When people think of Switzerland, they often picture rolling hills and snow-capped mountains, endless hiking trails, beautiful calm lakes, sparkling glaciers, lush green countryside, picturesque old towns and cities with the sounds of cowbells clanging somewhere in the distant Alps...Well, although some of these may be somewhat cliché, perhaps they could become a reality if you choose to book holiday homes in Switzerland for your vacation this year! Switzerland is primarily a mountainous country, which is landlocked and surrounded by 5 other countries, hernce its 4 national languages of French, German, Italian and Romansh. The picture-perfect scenery makes it the perfect location for family outdoor adventure holidays like cycling and walking, but this country is also famous for its spas, making it an equally suitable destination for a romantic break or a girly group getaway. It's not just the countryside of this country that attracts visitors - the urban areas of Switzerland are beautiful too, home to amazing architecture, modern shopping centres and trendy bars, as well as medieval old towns with UNESCO status, like that of Bern, the country's capital. Discover Switzerland for yourself by booking a private rental property – the best way to experience all that the country has to offer.
The buzzing multicultural city of Geneva is in the west of the country, right on the border meeting the Alps in France, where you can visit the historic town of Chamonix and ski down its many slopes, which are suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers, but are particularly apt for those who are more adventurous and advanced. Geneva is a great city to stay in if you're looking for luxury ski holidays, as it is an international modern city with a cosmopolitan flair. Home to plenty of high class restaurants, lakeside walkways and upmarket shops, it's got plenty to keep you busy while you're not whooshing down the pistes or relaxing in one of the luxury holiday apartments in Switzerland which are available to rent in Geneva. Skiing areas such as La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Flaine are only an hour away, and are all good ski slopes to take the children to if it's their first time going on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, as there are plenty of gentle slopes for beginner and intermediate skiers.
Geneva is not only a destination for skiing: there are also plenty of festivals and attractions on offer here throughout the year, such as the Antigel Festival in February celebrating music and dance featuring an aeroplane show above the lake to open the festivities, Geneva Music Festival, Geneva Lake Parade and the Fêtes de Genève, a (free!) ten day long party with floats, music, rides and fireworks. You can take boat trips either around the bay or the whole lake, and get the best views of the impressive 140m high water jet, which is often lit up during the warmer months. If you love being on the water, why not go for a swim in it instead of just taking a boat tour? There are many small beaches or rocks to sit on along its shores where you can have a peaceful picnic or take a dip (or both!).
Zurich and Surrounding Cities
The city of Zurich is often thought to be the capital of Switzerland, perhaps due to its size (it is the largest of the Swiss cities), and it has also been named as one of the cities in Europe with the best quality of life. So, if you need a break from the daily stresses of your life, then this is the ideal destination to book holiday homes in Switzerland! In a stunning setting with a remarkable mountainous backdrop, this city is very easy to get to, by train, plane or car, as it is situated in a very central location. Although Zurich is an urban area filled with international fashion labels, artsy, trendy clubs and bars and plenty of open air events during the warmer months, it is also watched over by Uetliberg - a mountain towering above the rooftops. If you want some spectacular views over Zürich and the surrounding valleys, then this is the place to go; from here, go on hikes or bike rides, or sledding if you visit during the winter!
Situated fairly close to Zurich (about an hour by train or car) is the oldest university city in Switzerland, Basel, located on the river Rhine at the point where the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland meet. Basel is a real hub for art lovers, as it houses 40 museums as well as a lot of old architecture which is worth checking out during your stay in holiday homes in Switzerland. Visiting the old town, the Münster Cathedral, the Rathaus, Spalentor (Spalen City Gate) and taking a dip in the Rhine (weather permitting) are all possibilities here.
Another city which is less than an hour away from Zurich is picturesque Lucerne, a popular tourist destination thanks to its lakeside location, the nearby mountains Pilatus, Rigi and Stanserhorn which are excellent spots for hiking and mountain biking, as well as its cultural events such as the Lucerne Carnival, the Summer Night Festival, and the 3-times-a-year Lucerne Festival, which showcases classical music from internationally renowned orchestras from all around the globe. The wandering Lake Lucerne makes for a great location for cruising and discovering all of its twists and turns. Take a boat trip, or hire a canoe or kayak and get a different perspective of the lake, and you are allowed to swim in parts of it too, so take a dip if you're tired out and want a refreshing way to cool down! While you're here, don't forget to see the famous lion monument, which is a beautiful memorial for mercenary soldiers who died in the French Revolution.
Skiing and Switzerland in Winter
Switzerland is probably most famously a destination for those who are planning family skiing holidays here, as it is in a great position snuggled in the Alps between other countries which are also popular amongst skiers. Thanks to its central position, if you rent a holiday home in Switzerland in the skiing area of the Alps, you will also have easy access to places like Trentino in Italy and Vorarlberg and Tyrol in Austria, for example.
A great place for winter holidays in Switzerland is Interlaken, although this area is in fact popular all year round (and is one of Switzerland's most beloved tourist resorts), as the mountains in the Jungfrau region make for a good spot to carry out sports such as skydiving, paragliding and canyoning during the summer, as well as winter sports like skiing and snowboarding during the colder months. Skiing in Zermatt is also a good choice, as it is home to the Matterhorn, although this doesn't mean that there are only pistes suitable for advanced skiers – there are plenty of different trails for skiers of all levels. This resort also has skiing and snowboarding during the summer! Other winter sports here include winter hiking, sledding, tobogganing and ice sports, so there's no way you'll get bored! Other areas in Switzerland which are popular for skiing are Davos and St. Moritz in Graubünden and Grindelwald, amongst many others! If you like the sound of a ski trip but you've been to Switzerland before, try Zell am See in Austria, or how about Levi in Lapland, Finland for something a bit more unique?
Switzerland Summer Activities – Walking and Cycling Holidays
Don't be fooled into thinking that Switzerland is only good for a winter break – summer holidays are just as popular here, especially for those who love the great outdoors! There is a strong hiking and mountain biking culture amongst those who book self catering holiday apartments in Switzerland during the sunny months, as the scenery is perfect for jaw-dropping views of mountains and valleys, lakes and moors with pretty wild flowers. There are both guided and self-guided walks available. Mountain biking is another fun summer activity for all the family, and there are plenty of different routes and trails, so there will be something suitable for everyone's standard. The kids will love Switzerland's longest summer toboggan run (from the peak of Fräkmüntegg, 30 minutes away from Lucerne) with all of its twisting bends and tunnels and the incredible views surrounding it.
Whatever you end up doing during your stay in a rental property in Switzerland, you're sure to come home with lots of lovely memories. Have a good time!