April to October
Adventure, Food & Shopping, Living like a Local, Nature & Landscape
Luxury and High-end boutique hotels
Is that a little jig at first sight of Central Switzerland's gateway city, a meandering lake wrapped with gentle green hills and snow-capped peaks, from a height of 3700 feet at the Hammetschwand Elevator, the tallest outdoor elevator in Europe? Get playful with simulators and vintage locomotives at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne. Then, explore the frescoed buildings of the medieval Old Town, known for the baroque Jesuit Church, the flower-lined 14th-century Chapel Bridge and the famous Lion of Lucerne. Wrap it up with a folk performance by yodelers and alphorn players in the Altstadt.
The Mt. Pilatus spectacle starts with a boat ride to Alpnachstad, from where you will board one of the steepest cogwheel trains in the world. Lose track of time as you fall under the irresistible spell of alpine meadows and rock formations en route to Pilatus. From terrace views of Lake Lucerne and Alps to the thrills of the Dragon Trail and Flower Trail and epic views from the cable car on the way back, the rewards continue to unfold. Sweeten the day even more with a chocolatier's workshop in Lucerne. You could get used to pouring bars and moulding pralines!
Spend the day at Bern, the capital of Switzerland, located an hour away from Lucerne by train. Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, its old town is a visual delight with cathedrals, clock towers, arcaded boutiques and world-class museums. Peek into Einstein’s ancient home before you detour to the Barengraben (bear pits) for an unusual surprise. On the way back, discover the beauty of Lake Lungern from the viewing point Schoenbuehel. Dress to kill and party the night away at the lakefront Grand Casino on your last night in Lucerne.
Glued to the train windows of the Golden Pass Line, you reach Interlaken in a blink. Make a quick stop at the pretty lakeside town of Brienz, surrounded by forested mountains on all sides. Amble through the beautiful resort town before riding the funicular up to the most popular attraction, Harder Kulm. Gasp at wide-angle vistas of Interlaken and the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains, then walk till the end of the two-lake footbridge. If you love being edgy, think paragliding over the snowcapped Alps and rolling green hills dotted with idyllic cottages. Celebrate the good life with a delicious dinner and live music at the Goldener Anker.
Ascend to the top of Europe, Jungfraujoch. Break journey at Lauterbrunnen to find the UNESCO World Heritage site of Trummelbach Falls, a series of 10 glacier-fed waterfalls hidden in a cave-like setting. Quaint Swiss villages, lush alpine meadows, rocky walls and a sea of glacier are your companions on the way to a white fantasy world of snow and ice. The observatory and ice castle are part of the epic experience at Jungfraujoch. While returning, stop at the picturesque village of Grindelwald, nestled in a valley under the Bernese Alps. How about some authentic Swiss souvenirs fresh off a buzzing main street lined with wooden chalets?
Travel by train to Montreux, staring at mesmeric landscapes of Lake Thun and Simmer Valley. Get lured into a storybook of medieval buildings and winding lanes of old Montreux, then linger at Davinda Lounge over a delicious luncheon. Reserve the afternoon for the 13th century Chateau de Chillon, a delightful oval-shaped fortress perched on the banks of Lake Geneva. Be regaled by the maze of courtyards, period furniture, artwork and lost legends. Take to the skies in a hot air balloon at the nearby town of Gstaad. Settle for sundowners at the flower-lined waterfront promenade of Lake Geneva at Montreux, dodging quirky sculptures.
A green wonderland awaits you at the beautiful Lavaux vineyard terraces. Walk the well-trodden trails, stopping at wine cellars to taste the best of the dry and aromatic Lavaux wine. Continue to Geneva, the second-largest city of Switzerland, wedged between Lake Geneva and the foot of Mont Blanc. Pass the Jet d' Eau before you explore the cobbled streets of the atmospheric Old Town. Hang out at the vibrant bar, La Clemence in the Old Town. Splurge on luxury Swiss watches and fine jewellery in the iconic shopping areas of Rue du Rhone, Rue du Marche and Rue de la Croix d’Or.
Seek crisp alpine air, world-class skiing and the pyramid shaped Matterhorn at the Swiss village of Zermatt. Spot the highest mountains in Italy, France and Switzerland from the observation platform of Klein Matterhorn and pose with chilly ice sculptures in the Glacier Palace. Add a hint of glamour by soaring above the Valais Mountains in a helicopter. Spend the evening roaming in Zermatt village. Dip into history at Kirchplatz (Church Square), the Kirchbrucke bridge and the Matterhorn Museum. Un-wind at Sparky's Bar & Restaurant to call it a day.
Think beyond skiing and snowboarding. Indulge in a session of fun-filled tobogganing on the snowy splendour or relax with a traditional Finnish sauna at the resort. In the afternoon, hit high notes with the 5-Seenweg hike to witness five glassy lakes, the mighty Matterhorn, snowy mountains and impressive glaciers. Deeper cravings? Disappear into a snowshoeing trail through Swiss stone pine forest, where ancient, gnarled trees and larches line the path. Settle for a classic Austrian meal with Matterhorn views on the terrace of Sonnmatten.
Hop on the train to Rotenboden to make yourself at home in a Romantic Igloo at the Igloo Village located 2727m above sea level, where igloos are rebuilt every year, designed by international artists. Decorated with snow art, equipped with sheepskins and expedition sleeping bags, this offbeat accommodation affords bragging rights like no slick luxury hotel can. Relish Swiss cheese fondue and homemade, white igloo mulled wine. Celebrate Switzerland's unique culture with Horuguet, a culinary hike which takes you through six restaurants perched in spectacular settings in the Zermatt Mountains to sample different regional specialties.
Pricing is indicative and subject to change depending on travel month, duration and selected accommodations.
Teresa Fisher is a National Geographic author and freelance travel writer based in Portsmouth, UK. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Exeter University, she initially worked in London for Sotheby’s auction house; then in Europe as a cross-cultural communications trainer, living in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and Taiwan. While residing in Bavaria, she commenced a career in travel writing, focusing initially on Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy – destinations which still hold a special place in her heart. Teresa has since penned more than 30 guidebooks and children’s educational books on a wide variety of destinations from Europe to Japan, for publishers such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s and Fodor’s, and including National Geographic Traveler Switzerland. She specializes in European cities, adventure travel to far-flung destinations and all things Alpine, dividing her time between her family-oriented website, familyskinews.com, and photojournalism. Her stories have taken her round the globe, documenting wildlife and culture in some of the world’s more remote places. Highlights include tracking jaguars by dugout canoe in Guyana, tracking orangutan in eastern Sabah, backpacking round Japan, and being part of the first team of husky mushers to cross from Finland into Russia. When she’s not travelling or skiing, Teresa spends summer months aboard her houseboat in the world’s largest natural harbour, Poole Harbour. Teresa speaks French, German and some Italian, plays the violin and piano, and is a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and The Arts Society. She has been leading expeditions for National Geographic in Europe for more than half a dozen years."
Award-winning archaeologist, author, and National Geographic grantee Patrick Hunt earned his Ph.D. in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and has taught at Stanford University for nearly 30 years. Patrick directed the Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project from 1994 to 2012, and has continued project-related fieldwork in the region in the years since. His Alps research has been sponsored by the National Geographic Society, and he frequently lectures for National Geographic on Hannibal and the European mummy nicknamed Ötzi the Iceman. He is also a National Lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America, as well as an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club. He is the author of 21 published books, including the best-sellers Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History and Hannibal. He has a lifelong love of the Alps, having lived there for several months each year since 1994."
Tim Jepson is a British, London-based writer, traveler, and broadcaster. He began his traveling life at the age of 12, exploring the mountains of Britain and Ireland. After graduating from Oxford University, he lived and worked in Italy, writing for a variety of British newspapers and leading high-level expeditions in the country’s remotest corners. His experiences were recorded in a book, Wild Italy. He has since written more than 20 books, including several titles for National Geographic, and numerous articles for publications worldwide. Tim worked as a travel editor for London’s Daily Telegraph, and continues to travel extensively, with a passion for the farthest-flung destinations and the untrammeled cultures of Bhutan, Laos, Tibet, and Myanmar. He recently completed The British World: An Illustrated Atlas for National Geographic."
Alexander (Alec) Murphy is at the forefront of the movement to combat geographical illiteracy in the United States. A geography professor at the University of Oregon, Alec is Senior Vice-President of the American Geographical Society, a past president of the American Association of Geographers, and a frequent advisor on National Geographic education initiatives. Research, speaking invitations, and travel have taken him to more than 100 countries on six continents. Throughout his career, much of Alec’s work has focused on Europe; his book, The European Culture Area (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), is the most widely used classroom text on the geography of Europe in the United States. In the late 1990s he began extending his focus to the Middle East and North Africa, and by the early 2000s Alec found himself increasingly drawn to various parts of Asia. He is now a regular visitor to China, and he recently became the first foreigner to give a plenary lecture at the opening session of the Chinese Geographical Society’s annual meeting. Alec holds a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from Yale University, a law degree from the Columbia University School of Law, and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Chicago. Drawing on his expertise in political, cultural, and environmental geography, he will offer his insights into the human and physical forces shaping the places we visit."
Travel writer Everett Potter has been covering the globe for three decades in pursuit of great stories. For the past 15 years, many of his pieces have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, including a recent feature, “Swiss Tracks,” for which he traveled by rail, cog-railway, tram, and lake steamer around the country. He’s also written about various destinations in the Caribbean, Canada, Central America, and other European destinations for the magazine. Everett received his B.A. in English from Boston University in 1974 and his M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976. He was a longtime columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, Smart Money, and Ski, and his work has appeared in most major publications, including Outside, The Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, and Forbes Life. He is the author of The Best of Brazil and has been awarded four Lowell Thomas Awards for his travel writing. He lives in Pelham, New York, and spends summers in a rustic cabin in Western Maine."
William Saturno is an archaeologist and storyteller specializing in the myths and histories of early civilizations and the politics of empire. A National Geographic Explorer and a former NASA research scientist, he has conducted fieldwork around the globe, both on the ground and from space, to understand the ideological and environmental foundations of how the great Czars, Khans, Emperors, and Ajaws of the past ruled over their societies. As an avid student and scholar of the ancient world, Bill weaves together data from archaeology, anthropology, and history spanning from the jungles of Central America and Southeast Asia to the deserts and grasslands of Eurasia and from the shores of the ancient Mediterranean to those of Scandinavian fjords, narrating the tales of adventurers, artists, commoners, and kings alike to bring the past vividly to life. He has joined numerous National Geographic Expeditions over the years in diverse geographies, including Mexico, Guatemala, China, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, and beyond."
David Scott Silverberg is a geographer working on conservation projects spanning six continents. His mix of exploration, research, and digital photo-video storytelling has been popular with National Geographic travelers for many years. A fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Asia Society, David was the executive science director at Earthwatch Institute, set up and managed Boston University environmental field research programs in British Columbia and eastern Africa, and was a founding White House staff member for AmeriCorps. David has worked in more than 100 countries, manages the Environmental Learning Institute, and teaches at several international universities."