The thought of Switzerland almost invariably evokes images of milk chocolate, fine cheese, luxury watches and Heidi frolicking in the Alpine meadows. Not without a reason, indeed; but it's just the tip of the Matterhorn.
Switzerland lies at the meeting point of several major European cultures, which results in the country's cultural practices bearing German, French and Italian influences. There are four official languages and different religious communities mingle on territory as small as 41,285 square kilometers. You will quickly discover that sharing a pot of fondue with the Swiss of different backgrounds is not only a culinary treat but also a sophisticated linguistic and intellectual experience.
With the snow-coated Alps covering at least 60% of the total area, serene lakes and well-run resorts, Switzerland is a winter sport haven that annually lures skiers to St. Moritz, Zermatt, Jungfrau, and Verbier. Spectacular glaciers and the greatest number of Alpine 4000-plus summits seem good enough recommendations. But this is just one side of the Swiss coin.
Home to the world's most reliable banking institutions, the Red Cross and UN offices, Switzerland boasts extremely prosperous economy and consistently tops quality of life rankings. Its spick and span cities attract with soothing order and peaceful coexistence, which by no chance means they lack vitality or luster. Quite the contrary; they are as thrilling as you can imagine such a multicultural mix to be. Geneva breathes cosmopolitan lifestyle, Basel is filled with both magnificent churches and noteworthy secular buildings, Zurich strikes with its commercial hustle and bustle, Lausanne stuns with numerous museums, and Lucerne offers unforgettable views, with its wooden bridges and a backdrop of Mount Pilatus.
And the incredible benefit of all this is a reliable public transportation network, which enables you to whiz here and there with little effort and no time wasting. After all, you are going to need a good couple of days to embrace this tiny (but highly versatile) Alpine wonder.