Part of the EU macro-regional strategy of the Alpine region, Switzerland sits smack dab in the centre of Europe, bordered by Germany to the north, Italy to the south, France to the west, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Nearly 60 percent of the country is covered by the Alps, with over 48 mountains hitting altitudes over 4,000 metres—the two highest being Monte Rosa and Matterhorn. Panoramic trains snake their way along scenic passes straight up the mountains, where travellers can hop on transport even more traditional: open wooden coach cable cars. The country is divided into three geographic areas—the Jura (known as the three-lakes district), the Plateau, and the Alps—and features 26 different cantons, or states. On the Upper Rhine, the bridge city of Laufenburg was split into two by Napoleon over 200 years ago and is considered the gateway to the Jura Park, as well as a stop on the Via Habsburg route. The watchmaking centre of La Chaux-de-Fonds (part of the Réseau Art Nouveau Network), meanwhile, is one of the most significant examples of Swiss urban construction from the 19th century.

How to get there?

Fly into one of Switzerland’s major airports—Zurich, Geneva, Basel or Bern Belp—or take a direct train from Paris, Milan or Hamburg. The TGV Lyria travels multiple times per day between Paris or Marseille and Geneva, Lausanne, Basel and Zurich. See a more panoramic side of Switzerland on board trains like the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The country is also a cycling favourite, featuring over 12,000 kilometres of bike paths.

  • Time Zone
    GMT +1
  • Population
    8.42 million
  • Capital
  • Official languages
    German, French, Italian, Rhaeto-Rumantsch
  • Currency
    Swiss franc or CHF (1 EUR = 1.13 CHF)

EU citizens (and members of the Schengen Area) do not need a visa to visit Switzerland.

Cultural Routes in Switzerland

Nine Cultural Routes cross through Switzerland, which is part of the Alpine EU macro-regional strategy.

Via Francigena

The former pilgrimage route helped contribute to the cultural unity of Europe in the Middle Ages, with 1,800 kilometres of paths through England, France, Italy and Switzerland that travellers once took en route to Rome before heading to Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela. In Switzerland, the path features 13 stages spanning 215 km.

European Mozart Ways

Mozart’s journeys span 10 countries and over 200 sites, including Zurich’s Tonhalle orchestra.

Réseau Art Nouveau Network

In the end of the 19th century, Art Nouveau reached the Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds with the help of artist Charles L’Eplattenier, who started a school revolving around the study of design and nature.

Via Habsburg

The House of Habsburg was one of the most powerful royal houses in Europe, with an 800-year-old dynasty dominating large stretches of western and central Europe. The thousand-kilometre route covers 70 of these sites and cities in four countries, including Switzerland and its bridge city of Laufenburg.

Cluniac Sites in Europe

Stemming from the French region where Cluny was seen in medieval times as “the second Rome,” Cluny Abbey’s influence touches over 1,800 monasteries, castles, colleges and villages across Europe, highlighted on a number of Cluny Routes, which pass through Switzerland.

European Route of Cistercian abbeys

Since its birth in 1098 in Burgundy, the Cistercian Order has grown across Europe to encompass 1,000 monasteries and 750 abbeys, including the 11th century Hauterive Abbey, located 7 km from Fribourg.

The Huguenot and Waldensian trail

The 2,000-km hiking trail follows the path that nearly 200,000 Huguenots took during the 17th century to Geneva, Switzerland and later Germany.

Via Charlemagne

Charlemagne was considered the father of Europe and the Via Charlemagne aims to “promote the chivalrous and humanistic values specific to the Carolingian legends.” The route follows along in the footsteps of the western emperor of the first unified Europe.

European Route of Jewish Heritage

In Switzerland, Jewish culture stems back a thousand years, before the birth of the medieval Old Swiss Confederacy in the 1400s. The Switzerland route highlights Jews living in urban centres like Zurich, Basel, Bern, Lausanne and Geneva.

Google Translate