007 Luxury Guide
Top 10 places to visit in Switzerland
Look past the silk-smooth chocolate, cuckoo clocks and yodelling – contemporary Switzerland, land of four languages, is all about epic journeys and sublime experiences.
James Bond in Switzerland. Much of On Her Majesty's Secret Service is set in Switzerland. He also follows Goldfinger into Geneva and to his secret facility in Switzerland in Goldfinger.
Top 10 places to visit in Switzerland
6-Ruinaulta - Switzerland's Grand Canyon
The Ruinaulta owes its existence to the Flimser landslide 10,000 years ago, when 10,000 million cubic meters of rock thundered into the valley. The canyon-like ravine in the Vorderrhein Valley can be reached on foot, across the water, by train or by bike.
The Rhaeto-Romanic speaking inhabitants of the Vorderrhein ravine call it Ruinaulta, a word meaning high heap of rubble. And it is true that the bizarre white rock formations consist of debris produced by a prehistoric landslide, through which the Rhine has slowly and sinuously eaten its way.
What has come into being is a natural, magical place full of mysterious lakes in the Mountain Forest, rare orchids and breeding grounds for endangered species of birds. Further below, gently sloping sand banks alternate with wild rapids and make the region of the Rhine gorge an adventure for hikers, bikers, rafters, canoers, nature lovers and explorers alike.
The most beautiful Alpine experience: the Bernina Express seamlessly connects the cool North with the warm South and effortlessly overcomes the steepest gradients. Not only that – this is one of the most beautiful rail trips in the world.
The Bernina Express has to be the most spectacular Alpine crossing since Hannibal and his elephants. Departing from Chur, the crimson-coloured train ascends to the Engadine before weaving its way behind the Bernina Hospiz (2253 metres) through the Poschiavo Valley into Valtellina in Italy. The first highlight awaits passengers near Filisur, where the train traverses an awe-inspiring landmark – the 65-metre-high Landwasser viaduct. The train continues through 55 tunnels and across 196 bridges, making short work of the gradients even without a rack-and-pinion system. The cross-border Albula and Bernina Lines between Thusis and Tirano owe their 2008 inscription into the UNESCO World Heritage list to stunning scenery such as the Schyn Gorge, Morteratsch Glacier and Brusio spiral viaduct. And nothing can compare to that first glint of glacial ice on the horizon.
8-San Gottardo - Nostalgia on the Tremola
Even the Romans avoided the immense mass of the Gotthard. The Pass only gained significance around the year 1200, when the Schöllenen Ravine between Göschenen and Andermatt was developed. Today the Gotthard Pass is the most important North-South connection.
The famous Gotthard Train Tunnel, and thus the Gotthard Railway was opened in 1882. The highway tunnel was built about 100 years later. But you will be missing something well worth experiencing if you always take the tunnel. One should take the path through the Schöllenen Ravine and through the barren Urseren Valley up to the Pass Heights at least once: whether on foot, in a nostalgic PostBus or in a horse carriage like in the days of the famous Gotthard Post in the 19th century.
The ride across the cobblestone paved Tremola on the southern side of the Gotthard Pass is breathtaking. The Tremola takes you in hairpin turns and serpentine curves from the peak of the pass to Airolo and is considered to be Switzerland's longest historical monument.
9-Salt Mines – History of White Gold
For centuries the ownership of salt mines meant wealth and power. The salt deposits at Bex, discovered in the 15th century, are still mined today. The salt mines are accessible to visitors, a museum depicts the mining of salt from 1684 to the present.
Between 200 to 60 million years ago, the present Rhône Valley was a shallow sea.The salt deposits of Bex in the Canton of Vaud are derived from the salt of this sea. A labyrinth of passages and tunnels, over 50 kilometers long, today yields 30,000 tons of salt per year.
On a visit to the museum and the mine, visitors see the various techniques of salt mining from the year 1684 to the present and the history of this white gold. A small mine train takes visitors into the subterranean world and to the restaurant located in the mountain at a depth of 400 meters. Unusual adventure tours offer treks into the mines and tunnels that date from the 17th century.
10-Aletsch - the Region Surrounding the Largest Alpine Glacier
Incredibly immense, incredibly beautiful: the Large Aletsch Glacier is the Alps' mightiest ice flow. And the most popular, for it is easily accessible and is ideally situated for extensive hikes, winter sports and special nature excursions.
The Aletsch region is part of a Unesco World Heritage Site. And not just because the "Large Aletsch Glacier", which carries an incredible 27 billion tons of ice, is the largest glacier of the Alps. The entire region is a habitat for many rare animal and plant species, for instance in the Aletsch Forest. The Pro Natura nature reserve is located close to the forest.
Innumerable vantage points offer a good view of the glacier, such as the Bettmerhorn above Bettmeralp. Eggishorn, which can also be reached via cable car from Fiesch via cable car, offers a magnificent view of the winding upper part of the large glacier. Lake Märjelen, which is fed by glacial meltwater, lies at a corner of the ice flow.