The aesthetic beauty of Switzerland creates a magical backdrop for vacations any time of year. Amidst the lakes, rivers, and mountains, Switzerland is land-locked between five countries and is the only one that boasts four national languages—German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch.
Thanks to its extensive public transportation system, Switzerland is easy to explore. Discover its homegrown charm with a Swiss Travel Pass, an all-in-one ticket that provides travelers with access to trains, busses, and boats. The ticket also conveniently includes admission to more than 500 museums.
When planning your travels for the fall, here are some highlights to include in your itinerary:
A large medieval town with 860 years of history behind it, Fribourg is surrounded on three sides by the Saane River. Ten beautifully designed bridges dominate the urban landscape and connect the German- and French-speaking parts of the region.
The Old Town of Fribourg is full of charm with its gothic facades, pretty fountains, cozy cafés and inns, and ancient homes built in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. While there, stay at the charming family-owned Hotel Au Sauvage; the husband is the chef and his wife and daughter run the hotel.
Just a few doors down is Cafe-Restaurant de la Clef, where you can enjoy an elegant cuisine featuring fresh and tasty Fribourg products while sitting on the outdoor roof terrace overlooking the Saane River. Be sure to check out Urban Golf, an 18-hole course spread throughout the entire town. And, since chocolate is high on the cultural agenda in Switzerland, don’t miss Fleur de Cacao, which offers hand-crafted artisanal chocolates using French recipes and techniques and personal chocolate-making classes.
The La Gruyère region is a must-see for travelers who appreciate the picturesque medieval town and its enchanting landscapes. Start at the Gruyères Castle, where you will uncover eight centuries of history, architecture, and culture. (For a good historical overview, sit down for the 18-minute multimedia presentation.) While in the area, visit La Maison du Gruyère, where travelers can watch a demonstration of how Le Gruyère AOP cheese is made. Culinary tradition is legendary in the Fribourg Region, including Fribourg’s moitié-moitié fondue. To taste the authentic cuisine, visit Le Chalet de Gruyeres, a cozy wooded cottage where the staff wears traditional Swiss dresses.
For the nature lover, Fribourg is a walker’s paradise; the whole region has more than 1100 miles of official hiking trails and about 80 thematic trails. For varied levels of difficulty, try Charmey, a pre-alpine landscape filled with rivers, lakes, meadows, and mountain peaks for both hikers and mountain-bikers.
Not only is Bern the capital of Switzerland, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to Switzerland’s Houses of Parliament. It is known for being the location where Albert Einstein lived while developing his “Theory of Relativity.” The official language in Bern is German.
At the heart of Bern is its beautiful Old Town, which was built on a peninsula encircled by the Aare River. In warm weather, visitors and locals alike can be found swimming and boating there. Bern’s historical townscape, dating back to 1191, is characterized by the Clock Tower, the Prison tower, the Cathedral, the sculptural fountains from the Renaissance, and the well-kept sandstone facades.
Walk through the beautiful Rose Garden, which is home to 220 different types of roses. Afterward, lunch at the Restaurant Rosengarten with its spectacular views of the city. Then travel down to Bear Park and watch the bears—literally—as they fish, play, and relax in their naturally sanctioned park.
Stay at the award-winning Hotel Schweizerhof Bern*****Superior with its 150 years of history and recent two-year comprehensive renovation. Between the remarkable staff and the elegantly designed rooms, it’s no surprise this five-star hotel is a longtime celebrity spot, favored by the likes of Grace Kelly. While there, check out the hotel’s luxury wellness facilities, including THE SPA, the Cigar Lounge, the Sky Terrace offering breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views, and the main restaurant, Jack’s Brasserie.
Set in the heart of Switzerland, Bern is the gateway to the Alps. Take a train to the lush green landscape of Emmental Valley and pick up an E-Bike, then head over to the Emmental Show Dairy for a tour of their famous “Emmental (Swiss) Cheese.”
The largest city in Switzerland, Zurich is culturally vibrant and known for being the financial center of the country. It is consistently ranked among the top cities in the world for its quality of life. With magnificent views of the snowcapped Alps, Zurich offers a unique mixture of attractions—over 50 museums, high-end shopping, over 100 art galleries, and a lively nightlife.
Located on the north end of Lake Zurich, travelers can take boat tours with the Lake Zürich Navigation Company, or rent a small European touring boat for a leisure cruise. Stay at Hotel Marktgasse, a boutique hotel with contemporary designs located near the city’s top sightseeing highlights. For dinner, enjoy the hotel’s main restaurant, Baltho Küche & Bar, with its cosmopolitan cuisine. During your visit, explore Zurich West, where industrial buildings are converted into Zurich’s top trendy neighborhood and a culture center for the arts, shopping, restaurants, and bars.
Photo Credit: Switzerland Tourism
By Jenna Guarneri