You need not leave Switzerland to find variety. The 26 different Swiss cantons offer their own unique foods, customs and cultural flavor and even language. Switzerland recognizes 4 national languages – French, Italian, Romansch, Swiss German in dozens of different dialects – but most people in urban areas also speak English.
If we follow the picturesque lake route we pass by Lausanne, headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, along with the gorgeous vineyard terraces of Lavaux (a UNESCO world heritage site) where the Alps plunge directly into the lake.
Montreux, a mere 45 minutes away, is home of Montreux Jazz Festival attended by Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. Due to greater sun exposure, palm trees grow along its lake front. At the far end of town, the imposing Chateau de Chillon, an island castle, was the summer home by the House of Savoy.
Continuing on through the Glion Pass, we arrive in the Rhone Valley and onto the famous Valais wine region starting at Leytron. Half way up the Alps, Ovronnaz, an alpine village, perched on a plateau at 1350 meters, is known for its thermal spa and ski ranges at 2500 meters.
If instead of following the lake, you turn left in Vevey toward Bern, the Fribourg canton boasts of the 13th century Gruyère Castle and medieval village perching on a hill overlooking the Saane River Valley and Lake of Gruyère. Surrounded by the slopes of Moleson and Dent du Chamois, Gruyère is famous for its dairy products, cheese and chocolate. The Cailler Maison, chocolate factory and museum is nearby in Broc.
Beauty abounds from rolling verdant hills of Gruyère and the pre Alps regions to the spectacular mountains like the Matterhorn and famous trio Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau. From the isolated villages in Glarus and Appenzell in the Heidi land region to the medieval arches of Bern and the covered bridges of Lucern, Switzerland offers an endless opportunity to explore.
The famous ski resorts, like Zermatt in the Valais region and Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland, are about 2 hours away. But with more time and a good driver, one can travel to the Grisons where they speak Romansch and Ticcino in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Or head North to St Gall by Lake Constance and the German border and the Reichenbach Falls where Sherlock Holmes fell to his death. In five and a half hours, you can traverse the entire country from Geneva in the east to St. Mortiz in the west.
Ah but that’s for the next road trip.
Surely Switzerland if not the most beautiful country, rates in the top ten.
What do you think?