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April 17th, 2023

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a landlocked country located at the confluence of Western, Central and Southern Europe.  It is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.  It’s about the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined; just slightly smaller than the Netherlands.

Switzerland originates from the Old Swiss Confederacy established in the Late Middle Ages, following a series of military successes against Austria and Burgundy; the Federal Charter of 1291 is considered the country’s founding document. Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognized in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Switzerland has maintained a policy of armed neutrality since the 16th century and has not fought an international war since 1815. It joined the United Nations only in 2002, but pursues an active foreign policy that includes frequent involvement in peace-building processes worldwide.

Switzerland is the birthplace of the Red Cross, one of the world’s oldest and best-known humanitarian organizations, and hosts the headquarters or offices of most major international institutions, including the WTO, the WHO, FIFA, and the United Nations. It is not part of the EU or the Eurozone however, it participates in the European single market and the Schengen Area through bilateral treaties. Switzerland is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities based in its capital, Bern.

It has four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Although most Swiss are German-speaking, national identity is fairly cohesive, being rooted in a common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy, and Alpine symbolism. Swiss identity transcends language, ethnicity, and religion, leading to Switzerland being described as a Willensnation (“nation of volition”) rather than a nation state.

The president of the Swiss Confederation, also known as the president of the confederation, federal president or colloquially as the president of Switzerland, is the head of Switzerland’s seven-member Federal Council, the country’s executive branch. Elected by the Federal Assembly for one year, the officeholder chairs the meetings of the Federal Council and undertakes special representational duties.

First among equals, the president of the Confederation has no powers over and above the other six councilors and continues to head the assigned department. Traditionally the duty rotates among the members in order of seniority; the vice president of the Federal Council assumes the presidency the year after the officeholder’s tenure. The president of the Confederation is not the head of state because the entire Federal Council is the collective head of state.

Switzerland is one of the world’s most developed countries. It has the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eighth-highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Cities such as Zürich, Geneva and Basel rank among the highest in terms of quality of life, albeit with some of the highest costs of living.

The white cross on the red base represents the Christian cross, as well as the sign of the old Swiss Confederacy. The Swiss flag in the traditional sense  represents freedom, honor, and loyalty.

Diesel price:  1.82 CHF – 2.04 CHF per litre which is about $7.80 USD  per gallon

Currency: The Swiss Franc CHF – 1 CHF is $1.12 USD and $1.49 CAD

License plate (non EU):   No letter, just the Swiss flag on the left

Beer: Cardinal, Feldschlôsschen, Gurten with Carlsberg being the most popular!

After crossing into Switzerland and getting our vignette for the toll roads right at the border, we were pretty much right outside Geneva.  Fran had found a parking lot on park4night and we drove the few kilometres to it and got a good spot – luckily the lot was not full.  It’s a park and ride lot and for 14CHF by credit card, you can park until midnight and have to pay for another day again starting at 7am.  And this price includes free public transport for the day!  The bus was sitting there so we got on and followed along our on phone’s mapping app so see where it went, hoping it went into the centre of the city which it did.

Geneva sits at the west end of Lake Geneva (the largest freshwater lake in central Europe and shared by Switzerland and France) and is in the French part of the country so everything sounds like we are still in France.  This where the Geneva Convention was signed, which chiefly concerns the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war. There are not a lot of tourist sites and there are a lot (and we mean a lot) of banks, watch shops, chocolate shops and high end clothing stores.

There does not appear to be an “old town” and most of the buildings do not look old; none seems to be over six stories tall either which give the city an “even” look.  There are many names on buildings that we recognize like “ROLEX“.  Most buildings have a Parisian look to them but a few had a Swiss alpine feel.

We got off the bus at Bel Air, which is a small island (quay) in the Rhone River and then walked around a bit, checking out the buildings, walkways and then made our way back to the mainland to walk through the park and enjoy some plazas.

We passed a fancy chocolate shop and couldn’t believe the prices in the windows:

We did stop at a bank machine (when we finally found one – lots of banks but few ATM’s) to get cash; we didn’t want much but as usual we want coins to give the grandkids and our nieces, so we withdrew the minimum: 50CHF – in one bill.

That’s rather large a large demonination so we’ll have to break that.  Doug walked into the bank where we used the machine to see about breaking it, but was told “they don’t have any cash” – WTH?  We are in the banking capital of the world, and they don’t have cash! So we’ll try and break it later.  Switzerland is more expensive than France and Italy so we won’t be doing a lot of spending or eating out and hope not to have to buy much, if any, petrol as we did a “fill, fill, fill” before crossing the border.

The sun was trying to come out but it was still quite cool; Fran had reverted to runners today and Doug was wearing his down jacket!  The wind just made it cold and damp feeling.  The high was 15 C / 59 F but with the wind-chill it felt like 12 C / 54F.

We needed the steps today having sat in the car all morning, so we walked back to Minou since it was only around 4pm. There was another French plated campervan in the parking lot and they too, spent the night.

Today we passed through 4 tunnels.

As we did not want to pay for another day’s parking (can’t buy just a few hours), we were up and at ‘em early today; Doug went for a quick run and we were out of the lot just before seven.  Today we are heading into the Alps – the plan was to try and get to Zermatt to get a look at the Matterhorn but after checking online and looking at a webcam, it seems it still pretty snow covered so we would not get an accurate view of what it really looks like – from Google:

Doing research last week about how and what to do in this region, we opted not to do the expensive Jungfrau train trip that goes through a 7 km tunnel but rather to do a series of gondolas up Schilthorn. This would allow us to see some of the country’s highest peaks and have some fun with a 007 flavour.

And of course, we only wanted to do this if the weather was going to cooperate and today it was going to get cloudy in the afternoon but tomorrow looked great.  Okay we’ll head towards Interlochen and south into the Alps.  The route took us through Bern which we wanted to see so as we’d left early we had plenty of time to stop and visit the city and still get close to our destination.  As we had paid for a toll vignette upon crossing the border, these are the roads we used so it meant no small towns to drive through with a lot of round about’s etc.  The roads here are excellent (with some construction, of course, like most northern hemisphere countries this time of year) but good pavement and well maintained.  As we got closer to Bern, we began to see signs in German and not in French.

Fran found parking in Bern, somewhat close to the centre and old town, and upon arriving we found that the meters here, unlike in Geneva, required coins which, of course, we did not have yet.  We tried the other nearby lot with the same result and when turning around Doug stopped a police vehicle and asked where we could park without having to use coins.  He directed us down the road to the roundabout to make a left but there too, the machines required coins as the credit card slot was closed.  We decided to return to the first lot, leave a note in the window saying we’d pay on our return.  Upon pulling in, there was a young woman getting out of her car and Fran jumped out to ask if she wouldn’t mind exchanging euro  coins for francs as we needed coins for parking.  She very kindly just gave her 2 two franc coins and told her not to worry.  So nice!

We got parked, Doug put the 4 francs in and that gave us nearly two hours so off we walked.

First we walked along the clean fast running river towards the “Bear Pit” and while crossing the bridge could it see it:

We didn’t see any signs of life so we didn’t go any further.  The Brown Bear is the symbol of Bern, hence the bear pit enclosure.  It was doubled in size in 2009 and there is now a small canal that the bears and use for a swim but they must have found it too cold to venture out today.  The sun was mostly hidden behind clouds most of the time we were here in the city. The trees here, being further north than we’ve been this year, are just starting to bud but the grass is green and the wild flowers are out.

On the other side of the street from where we viewed the bear pit, was a nice little bridge:

We walked back towards the old town which is quite cute and nice to walk around – we saw many of these locked sort of cellar doors:

which we later saw were doors into underground businesses.

We stopped to see:

The cathedral (with scaffolding and there seemed to be work going on inside too, so we didn’t go in):

The Moses Fountain – this fountains dates back to 1544 but was rebuilt in 1990.  The statue represents Moses holding the Ten Commandments and he is portrayed as having two rays of light emanating from his head that looked like horns!   

Another fountain called Zähringerbrunne this fountain is a memorial to the founder of Bern (Berchtold von Zähringer) was built in 1535.  It depicts a bear in a full suit of armor with a bear cub at his feet.  The bear represents the bear that, according to legend, Berchtold shot when he was searching for a site to build the city. 

Walking further down the this mostly pedestrian street (there is a tram running along it) we came to the Zytglogge Clock Tower – it was originally built in the 13th century and has had many renovations and redecorations and is considered one of the most recognizable symbols of the city with is astronomical clock. 

Just around the corner was another fountain called the Kindlifresserbrunnen translated to be “The Child Eater Fountain”!   This was built in 1545 and its current name has been used since 1666.  The sculpture is of a seated ogre eating a naked child.  In his side bag are more children.  There are numerous theories on the meaning of this piece of art.  The most likely is that the 8 children represent the 8 cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy and the Ogre is an enemy trying to gobble the cantons up. 

As we continue walking towards the parliament buildings, we see two more fountains:

Now like most European cities, restaurants have outdoor seating; the cold weather does not deter this – they just put fur seat covers on their chairs and have propane heaters:

And then we arrived at the Prison Tower; this towr was built in 1256 as a tower for defense purposes but was demolished four centuries later and rebuilt immediately to became a prison.

Approaching the parliament buildings, we walked through a farmer’s market and stopped to buy some fresh gruyere cheese after having a taste.  Yummy!

The parliament buildings themselves:

Arches and views from the side and back of the building:

We returned to Minou before our parking time expired (leaving some coins on the windshield of the nice woman that helped us out under a note) and began the drive towards Interlochen passing the lake on the western side of that city as the sun began to come out.  It was a gorgeous drive.

There is almost no place to free overnight camp in that region of the country (and the rest of the country is not much better for wild camping) we were heading to and parking is charged in both Stechelberg and Lauterbrunnen (neither of which allow overnighting) so we found a free picnic area on the road south that others had successfully stayed at and made our way there.

To get to the spot we passed through the village of Wilderswill:

We had a river side spot with a view of a snow capped peak; here’s a pic from our dining room window and our site itself:

As forecasted, the sky turned cloudy by early afternoon and we hope tomorrow’s forecast holds true.  The road traffic was busy by our site throughout the day but after dark it lessened greatly.

A couple of days ago Fran had reached out to a Swiss couple that we’d met in Nicaragua and have followed ever since, and they live in Zurich but have just returned from an African adventure.  They do not get their rented out home back until next month but we hope to meet up with Martin and Jeannette later in the week when we get to Zurich.

Our journey today took us through nine tunnels.

Today, Wednesday, was an AMAZING day.  We timed this visit perfectly with a sunny day – thank goodness the forecast was right.

We were out of our camp spot by 7:05 am to park down at the end of the road in Stechelberg.  This town is where you begin the series of gondolas up to Schilthorn.  The parking lot right at the gondola costs 11 CHF regardless how long you are there but Fran found on park4night if you park just a little further down the road (about a click) you pay only 1 CHF per hour.  The valley floor here is very flat and seems to have a great deal of farmland.  The homes are in the alpine style and were very neat and tidy.  There were a few skinny waterfalls pouring down the steep cliff walls and this area has 5G service (as does much of the country).

an avalanche shelter

This tiny little town is super quiet and there seemed to be few people out and about this early if at all.  We were at the station by just past 7:30 (when the first gondola was supposed to depart).  Here we are at 867 m / 2844’

The first ride takes about 4 minutes to get you to Gimmelwald to catch the next one. Hre we are at 1367 m / 4485’

The next one takes about three minutes to Murren.  The views so far have been great and they just kept getting better. Here we are at 1638 m / 5374’. At each station there was a thermometer:

Murren is the ski village and where the ski runs seem to end, at least this time of year.  From Murren we took the third gondola up to Birg that took about eight minutes.  Here we are at 2677 m / 8783’.

At Birg you can walk the Skyline Walk and the Thrill Walk which, of course, we had to try.  First you walk down a set of metal stairs to the walk along the cliff wall.

view of skyline walk through the gondola’s dirty window

The walkway reaches a point where it splits into two; the left side along the cliff is the continuation of the walkway and the right side is the “thrill walk” – a tightrope over a net.

There is a glass walkway here too but this early in the morning it was closed due to ice so we were told to come back later in the day to do it.  We have reservations for the revolving restaurant at Schilthorn – the very top of this journey, Piz Gloria, for 9:30 so we will return later.

So we took the fourth and final cable car up to Schilthorn – the location of many of the scenes from James Bond’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” 007 movie (which we watched last night in preparation).

The film’s main location, Blofeld’s mountain top lair named “Piz Gloria” was represented by a massive circular restaurant, an architectural folly perched almost 10,000 feet above sea level on one of the peaks of the Swiss Schiltorn mountain range.  The production company had to pay for a complete interior refit of the restaurant already in construction up there to get the look that production designer was after.  When the Swiss authorities refused planning permission for his original plans including a fully functioning helicopter pad, it also had to be built at their expense. This still proved cheaper than paying for a complete set build.   After filming was done, the restaurant retained the name and obviously is banking on the name of the James Bond series. 

Here we are at the top: 2970 m / 9744’ at the highest point we could reach; we were just awe struck!  The scenery was amazing, there was no wind, the temperatures were just above freezing (we were wearing out down jackets, hiking boots and Fran had long underwear under her jeans), there we no clouds (when we arrived up there) and there were just enough bare patches on the mountains to make it all that much more scenic.  We walked the viewing platform (that was the helicopter pad in the movie) taking in the 360 views of the Swiss Alps.

On the heli pad:

From here we could see the three tallest peaks:

Eiger rising to 3,967 m / 13,015’

Monch hits 4,110 m / 13,480’

Jungrau tering at 4158 m / 13,642’

From a different side of the platform we could just make out Mont Blanc in the distance (because we had such a clear day) – the tallest mountain in all of the Alps at 4,808 m / 15,774’.

Our reservation to eat was at 9:30 so we had lots of time to take it all in and sufficient time to explore “Spy World” – the story of the making of the movie.  This is an interactive experience with signboards, speakers, videos, a helicopter you can sit in and take a “virtual trip” up the mountain and they explain various location details.

Just before 9:30 we made our way to the bathrooms before getting seated for our brunch.  Even these were Bond themed:

When we made the reservation online we were asked if we wanted the James Bond Brunch or a la carte – we chose the latter as we wanted their famous 007 burgers.  Upon being seated we were told only the buffet wasn’t available until 11!  WTH?  The waiter didn’t speak the greatest English and we kept saying “but the reservation asked us to choose so how can we not do this”?  Finally he said you can order a la carte at ten.  Okay so we ordered a hot chocolate each while we enjoyed the views as the restaurant revolved (one revolution every 45 minutes).  It was a memorable experience and worth every cent.  Making a reservation got us window seats so that was a good move.

As we moved around we could see clouds forming around the peaks of the tallest mountains but nothing too bad – more photo enhancing (and they actually lessened as we came around the second time).

view of the platform that was the heli pad in the movie

At ten we ordered our 007 burgers and beer and by 10:25 we had them and were able to enjoy them finishing our second revolution (you can only sit at a table for 90 minutes max).  While not the best burgers in the world, they were pretty good and the fries were salted just right.

The next gondola back down to Birg was not for another 25 minutes so we wandered back out to the viewing platform for a while before it arrived.

Upon our arrival at Birg we went directly back to the walkway again and the glass bottomed part was open but the rest of the walkway beyond it was still closed to the end as it was pretty snow covered.

We had paid for parking until 12:15 so it was time to head back; we were going to be late for sure because of the delay out of Schilthorn but we figured, slow season, not many cars in that lot and we were not trying to stay overnight, so we should in theory be fine.

The rest of the cable cars were timed well and we got off the last one just before 12:30 so we made haste to the parking lot and we were good – no ticket.

All the activities we did today were all included in the 108CHF each price ($121 USD); we only had to pay for our brunch which in the scheme of things, considering where we were, the fact it was a revolving restaurant and the views we got, it was not bad either.  We had a hot chocolate, a beer and a burger with fries each for less than 80CHF.

We decided to just push onwards toward Lucerne due to the lack of overnight parking options and visit it tomorrow.  Fran managed to find a free spot in a gravel lot off the highway near Lungren – just over halfway to Lucerne and we drove there with no issues.

We had some lovely blue skies views enroute:

It was a colder night and we used the furnace as soon as we got parked to get the chill out of the air and then again about an hour before bed to do the same.  It really doesn’t take all that long to warm up the coach side of Minou.   We do have a thick curtain between the cab and the coach that helps too.  We also have padded Mylar window covers that we sometimes use but when the weather is dampish, they really tend to fog up the windshield and doors too much.

The sky was beginning to cloud over more as we moved away from Interlochen (the city between two lakes) and we didn’t get to see much of the second lake as the road took us through a tunnel most of the distance.

We heard from our Swiss friends and it looked like we weren’t going to be able to get together with them as they have too much to do and take care of having just arrived back to their homeland.  Maybe another time….

Today was a five tunnel day.

Thursday morning was foggy and at times, there was misty rain.  After exercising and showering, we drove into Lucerne and parked on a street that allows 5 hours free parking.  It was up higher than the city itself outside the Chateaux Gutsch which is now a hotel.  There is a funicular to take you down but we opted to walk down, down, down the stairs – partly cause we weren’t sure about tickets.  Fran had been to Lucerne in 1995 and remembered it as very pretty on the lake with a mountain backdrop but we were only going to be able to see that today if the weather permitted.

We first walked through the Spreuerbrücke covered bridge; it’s not the famous one you hear about but it’s very similar and not as close to the lake,

The views along the river are quite pretty even in the damp weather.

to the Musegg Wall with its four towers – this being the main one.  You can climb up inside the Schirmer Tower and walk along the wall.

The wall runs 800 metres and is 9 m tall.  It was erected in the 15th century.  It is considered one of the longest and best preserved defensive walls in the country. 

We made the longish walk over to the Lion Monument only to arrive and see it was under renovation!!!

This memorial commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred during the French Revolution.  Mark Twain described this sculpture as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world”.   

Next to the photo of the scaffolding, is a poster of what it looks like.

We returned back the way we came a bit and visited the Bourbaki Panorama.  This is a circular building with a panoramic painting of the internment of the French Army in neutral Switzerland at the end of the Franco-Prussian War.  The army had been defeated and the Swiss admitted the soldiers, while the local villagers and the Swiss Red Cross provided them aid.

The painting stands at 9.8 m / 32.2’ tall.  It is one of the few surviving circular paintings in the world.  The painting was commissioned in 1876; the artist was Swiss Edouard Castres, who was an art student in Paris.  He worked on the painting for five months with a team of ten other painters who went largely uncredited.  Castres wanted to paint it as though the observer were within the scene, not looking down upon it.  It is displayed with 3d objects in front of it to increase this feeling. 

Sections of the painting:

When we left here it had begun to sprinkle every so lightly as we walked towards the lake to get what views we could, stopping to get a soft pretzel each.

We then walked on the pedestrian streets in the old town to reach the Weinmarkt – an area of shops and beautifully painted buildings.  There a few other small squares with similarly beautifully decorated ones as well.

Speaking of shops, there are, once again, dozens and dozens of stores selling watches – which should come as no surprise until you realize how MANY there actually are!

We also saw a several stores selling Swiss Army knives and a few chocolate shops but the watch vendors certainly outnumber the others.

There were, like in Bern, several interesting fountains and the tower on the municipal hall was definitely not modern although the rest of the building was much newer.

The last thing we wanted to see was the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke).

This is the oldest covered bridge and is 202.90 m long, most of which is covered and it’s the second longest covered bridge in Europe.   It was built in 1365 as a battlement and connects the old town to the new one.  Before the bridge was built, there was a water tower in the middle of the river which served as a lookout post.   Later it was used as a storage space for the town’s archives and treasure and even saw use as a prison and torture chamber.  When originally built it was 75 m longer but that section broke off when the bank was filled in in 1835.  Before a fire in 1993, 111 triangular paintings were inside hanging under the roof depicting important Swiss history scenes. 

By now it was actually beginning to rain, not just sprinkle, and we looked into taking an Uber back to Minou and save the 25 minute walk but it looked like it would take more than fifteen minutes to even get  one and rather than just stand in the rain, we just went for it.  In about five minutes we came across a tempting bakery and went inside for a few treats.

We finished our treats and by then it had almost stopped raining.

Lucerne was similar to Bern in its architecture and historic feel and we quite liked it.  We are sure it would be even lovelier on a sunnier day!

It’s now early afternoon and we begin to head toward Zurich with an important stop enroute:  the Lindt Chocolate Shop in Kilchberg – they claim it’s the largest chocolate shop in the world (but we do beg to differ unless they are including the factory and the museum, we’ve seen larger).

Anyway, parking at the shop was free and we went in and, had to treat ourselves to some tasty chocolate treats.

We checked the weather forecast and the rain is supposed to subside tomorrow morning early, so we decided that rather than get soggy walking outside some more, we’d find a place to park between the Lindt shop and Zurich.  Fran found a parking lot with the chance of free power for 50 cents an hour that sounded promising.  It turned out to be a lot with boat parking right off Lake Zurich and with the proper adapter, we could plug in at no charge!  There’s a bathroom with potable water nearby too.  We had to use one of our multi plugs to get plugged in and after using the heater for a bit, the fuse in it blew so Doug found a hardware store and while walking to one he’d found on line, came across a secondhand store that had the adaptor we needed.  Great find – we could now run the heater without issue – the dampness makes this weather feel so much colder!

Today we passed through ten tunnels.

Sidebar:  Fran’s Airalo sim card EU cell service ran out today and she’s switched back to good ol’ EE again.  Still the best deal!

For being fairly close to the road and some train tracks, we had a pretty quiet night and both slept pretty well.  It was foggy this morning with a promise of better weather later in the morning.  We paid for some more parking via an app, and Doug bought bus tickets online.  We walked out to the main road catching the bus into the city.  There is not a great deal of touristy things in Zurich either but we felt we should give it a look see.   Zurich is the financial capital of Switzerland one of the most important financial centres in the world.

Upon disembarking from the bus we walked over to see Lake Zurich – unfortunately, due to the cloud cover we did not get the classic lake view with the Alps in the background just this statue in the foreground:

We did come across some swans though:

We then crossed the river to see the city’s largest square and the beautiful opera house.  The weather was cool and somewhat damp but there was no wind and it stayed dried during our visit.

There are four major churches in Zurich and two are across from either other on the river.  Grossmunster is larger and faces the river on an angle with beautifully carved doors and a lot of exterior decoration:

Fraumunster faces the river right across the pedestrian bridge and only has one steeple and is not quite as imposing looking:

There are still a lot watch stores in Zurich but not as many souvenir or chocolate ones (that we saw anyway).  There didn’t seem to be as much of an historic centre like Bern and Lucerne either.  Again, there are no large skyscrapers and the streets and buildings themselves are well maintained like everything else we’ve see here.

We caught the bus back to Minou (we were able to do this on the same ticket as we spent less than an hour walking around) and were able to fill our fresh water tank right by the free washrooms at the port before departing.

Once we got past Lake Zurich and approached the next large lake, Walensee, the sun began coming out and the alps were showing off.

We crossed the border into Liechtenstein before noon.

This was an eight tunnel day.

We drove a total of 321 km / 200 miles in Switzerland.  We never had to purchase any diesel.  We felt the best part of overlanding here was the scenery, not anyone one particular spot, but have to say the day we had in the Alps going up Schilthorn is one for the books!

Auf wiedersehen, Switzerland!

Fun facts about Switzerland:

  1. Switzerland has 7000 lakes!
  2. Switzerland was ranked first for the eighth consecutive year, in 2018, as the most innovative country in the world in The Global Innovation Index. 
  3. With 48 mountain peaks that are above 4000 meters, Switzerland has more high peaks than any other country in Europe.
  4. Switzerland is one of the world’s safest countries. They have a very low crime rate, with the fact that they have one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. The country’s overall murder rate is nearly zero (at just 45 people per year).
  5. You cannot name your child however you want. Giving a child a name that could harm the child’s interest is illegal in Switzerland. The rejection of ‘Djonatan,’ which is the phonetic spelling of Jonathan, as well as ‘J’ as a child’s fourth name, is based on the risk of being misunderstood and improperly pronounced in German. There are also some names that you are not permitted to give your children.
  6. It is the third happiest country in the world after Finland and Denmark.
  7. Switzerland is divided into four different language regions: French in the west, Italian in the south, Romansh in some areas of the southeast, and Swiss-German in the rest.
  8. One of the most incredible facts about Switzerland is that the Swiss Alps cover around 58% of the land area. Despite the abundance of mountains, the country’s landscape is actually pretty diverse. In the northern part of the Alps, like the Bernese Oberland, you’ll find that the scenery is very green and vibrant. While in the south like Valais, it’s drier and rougher. You’ll also see stunning lakes and villages full of palm trees in between.
  9. Thanks to great underground water reserves and natural springs, Switzerland boasts some of the finest drinking water around the world. In fact, their tap water has a much better ecological balance than the average bottled mineral water. 
  10. Switzerland’s transportation system is also some of the world’s best. You’ll be hard pressed to find another country with as many options. You can get around by train, funiculars, buses, boats, cable cars, and trams.