Luzern and its Mountains

Lake Luzern with mountains in the background

Typically Swiss Tours is often asked by people visiting Luzern, which Mountain should we go up ? To be honest it`s a very good question as the 4 Mountains in question- Mt Pilatus, Mt Rigi, Mt Stanserhorn and Mt Titlis are all super excursions and if you had the time and the money, I would recommend a visit up all of them. They are clearly different in many ways but each has its own charm and attraction and one thing is clear, the views from the top of the Swiss Alps are breath-taking and memorable.

This blog will aim to describe each mountain attraction and showcase the primary features which attract thousands of visitors each year.

Mt Pilatus is Luzern`s house mountain as it dominates the Luzern skyline. At 2132 or 7000ft above sea level, the views from the top of the Swiss Alps are amazing and worth the trip up either by the steepest cog wheel railway in the world or by 2 cable cars stopping half way at Frakmuntegg where several activities take place such as the longest toboggan in Switzerland and a rope park amongst the many hiking trails and fire pits.

Mount Rigi is known as the Queen of the Mountains and was the first mountain railway built in 1871. 3 years earlier Queen Victoria made it to the top on horseback. There are hiking trails galore on Rigi and panoramic views stretch for over 150km. Rigi can be accessed by train from Vitznau and with gondola from Weggis to Rigi Kaltbad. Boats sail from Luzern to both ascent points from Luzern.

Mount Stanserhorn has been attracting visitors since 1893 and has always been a two trip activity. The journey starts in Stans on wooden funicular wagons which take you 1/3 of the way up the mountain. Then you transfer to the impressive and the world’s first [7]  “CabriO” double deck open top cable car which transports you to the summit at 1898m. Travelling on the CabriO is a unique experience, being outside in the fresh mountain air until you reach the top where a revolving restaurant awaits you and some marmots, not to mention the stunning views.

Last but not least is Mount Titlis which is the tallest of the mountains at 3238m. It`s a 45min train or drive from Luzern. One reaches the top by 2 cables cars, the second one being the first rotating cable car in the world which travels over the glacier. Here you can visit an illuminated glacier cave from an entrance within the cable-car station, which also includes shops and restaurants. Also at the top enjoy the Ice flyer and the Cliff walk as well as the breath-taking views. The summit of Titlis is located above the snow line, thus it has a cold, snowy climate with permanent snow cover and freezing temperatures.

All 4 of these majestical mountains will no doubt provide visitors with a fantastic day out in the fresh mountain air. Add some stunning views, some impressive engineering and some delicious food, then your Luzern mountain experience is complete. It’s very difficult to choose one, so my summary is if you want snow, it`s Titlis, if you want walks, It`s Rigi, if you want activities, it`s Pilatus and if you want engineering it`s Stanserhorn. If you want a great day out, it`s all of them.

If you fancy a trip up any of these mountains, please contact Chris at Typically Swiss Tours. We can provide you driving and guiding tours to most of the top destinations in Switzerland. Please call +41 79 286 0451 or write to info@typicallyswisstours.com

Tours of chocolate factories in Switzerland

Chocolate is loved by millions of people around the world and for several reasons, the main one of course, is because of its unique, rich and sweet taste. You can buy it in all the countries of the world and it is relatively cheap. No wonder Chocolate consumption continues to grow year after year. In 2019, total world consumption reached 7.7 million metric tons (an enormous sum). Of this figure, Switzerland not only accounts for a large percentage of the production of chocolate, but—and perhaps and not surprisingly—is the biggest consumer of chocolate per capita in the world eating 9 kilos of chocolate every year.

Today, we’ll learn a brief history of chocolate and focus on its development in Switzerland and why chocolate is synonymous with Switzerland. I will analyse the latest data about whether chocolate is good for you and lastly I will take you on a whistle stop tour of 4 chocolate factories which are open to the public and where you can indulge in this delicious treat.

A brief history of chocolate

The origin of chocolate goes back 4,000 years to Mexico where the first cacao plants were found. The Olmecs, one of the earliest civilizations in Latin America, were the first to turn the cacao plant into chocolate. They drank their chocolate during rituals and used it as medicine. Centuries later, the Mayans praised chocolate as the drink of the gods.

Mayan chocolate was a revered brew made of roasted and ground cacao seeds mixed with chillies, water and cornmeal. Mayans poured this mixture from one pot to another, creating a thick foamy beverage called “xocolatl”, meaning “bitter water.”

By the 15th century, the Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency. They believed that chocolate was a gift from the god Quetzalcoatl, and drank it as a refreshing beverage, an aphrodisiac, and even to prepare for war.

Chocolate reaches Spain

No one knows for sure when chocolate came to Spain. Legend has it that explorer Hernán Cortés brought chocolate to his homeland in 1528. Cortés was believed to have discovered chocolate during an expedition to the Americas. In search of gold and riches, he instead found a cup of cocoa given to him by the Aztec emperor. So this is how chocolate came to Europe and later in this article, I will inform you about how Switzerland became so important in the development of chocolate as we know today.

 

Facts about chocolate

First though, some facts about chocolate and our health. Here are some well known facts:

  • Chocolate consumption has long been associated with conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.
  • Chocolate is believed to contain high levels of antioxidants.
  • Some studies have suggested chocolate could lower cholesterol levels prevent memory decline.
  • Chocolate contains a large number of calories.
  • People who are seeking to lose or maintain weight should eat chocolate only in moderation.

Recent research suggests that chocolate may have some health benefits which go against the traditional view that chocolate is bad for you. The main reason chocolate receives this bad press is because of its high fat and sugar content. Its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.

However, there is a growing amount of evidence showing that cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate contains biologically active phenolic compounds (antioxidants) which may have a range of health benefits such as

  • lowering cholesterol levels
  • preventing cognitive decline
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems

One element that is widely recognised is the higher the cocoa content the more health benefits there are, so dark chocolate clearly is the healthy option if there is one and one must also take into account the other “less healthy” ingredients, such as sugar and fat.

Why Switzerland and chocolate are synonymous with each other

So why do Switzerland and chocolate go together like hand-in-glove? Well there is no major reason apart from a group of Swiss chocolate pioneers starting in the 17th Century started to “play with” and process chocolate which at that time did not resemble the chocolate we enjoy today. Only in the 1800s did we see the first significant improvement in chocolate production, starting with the first mechanised chocolate factory in Vevey by François-Louis Cailler who had worked as an apprentice with Italian chocolatiers in Ticino. Cailler’s machinery began churning out the first mass-produced Swiss chocolate.

Then came Rodolphe Lindt based in Bern merging with the Sprungli family in 1892 which is the basis of the modern day Lindt brand we see today. Lindt was responsible for creating the conching method which gives chocolate its creamy smooth texture and Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé added milk powder to produce milk chocolate. In 1908, Tobler produced his famous triangular shape Toblerone bar with nougat, almonds and honey and in the 1930s Nestle launched its white chocolate milky bar.

So those are the main elements in the history of why Switzerland and chocolate have a long history. To give you an idea of just how big this industry is – the Annual revenues of chocolate production in Switzerland are about 1.5 billion Swiss francs (about $1.5 billion) and the Swiss produce about 180,000 tons of chocolate per year.

4 of the most well-known chocolate factories to visit in Switzerland.

So where does all this chocolate making take place and can you see it all happening? The good news is that there are over a dozen such places in Switzerland where you can visit and see how chocolate is made and naturally sample and buy as much chocolate as you can afford!! Here are some of the best places I know personally and take my guests there as well.

So here are 4 of the most well-known chocolate places to visit in Switzerland. There are over 10 other chocolate places located all over Switzerland such as Alpenrose in Lugano, Laderach in Bilton, Chocolat Frey in Buchs and Camille Bloch in Courtelary.

There is a relatively inexpensive entry fee for all the places listed and all are well worth a visit whether you are a chocolate lover or not. I am sure that after a trip to one of these chocolate-filled places, you will agree that Switzerland produces the best chocolate mainly because you might just have sampled more than you should have 

Aeschbach Chocolate – Root near Luzern

Swiss chocolate tour at Aeschbach, Switzerland
Swiss chocolate tour at Aeschbach, Switzerland

This small family run chocolate factory prides itself on producing fresh chocolate for large and small companies as well as its own brand. A  large production facility and a mouth-watering café, there is Choco world which gives visitors an insight into the world of chocolate, the history and just about everything you need to know about it. It is customary at all these tasty places, there are plenty of sampling stations including 3 chocolate fountains – delicious !!

Lindt Chocolate or the Home of Chocolate – Zurich 

The Lindt Chocolate Factory tour in Zurich
The Lindt Chocolate Factory tour in Zurich

This massive facility opened on September 13th this year and will boost a multi-media and interactive exhibition, a research facility and show production. Furthermore, the world’s largest Lindt chocolate shop, a Lindt café and a Lindt Chocolateria for chocolate courses. A special highlight, however, is the world’s largest chocolate fountain in the entrance area which is more than 9 metres tall.

Cailler Chocolate Factory – Broc 

Maison Cailler Chocolate factory tour in Broc, Switzerland
Maison Cailler Chocolate factory tour in Broc, Switzerland

Explore the story of our chocolate through a series of interactive, multi-sensorial experiences, and maybe uncover a few secrets along the way.
Our unique museum tour of about one hour leads you through the history of chocolate, from Aztec cocoa ceremonies to the innovations of today. Discover how we use exquisite cocoa beans and high-quality ingredients to make the finest chocolate creations, and indulge your palate with an amazing variety of flavours during a chocolate tasting.

Maestrani Chocolate – Flawil 

Maestrani chocolate tours in Switzerland
Maestrani chocolate tours in Switzerland

Discover the chocolate factory independently and solve the secret of how happiness gets into chocolate. Enjoy a sweet journey through the fantastic world of discovery. Product sampling included!

So there you go, 4 of the most mouth-watering and delicious chocolate experiences in Switzerland. If any one of them has whet your appetite to visit, check out our Chocolate, Cheese & Drinks tour for more information. 

 

Everything You Need To Know About Swiss Wines

Swiss Wines

During the Corona crises, I have been trying to think of new ways to attract customers. One of the ideas I have had is to add a wine experience to the Cheese and Chocolate Tour. Therefore, I have been learning about Swiss Wine, a very interesting subject and certainly an experience that guests will enjoy.

So the question is why is Swiss wine an enigma and seemingly not very popular outside of Switzerland? Many people do not even know that wine is produced here. However, I can confirm that many good quality wines are produced here in several regions and over the past 20 years Swiss winemaking has come a long way with a focus on quality as new grapes were introduced and older varieties resurrected. Swiss winemakers took off to the USA, Australia and New Zealand to learn winemaking techniques and bring their skills back to Switzerland to cater for a growing market of wine drinkers both here and from abroad.

So today there are approximately 15,000 hectares of vineyards in Switzerland across several Kantons in Switzerland. 58% is red wine and 42% white with Pinot Noir and Chaesselas the 2 most common varieties.

Switzerland’s Six Wine Regions

  • Valais (33% of total wine volume produced) In the heart of the Alps, with vineyards extending over 100km along the Rhône river.
  • Vaud (25%) Predominantly along the shores of Lake Geneva, with some vineyards at the southwestern end of Lake Neuchâtel.
  • German-speaking region (19%) Widely scattered across 17 German-speaking cantons from Basel and Aargau in the northwest via Zurich, Schaafhausen and Thurgau, to St Gallen and Graubünden in the east.
  • Geneva (10%) In the foothills of the sub-Alpine Jura mountains and both banks of the Rhône as it leaves the western end of Lake Geneva.
  • Ticino (7%) On the southern side of the Alps close to the Italian border, with abundant sunshine tempered by lake-effect rain from its proximity to Lakes Lugano and Maggiore.
  • Three Lakes (5%) Mostly on the slopes of the Jura along the northern banks of Lake Neuchâtel, with the balance on the equivalent shores of nearby Lakes Biel/Bienne and Murten/Morat.

I have picked out a couple of regions and winemakers that Typically Swiss Tours has met and will be taking customers to should they wish to visit a Swiss Vineyard to possibly complement a visit to a chocolate factory and/or a cheese dairy.

I have chosen the Kaiserspan vineyards at Hitzkirch, 25 mins outside of Luzern. Here, Andreas and Edith carefully turn Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling Silvaner into delicious red, white and rosé wines. Not far away on the banks of Lake Luzern with superb views Tony Ottiger produces the same varieties and Sauvignon Blanc and Rosenau as well. I envisage a day up Mt Pilatus, followed by a stroll round Luzern followed by a mid to late afternoon vineyard visit to be a lovely day.

Likewise, in the Lavaux region, Typically Swiss Tours has teamed up with La Crausaz vineyard which is situated on the south facing hills above Lake Leman, near Montreux. This perfectly located vineyard produces Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir amongst many selections. A trip here would complement a day in Montreux or even better round of a perfect culinary trip to Cailler chocolate and Gruyere cheese, located 30 mins away.

All three vineyards offer an introduction as to how the wines are produced, a small tour around the vineyard and a sampling of some selected wines and perhaps some lunch if ordered in advance. Naturally, there will be an opportunity to purchase a couple of bottles to sample later or take back as souvenirs. I have personally visited all 3 places and can confirm that this experience is not one to be missed. The views across the vineyards with lakes and mountains provide a perfect backdrop for a wonderful Swiss wine tasting experience. And why do this …….

Well, Swiss wines are becoming more popular year on year. The Swiss say themselves they cannot produce enough for their home market, never mind the foreign one and consequently only 1.5% of production is exported. A trip to a vineyard will certainly open up your eyes to the quality and increasing appeal of Swiss Wines.

One thing is for certain, a trip to a Swiss Vineyard will not disappoint and certainly add value to any culinary trip here in Switzerland.

What To Expect From Switzerland & The Swiss When You Arrive Here

The Matterhorn, Switzerland | Typically Swiss Tours

I have been here for 20 years so perhaps I am used to the living standards and
environment, let alone the Swiss people themselves. However, I have racked
my brains and after having talked to a few clients, I have picked out a few
common observations that your average visitor here would surely point out
when here. Therefore, if you do come as a tourist, and I strongly advise that
you do, this tips you will prepare you for your trip to Switzerland.

1. Cleanliness

So on arrival at either Zürich, Basel or Geneva airports, you will be struck just
how clean and even how sterile airports are compared to other airports in the
world. This sets the tone as Switzerland has to be one, if not the cleanest
countries in the world. On a stroll down a street in Switzerland, lots of people
have remarked to me about the absence of any litter and it is absolutely true. I
had one guest, a guy from the USA who set himself a challenge to find a piece
of litter during the 2 days he was with me and his colleagues. Let’s just say he
could not reach the challenge. So towns, mountains, lakes and basically
everywhere is clean. This cleanliness comes down to doing things right and
orderly and professional and organised and efficient and clean and ultimately
Swiss!!

2. Crossing The Road

Secondly there`s crossing the road. No jay walking here, people press the button and religiously wait for the green man. There could be no cars coming for miles on both sides but no one crosses and if somebody does jump the gun
and cross before the green man appears, it`s probably a foreigner!!

3. Prices

Third and you probably know this already, it`s very expensive. Wages are high
and I suppose this means, the cost of just about everything from Hotels, to
food and drinks to trips up mountains is high with very few exceptions. An
example would be a pizza margarita costing 17chf, a glass of wine 8chf and a
trip up a mountain 75chf which by anybody’s standards is expensive. Basically
if you here with family for a week and you are keen to do things, you must be
wealthy as a week could easily cost over 5000chf depending on your style of
stay etc. Luckily there are Airbnb`s here and you can buy transport passes
which will save you for trips etc and you can always do picnic lunches.

4. Languages

Forth is the language. Now if you do end up on the west side or the French side
or the South-East side, better known as the Italian part, you are fine if you
speak those languages and in general you are fine anyhow as the Swiss are a
very educated race and those working in Tourism will speak English and at
least one other language. However, if you end up in Central Switzerland where
I am in Luzern, do not expect the locals to speak German and you can practice
your A level German with them. No, they speak a strange dialect of German
called Swiss German which is simply nearly impossible to understand and I
would not even bother trying to! Best of speaking English.

5. Timing

Fifth is surprise, surprise is timing. Everything runs on time here. Trains and
meetings etc. If a train is due to leave or a meeting or concert is due to begin
at 2.45pm, then it will leave or start at 2.45 in 99% of cases. So never assume a train will be a minute late as you will simply miss it. Likewise, for dinner
reservations, always let the restaurant know you will be late and as a couple of
side notes, do not be too surprised to see a dog or dogs in the restaurant and
when it comes to tipping, remember that service is included in the bill so no
need to tip unless the service is really exceptional.

6. Low Crime Rates

Sixth, there is hardly any poverty and people are by and large well looked
after and civilised, educated and have jobs. In general unemployment is very
low, inflation also and the country is simply very well managed. Going further,
Switzerland is not in the EU and the borders are controlled so you will not see
many immigrants or refugees here. Entry and works permits for foreigners are
tightly controlled. Society is orderly and crime is very low too and the chances
of a tourist being a victim of crime are very low indeed.

7. High Fitness

Lastly you will be struck by how fit most people are. There are exceptions to
this for sure but if you do see overweight people, there is a good chance they
are tourists. The Swiss watch their diet and most do have some form of fitness
regime and participate in a number of sports and ski and hike on the Swiss
Alps.

So there`s a few fairly common idiosyncrasies you will definitely find here in
Switzerland. Nothing too bad, in fact most are pretty positive and make
Switzerland the fantastic country it is. To summarise you probably have the
impression Switzerland is high end and high cost. It is. In a way, you pay for
what you get here, hence the high standard and cost of living. However I would
strongly encourage anybody to visit Switzerland – just save up before you
come !

How Coronavirus Is Impacting Switzerland: Our Response

Lake Luzern with mountains in the background

Like most countries in the world, Switzerland has been affected by Coronavirus. At the time of writing there were over 25,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.

Here’s a simple summary of what has been going on here.

Covid-19 in SwitzerlandAnti coronavirus measures have been in place since March 16 and will be extended to April 26. These measures include a 

  • recommendation to all citizens to stay at home, especially the sick and elderly. 
  • A ban of gatherings of more than 5 people and social distancing at 2meters between people.  
  • The economy has collapsed and the government has brought in measures to support the economy.
  • An extraordinary situation is in place, resulting in a ban on all private and public events and closing bars, restaurants, sports and cultural spaces; only business providing essential goods remain open. Schools are closed nationwide.

Due to this situation, the government can take over certain powers from the 26 Cantons to impose measures. This is a first for Switzerland.  On March 25 Switzerland closed its borders and therefore only Swiss Citizens, swiss residents, those entering the country for professional reasons, and those transiting through can enter the country. The Swiss army has been mobilised to control the borders.

In addition, for the first time the Swiss army is deploying a hospital battalion to support other civilian hospitals; it can welcome 200 patients. To cope with the expected increase in the number of sick people, many cantons have also mobilised civil defence volunteers. 

Major cancelled events have so far included the Geneva International Motor Show and the Baselworld watch fair. Art Basel, originally scheduled for June, has also postponed the fair until September.

All top-flight Swiss football and ice-hockey games have also been called off, as have numerous local social, political and cultural events. The ice hockey World Championship, scheduled to start in Switzerland from May 8, has also been cancelled.

Economics Minister Guy Parmelin has warned that averting a recession will be extremely difficult despite the measures taken. The government said it wanted to help the economy “quickly and unbureaucratically.”

The Swiss stock market has been heavily hit by the panic over the virus.

The tourism and event industries also fear heavy losses. For March and April, Swiss hotels are expecting turnover to fall by up to 90%

As you can imagine the consequences for Typically Swiss Tour have been very bad with several tours being cancelled and no bookings for the summer period. Bookings still exist for mid-summer and time will tell if these tours actually take place. The good news is my product could be one f the lucky ones as and when the crises is over as I give private tours which due to health and safety fears could be more in demand than say, large bus tours.

In any case, Typically Swiss Tours is doing all that it can do to work on marketing so that is ready for the inevitable recovery.

Reasons to visit Switzerland

Typically Swiss Tours

Switzerland is bursting at the seams with activities catered to young and old, with a varied and exciting range of things to do. There are many reasons to visit Switzerland.

Why choose Switzerland?

Zurich, Switzerland

Switzerland offers so much, including:

  • Delicious food
  • Breathtaking mountain scenery
  • Adrenaline-pumping activities 
  • A seamless way of getting around (thanks to the country’s superb organisation). 

After one visit, there is no doubt that you will want to return. It truly is one of the most exquisite countries in the world.

Visit Switzerland for the beauty

The Matterhorn in Switzerland

If you are looking for spectacular natural beauty, in particular picturesque lakes and mountains, look no further. People the world over flock here to submerge themselves in the glorious nature waiting around every corner. The Matterhorn, near Zermatt, is the most-photographed mountain in the world and is just one of the thousands of amazing places to visit.

Enjoy a relaxed atmosphere

Relaxing cup of tea

The fast pace and the hustle and bustle of stressful living are unknown in Switzerland. Even life in the bigger cities of Zurich, Basel and Geneva does not reach a pace faster than ‘chilled’, while Bern itself is known for its slower pace. Switzerland has a fantastic work-life balance. Of course, people do work hard, but at the same time, there are incredible amounts of leisure activities to pursue.

Everything runs like clockwork

Whether it’s the public transport and healthcare system, or merely keeping the place pristine, Switzerland is unique in the way the country operates; making living and visiting a joy. Swiss society is well organised and, for the traveller, everything from accommodation and transport to activities is here to enjoy.

When you visit Switzerland, you pay for what you get

Swiss Rolex watch

Switzerland is not a cheap country, that is a fact. Eating out and shopping are two of main expenses and, bearing in mind that Swiss salaries are 30-50% higher than other European countries; and the Swiss Franc is traditionally strong, you can see why it is pricey. However, you receive good value for most things, and the quality is there on goods and services. If you are prepared to look, you can definitely find some cheap deals.

It’s an international country

With over 20% of the population being nonnative, you are never too far from migrants who are either working temporarily or have settled here permanently. In most cities, several nationalities are making a real melting pot of cultures. This diverse mix compliments the Swiss and their traditional conservative, but friendly attitude.

Swiss Cheese and Chocolate – a trip to heaven

Swiss chocolate

If you love cheese, you have come to the right place. Four hundred different delicious types are produced here, and there are several tasty cheese dairies to visit, some of which are very interactive and interesting. From Gruyere to Emmental to Appenzell, Swiss cheese is literally around every corner.

The same goes for Swiss chocolate. Large and small companies produce it and, like cheese, there are plenty of chocolate factories that have opened their doors to the public. Part of the tour includes understanding the history of the establishment and how chocolate is made. Of course, there is the obligatory, and delicious, tasting session.

Skiing in Switzerland – Its snow snow snow

Swiss alps in winter

Switzerland is a mecca for skiing, and some of the world’s finest resorts and pistes are here. It’s no surprise that everything is organised and works well, not to mention the views are amazing. And it’s not just skiing or snowboarding, try sledging or snowshoe walking, or simply take a hike in the snow – it’s simply stunning, and with several world-famous resorts to choose from, such as Verbier, St Moritz and Zermatt, you will be spoilt for choice.

Switzerland weather is stunningly seasonal

You will normally experience the four-season climate, making a cacophony of super cool activities possible, from skiing in the winter to lake-swimming in summer. There can be quite a range of temperatures throughout the year, from minus four or five to thirty degrees celsius. Many micro-climates exist meaning that certain areas, such as Basel and Ticino, have very mild climates. 

Switzerland is Europ’s roof

Mountains railway Switzerland

With more than 50 peaks over 4,000m, a breathtaking view is never far away. Thousands go up on cable cars and mountain railways to experience these magnificent and exhilarating panoramas and vistas. Some of the mountains are very commercialised with modern facilities such as restaurants, shops and activities to cater for the hordes of people that flock there. And it’s an all-year-round adventure with skiing and sledging areas giving way in warmer months to hiking trails.

Visit Switzerland for more than just mountains

river in Switzerland surrounded by snowy mountains

Switzerland boasts over 1,000 rivers and lakes, some of which are Europe’s biggest and most beautiful. Expect crystal clear fresh-water, with safe and supervised bathing areas, paired with beautiful scenery. 

Just a few examples of stunning Swiss lakes include:

  • Lungern
  • Geneva 
  • Luzern 
  • Walen 

Immerse yourself in culture

Fasnacht carnival mask with confetti

Switzerland has twenty-six Kantons (or states); each with its own culture and traditions dating back decades, if not centuries. There are festivals and events taking place all year, covering so many different pastimes and celebrations.

Fasnacht in Luzern, the Gay Parade in Zurich and the Alpzug, when the cows come down from the mountains in the Autumn, are just 3 of thousands of cultural events you can choose from.

Whether you are just passing through or are planning a more extended trip, we can help you make your visit memorable.

Top 10 Places to Visit in Switzerland

The Matterhorn in Switzerland

Switzerland is a real mix of nature, history, art, great outdoors and urban living. In fact, the only thing Switzerland does not have to offer is the sea; however, the thousands of lakes double up as perfect swimming places in the summer months. Basically, Switzerland has it all, and this list could easily top 100 but to simplify, here`s Typically Swiss Tours best 10 things to see and do in this wonderful, interesting and beautiful country.

Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

 

1)  Matterhorn

 

If you are talking about Mountains, it’s probably Everest and then the Matterhorn that you think of first.  This swiss icon is the most photographed mountain in the world and attracts thousands of visitors who are pulled like magnets to its charismatic peak. 

Its uniqueness and beauty are plain to see, with a million stunning photographs taken at sunset, sunrise and in every season evidence of the power and attraction of this feat of nature. And with Zermatt, there is no finer place to ogle at the Matterhorn. For over 150 years, Europe`s jet-set has been coming to Zermatt to enjoy every single winter and summer sport, and it’s welcoming swiss hospitality.

 

2) Lakeside Luzern

 

Luzern is one of, if not the prettiest, town in Switzerland.  It’s charming, old, traditional, historic, vibrant and surrounded by god-given nature. You and several others could fall in love with Luzern for its sparkling lake vistas, alfresco café life, candy-coloured architecture and Victorian curiosities.  

The wooden bridge dating back to 1333, the City Walls dating back to the 14th Century and the Lion Monument are just 3 of several highlights in this gem of a town. 

Venturing further afield on a boat trip on the lake to a village and then up Mt Pilatus, Rigi or Stanserhorn will only add to your enjoyment and appreciation of one of Switzerland’s most beautiful regions.

 

3) Jungfrau Region

 

No trio of mountains is more famous than Switzerland`s big three – Eiger (Ogre), Mönch (Monk) and Jungfrau (Virgin) – peaks that soar to the sky above the gorgeous 19th century resorts of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen.  

There’s a plethora of activities – canyoning, paragliding, white water rafting – for the adrenalin seeking junkies or simply take a hike on the myriad of hiking trails in the Alps. One thing is certain; you will never be too far from breath-taking views of the Pearly Whites and the best of the Swiss countryside.

 

4) Rheinfall roars

 

Try and catch Europe’s largest waterfall in the summer months to see the falls at its best. The increased snowmelt upstream of mountain water crashes over the rocks at a rate of knots, and the thunderous noise when you are up close and personal on one of several viewing platforms is deafening. To appreciate the full force and drama of this enormous cascade of water, take a boat across the river and the new panoramic lift down to the falls from the Schloss Laufen.

 

 5) Bern

 

The capital city of Switzerland does not fit the traditional image of a “capital city”. It’s fourth in population size and retains a feeling of quaintness; no wonder many do not realise its importance. However, it’s unexpectedness is precisely its charm and the architecture and “feel” of this place gives Bern a must-see quality.  

The famous bear enclosure housing the symbol of Bern – Three bears, the 15th Century Cathedral, the 16th Century Zytglogge and the Parliament buildings are just some of the attractions that await curious visitors.

 

6) Zurich

 

You can see why Zurich is one of the most desirable places to live in the world.  Living standards here are very high as are the prices. Over the years, there has been plenty of urban renewal as witnessed by the growth of Zurich West. 

Switzerland’s largest city by a mile is a centre for commerce, retail and entertainment. The financial centre is here, and there are 2,000 Google employees as well as all the high end, luxury shops you care to mention along Bahnhofstrasse. Day into night rolls into one with hundreds of bars, restaurants and clubs which will keep you entertained until the sun rises. Don’t forget the crazy Street Parade in August – a must see !!

7) Bernese Oberland

 

 

If you want to experience the most beautiful region in Switzerland, spend time in this region. You will not be disappointed and will definitely want to come back for more. 

Here you have it all, incredible gorges cutting through limestone rock like the Aare or Rosenlaui, enchanting and impressive waterfalls like at Giessbach or Staubbach. The enclosed waterfall in a mountain at Trummelbach is unique, as snowmelt water from the Alps crashes through several chutes. 

The picturesque Lakeside village of Brienz is a reminder of days of old when woodcarving was a major player. For a spot of souvenir shopping with the tourism masses, visit Interlaken, nestled between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. Last head up the cable car at Isenfluh to Sulwald for majestic views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.  

 

8) Montreux and Lake Geneva

 

The vines in the Lavaux region are amazing, and a visit to a local vineyard is recommended, as sampling a glass of Pinot Noir with lunch overlooking Europe’s largest lake (Geneva) is an experience to savour. 

There are several interesting places along the lake to visit such as Switzerland’s most cosmopolitan city Geneva, Lausanne with it’s Olympic Museum, and Vevey with it’s Charlie Chaplain. However, my favourite is the host of the iconic Jazz festival every July – Montreux. Thousands flock here not only to listen to world-famous bands but to visit the 13th Century Chillon Castle, perfectly placed on the Lake.

 

9) Cheese and Chocolate etc

 

If you want the stereotypical Swiss experience, you can have it in excess.  Several cheese factories have interactive tour experiences where you can see the cheese being produced culminating in a tasting session. The three most famous are in Appenzell, Emmental and Gruyere but there are several smaller cheese places dotted around the country. 

Likewise, Aeschbach in Luzern, Lindt in Zurich (May 20) and Cailler in Broc have chocolate experiences along the same lines as cheese. Alternatively, if it’s a Swiss army penknife you are after, look no further than the Victorinox in Brunnen, where you can build your own. 

Lastly, as you can imagine, there are souvenir and watch shops everywhere selling typical swiss products which I am sure you will be tempted by.

10) Take a train journey in Switzerland

 

 

Put simply, Swiss trains are probably the best in the world, and the Swiss are very proud of their system. Over the years, Swiss railways have developed a number of famous train rides which take in the best of the Swiss countryside. 

These railways showcase alpine lakes, stunning alpine vistas and other mesmerising natural landscapes all from the comfort of a train, most with super-panoramic windows. 

Three of the best routes are the Glacier Express between St Moritz and Zermatt, the Bernina Express between St Moritz and Chur and the Golden Line between Luzern and Montreux. On all these iconic train journeys, passengers will be thrilled by just how close nature is, as the train travels across the beautiful swiss countryside through copious tunnels and bridges.

Book a tour to visit Switzerland in a way you will never forget.

Top 10 One Day Hiking Tours In Switzerland

Typically Swiss Tours

Whether you are interested in a one day hike, or a variety of hikes over a selection of days, we have collated some of the best hikes in Switzerland. 

1. Mount Rigi panorama trail – Central Switzerland

Known as the Queen of the Mountains, Mount Rigi is stunning in terms of facilities, walks and hikes, with 360-degree views of the stunning Swiss landscape. Our one-day hike will include a relaxing boat trip on Lake Luzern or a train ride which runs all year round. Out of the four big mountains in the Luzern area, walking trails are in abundance, with the panorama trail being our favourite.

2. Ebenalp Wildkirchli – Eastern Switzerland

Ebenalp Wildkirchli

For a truly unique sight into the Swiss Alps, head to Ebenalp in Eastern Switzerland. We will travel by cable car, reaching 1600m, before walking down to experience something truly exquisite. 

A restaurant was literally built into the side of a hill in 1621. Food and drink at the Berggasthaus Aescher were first served here in 1800 and the views of the Swiss Alps, particularly Mt Santis, are amazing. It’s an excellent option for visitors that don’t want to hike very far but would still like to have a Swiss alp experience. We can also take the hike without using the cable car if a longer hike is preferred.

3. Berner Oberland – Lake Oeschinen

Lake Oeschinen

If you are after a stunning, almost crystal blue lake, a classic alpine cable car ride and some of Switzerland’s finest walking trails, look no further than Lake Oeschinen. We will take a cable car up from Kandersteg, or a one-hour walk, to the top where a summer toboggan awaits us. We will follow the trail to the lake, past lush meadows with grazing cows. This is one of the best photo opportunities the Swiss Alps has to offer, with the snow-capped mountains providing a beautiful backdrop to the amazing blue lake.

4. Lauterbrunnen Valley – Jungfrau Region

Lauterbrunnen Valley

This valley, known as the Valley of 50 Waterfalls, is one of the most popular in Switzerland. The stunning surroundings are one of the many reasons we recommend tours here. Lauterbrunnen is a mecca for walkers. The high trails are only available in June onwards (when the snow has gone, and some of the lifts are open). 

Jungfrau and Schilthorn (2970m) are high peaks which are accessible by train and cable car. The views of the Alps are spectacular and well worth a visit. The mountain walk from Murren to Grütschalp and from Lauterbrunnen along the valley floor to Trummelbach Falls are well worth doing. As is the trek to the Staubbach Falls at 300m, the highest in Switzerland. All of these can be arranged through us.

5. Giessbach falls – Berner Oberland

Giessbach falls

Our personal favourite, for several reasons, is a trip to the incredible Giessbach Falls; a definite must-see. The falls, initially discovered by artists, have been attracting visitors for centuries; resulting in the construction of an enchanting hotel in 1873. Our one-day hike involves walking under the falls themselves before taking a seat on the terrace overlooking either the falls or Lake Brienz. Afterwards, we usually enjoy a free ride on the oldest funicular in Europe, down to the Lakeside to catch a boat to Brien where our driver guide picks us up and whisks us away to the next attraction.

6. Rigi Seebodenalp

Just a 20-minute drive from Luzern, we can travel up to Rigi Seebodenalp. The journey itself takes ten minutes, up a windy mountain road past Gesslerborg castle; which was built in the 10th century and is home to William Tell’s nemesis. We will journey past some farms selling local produce onto the bodenalpe and embark upon a twenty-minute hike along the ridge, taking in stunning views of Lake Luzern and Mount Pilatus. In the summer there will be cows grazing on the summer meadows.

7. Walensee – Eastern Switzerland

Walensee

The Walensee is one of the larger lakes in Switzerland with about two-thirds of its area in the Canton of St. Gallen and approximately one third in the Canton of Glarus. There are several enjoyable hikes around the lake offering impressive views along with a treasure hunt trail for kids, a choice of picnic areas and restaurants. While we are there, you won’t be able to stop marvelling at the crystal blue water and the stiff cliff edges – we still do!

8. Valle Verzasca

Valle Verzasca

Nestled in the hills of Ticino is the Verzasca river which flows into Lake Lugano and provides some lovely hiking areas. During our one-day hike, we will drive past several quaint villages until we reach the 22m high Verzasca Dam (which was featured in the film Goldeneye) and walk across it for an exhilarating experience. For the daredevils out there, we can even arrange for you to Bungee jump from the Dam! 

For everyone else, taking a dip in the crystal-clear water pools may be a better option (although it could be chilly). We won’t let you miss one of the highlights of the area – the bridge. “Ponte Romano” also called “Ponte Dei Salti” (jump bridge) crosses the Verzasca river in Lavertezzo, and is a typical medieval construction made of stone. Built in 1868, on a good day you can witness daring people taking the 15m leap into the blue waters below. 

9. Bürgenstock Cliff Walk and Hammetschwand Lift

Lake Luzern with mountains in the background

For stunning views of Lake Luzern and a clifftop walk involving a ride in Europe’s tallest free-standing lift, head to Burgenstock, located above Stans.  We can arrange for you to drive up the windy road or travel by boat from Luzern and the Bürgenstock funicular, up to the multi-million-pound resort.  

Our one-day hiking tour will take you along scenic paths with breathtaking views of Lake Luzern and the surrounding mountains. The cliff walk takes us to the 153m lift, which whisks us quickly to the top, allowing us to continue our walk through the forest, back to the resort.

10. Ballenberg Open-Air Museum – Berner Oberland

Berner Overland with historic property

Ballenberg is an old swiss village which is now an open-air museum accessible to the public. It’s a great walk with sights of all 100 original century-old buildings. It’s a wonderful way of seeing how the Swiss used to live and that the old way of life is still very much alive. Woodcutting, basketwork, spinning, weaving, lace-making and ironmonger’s tasks, through to cheese-making and baking are all on show so that visitors can witness how these old traditions have stood the test of time. If you fancy a snack or a typically swiss meal, do not worry, we can recommend plenty of local places to eat and relax.

If you would like us to take on the planning of your one-day hiking trip in Switzerland, we are more than happy to do so. You can either advise us on a particular hike you are interested in, or you can let us know what type of hike you would like, and we can make recommendations.

 

Check Out Our Holiday Reviews

Typically Swiss Tours

Typically Swiss Tours has been trading since May 2018. In a short time-frame, the company has firmly established itself as one of the key providers of professional, personal tours in Switzerland; conducting over 100 successful tours.

Regions covered include:

  • Stunning Luzern region 
  • Breathtaking Bernese Oberland area including Interlaken and Jungfrau
  • Glorious Graubünden 
  • Zurich 
  • Black Forest area

But don’t just take our word for it, if you want to read some feedback about the company, here are 10 of the best of the 70 holiday reviews on Tripadvisor.

 

1. Customer trip review of Lucerne

 

Customer trip review of Lucerne

This customer was thrilled with the way we customised their trip based on the specific areas of Switzerland they were eager to visit. We want every customer to have the time of their life, and we are so glad to hear that this customer experienced precisely that. 

Read the full review here.

 

2. Holiday review of a Swiss adventure

 

Holiday review of a Swiss adventure
This was their first experience in Switzerland, so we felt a lot of pressure to make it a great one. From imagining the perfect itinerary to ensuring they felt comfortable at all times; we really wanted to show them everything while keeping their interests at heart. 

Read the full review here.

 

3. Five stars from this trip review

 

Five stars from this trip review

It doesn’t matter if you are with us for one day, a weekend, a week or even ten days – every trip we book is important. And our work doesn’t end when the experience does. We are more than happy to use our in-depth knowledge of this amazing country to help you plan the rest of your time in Switzerland.

Read the full review here.

 

4. Hiking, climbing and eating

 

Hiking, climbing and eating
We are so proud that we helped this group find the magic of Switzerland. To get the ‘full experience,’ it is important to find the hidden gems as well as the ‘must-sees’. We wonder if they have any chocolate left from their visit to the Lindt factory…

 

5. All wishes granted in this holiday review

 

All wishes granted in this holiday review

This customer had a last-minute request, and we did everything we could to make their wish come true while still delivering on everything else we had promised.

Are you interested in visiting the lakes of Switzerland? Why not book a tour with us?

 

6. Professionalism, with a side of humour

 

Professionalism, with a side of humour
This trip review summarised everything we hope to deliver with our tours. Nothing makes us happier than to receive a five-star review like this. Whether you are visiting Basel, Luzern or somewhere else in Switzerland, we will do our utmost to make your trip the best yet!

Read the full review here.

 

7. Making every minute of your Swiss holiday count

 

Making every minute of your Swiss holiday count
This customer had some time to spare before their flight home, and we were more than happy to help them fill this time with a private tour of Basel. Even if you only have a few hours available, we can find something special for you to do.

Read the full review here.

 

8. Trip review of a customised tour

Trip review of a customised tour

 

No matter your age, or range of ages, Switzerland has something spectacular to offer. We were proud to plan a trip that catered to everyone’s taste, making the entire experience enjoyable for all.

Read the full review here.

 

9. Stunning review of a breathtaking trip

 

Stunning review of a breathtaking trip
When we plan our trips, we take into consideration the types of activities our customers are interested in. When weather prevents us from doing so, we always have something up our sleeve, and we strive to rearrange any original trips so that our customers don’t miss out.

Read the full review here.

 

10. A recommendation that ended in a fantastic trip review

 

A recommendation that ended in a fantastic trip review

As some of the other reviews within this post have eluded, our tours are flexible. We thoroughly enjoyed hunting down fantastic photo opportunities with this customer.

All of our tours of Switzerland can be personalised, spanning anything from one to ten days. From transport and accommodation, we have it all under control.

Book your tour

 

Things to do in Lucerne (Luzern)

Bridge in Lucerne

If you are looking to visit a part of Switzerland that encapsulates the essence of this awesome country, then head to Luzern (also known as Lucerne). Spiritually, politically and geographically, Luzern is known as the country’s heartland and should definitely make it on to your list of places to visit.

Why choose Luzern?

Need we say more than sparklings lake vistas, historical gems from the Victorian era and tongue-tingling delicacies? Here are ten reasons a trip to Luzern is an absolute must.

1. Visit the Old Town

Located on the right bank of the river Reuss, spend some time exploring the historic core of Lucerne where you can admire the painted houses and medieval guildhalls.

A visit to the Old Townhall (the Renaissance Altes Rathaus) is an absolute must. Built in the 17th century, the ground floor boasts or stunning arcades ready to be explored.

2. Educate yourself at the Swiss Museum of Transport

If you are looking for places to visit in Luzern, we recommend Switzerland’s most visited museum – the Swiss Museum of Transport.

Ever wondered what Switzerland’s first diesel locomotive looked like? Take a trip here to find out. You will also take in 30 aircrafts as well as the autotheatre, which showcases a fleet of vehicles spanning eras. The cars are stacked on shelves, similar to what you might see in a toyshop – only much larger, of course.

If cars aren’t quite your thing, the museum is still worth a visit. Inside, there is an IMAX theatre (Switzerland’s first), an updated planetarium and, last but not least, a new Swiss Chocolate Adventure!

3. Take in the Rosengart Collection

The 20th-century art dealer Siegfried Rosengart was acquainted with many modern painters. He and Angela (his daughter) acquired what is known as one of Europe’s richest collections of modern art and includes hundreds of pieces from the likes of:

  • Picasso
  • Paul Klee
  • Chagall
  • Matisse
  • Monet
  • Miró
  • Fernand Léger
  • Braque

The museum was opened in 2002 by Angela, and you can expect to see over 300 pieces when you visit.

4. Indulge at the Aeschbach Chocolate Factory

If you are looking for something a little more indulgent then add a visit to the chocolate factory to you list of things to do in Lucerne. An easy ten-minute journey, a trip to the Aeschbach Chocolate Factory involves learning how the chocolate is produced, sampling their delicacies and potentially creating a chocolate bar of your very own.

5. Feel mesmerised at Mount Pilatus

This mountain reaches over 2,000 metres high and is immersed in folklore. It is known to locals as ‘Dragon Mountain’ after stories dating back to medieval times warned that the peak was inhabited by dragons.

If you are visiting Mount Pilatus during summer, invest in a Golden Tour (Goldene Rundfahrt) and begin your adventure in a paddle steamer. From there you will ride the world’s steepest cogwheel railway and jump on the ‘Dragon Ride’ aerial cableway, before descending the mountain via a gondola cableway. Whether you are travelling alone, with a partner or with your family, this is sure to be an unforgettable day out.

6. Pay a visit to the Lion Monument

If you are looking for something a little different to do in Luzern, head to view a monument of a dying lion carved into the old sandstone quarry.

This evoking monument was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and carved by Lukas Ahorn in the early 1820s. The lion is a representation of the Swiss Guard who died protecting Louis XVI during the French Revolution in 1792.

The symbolism doesn’t stop there, the lion lies on top of a broken shield depicting the French royalty’s fleur-de-lis and in the background, there is a shield with the Swiss coat of arms.

7. Take a dip in Lake Lucerne  

This peculiarly shaped body of water is known to locals as the Lake of the Four Cantons and is a welcoming day out for everyone.

Enjoy a dip surrounded by epic mountains and stunning views before strolling through local neighbourhoods, which were reconfigured in the 1880s; taking full advantage of the spectacular landscapes.

8. Take in the Musegg Wall

The Musegg Wall had to make it onto our list of things to do in Lucerne. This breathtaking site consists of a city wall broken up by nine towers. The walls and towers were constructed towards the end of the 14th century as a defence to protect the city.

You can access four of the towers, including Zytturm which also holds Luzern’s oldest clock dating back to 1535. You may notice that it chimes exactly one minute before all of the other clocks in the city, this is in honour of the clock’s age. Listen out for it.

Any of the four towers you choose to climb will offer spectacular views of Luzern, including the lake.

9. Visit Chapel Bridge

For history lovers, a visit to Lucerne’s emblem is a must. Chapel Bridge is the world’s oldest standing truss bridge, dating back to 1333.

Extending for 200 metres, there are ceiling pediments and 17th-century paintings that showcase Luzern’s historic events. Take it all in with a history lesson like no other.

Sadly, a fire in 1993 burned down most of the bridge. What remains of this historical masterpiece is now covered for protection.

The adjoining tower stands 35 meters high and is older than the bridge by approximately 30 years. Unfortunately, you can’t climb the tower but you can enter the ground floor where there is a souvenir shop.

10. Enter the Hofkirche and Jesuit Church

The Hofkirche church is a must for history buffs. After the original basilica burned down in the 17th century, the new church was erected during the Thirty Year War. Very few churches were built north of the Alps during this period, making this a ‘must-see’ during your trip.

Constructed in the style of the late Renaissance, the church does still hold elements from the original basilica. This includes two towers and some ornamentation inside.

Once you have had your fill of the Hofkirche, head over to the Jesuit Church to make a day of the activity. Here you will see a beacon of the Counter-Reformation in the Baroque style. The church was designed by Austrian and Italian architects and was constructed throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, before being consecrated in 1677.

Whatever your taste, there is plenty to do when you visit Luzern. Why not take the hassle out of planning your trip and book a tour with us?