Switzerland Overview

Image Gallery

Switzerland is a mountainous land-locked country in the heart of central Europe that may punish your travel funds but will leave you wanting more. Bordered by Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein, this small country has somehow stayed "neutral" during centuries of conflict and thus maintained good relations with all of their powerhouse neighbours. Although Switzerland was not involved in many of Europe's conflicts, it is divided into four main cultural and linguistic regions: German, French, Italian and a Romanish dialect. Swiss-German is what the majority of the population speaks and although similar to German, it is slightly different and distinctly Swiss. The Swiss Confederation was founded on August 1, 1291, making it one of the oldest countries in Europe. The spectacular mountain scenery provided by the Swiss Alps has created a nation of exceptional engineers that have built quality infrastructure in some pretty harsh environments. Amazing mountain passes can be driven on impossibly situated roads while trains can take people to some of the highest points on the continent. During winter, long, precision-built tunnels shuttle people under mountains and through steep valleys with no delay. Even though Switzerland is a relatively small country, there are many things to see and do making it likely that you will need more than one trip to appreciate all there is to offer. Recommended places to start are the triple castle town of Bellinzona, the beautiful lakeside city of Lucerne, as well as Lake Geneva and its surrounding towns, castles, mountains and vineyards. Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world with a long history of banking and loose financial policies, which has likely been a reason for not being invaded over time. This factor has meant that Switzerland is significantly more expensive to travel through than neighbouring European countries. Food, transport and accommodation cost more in Switzerland so be prepared to watch your budget more closely, especially if you are a backpacker. Even with the increase in cost of travel to Switzerland, you will not be disappointed. A final warning that being in the mountains, the weather can be notoriously inconsistent even in the summer months, so plan for some flexibility with your schedule if possible.

Bellinzona
Chateau de Chillion
Gruyeres
Interlaken
Lausanne
Lucerne
Schaffhausen
Sion
Stein am Rhein
Swiss Alps
Zurich
 

Image Gallery

Photography by Eric Starling, Mike Minckler, Footside and Peter Dale

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge, Lucerne
Geltsch Village, Furkastrasse, Switzerland
Geltsch Village, Furkastrasse
Bellinzona Backflip, Switzerland
Bellinzona Backflip
Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich
Tourbillon Castle, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle, Sion
Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyeres
Chateau de Chillion Dungeon, Switzerland
Chateau de Chillion Dungeon
Top of Furka Pass, Switzerland
Top of Furka Pass
Valère Basilica, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica, Sion
Gruyeres Castle, Switzerland
Gruyeres Castle
Aigle Castle, Switzerland
Aigle Castle
Chateau de Chillion, Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Chateau de Chillion, Lake Geneva
Grossmünster Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Grossmünster Church, Zurich
Interlaken Backflip, Switzerland
Interlaken Backflip
Town Hall, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Town Hall, Stein am Rhein
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande, Bellinzona
View of Gotthardstrasse Road on the way to Andermatt, Switzerland
View of Gotthardstrasse Road on the way to Andermatt
View of the Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, that crosses over the Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland
View of the Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, that crosses over the Reuss River in Lucerne
View from the top of the Furka Pass on Furkastrasse Road, Switzerland
View from the top of the Furka Pass on Furkastrasse Road
The Murata Defensive Wall and Castelgrande in Bellinzona, Switzerland
The Murata Defensive Wall and Castelgrande in Bellinzona
Main Street with decorated buildings in Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Main Street with decorated buildings in Stein am Rhein
View of the Swiss Alpine Mountains from the ruined walls of Tourbillon Castle in Sion, Switzerland
View of the Swiss Alpine Mountains from the ruined walls of Tourbillon Castle in Sion
Chapel Bridge at Night, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge at Night, Lucerne
Gruyeres town and mountains, Switzerland
Gruyeres town and mountains
Schaffhausen Old Town, Switzerland
Schaffhausen Old Town
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle, Bellinzona
Chateau de Chillion, Switzerland
Chateau de Chillion
Bellinzona, Switzerland
Bellinzona
Gutenberg Castle, Liechtenstein, Switzerland
Gutenberg Castle, Liechtenstein
Château Saint-Maire, Lausanne, Switzerland
Château Saint-Maire, Lausanne
Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps, Switzerland
Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps
Town Hall, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Town Hall, Schaffhausen
Chapel Bridge Painting, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge Painting, Lucerne
Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken
Valère Basilica, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica, Sion
Furkastrasse Road, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Near Andermatt, Switzerland
Near Andermatt
Tourbillon Castle, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle, Sion
View of Zurich and the Limmat River from Grossmünster Church Tower, Switzerland
View of Zurich and the Limmat River from Grossmünster Church Tower
Castelgrande as viewed from Montebello Castle directly opposite, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande as viewed from Montebello Castle directly opposite, Bellinzona
View of the town of Schaffhausen and the Rhine River from the Munot Fortress, Switzerland
View of the town of Schaffhausen and the Rhine River from the Munot Fortress
View of the backside of the Furka Pass at the highest point on Furkastrasse Road, Switzerland
View of the backside of the Furka Pass at the highest point on Furkastrasse Road
View of Château de Tourbillon (Tourbillon Castle), local vineyards and Tous les Saints Chapel, Sion, Switzerland
View of Château de Tourbillon (Tourbillon Castle), local vineyards and Tous les Saints Chapel, Sion
Chapel Bridge on the left and the Jesuit Church of Lucerne on the right with Mount Pilatus in the background, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge on the left and the Jesuit Church of Lucerne on the right with Mount Pilatus in the background, Lucerne
View of the French Gardens in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
View of the French Gardens in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande, Bellinzona
Sion, Switzerland
Sion
Lake Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland
Lake Geneva, Lausanne
Mount Pilatus, Lucerne, Switzerland
Mount Pilatus, Lucerne
Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen
Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken
Saint Peter's Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Saint Peter's Church, Zurich
Painting, Gruyeres Castle, Switzerland
Painting, Gruyeres Castle
Furkastrasse Road, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Main Square, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Main Square, Stein am Rhein
Top of Furka Pass, Switzerland
Top of Furka Pass
Chateau de Chillion, Switzerland
Chateau de Chillion

Bellinzona

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside, Peter Dale and Mike Minckler

Castelgrande and the Murata Defensive Wall, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande and the Murata Defensive Wall
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande
Montebello Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle
Bellinzona Old Town, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Bellinzona Old Town
Sasso Corbaro Castle and Montebello Walls, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Sasso Corbaro Castle and Montebello Walls
Castelgrande and the Murata Defensive Wall, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande and the Murata Defensive Wall

Bellinzona is one of the most interesting and exciting towns to visit in Europe if you are a fan of medieval castles. This small town is located roughly 30 km north of the popular lakeside town of Lugano in southern Switzerland. Bellinzona boasts three well preserved castles and a long stretch of wall that once formed an impassable barrier across the river valley as it occupied strategic positions on what was once a key trade route through the Alps. The three castles of Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro together with a large Rampart Wall called the Murata, ran from the Ticino river to the inaccessible peaks that surround the valley, forcing traders and travellers alike to funnel through the market town of Bellinzona and presumably pay the toll to pass. Castelgrande is located in a rocky outcrop on the valley floor and is connected with a series of walls that surrounded the old town and connect up to Montebello Castle. The rocky outcrop that Castelgrande stands on has been fortified since the 1st century BC and was the only castle in this area until the 13th century. It hosts a small museum with coins and history of the area along with access to walls and towers. Montebello Castle is located on a hillside parallel to Castelgrande and is connected by city walls that protected the town. This castle was built in the 13th century and before the use of canons helped seal off the valley and control trade. The third castle is Sasso Corbaro which is further up the mountainside from the town than the other two castles. It was built in the 15th century to help close gaps in defending the valley and provide the high ground of canon fire during times of conflict. The combination of these three castles and the Murata, the long defensive wall that offers a nice stroll through grass almost all the way out to the river, is a medieval enthusiast's dream. Access to all the walls on each castle and the ones in town is a total free for all which is unheard of in many areas of Europe. On top of that all the castles and town walls are exceptionally well preserved, giving you a pretty good idea of what the area looked like when it blocked off this narrow mountain valley in the middle ages. At night, all three castles are lit up and offer some spectacular shots of the structures hovering in the dark. The town of Bellinzona is small and easy to navigate with trains in and out of town, making access without a car fairly reasonable. The town and castles can be done as a single day trip but if you have the time to soak up these excellent pieces of history over a couple of days and hike the local hills you should certainly make the time.

Bellinzona Backflip, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Bellinzona Backflip
Castelgrande and Sasso Corbaro at Night, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande and Sasso Corbaro at Night
Bellinzona Old Town, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Bellinzona Old Town
Defensive Town Walls, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Defensive Town Walls
Collegiata dei Ss. Pietro e Stefano, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Collegiata dei Ss. Pietro e Stefano
Bellinzona New Town and Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Bellinzona New Town and Castelgrande
Castelgrande and town vineyards, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande and town vineyards
Strolling the Murata Defensive Wall, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Strolling the Murata Defensive Wall
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande
The Murata Defensive Wall and Castelgrande with surrounding town vineyards, Bellinzona, Switzerland
The Murata Defensive Wall and Castelgrande with surrounding town vineyards
The Murata Defensive Wall and Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
The Murata Defensive Wall and Castelgrande
Castelgrande as viewed from Montebello Castle directly opposite, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande as viewed from Montebello Castle directly opposite
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle
Sasso Corbaro Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Sasso Corbaro Castle
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande
View of town from Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
View of town from Castelgrande
Murata Defensive Wall, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Murata Defensive Wall
Montebello Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle
View of town from Montebello Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
View of town from Montebello Castle
Collegiata dei Ss. Pietro e Stefano, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Collegiata dei Ss. Pietro e Stefano
Montebello Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle
Montebello Castle and Walls with Sasso Corbaro Castle on the top of the hill, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle and Walls with Sasso Corbaro Castle on the top of the hill
View of Bellinzona Old Town from Castelgrande Tower, Bellinzona, Switzerland
View of Bellinzona Old Town from Castelgrande Tower
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle at Night, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle at Night
Bellinzona Bell Tower, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Bellinzona Bell Tower
Sasso Corbaro Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Sasso Corbaro Castle
Murata Defensive Wall and Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Murata Defensive Wall and Castelgrande
Montebello Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande
Murata Defensive Wall, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Murata Defensive Wall
Castelgrande from the town, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande from the town
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Castelgrande
Beers in Bellinzona, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Beers in Bellinzona
Chiesa di San Sebastiano Artore, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Chiesa di San Sebastiano Artore
Montebello Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle
Town Square, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Town Square
View of town from Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
View of town from Castelgrande
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle as viewed from Castelgrande directly opposite, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle and Sasso Corbaro Castle as viewed from Castelgrande directly opposite
Montebello Castle Outer Walls, Bellinzona, Switzerland
Montebello Castle Outer Walls

Lucerne

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Peter Dale

Chapel Bridge over the Reuss River, Kapellbrücke, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge over the Reuss River
View of Lucerne from City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
View of Lucerne from City Walls
Church of St. Leodegar on Lake Lucerne, Lucerne, Switzerland
Church of St. Leodegar on Lake Lucerne
Jesuit Church, Lucerne, Switzerland
Jesuit Church
Old Town on Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
Old Town on Reuss River
Chapel Bridge Tower, Kapellbrücke, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge Tower

Lucerne is a beautiful city set on the banks of Lake Lucerne in the Swiss Alps and has been drawing tourist for nearly 200 years. Featuring fresh glacier-fed water flowing through the city into Lake Lucerne from the Reuss River, the towering Mount Pilatus and a number of other Swiss Alps clearly visible around the city, Lucerne is a top place to visit on any trip to Switzerland. Lucerne really is as nice as advertised but can be expensive to stay and eat in the city and has been for a long time. This city was one of the locations where modern tourism in Europe took off in the early 1800s, as the continent's royalty and wealthy citizens looked for a clean mountain getaway from the polluted cities. Switzerland in general is more expensive that the rest of Europe and Lucerne is more expensive for many items than the rest of Switzerland, yet still well worth a visit. Booking in advance and limiting restaurant meals can drive costs down and there are many good outdoor activities like hiking and relaxing lakeside that are free for those with limited budgets. Strolling the manicured old town of Lucerne along the river is a highlight within the city and crossing the famous Chapel Bridge to check out the medieval paintings is a must. The Chapel Bridge does draw a crowd and for good reason. It is a long wooden bridge that spans the Reuss River and has some excellent paintings of battles, images of town centuries ago and more that are preserved for your viewing. Located in the mountains, Lucerne can have picture-perfect blue sky days turn to extreme rain storms on a daily basis, so plan your stay with some flexibility if you're wanting to climb Mount Pilatus. The Travelling Backflip team has been thwarted on two occasions trying to hike this mountain due to the unpredictable nature of the weather.

Kramgasse Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Kramgasse Bridge
Lucerne and Lake from City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne and Lake from City Walls
Jesuit Church and Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
Jesuit Church and Reuss River
Painting on Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Painting on Chapel Bridge
Painting on Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Painting on Chapel Bridge
Painting on Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Painting on Chapel Bridge
Grand National Hotel, Lucerne, Switzerland
Grand National Hotel
City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
City Walls
Painting on Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Painting on Chapel Bridge
View of the Grand National overlooking Lake Lucerne, Lucerne, Switzerland
View of the Grand National overlooking Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne and Swiss Alps, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lake Lucerne and Swiss Alps
Chapel Bridge and Old Town Lucerne on the Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge and Old Town Lucerne on the Reuss River
Chapel Bridge at Night, Kapellbrücke, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge at Night
Painting on Chapel Bridge, Kapellbrücke, Lucerne, Switzerland
Painting on Chapel Bridge
Mill Bridge, Spreuerbrücke, Lucerne, Switzerland
Mill Bridge
Chapel Bridge on the Reuss River, Kapellbrücke, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge on the Reuss River
Old Town on Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
Old Town on Reuss River
Lucerne Waterfront, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne Waterfront
City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
City Walls
Lake Lucerne and Swiss Alps, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lake Lucerne and Swiss Alps
City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
City Walls
Old Town, Lucerne, Switzerland
Old Town
Mount Pilatus Sunset, Lucerne, Switzerland
Mount Pilatus Sunset
View of Suburb from City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
View of Suburb from City Walls
View of the Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge that crosses over the Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
View of the Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge that crosses over the Reuss River
View of Old Town Lucerne, Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps from the Lucerne City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
View of Old Town Lucerne, Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps from the Lucerne City Walls
Chapel Bridge on the left and the Jesuit Church of Lucerne on the right with Mount Pilatus in the background, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge on the left and the Jesuit Church of Lucerne on the right with Mount Pilatus in the background
Chapel Bridge over the Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge over the Reuss River
Chapel Bridge over the Reuss River at Night, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge over the Reuss River at Night
Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge
Entrance to Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Entrance to Chapel Bridge
Grand National Hotel, Lucerne, Switzerland
Grand National Hotel
Old Town on Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
Old Town on Reuss River
Painting on Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Painting on Chapel Bridge
Painting on Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Painting on Chapel Bridge
Painting on Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Painting on Chapel Bridge
Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge
Swans on the Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
Swans on the Reuss River
Travelling Backflip Team, Lucerne, Switzerland
Travelling Backflip Team
View up the Reuss River, Lucerne, Switzerland
View up the Reuss River
Lake Lucerne from City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lake Lucerne from City Walls
Old Town Lucerne from City Walls, Lucerne, Switzerland
Old Town Lucerne from City Walls
Lake Lucerne and Waterfront at Night, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lake Lucerne and Waterfront at Night
View from Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
View from Chapel Bridge
Grand National Hotel at Night, Lucerne, Switzerland
Grand National Hotel at Night
View of Lake Lucerne during a thunderstorm, Lucerne, Switzerland
View of Lake Lucerne during a thunderstorm

Sion

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Peter Dale, Footside and Mike Minckler

Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle
Sion and surrounding mountains, Sion, Switzerland
Sion and surrounding mountains
Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica
View of Sion Valley and Rhone River, Sion, Switzerland
View of Sion Valley and Rhone River
Painting in Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Painting in Valère Basilica
Path and Gate to Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Path and Gate to Tourbillon Castle

Sion is a small city dramatically situated in a steep mountain valley in Southwest Switzerland, not far from Lake Geneva. The site of the current old town has been inhabited since the Mesolithic period, as far back as 6000 BC, making Sion one of the most important prehistoric sites on the continent. Celtic tribes had settled and were living in the area when Julius Cesar rolled through and made it a Roman town. The city is quite small and has a provincial feel about it, with the steep Swiss Alps rising quickly from the valley floor above the treeline to jagged peaks. The view is made even more impressive by the ruined castle of Château de Tourbillon and the fortified church of Basilique de Valère that sit on two small hills in the middle of the valley. Tourbillon Castle is a rare free admission and provides some great views of the valley and surrounding mountains from its ruined walls. The hike up the trail and through the ruined walls and gate provides a very Lord of the Rings feel which shouldn't be missed, especially since its free. The Valère Basilica is built on the site of previous holy structures and was built in the 12th century. The church aspect of the structure is free to all those wanting to make the trek all the way up the hill but you have to pay to get inside the museum. The museum has your standard exhibits of weaponry, armour and furniture from medieval times but it also has a large section dedicated to early climbers and mountaineers of Switzerland. There is also a great section of the museum showing the current and future effects of climate change on this region of Switzerland and a video montage showing nearly 10,000 years of human history in the area. Sion is a great spot to stop for a day or two when touring Switzerland and it also seems to get consistent sunny afternoons in the valley due to mountain winds that get going in the early afternoon. Sion is worth your time.

Sion Downtown, Sion, Switzerland
Sion Downtown
Building and Mountains, Sion, Switzerland
Building and Mountains
Tourbillon Castle and Tous les Saints Chapel, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle and Tous les Saints Chapel
Terraced Vineyards, Sion, Switzerland
Terraced Vineyards
Inside Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Inside Valère Basilica
Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle
View of Château de Tourbillon (Tourbillon Castle), local vineyards and Tous les Saints Chapel, Sion, Switzerland
View of Château de Tourbillon (Tourbillon Castle), local vineyards and Tous les Saints Chapel
View of the Swiss Alpine Mountains from the ruined walls of Tourbillon Castle, Sion, Switzerland
View of the Swiss Alpine Mountains from the ruined walls of Tourbillon Castle
Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica
Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle
Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica
Downtown Sion, Sion, Switzerland
Downtown Sion
Stained Glass in Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Stained Glass in Valère Basilica
Sion from Valère Basilica, Sion, Switzerland
Sion from Valère Basilica
Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle
Painting in Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Painting in Valère Basilica
Fine Arts Museum, Sion, Switzerland
Fine Arts Museum
View of the mountain town of Cerisier, Sion, Switzerland
View of the mountain town of Cerisier
Lounging outside Tourbillon Castle, Sion, Switzerland
Lounging outside Tourbillon Castle
Swiss Alps, Sion, Switzerland
Swiss Alps
View of Tourbillon Castle from the museum balcony of Valère Basilica in the Swiss city of Sion, Château de Tourbillon, Switzerland
View of Tourbillon Castle from the museum balcony of Valère Basilica in the Swiss city of Sion
View of the ruined inside of Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
View of the ruined inside of Tourbillon Castle
View of Valère Basilica from Tourbillon Castle, Sion, Switzerland
View of Valère Basilica from Tourbillon Castle
Inside Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Inside Valère Basilica
Main Gate for Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Main Gate for Tourbillon Castle
Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica
Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica
Valère Basilica, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica
Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle
Tourbillon Castle Flags, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle Flags
Inside Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Inside Tourbillon Castle
Tous les Saints Chapel, Sion, Switzerland
Tous les Saints Chapel
Inside Valère Basilica Museum, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Inside Valère Basilica Museum
Lounging outside Tourbillon Castle, Sion, Switzerland
Lounging outside Tourbillon Castle
Path to Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Path to Tourbillon Castle
Valère Basilica Garden, Basilique de Valère, Sion, Switzerland
Valère Basilica Garden
Path to Tourbillon Castle, Château de Tourbillon, Sion, Switzerland
Path to Tourbillon Castle
Mountains above Andermatt, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Mountains above Andermatt
Gletsch Village, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Gletsch Village
Cyclist on Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Cyclist on Furkastrasse Road
Gotthardstrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Gotthardstrasse Road
View of Furka Pass, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
View of Furka Pass
Backside View of Furka Pass, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Backside View of Furka Pass

Switzerland is known for its stunning mountain scenery and the Swiss Alps really do live up to the hype if you can catch them on a clear day. With this in mind, our team decided we needed to find a great mountain pass to drive over and take advantage of having the freedom a rented car provides. Switzerland has an impressive number of well built roads and rail networks that connect all parts of the country and provide access to many of the high points throughout the country. Due to the varied elevation of Switzerland, many of the roads are impassable during large portions of the year, so you can only really appreciate these winding, steep roads in the summer months when the snow has melted away. We chose the Furka Pass in the south west of the country as it connected some prime destinations nicely. To appreciate all that Swiss infrastructure has to offer, we drove from Bellinzona to the Gotthardstrasse Tunnel, took the 20-plus kilometre tunnel to the exit for Andermatt and started the climb up into the mountains. Once in Andermatt, we got on the Furkastrasse Road and made our way through some proper Swiss Alpine roads, peaking out at the Furka Pass some 2500 metres above sea level. The backside of the Furka Pass is particularly impressive with the road snaking back and forth down an extremely steep hillside into the lush valley below. At the bottom of the Furkastrasse you can either head back up into the mountains and over a range to Interlaken, or follow the valley all the way to the small city of Sion. The valley drive to Sion is through a succession of small Swiss towns, villages and farms with steep snow-capped mountains rising above on each side. Driving through the Alps can be a harrowing experience with aggressive drivers, impossibly narrow roads and the need to constantly be on alert. The payoff however is some of the most accessible high mountain access without actually hiking in the world. As always in Switzerland, weather will be a factor and rainy days mean no views and even slower driving times, but if you can catch a blue sky day you will not regret it and will likely be planning your next summer drive in this amazing country.

Tiefenbach, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Tiefenbach
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Schweig, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Schweig
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Near Andermatt, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Near Andermatt
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Near Gletsch Village, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Near Gletsch Village
Gotthardstrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Gotthardstrasse Road
View of Gotthardstrasse Road on the way to Andermatt, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
View of Gotthardstrasse Road on the way to Andermatt
View of the valley and mountains around Andermatt, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
View of the valley and mountains around Andermatt
View of the backside of Furka Pass from the highest point on Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
View of the backside of Furka Pass from the highest point on Furkastrasse Road
Tiefenbach, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Tiefenbach
Hotel Furkablick, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Hotel Furkablick
Hotel on Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Hotel on Furkastrasse Road
Jagged Peaks, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Jagged Peaks
Jagged Peaks, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Jagged Peaks
Jagged Peaks, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Jagged Peaks
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Mountain Cows, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Mountain Cows
Mountain Cows, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Mountain Cows
Mountain Cows, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Mountain Cows
View of the backside of Furka Pass from the highest point on Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
View of the backside of Furka Pass from the highest point on Furkastrasse Road
Furkablick area some 2400 metres above sea level, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkablick area some 2400 metres above sea level
View of the Steinstafel Valley, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
View of the Steinstafel Valley
Road near Andermatt, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Road near Andermatt
Top of Furka Pass, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Top of Furka Pass
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Furka Pass Backflip, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furka Pass Backflip
View of Andermatt Valley, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
View of Andermatt Valley
Furka Pass Backflip, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furka Pass Backflip
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
View of Furka Pass Peak, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
View of Furka Pass Peak
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road
Furkastrasse Road, Furka Pass Drive, Switzerland
Furkastrasse Road

Interlaken

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Mike Minckler and Footside

Lake Thun, Interlaken, Switzerland
Lake Thun
Town of Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
Town of Interlaken
Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps, Interlaken, Switzerland
Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps
Ruined Tower Backflip, Interlaken, Switzerland
Ruined Tower Backflip
Lake Brienz and Mountains, Interlaken, Switzerland
Lake Brienz and Mountains
Ruined Tower Hill, Interlaken, Switzerland
Ruined Tower Hill

Interlaken is a small town in the middle of the Swiss Alps sandwiched between the two mountain lakes of Thun and Brienz. This small town is very popular with the younger backpacking scene, drawing many people looking to take advantage of the adventure sports that are available in the area. Skydiving, bungy jumping and more are on offer for those thrill seekers with disposable income. The Interlaken Valley also has a seemingly unlimited number of great hiking trails for enthusiasts of all skill and fitness levels. You can also use Interlaken as a base to access the Jungfrau Peak, which is one of the higher peaks in the Alps, and no hiking is required as a network of trains take you up almost 3500 metres. Due to its location surrounded by high mountains, the weather in Interlaken can be unpredictable and it is recommended to have some flexibility with your time if possible in this region. A freak snowstorm derailed our hiking plans while travelling through in late May and apparently this is not uncommon. Trains connect Interlaken to all the major city hubs in central Switzerland, so travellers can easily reach this laid back town and soak up the atmosphere.

View from train to Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
View from train to Interlaken
Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps, Interlaken, Switzerland
Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps
Ruined Tower, Interlaken, Switzerland
Ruined Tower
Ruined Tower, Interlaken, Switzerland
Ruined Tower
Snow in May in Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
Snow in May in Interlaken
Interlaken Backflip, Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken Backflip
Town of Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
Town of Interlaken
Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps, Interlaken, Switzerland
Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps
Lake Brienz, Interlaken, Switzerland
Lake Brienz
View of the Interlaken Valley and Lake Brienz from the Ruined Tower Hill, Interlaken, Switzerland
View of the Interlaken Valley and Lake Brienz from the Ruined Tower Hill
View of the top of the Ruined Tower, Interlaken, Switzerland
View of the top of the Ruined Tower
View of the Interlaken Valley from the Ruined Tower Hill, Interlaken, Switzerland
View of the Interlaken Valley from the Ruined Tower Hill
Lake Thun from train to Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
Lake Thun from train to Interlaken
View of the town of Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
View of the town of Interlaken
Lake Brienz, Interlaken, Switzerland
Lake Brienz
Traditional Swiss Houses, Interlaken, Switzerland
Traditional Swiss Houses
Ruined Tower, Interlaken, Switzerland
Ruined Tower
Aggressive Swan, Interlaken, Switzerland
Aggressive Swan
View from train to Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
View from train to Interlaken
View from train to Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
View from train to Interlaken
View of Interlaken Valley, Interlaken, Switzerland
View of Interlaken Valley
Lake Brienz and Mountains, Interlaken, Switzerland
Lake Brienz and Mountains
Snow in May in Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
Snow in May in Interlaken
Mountains around Interlaken, Interlaken, Switzerland
Mountains around Interlaken

Gruyères

Text by Eric Starling; Photogrpahy by Eric Starling, Peter Dale and Footside

Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle
French Garden in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
French Garden in Gruyères Castle
Religious Scene in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Religious Scene in Gruyères Castle
The town of Gruyères and surrounding hills, Gruyeres, Switzerland
The town of Gruyères and surrounding hills
Battle Scene in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Battle Scene in Gruyères Castle

Gruyères is a small town with a long history, located on the western side of Switzerland not far from Lake Geneva. The main draw is the small, single street Old Town perched on a hill in the valley that leads up to Gruyères Castle, there is also a small New Town in the valley below. The town and region are famous worldwide for the excellent cheese that has been made in this area for centuries. The castle was built in the late 1200s and, along with the small Old Town, escaped being destroyed like many other castles in the region because they supplied their valued cheese to both fighting forces during conflicts. Being sandwiched between the powerful Cantons of Fribourg and Bern, Gruyères was property of one powerful ruler or another for most of its existence and remained relatively unblemished due to the value it provided its rulers. Gruyères Castle was one of the first castles to be restored during the 1800s when there was a romanticized vision and effort to revive Switzerland's medieval past. Gruyères can easily be done as a half day trip but the area is quite close to some spectacular mountain scenery that would be great for hiking. Its location being not far from the motorway connecting Lake Geneva with Fribourg and the capital Bern means it is easily accessible and worth the stop if just to taste some of the fantastic cheese from the source.

The town of Gruyères and surrounding hills, Gruyeres, Switzerland
The town of Gruyères and surrounding hills
Gruyères Old Town Building, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Old Town Building
Gruyères New Town from the castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères New Town from the castle
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle
Art Exhibit in Gruyères, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Art Exhibit in Gruyères
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Castle Gate, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Gate
Battle Scene in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Battle Scene in Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Castle Gardens, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Gardens
View of Église Saint Théodule from Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
View of Église Saint Théodule from Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Castle and French Gardens on the back end of the Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle and French Gardens on the back end of the Castle
Stained Glass within Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Stained Glass within Gruyères Castle
View of the Swiss Alps and hills around Gruyères, Gruyeres, Switzerland
View of the Swiss Alps and hills around Gruyères
Chalet de Gruyères, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Chalet de Gruyères
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Castle walkway, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle walkway
Gruyères Castle Courtyard, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Courtyard
Gruyères Castle Drawing Room, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Drawing Room
Gruyères Old Town Buildings, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Old Town Buildings
Hills around Gruyères, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Hills around Gruyères
Gruyères Castle Fortifications, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Fortifications
Gruyères Castle Gardens, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Gardens
Outside Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Outside Gruyères Castle
Inside Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Inside Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Old Town, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Old Town
View of the Swiss Alps around Gruyères and Gruyères New Town in the Valley, Gruyeres, Switzerland
View of the Swiss Alps around Gruyères and Gruyères New Town in the Valley
Painting in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Painting in Gruyères Castle
View of the French Gardens in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
View of the French Gardens in Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Old Town Buildings, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Old Town Buildings
The town of Bulle from Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
The town of Bulle from Gruyères Castle
The Kitchen in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
The Kitchen in Gruyères Castle
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle
Gruyères New Town, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères New Town
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Stained Glass in Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Castle Drawing Room, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Drawing Room
Art Exhibit in Gruyères, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Art Exhibit in Gruyères
Gruyères Old Town, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Old Town
View from Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
View from Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Castle Courtyard, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Courtyard
Gruyères Castle Drawing Room, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle Drawing Room
Suit of Armour in Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Suit of Armour in Gruyères Castle
Art Exhibit in Gruyères, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Art Exhibit in Gruyères
Gruyères Castle, Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères Castle

Zurich

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Mike Minckler and Eric Starling

View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower, Zurich, Switzerland
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower
Limmat  River, Zurich, Switzerland
Limmat River
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower, Zurich, Switzerland
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower
Grossmünster Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Grossmünster Church
Zurich Old Town, Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Old Town
Saint Peter's Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Saint Peter's Church

Zurich is Switzerland's largest city and frequently is rated as one of the most livable cities in the world. Located on the end of Lake Zurich, this city was founded by the Romans and is now one of the world's largest financial centres due to the country's loose banking rules and low taxes within the city. The streets are clean and the buildings are immaculate throughout downtown Zurich. The old town area is a narrow warren of streets with character and the usual shops to entice visitors into spending money. Zurich is certainly one of those big cities you could spend alot of time exploring, or conversely just whip through on a day trip, checking out the inner core of the city, then be back on the train to keep moving. There are a number of museums to take advantage of and the views over the old town from the Grossmünster church towers is impressive. Keep in mind that Zurich is consistently rated as one of the wealthiest cities in Europe so it's going to take some effort to keep your costs down.

Panoramic View of Zurich and the Limmat River from Grossmünster Church Tower, Zurich, Switzerland
Panoramic View of Zurich and the Limmat River from Grossmünster Church Tower
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower, Zurich, Switzerland
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower
Zurich Backflip, Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Backflip
Limmat River and Lake Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Limmat River and Lake Zurich
Grossmünster Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Grossmünster Church
Inside Grossmünster Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Inside Grossmünster Church
Saint Peter's Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Saint Peter's Church
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower, Zurich, Switzerland
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower
Looking down from Grossmünster Tower, Zurich, Switzerland
Looking down from Grossmünster Tower
Limmat River and Grossmünster Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Limmat River and Grossmünster Church
Saint Peter's Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Saint Peter's Church
Stained Glass in Grossmünster Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Stained Glass in Grossmünster Church
Charlemagne statue in Grossmünster Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Charlemagne statue in Grossmünster Church
Horse Fountain, Zurich, Switzerland
Horse Fountain
Inside Grossmünster Church, Zurich, Switzerland
Inside Grossmünster Church
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower, Zurich, Switzerland
View of Zurich from Grossmünster Tower

Château de Chillon

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Mike Minckler and Eric Starling

The Castle and Dents du Midi Mountains, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
The Castle and Dents du Midi Mountains
Crypt/Dungeon, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Crypt/Dungeon
View on Lake Geneva, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
View on Lake Geneva
Moat and Turrets, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Moat and Turrets
Lower Courtyard, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Lower Courtyard
Walls and Turrets, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Walls and Turrets

Château de Chillon is an exceptionally well preserved castle picturesquely located on the eastern end of Lake Geneva. The castle is one of the oldest in Switzerland with its history dating back to the 1100s. It controlled a key trade route between northern and southern Europe and charged tolls for all those who passed. The castle was never taken during a siege thanks to its multiple levels of defense and location on a small rocky island just off the lake shore. The castle was home to the Counts of Savoy between the 12th and 16th centuries, a time when the majority of the castle was built with defenses on the mountain side to help control the trade route and the royal apartments on the lake side so the Counts could live in luxury. Château de Chillon is a great castle to explore because you get access to almost all aspects of the castle. The Sentry Walk which goes around the castle along with the Main Tower and Dungeon are highlights for any visit. On top of this, the castle is located right on Lake Geneva so you can easily make a day of relaxing on the lake and exploring some Medieval history. A main train line to Interlaken goes through the town of Montreux where the castle is located, so it's accessible by public transport.

North facing view of the Castle, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
North facing view of the Castle
Medieval Weaponry, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Medieval Weaponry
Courtyard of Honour, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Courtyard of Honour
Castellan’s Courtyard, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Castellan’s Courtyard
Crypt/Dungeon, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Crypt/Dungeon
Sentry Walk and Ramparts, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Sentry Walk and Ramparts
Chateau de Chillion Backflip, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Chateau de Chillion Backflip
Great Hall, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Great Hall
Chateau de Chillion Backflip, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Chateau de Chillion Backflip
View of Lake Geneva and the Dents du Midi Mountains from Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
View of Lake Geneva and the Dents du Midi Mountains from Château de Chillon
Medieval Weaponry, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Medieval Weaponry
Defensive Turrets, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Defensive Turrets
Sentry Walk and Ramparts, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Sentry Walk and Ramparts
Sentry Walk and Ramparts, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Sentry Walk and Ramparts
View from Main Tower, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
View from Main Tower
Castellan’s Courtyard, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Castellan’s Courtyard
Courtyard of Honour, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Courtyard of Honour
View over Lake Geneva, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
View over Lake Geneva
Sentry Walk and Ramparts, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Sentry Walk and Ramparts
View of the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva from Château de Chillon Castle, Montreux, Switzerland
View of the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva from Château de Chillon Castle
North facing view of the Castle, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
North facing view of the Castle
François Bonivard Painting, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
François Bonivard Painting
Dents du Midi Mountains and Lake Geneva, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Dents du Midi Mountains and Lake Geneva
Castle Turrets, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Castle Turrets
Grand Hall of the Count, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Grand Hall of the Count
Sentry Walk and Ramparts, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Sentry Walk and Ramparts
Great Hall Fireplace, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Great Hall Fireplace
Castle Turret and Entrance, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Castle Turret and Entrance
Top of the Main Tower, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Top of the Main Tower
View of the Inner Courtyard of Chateau de Chillion from the Main Tower, Château de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
View of the Inner Courtyard of Chateau de Chillion from the Main Tower

Schaffhausen

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Mike Minckler and Eric Starling

View of Old Town from Fortress Munot, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
View of Old Town from Fortress Munot
House Zum Ritter, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
House Zum Ritter
View of town and Rhine River, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
View of town and Rhine River
Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress
Top of Rheinfall Waterfall, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Top of Rheinfall Waterfall
Inside ground of Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Inside ground of Munot Fortress

Schaffhausen is a small city in Northern Switzerland that is very close to the border with Germany. Located on the Rhine River this small city is clean, welcoming and has easy train connections to the rest of the country. Many people come to the town to see the Rheinfalls, or Rhine Falls, which is Europe's largest waterfall by volume. The waterfall is a short walk away from the town centre along the river downstream and a great place to relax in the evening with a drink or two. The city itself is like many Swiss urban areas with manicured streets. The old town area is great for a walk around as many of the buildings have artistically painted facades that adds an extra dimension and character to the area. Above the old town on a small hill is the Munot Fortress of Schaffhausen, a unique round castle-like structure built in the 16th century where the town residents would retreat to in times of conflict. The top of the Munot offers great views of the town with the river flowing by and there is a small restaurant on top for refreshments. Schaffhausen is a great place to stop over for a night if you want to break up the journey from Southern Germany or Lake Constance to the bigger Swiss cities in the centre of the country.

Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress
Rheinfalls, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Rheinfalls
Inside Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Inside Munot Fortress
Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress
Munot Fortress Tower, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress Tower
Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress
View of the town and the Rhine River from the Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
View of the town and the Rhine River from the Munot Fortress
View of the Rheinfall Waterfall, the largest by volume in Europe, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
View of the Rheinfall Waterfall, the largest by volume in Europe
Rheinfalls, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Rheinfalls
Town Sign, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Town Sign
Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Schaffhausen
Rheinfalls, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Rheinfalls
Rheinfalls, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Rheinfalls
Rhine River, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Rhine River
Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress
Munot Fortress Grounds, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress Grounds
Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Munot Fortress
Inside Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Inside Munot Fortress
Town and Rhine River, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Town and Rhine River
Inside Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Inside Munot Fortress

Stein am Rhein

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Mike Minckler and Eric Starling

Old Town Buildings, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Old Town Buildings
Main Street with Town Hall, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Main Street with Town Hall
Old Town Buildings, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Old Town Buildings
Monastery of St. Georgen, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Monastery of St. Georgen
Old Town Buildings, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Old Town Buildings
Town Hall, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Town Hall

Stein am Rhein is a small town located on the banks of the Rhine River just downstream from Lake Constance. The town has an exceptionally well preserved medieval core that has a number of buildings painted with distinctive patterns and scenes depicting daily life over the history of the town. A person could get a sore neck from looking around at all the sights as they stroll up the pedestrianized main street to the bright town hall. The town is quite small so it can easily be done as a day trip if you are just passing through the area. The Monastary of St Georgen, also known as St George's Abbey, is an easy place to check out within the town, right on the banks of the Rhine River. The old world paintings within the monastery are impressive with battle scenes featuring prominently along with old furniture and floor plans that monks were living in 1000 years ago. Stein am Rhein is clearly geared towards tourism with its fresco'd streets and many boutique cafes, yet, outside of peak times on weekends the town still has enough to spread out the masses and offer some very unique viewing of the painted buildings.

Monastery of St. Georgen, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Monastery of St. Georgen
Old Town Buildings, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Old Town Buildings
Main Street, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Main Street
Monastery of St. Georgen Fresco's, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Monastery of St. Georgen Fresco's
The town and Rhine River, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
The town and Rhine River
Main Street, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Main Street
View of the intricately painted buildings of the Old Town in Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
View of the intricately painted buildings of the Old Town in Stein am Rhein
Inside the Monastery of St. Georgen or St. George's Abbey, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Inside the Monastery of St. Georgen or St. George's Abbey
Town Hall and Fountain, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Town Hall and Fountain
Rhine River, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Rhine River
St. George's Abbey Tile Work, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
St. George's Abbey Tile Work
Town Butcher, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Town Butcher
Rhine River, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Rhine River
Town Hall, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Town Hall
Town Hall, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Town Hall
Main Street, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Main Street
Monastery of St. Georgen Fresco's, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Monastery of St. Georgen Fresco's
Monastery of St. Georgen Courtyard, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Monastery of St. Georgen Courtyard
Monastery of St. Georgen Books, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Monastery of St. Georgen Books
Monastery of St. Georgen, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Monastery of St. Georgen
Rhine River, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Rhine River
Monastery of St. Georgen, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Monastery of St. Georgen
Old Town Buildings, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Old Town Buildings

Lausanne

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Mike Minckler and Eric Starling

View of City and Lausanne Cathedral, Lausanne, Switzerland
View of City and Lausanne Cathedral
Lake Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland
Lake Geneva
View of City and Lake Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland
View of City and Lake Geneva
Lausanne Cathedral, Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne Cathedral
Olympic Park Statue, Lausanne, Switzerland
Olympic Park Statue
Château Saint-Maire, Lausanne, Switzerland
Château Saint-Maire

Lausanne is a compact city picturesquely set on the mountain side that runs up from Lake Geneva. The whole city seems to be on a steep hill so expect some working out when walking this city, however, they also have a metro station which can save your legs. Lausanne is one of those cities you can easily see yourself living in after just one visit. The city is a distinct mixture of French and Swiss architecture with a number of parks and a stunning view overlooking Lake Geneva. The International Olympic Committee has their headquarters located right on Lake Geneva and the museum is well worth stopping at if you're a fan of sports and the Olympics. There are plenty of activities to do within the city of Lausanne but it can also be a great base to visit nearby towns and castles along the lake and into the mountains above. The train network from Lausanne is fantastic with connections throughout the country. Unlike some of the other big cities in Switzerland such as Zurich, Bern and Geneva, Lausanne retains a small town feel and prices don't seem to be as steep compared to other parts of the country. Spending at least a couple of days in this lakeside city is a good option if you're in the area of Lake Geneva and want a good base to explore from.

Château d'Ouchy, Lausanne, Switzerland
Château d'Ouchy
Olympic Park Fountain, Lausanne, Switzerland
Olympic Park Fountain
View from Hostel, Lausanne, Switzerland
View from Hostel
Olympic Medal, Lausanne, Switzerland
Olympic Medal
Olympic Wreath, Lausanne, Switzerland
Olympic Wreath
Olympic Medal, Lausanne, Switzerland
Olympic Medal
View of Lausanne and Lake Geneva from Signal de Sauvabelin Park, Lausanne, Switzerland
View of Lausanne and Lake Geneva from Signal de Sauvabelin Park
Colline de Montriond Park, Lausanne, Switzerland
Colline de Montriond Park
Château Saint-Maire, Lausanne, Switzerland
Château Saint-Maire
Olympic Park, Lausanne, Switzerland
Olympic Park
Canada Jersey, Olympic Park, Lausanne, Switzerland
Canada Jersey, Olympic Park
Lausanne Cathedral from Hillside, Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne Cathedral from Hillside
Lausanne Cathedral, Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne Cathedral
View from Hostel, Lausanne, Switzerland
View from Hostel
Bike Race, Lausanne, Switzerland
Bike Race
Signal de Sauvabelin Park, Lausanne, Switzerland
Signal de Sauvabelin Park
Olympic Medals, Lausanne, Switzerland
Olympic Medals
Lake Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland
Lake Geneva
Signal de Sauvabelin Park, Lausanne, Switzerland
Signal de Sauvabelin Park