SUSTAINABLY SWISS

Soaking up Switzerland

Stay longer, delve deeper, tread lightly and travel without the guilt.

WORDS KAT BARBER

Sponsored by

SUSTAINABLY SWISS

Soaking up Switzerland

Stay longer, delve deeper, tread lightly and travel without the guilt.

WORDS KAT BARBER

Sponsored by

Stay longer and go slower...there's something for every traveler in Switzerland.

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In one of Switzerland’s recent tourism ads, Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer can be seen trying to convince Robert De Niro to produce a feature film about Switzerland. De Niro however, is uninterested, deeming the country “too perfect”.

But DeNiro’s loss is your gain. As our post-pandemic travel priorities have changed, Switzerland may just be as close to travel perfection as it gets. Expansive mountainous landscapes invite you to breathe deeply and reconnect with nature far from the crowds. A rich and diverse culture spread across four language regions offers plenty to discover and learn. And its well-connected, compact size makes it easy to immerse yourself in culture, food, nature and history.

As pioneers in sustainable tourism, and with a travel ethos labeled ‘Swisstainable’, you’re invited to stay longer, delve deeper, tread lightly and travel without the guilt.

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There aren't many destinations in the world that are made for travel like Switzerland is.

The old travel adage, it’s about the journey, not the destination, rings especially true in Switzerland. With the densest rail network in the world, the best way to immerse yourself in Swiss perfection is by train.

The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland is a 795-mile journey encompassing tiny villages, alpine resorts and mountain vistas in maximum comfort, where you get on and off when it works for you – after all, you’re in no rush.

A typically Swiss backdrop of mountains, quaint architecture and a beautiful lake. It could be anywhere in the country, but this is in Interlaken.

A great place to begin your Swiss journey is in Zurich, ideally stocking your bags with chocolate from the enormous Lindt shop in Zurich beforehand. The Interlaken Express takes you to Interlaken (who would have thought?), the adventure capital of Europe. Nestled between two pristine alpine lakes, and with the shadows of three mighty mountains - Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau looming overhead, this small resort town packs a punch. Try your hand at kayaking on the lake, or paragliding over it. Get wet white-water rafting down the Lütschine River or try canyoning in one of the many scenic gorges in the region.

Interlaken is a hub for outdoor adventure.

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Residents of Grindelwald on their morning stroll.

At the other end of the spectrum, nestled in the mountains, the fairytale town of Grindelwald invites you to sit, coffee in hand, and listen, as the sound of cow bells ring out across the mountainous backdrop. The breadth of activity here, for both the adventurous and those seeking slightly slower delights, make Interlaken a place you could easily stay for several weeks on its own.

EXPLORE BEAUTIFUL SWISS TOWNS

The Eiger Express is only a 15 minute journey, but it might just be the most spectacular 15 minutes of your life.

As the magnetic pull of the mountains works its magic, head to the Eiger cable car station.

The sleek new Eiger Express cable car whisks you silently above the scenic valley to Europe’s highest train station at over 11,000 feet. From here, you arrive at the top of Europe, Jungfraujoch. Brave the icy wind and year-round snow as you step out onto the panoramic viewpoint and take in the UNESCO World Heritage Aletsch Glacier sprawling out behind you.

The Jungfraujoch station is the highest in Europe at over 11,000 feet.

Switch German for French as you board the charming Golden Pass Belle Époque train to Montreux. Montreux is a chocolate box of pop culture; Freddie Mercury’s recording studio, to the casino made famous in Deep Purple’s hit Smoke on the Water, and Chaplin’s Worldin honor of comic Charlie Chaplin. The Montreux Jazz Festival takes over the lakeside town in July, leaving the town toe-tapping throughout the rest of the year.

The Golden Pass Belle Époque train.

Stunning views on the Montreux railway.

Zermatt is the town made famous by its iconic peak, and it doesn’t matter where you are here, the Matterhorn’s distinct sharp-edged silhouette always looms large. Never far away is the wonder of nature and it’s not hard to imagine why so many of history’s most celebrated mountaineers have been seduced to tackle its daring face.

Remember to look up! Hiking in Zermatt is on another level.

Since going car-free in 1966, the town has invested in its own locally produced E-vehicles to whisk tourists from the train station to the wooden stilted hotels, chalets and ski lifts dotted throughout the valley. The Gornergrat Railway was the first fully electrified railway in the world, chugging its way up the steep 1,469m line to a panoramic view towards the Matterhorn, and is equipped with a regenerative braking system that generates enough electricity on the descent to power the next departure.

For the majority of the year, you will arrive in a sea of pure white snow but for a few months over summer, you can hike the alpine pastures among Zermatt’s famous black-nosed woolly sheep.

Put your feet up - CERVO Mountain Resort Zermatt.

Valais Blacknose sheep have been dubbed 'The Cutest in the World'.

ALL ABOARD THE GLACIER EXPRESS

In what is an extremely competitive field, the Glacier Express route might be the most scenic train route in Switzerland.

After you’ve been seduced by Zermatt’s charm, it’s time to board Switzerland’s most famed railway– the incomparable Glacier Express. Like this trip, the ‘Express’ goes intentionally slow, inviting you to soak up magical landscapes, the Rhine Gorge, towering viaducts, snowy Oberalp pass and stony villages on the eight-hour train ride towards St Moritz.

This cosmopolitan resort town has long been a playground for the rich and famous. But if you’re only one or neither of those things, don’t let that stop you from pretending. Soak in St Moritz’s famed iron-rich therapeutic mineral waters at Ovaverva spa complex or dine on haute cuisine in one of St Moritz’s many Michelin-starred restaurants. A week or two invested here will have you glowing, paying dividends for months on-end after.

The charming village of St Moritz has twice hosted the Winter Olympics.

Soak up magical landscapes, the Rhine Gorge, towering viaducts, snowy Oberalp pass and stony villages...

Continue towards the Italian-speaking region of Ticino on the UNESCO World Heritage Bernina Express route, transferring to a bus for the leg from Tirano, Italy. Competition is high for the coveted award of the most beautiful region in Switzerland, but Lugano must be right up there with its unique mix of Swiss efficiency and Mediterranean flair.

Ticino was named for the river that runs through it, all the way to Po, in southern Italy.

Italian architecture, a historic car-free town center, and blooming spring flowers make Lugano the perfect place to wrap up your Swiss journey and enjoy la dolce vita — eat, sip and soak up the sun — for as long as you like.

SCENIC LANDSCAPES

7 tips for traveling sustainably in Switzerland

Traveling in Switzerland means discovering gorgeous landscapes, meeting interesting locals and broadening your horizons. But travel and consumption also use up resources. These tips will enable you to not only minimize your environmental footprint, but also enjoy a unique, authentic and memorable travel adventure.

1. Choose the greenest route to Switzerland

Environmentally friendly travel begins with your journey to Switzerland – and it’s never been easier than it is today.

Between 70 and 80 percent of the pollutants created through travel arise during arrival and departure. If you are arriving from further away, choose a direct flight and airlines that invest in new resource-efficient fleets.

2. Stay longer

The longer you stay, the lower the negative impact on the environment per day of your trip. Staying longer also gives you more time to visit less well known but no less lovely Swiss valleys and towns and take a closer look at our culture and way of life.

3. Discover Switzerland outside of the high season

The often underestimated spring and fall months have been waiting a long time to be discovered – and at the same time, this results in more balanced tourism that is healthier long term.

4. Travel like the locals

Switzerland is unrivaled when it comes to the ease, comfort and variety of getting around on public transport. If you still prefer to be completely independent, however, then rent a low-emission electric car - the number and capacity of electric charging stations is increasing every day.

5. Opt for sustainable and locally run accommodation

A big impact with little effort – carefully selecting where you stay pays off several times over.

Overnight stays are the second largest source of CO2 emissions when people travel. So consider your choice of accommodation carefully. Stay in hotels, B&Bs and youth hostels featuring the Swisstainable emblem, as this means they are committed to the environmental protection and social justice.

6. Eat at local and responsible restaurants

Fresh vegetables from the farm next door – local restaurants are a pure delight.

Opt for local restaurants that feature products from Swiss vintners and brewers, source organic ingredients from the region and prepare fresh, authentic dishes.

7. Respect the environment

Nature is our capital – if we are to preserve it, we must treat it with awe and respect.

Switzerland boasts an astounding 40,000 miles of hiking trails – enough to satisfy every nature lover. Use campsites, and check with the local authorities whether wild camping is permitted. Wild animals will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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