Switzerland is a small, landlocked country in the heart of Europe. It has a strategic location at the crossroads of Central Europe with many easily traversable passes for outdoor enthusiasts. Switzerland is divided into three major geographical areas known as the Alps, the middle land and the Jura regions, attracting a wide range of tourists each year.
Switzerland may be a neutral country but it is certainly not flavorless. The diversity of German, French, Romanish, and Italian languages has formed a robust national culture, with vast alpine landscapes presenting enough zing to reinvigorate the most jaded traveler.
Switzerland certainly has its fair share of cliches with irresistible chocolates, yodeling countrymen, humorless bankers, international bureaucracies, and a national persona of a cold and close-minded culture. Looking beyond those well known stereotypes, the Germans invented the cuckoo clock; secondly, the Swiss have won more Nobel prizes and registered more patents per capita than any other nation on earth.
Happily, you can be sure that your Swiss trains and postal letters will be on time, unlike many of their European counterparts. Among tidy, just so-precision of Swiss towns and villages, you are surrounded by the vast splendor of the picturesque which seem to be never ending.
If you enjoy the scenery or want to take an active vacation, there are several scenic routes which meander through Switzerland's Bernese Oberland and Lucerne's Lake regions. There are also hiking, white water rafting, kayaking, paragliding, and biking routes and tours for adrenaline junkies.
February is known for Fasnacht or Carnival in Switzerland. The fascination exists because of the incredible participation and party atmosphere, the vivid colors of the carnival costumes, the stirring tunes of the drummers and the piccolo players, and the weird and wonderful <> Music played by the brass bands. Basel really funks up Fasnacht with its well known elaborate parades beginning at a bleary 4am throughout the week.
Spring is welcomed with incredible flower garden spectacles in most villages and quay side waterfronts. Open markets come into full swing in spring, with a spectacle of freshly grown fruits, flowers and vegetables displayed weekly for sale.
Enjoy the world renowned Montreux Jazz Festival which takes place in July along the picturesque waterfront of Lac Leman. National day, marked on August 1, is celebrated with fireworks throughout the country, and Swiss wrestling in the Emmental area east of Bern.
City life provides a diverse following wonderful outdoor seated pubs in summer, small boutiques and the jewelry shops located in historic buildings throughout Swiss cities. On the fourth monday in November, Bern hosts its famous Onion Market (Zibelmarit), where traders take over the entire town center and many a tear are shed.
Of course you cannot forget the wonderful winter Christmas Fairs in Montreux, Zurich and Basel. The Christmas Market boasts hot wine and warm food, while you browse the unique, original and high quality Christmas gift ideas from over 120 richly-decorated wooden chalet-style stalls.
Whatever your pleasure, you'll find something to love in Switzerland. Come visit the hidden gem of the landlocked country many have come to adore.
Jennifer Schilling has lived abroad in Switzerland and traveled Europe extensively. Come check out here traveling tips at http://www.expatraveler.com/ .