Introduction to Switzerland

Regional map of Switzerland
The main regions of Switzerland

It’s one country with at least 4 distinct personalities. Bordered by Germany, Austria, France and Italy, depending on where you are, you may be among people speaking French, German, Italian, or Romansch. You may be standing on top of the world, in subfreezing temperatures on a glacier, or standing by a lake with palm trees. Regardless of where you are, you will be in a land of beautiful scenery, friendly people, No matter where you go, no matter what time of year, Switzerland is a great place to go.

In this first post about Switzerland, I will just touch briefly on the different regions, and give a few highlights of each. In later posts, I will go into more depth about each region.

Western Switzerland

Bordering France, this region includes Lake Geneva, the town of Lausanne, and Montreux.

The Bernese Overland, Mittelland, and Valais

If you are looking for jaw-dropping mountain vistas, this is the place. The region contains the Eiger, Jungfrau, and Matterhorn mountains. Interlaken, Zermatt, and Lauterbrunnen are the can’t miss places here. As the name would indicate, this region is the home of Bern, the capital city of Switzerland. The medieval Old Town here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was the home of Albert Einstein.

Northern Switzerland and Zurich

If you take a river cruise in Western Europe, it is very likely you will either start or finish here, in the town of Basel. Basel also has the Basel Kunstmuseum (Art Museum). This region also has the city of Zurich. If you arrive in Switzerland by either plane or train, this is most likely going to be your starting point.

Central Switzerland and Ticino

Central Switzerland is the home of the town of Lucerne, on the lake called Vierwaldstattersee. To the south is the Italian-speaking region with the towns of Locarno, Ascona, and Lugano.

Eastern Switzerland and Graubünden

When you think of the traditional Swiss farmlands, this is it, with an abundance of dairy farms and cheese makers. To the south is the town of St. Moritz, and to the north is the historic town of St. Gallen.

Things to do in Switzerland

  • Mountains – Enjoy the mountain peaks, many accessible by Cog Trains, Funiculars, and other modes of travel.
  • Panoramic Trains – Switzerland has four Panoramic Trains to enjoy day trips with spectacular views.
  • Museums and Festivals – The Art Museum in Bern is world renowned and Montreux is the home of the Jazz Festival
  • Food – Switzerland is the home of popular cheeses, fondue, and Lindt Chocolate.
  • Hiking and Biking – Opportunities are available throughout Switzerland to explore on foot or by bike.
  • Skiing (Of Course) – There are dozens of options for skiing throughout the country, including several ski resorts.

Getting Around Switzerland

Modes of travel in Switzerland runs the gamut. You can rent a car to travel through the country, and that may be the best way to get to some areas. But, the reputation for their trains “running like a Swiss watch” is absolutely correct. Trains leave from every station every 30 minutes, and are synchronized with buses and boats throughout the country. You can also get passes of many different types that will provide you with multiple trips, including family passes, youth discounts, and group passes. Also, in many cases, your luggage will be handled for you, even delivered to your hotel. And the passes will not only cover trains, but also buses, boats, and funiculars.

Getting to Switzerland

Zurich is probably the best entry point into Switzerland, whether coming by plane or train. Flights are available from virtually every international airport in the eastern United States including JFK, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Newark and Detroit. Direct flights are also available from Los Angeles.

Tours and Cruises

Traveling on your own is a great way to see Switzerland, but it’s not the only way. Escorted tours are available in a variety of opportunities anywhere from 6 to 16 days. These can be an excellent option, especially for first time visitors. And escorted tours are great because you have an experienced guide, and all transportation and logistics are handled for you. River cruises also begin or end in Basel, which allows for adding pre- or post-night options to the cruise. Tours as late as 2025 are now available.

Planning to Go

Contact me at patrick@4moonstravel.com, or schedule an appointment to start planning your trip.


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