Switzerland Provides Myriad Options for Luxury Travel
A country rich in history and natural beauty and well-known for its friendly people and neutral political stance, Switzerland is a vacation destination that has long been popular with everyone from backpackers to the rich and famous. Full of lively and eclectic urban areas, including some of the world’s most spectacular cities, as well as stately mountains and rich green countryside, Switzerland – as cliché as it may sound – truly has a little of everything, making it suitable for all sorts of travelers seeking a variety of experiences, especially those who are used to enjoying the best-of-the-best.
Certainly, travelers in search of a luxury vacation will find no shortage of opulence in Switzerland’s 15,940 square miles. Just consider Zurich, for example, which has been dubbed “the wealthiest city in Europe” and the city that offers the “best quality of life” anywhere on the planet.
A home base for many of the world’s leading financial corporations, the city of Zurich – with Lake Zurich as its centerpiece – is nothing short of stunning, with amazing architecture, an arms-length list of museums, opera houses and music halls, and gardens that will take your breath away. Add to that some of the most spectacular designer shopping in Europe, dozens of fine restaurants, and five-star accommodations, and you’ve got luxury travel at its best.
Housing the European Headquarters of the United Nations and home to more than 200 international organizations, Geneva is a mixture of thriving international metropolis and charming old town, all rolled up into a city that people want to visit again and again.
Like Zurich and Basel, shopping in Geneva is unmatched. Take a taxi to the Rue de Rhone or the Rues Basses and you’ll find a huge enclave of upscale shops peddling the finest in designer clothing, those meticulously-running Swiss watches, chocolates that make your mouth water, fragrant cheeses, and incredible artwork by local artisans.
Culture is of the highest caliber in Geneva as well. Theater, opera, ballet, and orchestral offerings are abundant, and – as an added perk – you can enjoy them in some of the most stunning venues in the world. And when you’re done listening to a concert or taking in a play, you can head to one of the city’s many award-winning restaurants for a meal extraordinaire.
The Geneva Countryside
The countryside around Lake Geneva is about as pretty as it gets. Guests will be treated to plenty of natural beauty as the region is full of gently rolling hills, farms (agritourism is big here!), bucolic streams, and – of course – vineyards galore. Those all make the Geneva countryside a wonderful place for exploration, either on foot or by bicycle. There’s also lots of man-made beauty to admire, from Roman ruins and castles to grand churches and old military forts carved out of rocks. Truly, the history of the area is rich.
Festivals and other special events are also frequent in this region of Switzerland, including several annual music festivals honoring different genres, a film festival or two, and – in January – one of the world’s largest hot air balloon extravaganzas.
Switzerland’s capital city, Bern measures just 20 square miles and is an extremely navigable and pedestrian-friendly city. The old section of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of Renaissance fountains, medieval structures, and a magnificent cathedral, all surrounded by the Aare River and offering awesome views of the Alps.
The city, in general, is a wonderful place for hiking, bicycling, kayaking and river rafting, and other outdoor activities. But when it’s time to relax, Bern also has a large concentration of spas for some extra pampering. Be sure to also save some time for Bern sightseeing, including visits to museums, castles, theatres, and more.
Pretty Basel is located along the Rhine River in the spot where Switzerland, France, and Germany come together. Long an important cultural center, it has been home to some of the world’s greatest philosophers, humanitarians, writers, artists, and inventors. It’s got more than two dozen museums and, over the centuries, has become one of the prime European marketplaces for antiques and fine art. Wealthy bankers and pharmaceutical industry entrepreneurs call Basel home and the concentration of wealth here is significant.
For visitors seeking a luxury vacation experience, Basel offers top-notch accommodations like Hotel Euler und Central, where well-heeled locals like to hang out and have a drink; and the lovely Swisshotel Le Plaza, with its quiet ambience and understated elegance.
Dubbed “the town between the lakes”, Interlaken has been recognized as a prime vacation destination for several centuries. And no wonder! It’s got everything from charming villages to spectacular mountains and – like Basel - has long been a favorite hangout for famous musicians, writers, and artists. It’s often been the chosen vacation destination of European royals from a host of surrounding countries as well.
For travelers, Interlaken is a pleasant city and one that is best seen on foot. Visitors can peruse the town’s lovely parks, hop aboard steamers that travel across the Brienz and Thun Lakes, visit the regional tourism museum, check out the neighboring 13th century town of Unterseen, take in a concert, or book a round of golf. When the sun sets, Interlaken rewards visitors with one of the highest concentration of night clubs of any city in Switzerland, ranging form clubs that attract high-income residents and travelers to others with an emphasis on Interlaken’s folksy side, not unlike the pubs of Ireland.