Monday, April 16, 2012

Switzerland – a cultural confluence in the heart of Europe

Whether it's the lakes, chocolate, watches, the Alps, or just their famed neutrality, a holiday to Switzerland offers a wealth of history, culture and activities to enjoy.

Switzerland captivates with its breathtaking mountains, clear blue lakes, Alpine villages, fairytale castles, lakeside chalets, fields of edelweiss and beautiful cultured cities. The snow-capped Alps, Europe’s highest mountains, abound with awe-inspiring glaciers and gigantic rock-formations. Frothy streams rush down the mountains and waterfalls thunder into valleys. They provide a spectacular backdrop for some picturesque villages with traditional painted houses. The reflection of the pines shimmers on the crystal-clear blue surface of the mountain lakes. The Alpine meadows are breathtakingly beautiful. South of the Alps is the Mediterranean ambience of beaches with palm trees, outdoor cafés, promenades and quaint houses with stone-dotted roofs.
Switzerland is a country much more than dramatic landscapes, quaint country settings, chocolates, cheese and watches. The destination’s central location in the heart of Europe with its largest lakes—Geneva, Constance (Bodensee), and Maggiore—straddling the French, German-Austrian, and Italian borders, respectively wonderfully combines the cultural influences of its neighbours, truly making it one of its kind in the European continent.
Founded 700 years ago, Switzerland is now a multicultural and hospitable country and home to 7.4 million people. The diverse linguistic, culinary, architectural and musical traditions shape the Swiss culture in different parts of the country such as the regions of Basel, Zurich, Geneva and the ’King of all mountains’ – Matterhorn conveniently accessible by  the Glacier Express.
Visit Mt Pilatus, Jungfraujoch, Gornergrat, Glacier 3000, Mt Titlis and Schilthorn summit all built up at over 3,000 meters above sea level. Explore the scenic mountain trails with opportunities for hiking, bicycling, golfing, gourmet dining, sophisticated culture and nightlife, incorporates a unique cross-cultural confluence like no other in the heart of Europe.
Zurich, in northwest Switzerland, is home to the Opera House, Grossmünster Church and the Swiss National Museum. Check out the unbeatable shopping, high culture, music and club events, art galleries and great restaurants the city offers. Visit the fascinating city of Basel, Switzerland's oldest university town, which presents the very best in modern art and architecture with attractions ranging from the Doll's House Museum to the Swiss Architecture Museum. The new thrives with the old in the rich cultural cities of Bern and Geneva. Stroll through the city streets, taking in the medieval arcades with modern boutiques; modern architecture within easy reach of the Roman ruins, Medieval castles and Baroque cathedrals.
Spend time in the charming city of Lucerne. Roam its cobbled lanes, past fresoced medieval guildhalls, quirky shopping, down to the lakefront quays, where ferries stand against a backdrop of snowy peaks! Of course, no visit to Lucerne can be complete without a visit to the original Bucherer showroom, famed for its intricately handcrafted watches, clocks, including the Guinness Book of Records certified ‘largest roller ball clock in the world’, and exquisite jewellery conjured out of pearl and gemstone.
For those seeking a more cultural or historical experience – Switzerland boasts over 700 museums, acclaimed art collections and numerous festivals. So whether it's Geneva's Red Cross Museum, the classical musical events of Lucerne or Zurich's spring festival, there is plenty to see and do.

Switzerland is chocolate heaven. But there is more to Swiss cuisine than just chocolate and cheese. The gourmet restaurants in its charming cities or quaint restaurants in idyllic remote country areas offer delicious local specialities made from local produce – like the asparagus from the village farmer’s field, fish from the neighbouring river or lake or honey from the local meadow. Taste wines with the winegrower, check out the chocolate factory, check out the over 450 varieties of cheese and of course, enjoy the fondue.

Whether it’s skiing down glaciers or walking the hills, cable car riding up Alpine mountain peaks or driving across breathtaking vistas, indulging in chic European shopping or relaxing at cosmopolitan cafés, Switzerland is the perfect destination for an unforgettable holiday with Mercury Travels.

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