the Italian speaking part of Southern Switzerland, has an Italian flair with palm trees, picturesque boulevards, and spectacular views of the Alps and Lake Lugano. With picturesque villages along its shores and surrounded by green mountains, Lake Lugano is an ideal place for leisure and active tourism. It is quite long, 36 km long and not more than 2 km wide, Lake Lugano is the only lake in Switzerland which has a bridge.

If you like hiking (the lazier ones can take the cable car), you can climb Monte San Salvatore mountain to enjoy the best view of the lake and the surrounding area.

4. Matterhorn Peak

swiss-zermatt

It is here, in the small village of Zermatt, that nature lovers begin their routes into the magnificent kingdom of the Swiss Alps! More than 400 km of hiking trails await you here, leading to magnificent scenery, with breathtaking views of the Alps. You will feel insignificant compared to the majesty of the Matterhorn, which juts up into the sky. Although it is not the highest mountain in Switzerland (4,478 meters above sea level), it is definitely one of the most famous peaks, which has been a real challenge for many. Many experienced climbers have fallen here in an attempt to conquer the impregnable steep slopes of the Matterhorn. In any case, your route will start from Zermatt – albeit small, but one of the most prestigious ski resorts in Europe.

5. Lake Vierwaldstätt (Lake Lucerne)

Luzern lake Vierwaldstattersee Fronalpstock 20 top sights of Switzerland

How about a steamboat cruise on the shimmering expanse of the lake, surrounded by a ring of lofty mountains, made even more majestic by the reflection in the water of their wooded slopes descending to the lake? Called the “heart of Switzerland” and the “lake of the four cantons”, Lake Lucerne or as it is often called, Lake Lucerne attracts many tourists with its beautiful mountain slopes, the color carpet of the famous Rütli meadow, the medicinal springs of Caltbad, the chestnut and almond forests of the Riegue and the soothing waters of azure, immersing you in the Swiss nirvana.

6. Bern’s Old Town

Bern6

Set on a hill and surrounded on three sides by the river Aare, medieval Bern retains the charm of times gone by, with its sandstone squares, its clock tower and the numerous arcades that line its streets. Cobblestone streets, gurgling fountains, fabulous clocks and ornate arcades echo the city planning concepts of the 11th and 12th centuries. If you find yourself in Bern, don’t miss the Zytglogge, the clock tower. With its moving figures and prison in the backdrop of history, it’s the city’s main attraction. Other sights in Bern include Albert Einstein’s apartment, the cathedral (Munster) and the Bear Pit, now turned into an entire park on the river slope, where you can admire Bern’s symbol, the shaggy bears. The parent bears were a gift to the city by President Medvedev at the time. Symbolic, yes

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7. Terraced Vineyards of Lavo.

Lavaux vineyards Switzerland Lake Geneva - Lavaux Vineyards

The picturesque Lavaux Terrace Vineyards (Lavaux) are located along the shores of Lake Geneva. Framed by medieval stone walls, they stretch for 30 km and are the most famous wine region in Switzerland and an outstanding example of the interaction between nature and people over the centuries. The magnificent views of the Lavaux vineyards and the Savoie mountain peaks on the horizon have inspired not only winemakers to produce great white wines, but also many artists and painters who have been mesmerized by this beauty. The Lavaux vineyards, cultivated since the era of the ancient Romans, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Autumn is particularly beautiful, from late September to early October, when the local vineyards are coloured gold and the air is particularly clear. Just the season of young wine!

8. Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke)

1000x560_kapellbruecke_5-luzern

Built in 1333 and badly damaged by fire in 1993, the Chapel Bridge in Lucerne (Kapellbrücke) was almost immediately restored to retain its status as the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. The 204-meter-long bridge connects the two banks of the river Röyss, curving around the 43-meter-high stone tower, once a prison and a treasury. Note the medieval paintings under the triangular roof of the bridge. Do not confuse Kapellbrücke with the Spreuerbrücke, not as famous but no less impressive and authentic (only slightly younger and not as lushly decorated with geraniums, but no less noteworthy).

9. The Rhaetian Railway

Bernina-express

The Albula and Bernina railroad tracks pass through spectacular scenery, through dozens of tunnels, galleries, viaducts and bridges. Departing from Hur, St. Moritz or Davos, the Bernina Express takes you on a spectacular journey past the Piz Bernina glaciers, up to the highest railway pass, Bernina Pass. and all the way to Tirano in Italy. In 2008, this route was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as an outstanding example of an engineering marvel and a particularly ecological way to overcome the isolation of the Alpine settlements through rail connections.

On the way, even on a normal train, not just on the panoramic “Bernina Express,” there will be comments in German and English about the route and the peculiarities of this route. If you drive from Hoor to St. Moritz, sit on the right side: this is where that impressive viaduct between Thusis and Tiefencastel stations in the photo above will be.

10. Mount Pilatus

Lucerne, Mount Pilatus - Pilatus Kulm Switzerland Luzern

Steeped in legend, Mount Pilatus has long been a taboo for locals. According to legend, the body of Pontius Pilate was finally buried in a lake on Mount Pilatus. In fact, the name of the mountain came from the Latin word pilleatus (“in a felt hat” – meaning a cap of clouds around the top of the mountain). Legend has it that dragons lived here (this characteristic jagged silhouette of Pilatus can be seen in Lucerne, behind Kappelbrücke – it resembles the profile of a sleeping dragon).

From Alpennachstadt, the steepest railroad in the world leads to the top of Mount Pilatus. To prevent the wheels from slipping, it is equipped with a special mechanism – toothed wheels roll on a serrated rail and pull the train up. True, in winter, the road does not work. Then you can climb the Pilatus from the suburbs of Lucerne – the town of Kriens (Kriens). In summer you can take the boat to Alpennachstadt, climb to the top, and take the cable car down to Kriens, from where you can take the bus back to Lucerne – the so-called Gold Route from Lucerne to Pilatus.

11. the Benedictine Monastery of St. John

Mustair

In the rural valley of Müstair, just near the border with Italy, is an even more idyllic village of the same name that few tourists reach. The last building you see here before you get to Italy is the Carolingian monastery and church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. And no wonder. According to tradition, the monastery was founded by Charlemagne, and the monastery itself and its church present a magnificent series of Romanesque frescoes and stuccoes. The Benedictine monastery is still active, and it, together with the adjacent cemetery. retains a mystical atmosphere that is sure to impress you.

12. Rhine Falls

Rheinfall

Don’t expect a Niagara-like waterfall, but you’ll feel the moment was worth it when you feel the spray on your skin, admiring a series of rainbows through a cloud of spray. Impressive in its latitude (150 meters) and rather modest in height (only 23 meters), the Rhine Falls are considered the largest in Europe by volume of water and one of the main attractions of northern Switzerland. The best view of the Rhine Falls is from the Schloss Laufen tower, the observation deck overhanging right above the falls. The best adventure will be the ride to the central rock that sticks out right in the middle of the waterfall!

13. The Castles and Fortifications of Bellinzona

In the cradle of the alpine enveloped valley of Ticino lies the majestic city of Bellinzona, whose history is reflected in the walls of the medieval architectural ensemble, which is protected by UNESCO. The three castles of Bellinzona – Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro – and the city walls were erected by the dukes of Milan and were supposed to serve as protection against the troops of the Swiss Confederation during their aggressive campaign to capture the southern territories of the Saint Gottard Pass. The attempt to defend the territory failed, and Bellinzona was subjugated to Switzerland for three centuries, until 1803, when the canton of Ticino became independent. Now the city’s fortifications have become the main attraction of Bellinzona, also serving as an arena for numerous cultural events, among them Rabadan (Carnival in February) and “Piazza Blues” (open-air blues festival with big-name performers).

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14. Art Museum in Basel

Kunstmuseum Basel

Names like Monet, Cézanne, Picasso and Chagall have made this museum famous, the incredible historical scope of its collection has brought it even greater fame. With one of the largest collections of Holbein family works in the world and exhibits dating as far back as the 15th century, the Kunstmuseum Basel is a must-see for art lovers. Separately focusing on movements like Cubism, German Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, it has earned worldwide recognition as one of the most representative museums of its kind.

15. Geneva Old Town

Geneva-long

Geneva may be a world center of diplomacy and international cooperation, but it is certainly not without its own special character. Walk along the winding Rue St-Léger right into picturesque La Vieille Ville, Geneva’s Old Town, immersed in a medieval atmosphere, with narrow cobblestone streets with tiny cafes spilling out onto the sidewalks. Take a seat on the longest wooden bench in the world (126m) on the Promenade de la Treille, see works by Pissarro, Cézanne, Renoir and Modigliani in the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, find the house where Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born (40 Grand-Rue), and see if you like the mix of architectural styles that marks out St. Peter’s Cathedral. Either way, you’re sure to be captivated by the undeniable charm of La Vieille Ville.

16. Via Mala Gorge

Just a stone’s throw from the town of Tusis, this six-kilometer-long gorge stretches 500 meters deep between perfectly vertical cliffs overlooking the Hinterrhein River. The gorge widens and narrows in turn, in some places reaching a width of less than 1 m, creating a dramatic rediscovery effect. You can descend the 321 steps down to the bottom of the gorge, passing an old bridge built back in 1739 and a series of fantastic curved potholes on your way. The marked educational route through this grand natural landmark can start from the towns of Tusis or Zillis. Just remember that Via Mala translates as the Devil’s Road…

17. Lindenhof Hill

Zurich Lindenhof

Considered a European banking hub and a soulless financial machine (the latter rather undeservedly), Zurich boasts its own peaceful oasis. Lindenhof Hill, part of the Old City, not only bears the traces of centuries-old history, but also serves as an exceptionally comfortable area for citizens to socialize and relax in the open air. Once a Roman customs post and later a royal residence, the Lindenhof is now a quiet, shady square with stone benches and tables, pétanque and chess. The best views of the river Limmat, the towers of Grossmünster and the roofs of the old town can be seen from here.

18. St. Gall’s Abbey

St Gallen Abbey - St Gallen Abbey library UNESCO

At the center of the picturesque town of St. Gallen in eastern Switzerland, which grew out of a 7th-century hermitage, is St. Gallen Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a valuable monument to Carolingian monastic architecture. The abbey library, with its emblematic Baroque architecture and Rococo decoration, contains one of the richest and most diverse medieval collections in the world. And St. Gall’s Cathedral itself, in addition to its design and fanciful decorations, boasts one of the three oldest surviving bells in Europe. According to legend, the bell was brought by Gallus himself during his wanderings from Ireland in the 7th century.

19. the tectonic arena of Sardon

What made this massive pile of rock come under UNESCO protection? The answer lies in the 300 square km area called the Tectonic Arena of Sardon and in the geological uniqueness of the inverted geological layers of the canton of Glarus. Here one can see the amazing phenomenon where older and deeper-lying rocks have been squeezed upwards over the newer layers. The three-dimensional interplay of structures and the clear evidence of tectonic mechanisms has had an enormous impact on scientific research. It is thanks to the rock formations here that the current geological picture of the world has been shaped.

20. The Cathedral of Lausanne

Lausanne-2

Towering over all of Lausanne like a huge crown on the head of a king, this 13th-century cathedral has long been the spiritual center of French-speaking Switzerland and is considered one of the finest Gothic buildings in the country. Indeed, the mix of Anglo-Norman and northeastern French architectural details makes the cathedral one of the most outstanding buildings in the artistic heritage of Europe. Its spacious, colorful interior is actually capable of evoking faith. But the greatest masterpiece preserved under the vaults of Lausanne Cathedral is the magnificent 7,000-pipe organ, whose unparalleled power and new harmonics invariably win the hearts of listeners. It is one of the most expensive instruments in the world, so the organ itself is reason enough to visit Notre Dame de Lausanne.

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Switzerland

Swiss Anthem

Switzerland is a compact European country and one of the richest countries in the world, neighboring Germany, Italy, France, Austria, and Liechtenstein. You can judge the level of success and popularity of this picturesque place by the range of tourist options alone. Skiing and thermal spas, medieval abbeys and meditative panoramas of the Alps, organic gastronomy and terraced vineyards – modern Switzerland has concentrated all the advantages of its closest neighbors, without losing any of its national colors and personality.

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Video: Switzerland

General Information

Switzerland is a travel destination with a quality label and the image of a resort destination for the powerful, where everything has a whiff of old world stability, big money and polite arrogance. However, if you look closely, it turns out that the high cost of recreation in the homeland of William Tell is somewhat exaggerated. Moreover, if you walk not the most mainstream routes, do not choose resorts, designed for wealthy snobs, and not settle in boutique hotels, it is possible to spend a fascinating and not this expensive vacation.

Speaking of Switzerland, the first thing one thinks of is expensive watches, elite chocolates and delicious cheeses. Indeed, all this is in the Confederation, and in such quantities, which is enough for anyone who is ready for easy spending. Those who come to the country for the experience, too, will not be left stranded. After all, there is always the possibility of bursting into the emerald valleys and gorges, choose a tour of the mystical lakes with stops in the campsites, or drive to peripheral wineries. In addition, in Switzerland you can successfully both treat and learn – local clinics and universities are beyond competition for several decades.

Lovers of holidays in the style of “eco” should settle in the countryside, where the owners of farms and agro-yards will introduce the pastoral and outgoing Switzerland – the one where there is a place to sleep in the barns, intimate conversation with the chimes of Alpine cows and familiarity with the recipes of family cheese-making. And of course, do not forget that small and self-sufficient Switzerland is a 26 cantons with different traditions, four national languages and an amazing mix of four mentalities: practical and basic German, witty and frivolous French, Italian, which overflows with excess of feelings, and the original patriotic Swiss.

Swiss cities

Climate

Switzerland has a predominantly continental climate, which varies according to the topography. In the western cantons, for example, there is a strong Atlantic influence, but the further south and east, the greater the contrasts between the seasons. Winters in the country are moderately cold, with a large temperature difference between the plains and mountainous areas. January in Geneva is almost always +2 ° C. + 3 ° C, but in the high valleys of the Jura the thermometer sinks to the “Siberian” mark -30 ° C.

Winter Switzerland is popular with two categories of tourists: fans of skiing and fans of sipping scalding mulled wine at the Christmas markets and Shrovetide carnival. For shopaholics the “fishy” month will be January – sales in Switzerland start after the Christmas fairs. Spring comes to the Alps early, but the weather is not stable, so those who come to the country in March, will be more comfortable to explore the sights of Geneva and Zurich – it is noticeably warmer there. April is a more pleasant, though a little rainy month with an average air temperature of +13 ° C. In addition, spring is the Catholic Easter and Parade of the Guilds in Zurich, accompanied by a lively public festivities.

Summer starts in May and in June, the Swiss besiege the lakeside beaches to get a nice golden tan. It’s warmest in the south of the country during this time, where the air warms up to +28. +30 °С. It is not so hot in the northern cantons, but it is also quite comfortable – about +19. +24 °С. As for water temperatures, the most invigorating swimming will be in Lake Geneva, and the warmest – in Lakes Lugano and Maggiore in the canton of Ticino. The highlight of the local August event is a flamboyant techno-party called Street Parade, essentially no different from Berlin’s rampant Love Parade.

Autumn comes to Switzerland right on schedule, that is, in September. In the south of the country, it is dry and warm, but in the central cantons, the rains are a frequent visitor. October in the homeland of the most accurate clocks is overcast and gloomy, windy, frightening with night frosts, and in the mountainous areas there are also serious frosts. However, in late autumn the most impatient “lords of skiing and snowboarding” come to the Confederation, as in the last days of November the slopes of most ski resorts are opened.

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Swiss history

Traces of human presence in Switzerland can be traced back to the Stone Age. In the 5th century BC the tribes of Celtic-Rhaetians and Helvetians came here, because of whom the country got its first name – Helvetia. For several centuries the Celts were in conflict with the Roman Empire, sometimes attacking its colonies, sometimes forming alliances with the Gauls against Roman rule. The Helvets were so vexed by the “eternal city” that the Romans had to launch an urgent military campaign to annex the Swiss territories.

The Middle Ages freed Helvetia from Roman rule, but turned her into a dependency of the Germanic tribes and feudal fragmentation. It was in the fourth century that Christianity made its way into the Alps. Switzerland began to take shape as a state under Charlemagne, who divided the country into counties. In 843, however, the German kings usurped the Swiss “inheritance” of the monarch, who later incorporated Helvetia into the Holy Roman Empire.

In the 13th century Swiss cities became centers of international trade, and the Mediterranean routes ran through them. At the same time the cantons of Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden united in a military alliance to resist the pressure of the Habsburgs at the helm of the Holy Roman Empire. Later towns from these two administrations were able to claim a free status, a first step towards Swiss independence.

At the end of the eighteenth century Helvetia was still not a centralised state, and so when the Swiss Revolution broke out in the cantons in 1795, France took advantage of the situation by bringing its troops into Helvetic territory. Switzerland succeeded in gaining independence from French influence only in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, although social and religious unrest continued unabated. In 1848 the country finally had a constitution and the status of a Confederation, and in 1850 the capital was moved to Bern.

Mentality and language

The native Swiss are practical, mostly conservative and law-abiding patriots. The concept of personal space in the Confederation is sacrosanct, so it can take years or even decades to make friends and just friends. At the same time, the attitude towards rights and freedoms among the descendants of the Helvetians is ambiguous. For example: a Swiss who is disadvantaged in even something insignificant will not be lazy to hold a solitary picket, but no way will not turn on the vacuum cleaner on Sunday, because it is against the laws of the canton. And the locals also love to travel, both abroad and within their country. However, statistics show that the Swiss don’t like to get too far from their homeland, preferring to stay at the resorts of neighboring France, Italy and Germany.

There are four official languages in the Confederation: German, French, Italian and Romansh. German is spoken by 65 percent of the population, but it is not a standard Hochdeutsch language, but a dialectal variant, which is difficult to understand even for Germans. At the same time, any Swiss living in a German-speaking canton can speak the correct Goethe’s language and indulge in it when the situation demands it. The share of French and Italian speakers is several times less: 23% and 8.3%, and the share of Rhaeto-Romanic speakers even 1%. At the same time there is an interpenetration of cultures – most residents speak at least two of the national languages (usually German and French), diluting them with English, which they learn at school.

Money

The national currency is the Swiss franc (CHF). CHF 1 is 76.46 rubles (as of March 2020). In addition to paper bills, coins in denominations of ½, 1, 2 and 5 francs and small coins of 5, 10 and 20 rappen are used. It is best to travel with a sufficient amount of cash francs or at least euros. If you need to convert your money locally, you can do so at bank branches and in official exchange offices in train stations, hotels, airports, and department stores.

The standard working hours of exchange offices at airports are from 06:00 to 21:00; banks – from 08:00 to 16:00, rarely – until 18:00. As for the rate, it is the same everywhere, and deviations, if any, are insignificant. In cases where the stock of cash is small, it is worth using a credit card. In Switzerland it is realistic to pay for almost everything with it, including tickets from the ticket machines at public transport stops. You can withdraw money from ATMs in Switzerland without any complications. Some of them only dispense francs, and some also dispense euros.

Attractions in Switzerland

The territory of compact Switzerland is dotted with medieval monuments and plunges into a state of permanent delight with epic natural backgrounds, so get ready to constantly ponder the dilemma: where to go first? In addition, this is the rare case where the size of the village does not matter – the country is full of tiny communities, whose panoramas can outweigh the advertised tourist sites of the capital.

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Among the most spoiled with attention and money you can’t help but include Lucerne, where Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and even Queen Victoria loved to visit. Leo Tolstoy also visited the capital of the canton, and as usual he left unnoticed and dissatisfied with the snobbishness of the local nobility. Today Lucerne’s guests are welcomed by streets of painted houses resembling frosted gingerbread, Kapelbrücke bridge-gallery, turquoise domes of Jesuit Church, Gutsch castle, which was transformed into a luxury hotel, and the amazing Museum of transport with retro locomotives, cable cars and electric cars.

Travelers interested in history simply must spend time in Zurich. Lurking in the old quarter of Switzerland’s moneyiest city are the Romanesque silhouette of Grossmünster Cathedral and the sharp spire of the Fraumuenster Abbey, once home to nuns of the nobility who forced and voluntarily took their vows. The church of St. Peter and the Swiss National Museum are also located here. Speaking of museums: they are original and certainly not boring. An example of this – FIFA Museum, at whose interactive exhibits every second soccer fan dreams to come across.

The capital of the country, Bern, is a thorough, solidly patriarchal city with a photogenic old center. Here you need to stop by the walls of the Bern Cathedral to feel the macabre bas-reliefs and stained-glass windows, as well as to remember the show, played out hourly on the Zitglogge tower. Incidentally, the hands have been ticking since 1530. If you’re looking for atypical sights, take selfies near the city’s fountains. For instance, against the backdrop of the Child Eater, which would look more organic in an Asian temple ensemble than in tolerant and child-loving Europe. Also Bern is the city of bridges and museums, so the first should certainly be counted, and the second – to get a ticket.

Lausanne is a luxurious resort on the shores of Lake Geneva, where Coco Chanel long “sat” after the French accused her of collaborationism. Today’s Lausanne is above all the Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Church of St. Francis and the Rumine Palace. Fans of antiquities and fine arts will appreciate the local museums – History Museum, Museum of Design and Applied Art and Art Brut. And for those who want to hang out, the bars and nightclubs in Lausanne are overflowing with them.

The modern and historical sights of Geneva exist in harmonious symbiosis, so when you find yourself in the “capital of the world”, don’t run past the city’s main “goth” – Notre Dame Basilica, the eclectic facades of St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Bourg de Four, remembering the sandals of Roman legionnaires, and the Palais des Nations. Positive photos against the backdrop of the mighty Jets d’Eau and the Flower Clock are also a must, as are promenades through the Vieux Carouge, the Botanical Gardens and the halls of the Museum of Arts and History.

In youth-student Fribourg it is worth to linger already because its historical center is preserved in almost unchanged form. Here tourists have at their disposal gothic cathedrals with baroque chapels, and old bridges with roofs, and several curious museums with dolls and exhibits of modern art. The city itself, like the canton, is divided into French and German parts, the boundary between which is the river Sarin. To make it clearer: the inhabitants of the western bank chatter in French, and the population of the eastern bank prefers the language of Goethe.

If you want traditional and stereotypical Switzerland, go to Appenzell, where the parliament meets on the square, like hundreds of years ago, and women have had the right to vote only since 1991. In the compact town, nestled at the foot of the Alps, it’s hard to see any dominant architectural features, so wander among the playful little houses and ancient chapels, and marvel at the care with which the farmers greet the cows coming back from pasture.

Stein am Rhein, on the banks of the Rhine, is another Swiss town that looks like an old postcard. The streetscapes of the settlement are mostly newfangled – during World War II the place was “under attack” by Allied bombers – but the atmosphere of the commune does not become any less fairy-tale. For those who have had enough of “gingerbread” houses, it is worth broadening the range of impressions in Thun, where there is a snow-white castle, lots of pretty wooden bridges, and the pedestrian zone of the central street passes through the roofs of cafes and stores.

A visit to Gruyere is good for all fans of hard cheeses, as it is their birthplace. Tourists are admitted to the factory where the Alpine delicacy is made, but it is not worth spending too much time at the enterprise, because Gruyere also has a very interesting castle and eerie Museum of Giger, the genius of fantastic realism, who invented the image of monsters for the blockbuster Alien.

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