Today is Swiss National Day, commemorating the oath of confederation signed in 1291, by the three founding cantons of the confederation of Switzerland (Schwyz, Uri and Unterwald).
The land-locked nation, famed for its watches and cheese, which gave the world Velcro, cellophane, and milk chocolate (not to mention the Swiss army knife), is on almost everyone’s bucket list, yet it can be a hard one to explore without a little insider knowledge – and we don’t mean knowing someone who has a Swiss bank account.
Roberta Muir has seen it as few outsiders can – through the eyes of her Swiss husband, Franz, and his family and friends.
“I love its chocolate, cheese and crisp white wines; farmhouse stalls and outdoor food markets; watches, cowbells and edelweiss,” she says.
“But most of all, like everyone else, I love its breathtaking, chocolate-box scenery, from the Alps to the lakes.”
Below Roberta reveals, in her own words. five of her favourite Swiss sights and where to stop along the way for the best eats, drinks and sleeps.
Alps: Bernese Oberland (Bern)
The most awe-inspiring sight in a lifetime of travel, I find it hard to believe that any mountain chain can be this high. I love glimpsing the Alps from a distance and waking among them, as you do at the rustic Griesalp Hotel at 1400m with the 3661m Blüemlisalp looming above it.
Lakes: Lake Geneva (Vaud)
I love the terraced vineyard towns above Lake Geneva (especially Saint-Saphorin) with their gorgeous views and delicious white wines, fondue at Café Tivoli, lunch at Café de Riex, strolling the cobbled streets of the old town of Vevey and visiting Charlie Chaplin’s statue on the lake front.
Valleys: Valle Maggia (Ticino)
Switzerland’s valleys are as special as her mountains – and my favourite is this long, green, steep-sided valley in Italian-speaking Ticino. Dotted with picturesque stone buildings – some of which house traditional grotto restaurants, like La Froda overlooking a wonderful waterfall.
Passes: Albula Pass (Graubünden)
Visit Switzerland in summer for a chance to drive over wonderfully winding high mountain passes, such as the Albula Pass in the remote north-east. Stop for a bowl of gerstensuppe (Swiss barley soup) at the Hospice, then drive on to the spectacularly-located village of Soglio.
Medieval Towns, Murten & Gruyères (Fribourg)
Many Swiss towns have well-preserved fortifications and old town walls. Climbing the ramparts surrounding the historic old town of Murten is one of my favourite Swiss pastimes. Hilltop Gruyères, with its 13th-century château, fondue restaurants and kitsch-but-cute souvenirs is another favourite.
Roberta Muir runs the Sydney Seafood School at the Sydney Fish Market and publishes the website Food Wine Travel, where she shares her favourite food, wine and travel discoveries. You can sign up here to receive her regular email of her top 5 favourite things.
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