“Switzerland is known for unspoiled nature and breathtaking scenery in the heart of the Alps,” says Martin Oester, the sales and marketing manager–North America for Switzerland Tourism. “It is not exactly a mass tourism destination, with small places, short distances, and easy-to-reach destinations.”
He cites cities such as Basel, Montreux, Locarno, and St. Gallen as examples of the places that offer both rich culture and a quaint feel.
“Those cities are clean, modern, diverse, and full of history,” Oester says. “You’ll discover a wealth of museums, prime shopping, and entertainment—all within walking distance—once you arrive.”
Switzerland’s third-largest city, Basel boasts the highest concentration of museums in the country with 40. Its Old Town area mixes ancient and modern architecture and is a popular spot for photographers. The northwestern Swiss city also is the most familiar of the group to river cruisers, who frequently stop as part of excursions on the Rhine.
The combination of mountains, vineyards, and lake views are all part of the allure of Montreux. The city on the Swiss Riviera, which Oester calls “an authentic little piece of paradise,” is a major draw for travelers seeking beauty, tranquility, and inspiration. While the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival announced it won’t take place in 2020, this signature event will return next July for its 54th year.
This coastal city is known to have the warmest climate in all of Switzerland. Palm trees and lemon trees flourish in the south, and they give it a welcoming charm not seen elsewhere. Travelers can enjoy relaxing at Piazza Grande, checking out the restaurants and shops along Lake Maggiore, and watching art-house movies each August during the city’s renowned film festival (cancelled in 2020).
This compact metropolis in eastern Switzerland that is known for its traffic-free old town area. The Abbey of St. Gall complex, which dates back to the 8th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its library contains some of the some of the oldest and most precious manuscripts in Europe.
Oester says these places also are shining examples of the country’s many sustainable destinations.
“More and more people are realizing we have to live more consciously to preserve the beauty of our planet,” he says. “Although a small country, Switzerland is a global leader in sustainability, and we are well-positioned to deliver these experiences, thanks to our public transport system—powered with 90% renewable energy—tap water that tastes better than many fine water brands, and hotels that place great importance on being eco-friendly."
Top photo: The Montreux Riviera
Photo by Switzerland Tourism
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