The best of Switzerland in a single journey
LAUSANNE: “The most beautiful country of the world, that’s what we think”, Paul from the Muotatal valley and Sebi from Lucerne said after the two Swiss men travelled the Grand Tour of Switzerland. You should always listen to locals and especially when such admiration comes from the heart.
Long ago Europe’s young aristocrats used to make a ”Grand Tour” of Europe – including Switzerland – to widen their cultural horizons. Now, two centuries later, it’s possible to follow in their footsteps and that’s exactly what Paul and Sebi did. No place makes it easier to go further than Switzerland.
One day, two languages. The two gentlemen set off from the city of Neuchâtel and ended their day in Fribourg, a total distance of only 52km. Fribourg stands on the border line between French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland. In former times, the dividing line ran through the heart of the city.
I rather suggest starting the journey from Zurich, the largest city with all the trendy bars, shops and the international airport. Kunsthaus in Zurich has the most important Swiss collections of modern art. From Zurich there are several routes to choose, such as from Schaffhausen to Maienfeld with the Abbey of St Gallen and an area known for its delicious wines.
Some of the most breathtaking sections of Grand Tour are from capital Bern to Oberhofen, from Lucerne to Beckenried with car-ferry ride across the lake and through more vineyards and typical winemaking villages from Valais to Saillon.
Matterhorn. A ride to Zermatt should also be included in Grand Tour. The streets and alleys of the car-free mountain resort of Zermatt are narrow. This year, Zermatt is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first of the Matterhorn, or the “Horu”, as locals call the 4,478 meters high mountain. Matterhorn in the red light of dawn will be a magnificent sight
One ticket. To see and experience Switzerland you only need one ticket for travelling by train, bus and boats – the ticket that will lead you thousand miles through four language regions, over five Alpine passes and along 22 lakes, diversity of places and cultures within this modest country in the middle of Europe. A Grand Tour will take you under the skin of the country, offering stunning and breath-taking panoramas and cultural highlights, all together like pearls on a necklace.
Lausanne. This French-speaking city is an ideal destination for families, a culture hub and headquarters of the international Olympic Committee (IOC). This year IOC is celebrating the 100 years of its establishment in Lausanne. The Olympic Museum offers a free exhibition. All season the town is packed with activities. Read more what’s on offer in Lausanne
Public transport. Exclusively for visitors from abroad, the Swiss Travel System provides a selection of special tickets to travel by public transport, whether you travel a panorama routes, by busses over Alpine passes or by ship on the lakes to every corner of the country. The Grand Tour can be enjoyed all year round and combines eight different routes. You can buy all-in-one ticket at any Swiss train station or on Swiss Travel System
Living art. You might choose to end your tour in Basel, the city with greatest concentration of museums in Europe and its own special atmosphere. Arts sets the tone in Basel and visit the garden of the Fondation Beyeler you will give the feeling you’re sitting in a painting of Monet.
Picasso. Basel has more than 40 museums and sometimes people ask; where does the city end and where does art begin? Here is one story from the city of living art. It begins with a man in financial straits who felt obliged to sell his Picassos. Then some young locals in 1967organised a legendary campaign with the slogan “All you need is Pablo” in order to buy the works. It was the first time an artist’s pictures have been bought at the ballot box. When the elderly Pablo Picasso heard about this, he was touched and gave them four further works for their Kunstmuseum. Today, visit to the Kunstmuseum and the Fondation Beyeler which own 33 masterpieces, will give an understanding of every one of his creative periods – and most likely the grandest experience of the Swiss tour.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: Zurich airport is the main hub and Swiss connect with Europe and the rest of the world. Train, bus or car..? Travelling Switzerland by car is convenient and offers total flexibility. The most popular ticket is the Swiss Travel Pass, which gives free travel on the entire network of rail, bus and boat lines, as well as public transport in the cities.
Stay: After an eventful day of touring, you will always find a welcoming hotel, dine in style and relive the adventures.
Eat: Don’t miss “Züri-Gschnätzlets”, a dish of veal cooking in mushrooms and cream, served with Röstli potato. The Swiss produces wine is mostly unknown, but has a high quality. Appenzeller is Switzerland's spiciest cheese and has been made for over 700 years. The gentle, hilly landscape between Lake Constance and the Säntis massif with its lush herb-filled pastures is the secret behind the natural raw milk from which Appenzeller is made.
Play: Ride a Harley-Davidson and try Grand Tour in grand style. Start visiting the Harley-Davidson dealer in the centre of Zurich and have a look at the Electra Glide Ultra Classic motorbike. Then turn on “Born to be wild” by Steppenwolf and get on the road.
Mini Guide: The new Elephant Park at Zurich Zoo is one of many family attractions. Distances are small in a country packed with Alpine bliss, four languages, and the world’s first milk chocolate. At many villages, you can hop on a vintage paddle steamer to hidden bays. Stay on a mountain for hikes or just a bratwurst at a chalet with views. Options to create your own Grand Tour are endless.