Switzerland is renowned for many reasons, including its luxury watches, luscious chocolate and high standard of living, but one reason rises above all: its natural beauty.
The image of crystalline lakes framed by snow-covered mountain peaks found on so many postcards is real, not the work of talented photo editors. Switzerland lies in the heart of the Alps, its massive mountains dominating the southern region of the country; the rolling hills and expansive lakes of the Swiss Plateau is home to the country’s most populous cities, including Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich. Further north, the lesser-known but still imposing Jura Mountains line the border between Switzerland and France, and contain its own UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For nature lovers, there are plenty of places to see in Switzerland – and even more to experience when it comes to nature.
Walk through the Tamina Gorge
Walking the narrow path through the Tamina Gorge in Bad Ragaz, a spa town in the canton of St Gallen, is like strolling through a fairy tale. Begin the 450-metre journey near the old bathhouse at Pfäfers, and follow the path through the towering walls of the rocky gorge. You’ll pass majestic thermal water fountains until you reach the spring water grotto – and don’t forget to fill your water bottle!
Bathe at Burgseewli Beach
Just outside popular tourist destination Interlaken and north of Lake Brienz is Burgseewli, a small lake nestled between tall trees. It is the perfect location to frolic or float in the water – which, by the way, can reach a balmy 26°C thanks to the small size of the lake. Swim with the ducks, float alongside water lilies or sunbathe on the beach surrounded by boundless blooms. And with onsite amenities including a barbecue site and children’s play area, there’s plenty of space for lakeside fun.
Trek through the Aare Gorge
Take a hike in the Aare Gorge and watch the waters of the Aare River flow beneath you. The walkway, which has been open to the public since the 19th century, has guided nature lovers through the often-narrow gorge – only one metre wide in some areas – for over a hundred years. With steep cliffsides stretching 50 metres high on either side, the Aare Gorge is an impressive (and perhaps intimidating) sight.
Hike the Creux du Van
At the natural rock “amphitheatre” – actually called a cirque – of Creux du Van, you’re given a panorama of perfection. Over millions of years, Mother Nature carved into the rocky terrain to create a curved masterpiece, dotted with natural springs and covered in foliage. Hike the marked paths, navigating the steps and bridges, to reach the outlook points, while keeping an eye out for the elusive ibex throughout the area.
View the Saut du Doubs from a boat
Along the border between France and Switzerland flows the serpentine river Doubs, whose crown jewel is the Saut du Doubs waterfall. Reaching 27 metres high, the cascading water is the perfect backdrop to outdoor excursions including hiking, swimming or – best yet on the Doubs – a leisurely boat ride on the river.
Get a taste of Swiss wine on the Vineyard Trail
Most people think of France or Italy when imagining sprawling vineyards, but Switzerland has its own storied history of winemaking. Get a taste of the wine (and its history!) when touring the Swiss wine region on a 6-kilometre vineyard trail from Sierre – known as the Swiss wine capital – to Salgesch. Along the way, you will see vineyards and wineries, which you can visit for a sample and a lesson in wine.
Lay about at Lake Oeschinen
Take a dip in Lake Oeschinen to enjoy a secluded slice of paradise – where “secluded” means no cell reception and absolutely no cars. The lake, located in the canton of Bern, has plenty to offer without the help of the Internet, including countless hiking trails and leisurely walking paths, a summer toboggan run and the opportunity to enjoy the pristine waters of the lake.
Wash some gold on the Simplon
Pull on your boots, wade out into the river and start panning for gold in Simplon, located in the south of Switzerland in the canton of Valais. Combine your gold-panning adventure with a journey through the 100-plus-year-old gold mine – and if you’re lucky, you’ll strike it rich (with knowledge, of course)!
Walk the Gletsch nature trail
The village of Gletsch may be small, but it packs a big nature punch: with dozens of trails meandering along the valley, there is no shortage of sights. Along the nature trail – marked by six signposts that detail the history of the region – you can take in the rare plants and animals that call the region home.
Switzerland is a hotspot for luxury tourism, and not just for the country’s renowned wealth and history – it is its physical beauty that makes it one of the best countries for nature lovers.